December 19, 2014

Senators Question Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Task Force

Antibiotics

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have sent a letter to Secretaries Chuck Hagel, Tom Vilsack and Sylvia Burwell of the Interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to ask how gaps in the FDA's plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be addressed. President Obama issued an executive order on September 18, 2014 to set up that Task Force. The first guiding principle of the national strategy is that "misuse and over-use of antibiotics in health care and food production continue to hasten the development of bacterial drug resistance, leading to the loss of efficacy of existing antibiotics." But almost 75% of the antibiotics sold every year in this country are used in food animal production, in a way that … [Read more...]

Common Kitchen Food Safety Mistakes

refrigerator-thermometer

Researchers at Institute of Food Technologies have released information on the five most common food safety mistakes consumers make in their kitchens. The team videotaped 120 consumers as they prepared a chicken and a salad at home. Most consumers felt they were handling and cooking the food correctly, but many made critical mistakes. The first was not washing hands before starting to prepare food. Hands should be washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before starting to cook, and dried with a paper towel, not a cloth towel that can become contaminated. The second mistake was washing chicken. When chicken is washed under running water, the bacteria aerosolizes and spreads up to 3 feet away. The bacteria then ends up in the sink and surrounding countertops, and some may … [Read more...]

After Deaths, FDA Mulls Action on Powdered Caffeine

Powdered Caffeine

After two young men died from taking powdered pure caffeine, the U.S. Food ad Drug Administration (FDA) issued a consumer advisory and is now mulling further action, according to Michael Landa, Director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. Eighteen-year-old, Logan James Stiner, a high school senior, athlete and prom king died days before his graduation in May after taking  powdered pure caffeine. James Wade Sweatt, 24, a newly married, recent graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham,  downloaded a conversion chart to try to calculate the proper dose but slipped into a coma after using powdered pure caffeine and later died. Both young men purchased the caffeine online where it is marketed like an energy-boosting dietary supplement rather than a stimulant. … [Read more...]

Spending Bill Cuts $93 Million from WIC

Feeding-baby

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

seafood

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

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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...]

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...]

Nine Farms Affected by Avian Influenza in British Columbia

FPBChickenfarm

A total of nine farms have now been affected by avian influenza H5N2 in British Columbia, Canada, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). The Fraser Valley farms are close to the farm where the outbreak began. This particular strain of the bird flu virus is highly pathogenic and very contagious. The province of British Columbia has notified the CFIA of another farm where the illness is suspected; this outbreak was confirmed and is the ninth infected farm. The government is tracing movement in and out of these sites. Birds have been humanely euthanized on four farms, and depopulation activities began this week on the fifth farm. Almost 200,000 birds have been euthanized. The CFIA is urging poultry farmers to take an "active role" in protecting their flocks by using … [Read more...]

FDA Shuts Down Hawaiian Bean Sprout Operation

mung-bean-sprouts-listeria

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action to shut down RZM Food Factory, a Hawaiian bena sprout producer for unsanitary conditions. The company has which prepared and distributed mung bean, alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts in Hawaii has ceased operations and cannot resume until it hires an independent sanitation expert and develops a program to eliminate unsanitary conditions at the facility. “The FDA repeatedly advised RZM Food Factory of unsanitary conditions at the facility,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs in a statement. “If and when the company is permitted to resume operations, the FDA plans to continue monitoring its operations and may require the company to recall products or cease production if the agency … [Read more...]

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