March 4, 2015

Legislators Reintroduce PARA

Congress

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2014 (PARA) to Congress on Monday. This is the Senate version of the House bill PAMTA (Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act). This bill would force the FDA to withdraw approval of medically important antibiotics that are used for disease prevention unless the drug's maker can demonstrate that its use on factory farms doesn't pose a risk to humans. A revised label would need to be issued for antibiotics that meet this standard. The bill would close a gap in the FDA guidelines issued in December 2013. At that time, the government asked - not told - asked the industry to eliminate antibiotic use to help animals gain weight. Industry could still use antibiotics … [Read more...]

Vilsack Commits to Exempting Mechanically Tenderized Beef Regulation

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According to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week in a congressional hearing that he may suspend the Uniform Labeling Regulation so that the rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) products can be issued. Mechanically tenderized beef is whole cuts of beef that have been pierced with fine blades or needles to break up the connective tissue in the meat. This action introduces bacteria to the interior of the cut, and poses a food safety hazard if the meat is not cooked to 160°F. The MTB labeling rule has been pending for 10 years. Meanwhile, there have been food poisoning outbreaks linked to this product. Two outbreaks, one in 2003 and the other in 2009, caused 174 illnesses and killed one person. And remember that these numbers are only … [Read more...]

TN Health Officials Warn of Raw Milk Dangers

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Consumers searching for natural foods shouldn't be duped into thinking raw milk is a safe choice, say Tennessee health officials.  Unpasteurized milk can harbor dangerous bacteria that can cause life-threatening illness. “It’s true many people grew up on farms and drank raw milk from their cows and goats with no ill effects,”said John Dunn, DVM, MPH, director of foodborne disease prevention services for the Tennessee Department of Health. Dunn  “It’s also true others weren’t as lucky, swallowing bacteria-laden milk that did great harm. Pasteurization destroys dangerous microorganisms without substantially altering the taste or nutritive value of milk." Infants, young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risks of serious health … [Read more...]

Wyoming Steps Closer to Legal Raw Milk, More Food Poisoning, Critics Charge

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A bill that would legalize the sale of raw milk and home-grown food has passed both houses of the Wyoming State Legislature. But critics say the bill, called the Food Freedom Act, contains no consumer protections and will put people at risk for serious illness and death from food poisoning. The Wyoming Tribune Eagle editorial page said a better name for the bill would be the Food Illness Bill. The Wyoming Senate voted 20-8, with one abstention, to pass the bill. Criticism of the bill does not fall along part lines. Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper  and Sen. Fred Emerich, R-Cheyenne are all opposed to the idea. Before a fine version heads to Gov. Matt Mead, it will likely be sent to a conference committee. Because it is not pasteurized, raw milk can contain … [Read more...]

Preventing E. coli Outbreaks One Goal of NYC Restaurant Inspections

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Can restaurant grading systems like the one in New York keep people out of the hospital? Reducing food poisoning from E. coli, other bacteria and unsanitary conditions is one of the goals of the these systems. With letter grading systems, restaurants have more of an incentive to use good food safety measures. New York's program requires restaurants to post the letter grade of their health inspection in their front window. The city began using the letter grading system in July 2010. Poor hygiene, improper food handling and storage and temperature abuse are the most common causes of bacterial and viral foodborne illnesses. Outbreaks are often linked to cross-contamination in kitchens, sick employees, employees who don't wash hands before touching food, pest infestations, unsanitary … [Read more...]

Missouri Bill Would End Regulation of Farm Sales

Farm stand

A bill that may be introduced to the Missouri legislature would end regulation on farm-produced products sold directly to the consumer. House Bill 866 is sponsored by State Representative Mike Moon (R-Ash Grove). Moon has not been able to get the bill scheduled on the calendar. The bill states that the farmer "must retain the right to choose" whether the products will be regulated by the state or local agencies. If the foods sold are not inspected or regulated, a sign must be posted warning consumers that the items are not regulated. The consumer then "retains the responsibility" that the products are wholesome. Food poisoning outbreaks linked to farm-sold goods have been numerous in the past few years. For instance, the Campylobacter outbreak linked to Family Cow raw milk in … [Read more...]

Reusable Plastic Containers Still Harbor Bacteria After Cleaning

food transportation

A new study conducted at the University of Markansas at Fayetteville has found that Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens attach to reusable plastic containers used in industry and remain even after cleaning. Those pesky biofilms are, again, the culprit. Scientists looked at the materials used to make these food containers that are used to transport fruits and vegetables to grocery stores. In the study, researchers let Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and E. coli O157:H7 bacteria to grow on the reusable plastic container (RPC) surface and then cleaned and sanitized the containers according to industry standards. In all cases, the material still had biofilms that protected the bacteria even after cleaning. Biofilm is a kind of slime made of protein that surround the bacteria, … [Read more...]

Peanut Allergy? Avoid Cumin For Now, FDA Advises

Spice Mill Cumin Peanut Recall

Shipments of cumin contaminated with undeclared peanut have triggered so many product recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising people with peanut allergies or severe sensitivities to avoid the spice for the time being as they are at risk of a serious or life-threatening allergic reaction. For those affected by the advisory, products to avoid include ground cumin sold as a spice, or in spice mixes, dinner kits-particularly for Indian of Tex Mex foods; marinades for meat and poultry and finished food products such as soups and chilies. Products made before 2014 are unlikely to contain the affected ground cumin. The FDA advises consumers peanut allergies to review product labels and be aware that affected products may list “spices”  rather than "cumin" in their … [Read more...]

Listeria in Sprouts Prompts Two Recalls

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Listeria in bean sprouts has prompted two recalls so far this year,  one from Go Hang  brand sprouts, the other from Jack and the Beanstalk brand. Consumers who have purchased either of these brands should not eat them as Listeria can cause serious illness. At the time of the recall, no illnesses had been reported, but Listeria infections can take up to 70 days to appear. Recalled Jack and the Beanstalk soybean sprouts  were distributed to Bay Area stores and restaurants in  1 pound bags with the bar code 7-27580-12366-9;  1.5 pound bags with the bar code 7-27580-12365-2, and 10 pound bags with the bar code 7-27580-12351-5. NATTO soybean sprouts with the bar code 7-27580-12367-6  are also part of this recall. The recalled items are Go-Hang Soybean sprouts were distributed inK O-MART … [Read more...]

USDA Approves GMO Apple Despite Health Concerns

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The USDA decided to approve a genetically modified (GMO) apple that doesn't brown after bruising or slicing. This apple, called the Arctic apple, was developed by Okanagan Specialty Fruits. The apple, called the "botox apple", is produced by using a new form of genetic engineering called RNA interference or gene silencing. Consumer advocates and food safety groups are concerned about this apple and the new method of producing it. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director for Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "This produce is completely unnecessary and poses numerous risks to apple growers, the food industry, and consumers. For USDA to turn a blind eye to these risks for such an inessential technological 'advance' is foolish and potentially costly." These apple trees could easily … [Read more...]

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