November 28, 2014

Listeria Poses Elevated Risk for Pregnant Women

Listeria monocytogenes is one of the deadliest foodborne pathogens and it poses a special risk during pregnancy. Among pregnant women, Listeria infections can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth, birth defects or other serious health problems for newborns, even if the expectant mother shows no signs of illness. Because the immune system is weakened during pregnancy, pregnant women are 10 times more likely than the general population to contract listeriosis. For pregnant women who are Hispanic, the risk is 24 times higher. About 1,600 Americans contract listeriosis each year. More than 90 percent them require hospitalization and about 16 percent of cases are fatal.  Most cases fall into three groups, pregnant women, seniors and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms, … [Read more...]

CSPI Asks FDA to Label Sesame an Allergen

Sesame Seeds

Regular readers of this site know that recalls are often issued in Canada for sesame seeds, but those types of recalls are not issued in the U.S. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the FDA to require that sesame be disclosed on food labels in the same manner as the other major food allergens, which include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, what, and soy. When Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act in 2004, the "Big 8" allergens account for 90% of allergic reactions caused by food. But experts think that sesame is an emerging cause of severe allergy. About 300,000 to 500,000 Americans are allergic to sesame. CSPI filed the petition earlier this month, asking that the agency raise awareness among food service … [Read more...]

FDA Finalizes Menu Labeling for Restaurants and Vending Machines

Nutrition Facts

The FDA has finalized two rules requiring calorie information on menus and menu boards in retail food establishments, including chain restaurants, and vending machines with 20 or more locations. FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters "Strikingly, Americans eat and drink about a third of their calories away from home - often consuming less nutritious foods and also underestimating the calories that they eat. These final rules will give consumers more information when they are dining out and help them lead healthier lives." Labeling foods is critical to help consumers make healthy food choices. These new rules provide a consistent standard across the country. The proposed rules were released in 2011. The menu labeling will not apply to bars, deli foods, independent … [Read more...]

Health Canada Warns of Risks Associated with Homemade Baby Formula

baby milk bottle

Health Canada is warning consumers about the risks associated with homemade baby formula. The homemade formulas can "cause severe malnutrition and potentially fatal illness in infants," health authorities say. Recipes for homemade formula, available on the Internet, are billed as healthy alternatives to appeal to processed foods. But there is a reason why commercial infant formula is one of the most tightly regulated products on the market, health officials say. It's not easy to replicate human breast milk. Infants have have specific nutritional needs that are not the same as those of adults or children. Every ounce they take in needs to be balanced with the the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, fats  and protein. Whereas homemade formulas carry the risk of nutritional … [Read more...]

Rep. DeLauro Urges OMB to Finalize Mechanically Tenderized Beef Rule

Steak

Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) wrote to Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget this week, urging him to finalize the new USDA rule on mechanically tenderized beef products. There may be a delay implementing this critical rule if it is not finalized by December 31, 2014. Mechanically tenderized beef has been pierced with blades or needles to break up connective tissue so the meat is more tender. Unfortunately, this process pushes pathogenic bacteria present on the surface of the cut into the interior. Then, if the meat is cooked less than well-done, those bacteria survive in the center of the product, and can make someone sick. A 2008 study by USDA states that about 50,000,000 pounds of this product are sold every month without labels warning consumers of … [Read more...]

The Three Safe Ways To Thaw A Turkey

Thanksgivingturkeytb

There are only three safe ways to thaw a turkey and if you bought a giant, frozen bird your time has run out for one of them. Every year, The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) compiles Thanksgiving food safety tips for consumers, including safe methods for thawing. There are three of them: refrigerator, cold water and microwave. To thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator, put it on a tray that can collect any juice and place the tray in a fridge with an internal temperature of  40˚F or lower. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds. So, a 4 to 12 pound turkey needs one to three days,  a 12 to 16 pound turkey needs — three to four days, a 16 to 20 pound turkey needs four to five days and a 20 to 24 pound turkey needs five to six days A fridge- thawed turkey can stay in the fridge one … [Read more...]

Coalition Files Papers in Honolulu Court to Defend GE Initiative

Crop Spraying

A coalition of Maui and Moloka'i residents, farmers, and advocacy groups, represented by Center for Food Safety and Earthjustice, filed papers Friday in Honolulu federal district court to defend the County of Maui's GMO crop safety initiative. That initiative won in the November elections, despite massive spending by huge corporations opposed to it. A legal challenge was almost immediately filed by those multinational chemical companies. Hawaii is being used an an outdoor lab for companies like Monsanto to test GE and GMO crops and the pesticides used on them. The ballot initiative prohibits the "growth, testing, or cultivation of GE crops in Maui County until an environmental and public health study can show that the planning operations are safe for the community." Nine days after the … [Read more...]

Frying a Turkey for Thanksgiving? Watch Out!

Thanksgivingturkey

If you're thinking about frying your turkey for Thanksgiving, the National Fire Protection Association says that outdoor gas-fueled turkey fryers that immerse the turkey in hot oil are dangerous and should not be used.  The fryers "pose a significant danger that hot oil will be released at some point during the cooking process," according to the organization. The NFPA encourages consumers to use a new type of "oil-less" turkey fryer. Tests on these fryers shows that hot oil can splash or spill at any time while the turkey is frying. While older fryers that use a stand can collapse, newer countertop units with a solid base "appear to reduce this particular risk." But NFPA doesn't think that consumer education alone can make the risks of deep frying a turkey acceptably low. The large … [Read more...]

South Dakota Campylobacter Cases Linked to Raw Milk

campylobacter-raw-milk-SD

A recent outbreak in Durand, Wisconsin is the latest example of a Campylobacter outbreak linked to raw milk. It's a common pairing. The South Dakota Department of Health tracked Campylobacter cases from January 2012 to August 30, 2014. Of the 791 total cases of campylobacteriosis reported during that period, 42 were associated with raw milk, or about 5 percent. Most of those affected,  23 of the 42 cases , were children 19 and under. Ten case patients were 5 and under. The cases were reported in the following counties: Beadle, Brookings, Butte, Clark, Davison, Day, Faulk, Gregory, Haakon, Hamlin, Hanson, Kingsbury, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marshall, Meade, Miner, Minnehaha, Perkins, Roberts, Todd and Union. (Image from the South Dakota Department of Health.) … [Read more...]

USDA FSIS Releases Cost Estimate for Big Six E. coli Tests

beef-trim

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA- FSIS) has released the cost analysis for testing six additional Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC) strains. The analysis was posted in a November 19 notice  in the Federal Register. Some strains of E.coli, such as E.coli O157:H7, produce toxins called Shiga toxins. Infections from STEC cause hemorrhagic colitis, which causes the bloody diarrhea associated with E. coli O157:H7 infections. If the toxins, leave the digestive tract and travel to the bloodstream, it can cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and/or thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP). HUS and TTP cause serious, life-threatening injury such as kidney failure, seizure, stroke and coma. Before 2011, E. coli O157:H7 was the only strain of … [Read more...]

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