August 30, 2015

Study: Purported Health Benefits of Raw Milk are “Myths”

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A new study evaluating the risks and purported benefits of raw milk finds ample risk but no health benefit to drinking unpasteurized dairy. The study, which appears in the current issue of Nutrition Today, was authored by John A. Lucey, PhD,  a professor of food science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and director of the Wisconsin Center for Dairy Research, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Lucey, who researches the chemistry of dairy products and the properties of food proteins, has published more than 100 peer-reviewed articles and more than 21 book chapters. In this study, he critically evaluates the purported benefits of drinking raw milk and finds that they "have no scientific basis and are myths." Myth 1- Pasteurization … [Read more...]

FDA Warning Letter to Frito-Lay’s Tennessee Facility

FDA

The FDA has sent a warning letter to Frito-Lay's Tennessee facility, sating that inspections in May and June 2015 "revealed serious violations of FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements." That means food products held at that facility are considered adulterated because they were "prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health." Frito-Lay has responded to Form FDA 483, and included a number of corrective actions. The adequacy of those actions will be assessed during the next inspection. The inspections in May and June revealed that the roof was leaky, often directly over exposed product through the facility. The equipment wash and sanitize bay, walls, and floor in the pretzel … [Read more...]

The Risks of Rare Ground Beef: Consumer Reports

Hamburger

Consumer Reports has released a new report about the risks of eating undercooked ground beef. Their new test results prove that eating rare or medium-rare ground beef can make you seriously sick. Up to 28% of Americans eat raw or undercooked ground beef, according to Dr. Hannah Gould, epidemiologist at the CDC. All meat is contaminated with some pathogenic bacteria, most commonly Enterococcus, E. Coli, or Staphylococcus. When beef is ground, that bacteria on the surface of the beef cuts is mixed all through the product. And then when the ground beef is not cooked to well done, or 165°F, you run the risk of getting sick. Between 2003 and 2012, there were almost 80 outbreaks of E. coli O157 linked to contaminated beef. Those outbreaks sickened 1,144 people, hospitalized 316, and killed … [Read more...]

North Carolina Seafood Processor Sentenced

Food Label

Alphin Brothers Inc.,a seafood processor and wholesale distributor in North Carolina, was sentenced this month in federal court for falsely labeling imported shrimp. An employee purchased shrimp on the company's behalf and directed employees to falsely label farm-raised imported shrimp as a wild-caught product of the U.S. This mislabeled product was sold by Alphin Brothers to customers in Louisiana through interstate commerce. The facility was ordered to pay a criminal fine of $100,000 and to forfeit about 21,450 pounds of shrimp. The company will also serve three years of probation. And they must implement a training program to educate employees on federal labeling requirements and laws. Those federal laws require seafood retailers to provide consumers notice of the country of … [Read more...]

NARMS Now Interactive Tool Launched by CDC

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NARMS Now, which is part of the National Strategy for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) and the President's Open Government Initiative has been released to the public. NARMS reports present aggregated data, but this new system is the entire collection of the government's enteric bacterial isolates collected over the past 18 years. The data includes information for Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus. It allows data sharing for those who want to download and analyze microbiological data. It will be incorporated into interactive displays to let readers visualize findings across sample sources. The new tool makes it quicker and easier to see how antibiotic resistance for four bacteria spread through food. Every year in the U.S., antibiotic-resistant … [Read more...]

Whole Leaf Stevia Isn’t Considered GRAS

FDA

Many foods contain a chemical from Stevia, which is a herb that is very sweet and doesn't add calories to food. It is considered a sugar substitute, the only one made from a plant (not in a factory) and it is 200 times sweeter than sugar. But in a warning letter to the Ten Ren Tea Company of San Francisco, the FDA told them that whole leaf Stevia is not on the generally regarded as safe (GRAS) list. Whole Stevia leaves and "crude Stevia extracts" are not approved as food additives. The FDA has received petitions for the use of whole-leaf Stevia and its crude extracts in food, but data to support its safe use have been lacking, according to the government. Literature reports raise safety concerns about the use of these forms of the plant. There are concerns about effects of whole … [Read more...]

Back to School Food Safety Tips

Insulated lunchbox

FoodSafety.gov is offering tips to parents and caregivers about packing safe back to school lunches. Bacteria that cause foodborne illness are everywhere. They grow quickly at temperatures between 40 and 140°F. In just two hours, the bacteria in foods can grow quickly enough to cause foodborne illness. To keep your child safe and healthy, remember the four steps to food safety: Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill. These rules must be followed to avoid food poisoning. If the lunch you are packing contains perishable foods such as lunch meats, eggs, cheese, or yogurt, pack it with at least two cold sources.  You can use frozen gel packs, frozen juice boxes, or frozen water. By lunchtime, the juice or water should be thawed and ready to drink. Always use an insulated lunchbox or bag. A … [Read more...]

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Sickens 2 Million Americans Each Year

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Antibiotic resistant bacteria sickens 2 million Americans each year, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These infections contribute to more illness complications, higher health care costs and more intense treatments. The estimated cost of these illnesses is $20 billion annually in excess direct health care costs, with an additional $35 billion in lost productivity. One of the biggest drivers of this problem is inappropriate antibiotic prescribing which can lead to adverse reactions. About 142,000 adult emergency department visits each year stem from adverse drug reactions from antibiotics, most of which are caused by allergies. To address the problem, the CDC created The National Action Plan for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant … [Read more...]

Neonicotinoids Polluting U.S. Streams

Bee

Honeybees are crucial to the growth of many of the foods we eat. But their populations are in steep decline. Many experts think that neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides, are having acute and chronic effects on honeybees. These chemicals are slow to break down, meaning they build up in the environment. A new nationwide study released by the U.S. Geological Survey shows widespread detection of neonicotinoid insecticides in U.S. streams. At least one neonicotinoid was found in 53% of the stream samples collected around the country. Larissa Walter, pollinator campaign director at Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "It is clear that the problems with widespread uses of neonicotinoids extend well beyond the impacts to pollinators. This study shines a light on the alarming … [Read more...]

Senators Follow up on Unanswered Antibiotic Resistance Questions

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United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to the Interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, asking again for information on how that body plans to address critical gaps in the FDA policies on overuse of antibiotics in food animals. A letter was sent in December 2014, but they have not received a formal response. The letter states, "we are extremely disappointed that we have not received a formal response form your office. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria present a major public health threat and public health experts agree that antibiotic resistance stems not only from antibiotic use in human medicine, but also from use in animals." The senators asked for a response within 30 days. They … [Read more...]

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