December 18, 2014

Avian Flu Discovered in Wild Birds in Washington State


The USDA released a press bulletin stating that highly pathogenic H5 avian influenza has been confirmed in wild birds in Washington state. The virus H5N2 has been found in Northern pintail ducks. This virus has decimated poultry farms in Canada and Asia. No bird flu virus has been found in commercial poultry in the U.S. and no human cases have been detected in the U.S., Canada, or internationally. The government stresses that the birds are safe to eat if they are "properly handled" and cooked to 165°F as verified with a meat thermometer. Therein lies the problem. The sick birds were in Whatcom County, Washington. Two strains were found: H5N2 in the ducks and HPAI H5N8 in captive Gyrfalcons that were fed wild birds killed by hunters. USDA is working with the U.S. Department of … [Read more...]

Norovirus Outbreak at Hampstead, NH Schools


A norovirus outbreak has been reported at the Hampstead Central and Middle Schools in Hampstead, New Hampshire. The school is posting a daily tally on the number of students sick with a "stomach bug".  Norovirus is also called viral gastroenteritis. The school calls the outbreak "significant numbers of students and absences." Staff members are enacting precautions in classrooms, and the custodians are increasing cleaning procedures. At least 60 students were sick last week. New cases were reported yesterday. Norovirus is a very contagious virus. Cases increase during the cold winter months because more people are together inside. The symptoms of norovirus include vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach cramps. Fever is usually mild or absent. Most people recover within 1-2 days, but … [Read more...]

Franz’s Meat Products Recalled for Listeria in Canada

Franz Kolbossa Recall

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Franz Roessl Holdings Ltd. are recalling two types of ready to eat meat products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. No illnesses have been reported in relation to the consumption of these products, but listeriosis can take up to 70 days to manifest after exposure. The recalled items are Franz's brand name, in variable weights. The first is Smoked Black Bean & Salsa Sausage with a UPC number that begins with 2 00710. The code on that product is Packed on 14/DEC/06 Best before 15/JAN/03. The second is Gold Medal Kolbossa with UPC number that begins with 2 00711. The code on that product is Packed on 14/DEC/06 Best before 15/JAN/03. They were sold in Ontario. If you purchased these items, do not eat … [Read more...]

Spending Bill Cuts $93 Million from WIC


The huge spending bill passed by Congress last week cuts $93,000,000 from the Women Infants and Children (WIC) Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). That program gives low-income mothers and children vouchers for food that meets nutrition guidelines. WIC has been one of the most successful government programs in history. Both WIC and SNAP add money to local economies. In fact, every five dollars in SNAP benefits generates nine dollars in community spending. And the food purchased by SNAP recipients generates 3,000 farm jobs. In addition, every study shows that WIC improves birth outcomes. Almost half of the participants in SNAP are children. Legislators did require the WIC program to add white potatoes to the foods on the allowed list, pandering to industry lobbyists. … [Read more...]

Omnibus Funding Bill Bans Chinese Chicken from School Lunches

School Lunch

The DeLauro-Pingree Amendment in the Omnibus spending bill that was just passed by Congress bans purchase of chicken raised in the United States and processed in China for school lunches. The bill was passed by the House last Thursday and the Senate on Saturday. Representative Rosa DeLauro said in a statement, "banning Chinese chicken from school meals is a common-sense step to protect our kids. China's food safety record is atrocious, yet last year USDA deemed poultry processed in China to be as safe as poultry processed here. Children are among the most susceptible to foodborne illness. We cannot take unnecessary risks with our health." Representative Pingree said, "Chinese chicken does not belong in school lunches. China has such serious food safety problems that even Chinese … [Read more...]

Presidential Task Force Against Seafood Fraud


Today, a task force created by President Obama released a set of strong recommendations to stop seafood fraud and illegal fishing. Oceana applauds this move, stating that this is a "real step forward in fighting illegal fishing and seafood fraud in the U.S. and around the world. The task force reaffirms the president's commitment to stop these crimes that provide profits to pirate fishermen, rip off consumers, and hinder ocean conservation." The task force was established in June 2014. Agencies were told to work together for six months to develop the recommendations. Oceana also says that to protect consumers, the link between U.S. dollars and pirate fishing must be broken. The task now is to make sure these measures are implemented. Boat-to-plate traceability is necessary to make … [Read more...]

New Study Links Phthalate Exposure with Lower IQ


A new study conducted at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health finds that children exposed during pregnancy to elevated levels of phthalates had lower IQ scores. The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, found that those children had an IQ more than six points lower than the average. The two chemicals are di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP). They are found in many consumer products, including plastic food and beverage containers. Phthalates are banned in some children's toys, but the compounds are rarely listed on ingredient labels so they are difficult to avoid. In the study, researchers followed 328 New York City women and their children from low income communities. The women's exposure to four phthalates in their third trimester were … [Read more...]

In Canada, Beverage Powders Recalled for Undeclared Milk


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and Sei Ying Trading Company are recalling beverage powders because they contain milk, one of the major food allergens, that is not declared on the label. Anyone with an allergy to milk could have a serious allergic reaction if they consume these products. There is no word on whether or not any illnesses have been reported to date. The recalled products all have a label with "Imported by: 1624 West 75th Ave. Vancouver" on it. The products have no UPC numbers. All codes where milk is not declared on the label are recalled. All of the products are sold in 1 kg packages. The recalled products are Papaya Powder, Banana Powder, Strawberry Powder, Sesame Powder, Almond Powder, and Honeydew Powder. They were sold in British Columbia. If you … [Read more...]

At Least 100 Sick after Georgia High School Football Banquet


According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, more than 100 people are sick after eating at a football banquet on December 8, 2014. The banquet was held at the Centennial High School in Roswell, Georgia that is just outside of Atlanta. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. Those symptoms could be indicative of many types of foodborne illness. The outbreak is being investigated by public health officials, but no causes have been identified. Investigators are interviewing patients and looking at the foods served at the banquet. One mother said her son was diagnosed with Salmonella, but that conclusion is not definitive. The school's principal sent a letter to football players and their parents informing them of the outbreak. The letter stated that "please … [Read more...]

Does BPA Exposure Increase Blood Pressure?

A new study claims that exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA) from drinking canned beverages increases blood pressure. BPA is a chemical used to line metal cans and make plastic bottles. It has been associated with hypertension in earlier studies. This new study was a randomized crossover trial with adults age 60 hayers and older. The participants were given the same beverage in 2 glass bottles, 2 cans, or 1 can and 1 glass bottle at a time. Urinary BPA concentration, blood pressure, and heart rate variability were measured 2 hours after each beverage was consumed. Each participant visited the study site three times. Urinary BPA concentration increased after consuming canned beverages by more than 1600% compared to the concentration after drinking beverages from glass containers. Systolic … [Read more...]

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