October 30, 2014

USDA Providing $4 Million for Honey Bee Habitat

Honeybee

Honey bees around the world have been dying off at an alarming rate in recent years. Because the insect is so important to America's food supply, the USDA is giving five midwestern states $4 million to help farmers and ranchers improve honey bee health. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "the future of America's food supply depends on honey bees, and this effort is one way USDA is helping improve the health of honey bee populations. Significant progress has been made in understanding the factors that are associated with Colony Collapse Disorder and the overall health of honey bees, and this funding will allow us to work with farmers and ranchers to apply that knowledge over a broader area." The Midwest is home to more than 65% of the commercially managed honey bee hives in the … [Read more...]

AquaBounty Fined for Violations on GE Salmon

GE-Salmon

Officials in Panama have fined AquaBounty Technologies $9,500, stating the facility is operating in violation of environmental regulations as it experiments with genetically engineered (GE) salmon.  Food safety advocates such as Center for Food Safety and Friends of the Earth have ask the FDA to terminate its regulatory review of AquaBounty's facility and deny the company's application to sell the engineered fish in the U.S. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said, "FDA has always assured the public that it is checking, monitoring, and regulating AquaBounty's production platform to ensure the company can mitigate the well-documented environmental impacts of escaped GE salmon. We now know that AquaBounty is unwilling or unable to follow basic rules and … [Read more...]

Privatized Food Inspection Equivalencies Risky

Beef carcasses

Food & Water Watch is asking USDA Tom Vilsack to reassess the government's positions on equivalency for privatized inspection systems in other countries. Last week, a shipment of beef imported from Canada was found to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. The beef was produced at the JBS Food Canada plant in Alberta, Canada. This is the same plant that was responsible for the largest meat recall in Canadian history. In 2012, 12 million pounds of beef was recalled for E. coli contamination. More than 2 million pounds of that beef was shipped to the United States. JBS, Canadian Establishment 0038, uses a privatized inspection program at their facility that USDA recognized as being "equivalent" to U.S. meat inspection in 2006. The contamination was discovered by USDA-FSIS inspectors … [Read more...]

Listeria in Raw Milk Prompts Warning From NY Ag Department

E.coli in raw milk sickened 12

Listeria found in raw milk fromRichard Dirie Farm, in Sullivan County New York has prompted a warning from state agricultural officials. Consumers who have purchase raw milk from  located at 1345 Shandelee Road, Livingston Manor, New York should not drink it. as they risk life-threatening illness if they do. Illnesses had not been reported to the Ag department at the time of the recall, but symptoms of a Listeria infection can take as long as two months to develop. A sample of the milk, collected by an inspector from the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services on October 21, 2014,  tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. The farm was notified of the test result onOctober 23, 2014 and volunteered to suspend raw milk sales until the sample results were confirmed. Further lab … [Read more...]

Halal Beef Producer Charged with Felonies

Gavel

The owner of Midamar Corporation of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, William B. Aossey Jr., has been charged with exporting beef falsely labeled as Halal to Indonesia and Malaysia. Mr. Aossey has been indicted with 19 felony counts by a grand jury in records unsealed October 24, 2014. The charges range from conspiracy to make false statements, selling misbranded meat, and committing mail and wire fraud. Aossey is also charged with making false statements on export applications, money laundering, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. In 2012, Midamar was raided by federal agents with search warrants. Officials seized the company's business records, computers, and bank accounts. Halal foods are produced under Islamic dietary guidelines that require animals are raised, cared for, and killed to … [Read more...]

Humane Society Launches Whistleblower Program

Pigs

The Humane Society of the United States has launched a whistleblower program for factory farm workers. The hotline will let employees at those farms, in slaughterhouses, and at livestock auctions report cruelty and animal abuse. The hotline (1-888-209-7177) offers a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people who have committed acts of cruelty to farm animals. The hotline will be distributed to factory farm workers with the help of the United Farm Workers union. Hotline callers can remain anonymous if they want. Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection for the HSUS said in a statement, "the bleak conditions endured by animals on factory farms are often made worse by overt violence an neglect. Pigs are often beaten. Chickens are … [Read more...]

Mixing Dietary Supplements and Meds Is a Danger

Dietary-Supplements

The Food and Drug Administration, in one of its Consumer Updates, reminds you that mixing medications and dietary supplements can endanger your heath. Robert Mozersky , a medical officer at the FDA said, "Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it." Dietary supplements can change metabolism, absorption, and excretion of a medication and affect how it works. Mozerky added, "you may be getting either too much or too little of a medication you need." One example a supplement that interacts with prescription medications is St. John's Wort. That supplement, taken for depression, can make meds for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, birth control pills, and treatments for organ transplants less effective. Other … [Read more...]

Halloween Food Safety Tips from the FDA

fda-halloween

Halloween is Friday and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled some food safety tips to help trick-or-treaters enjoy a safe, fun night. Give kids a meal or a snack before they head out for trick-or treating to help them avoid the urge to snack on items while they are out, especially those that are not commercially wrapped. Look over their bags when they return home. Remove anything that is not commercially wrapped, discard candy with packaging that is discolored or damaged, or has tears pinholes or other openings. Keep choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies, or small toys away from very small children. If serving juice or cider to guests, make sure it is pasteurized. Keep all perishable foods you plan to serve to party guest chilled until serving time. … [Read more...]

Undeclared Allergens the Leading Cause of FDA Recalls

undeclared-allergens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using a three-pronged approach to reduce the number of leading cause of food recalls it requests: undeclared allergens.  Ingredients such milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans cause serious, sometime life-threatening reactions for those with allergies. The agency says that by researching the source of labeling errors; working with industry to develop best practices; and exploring new allergen testing methods it can improve the labeling process and minimize the problem. All food regulated by the FDA is required by federal law to have labeling that identifies major food allergens. Products that don't  are considered misbranded and can be seized by FDA, but most companies recall such food products … [Read more...]

Bacteria in Kitchen Towels: Or Why I Use Paper Towels

Kitchen Towel

I am, obviously, extremely conscious of food safety in the kitchen. I have had food poisoning twice in my life: once as a child after eating hard boiled eggs that were left at room temperature, and as an adult after eating candied pineapple. Those terrible experiences, and my education, have prompted me to help others avoid this horrible illness. I try to tell you about prompt refrigeration, cleaning methods, safe cooking and handling methods, and other factors that can affect your risk of getting food poisoning. This topic is not well covered: the safety of kitchen towels. A new study published in Food Protection Trends documents the presence of bacteria in kitchen sponges and dishcloths. Researchers looked at kitchen hand towels and tested them to see if they contain pathogenic … [Read more...]

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