April 20, 2014

Research Shows How E. coli O157:H7 Binds to Produce

E.-coli-food-illness

New research presented at the Society for General Microbiology's Annual Meeting showed how E. coli O157:H7 binds with plant cells. This lets the bacterium hold on to the plant's surface so it can multiply. And that means that washing produce is not going to easily remove this pathogenic bacteria. Between 20 to 30% of food poisoning outbreaks are linked to contaminated vegetables. Researchers from the James Hutton Institute in Scotland found that E. coli O157:H7 uses flagella, which are thin appendages usually used for movement, to penetrate the plant cell walls. The flagella interacts with fat molecules in the plant cell membranes. Once they are attached, the E. coli bacteria colonize the plant's surface. Most of the bacteria can be removed by washing at this point, but some can … [Read more...]

Progess Missing from CDC’s Food Safety Progress Report

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There isn't much progress in the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Food Safety Progress Report for 2013. The annual report which tracks reported cases of infection from foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Listeria, E. coli and Campylobacter, shows rates have remained flat in most cases and increased in others. E.coli, Listeria, Salmonella* and Yersinia food poisoning rates have all remained flat since 2006, while rates of infection from Vibrio and Campylobacter have increased. Infections from Campylobacter, which is most often associated with poultry and dairy products, have risen 13 percent since 2006. Vibrio infections, which are most often associated with eating raw shellfish, were at the highest level in 2013 since tracking began in 1996. However, rates of the … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Criticizes USDA Meat Inspection Plans

Chickencarcass

Tony Corbo of Food & Water Watch states that the USDA is "dismantling the meat inspection system as we know it." Information received through the Freedom of Information Act from USDA's FSIS had a spreadsheet with the number of temporary inspectors hired and where they are working. Last December, FSIS posted "As the Food Safety and Inspection Service looks to transition through modernization and implementation of the New Poultry Slaughter Inspection System, the Agency is announcing temporary Food Inspector positions to facilitate the transition and to help ensure seamless implementation should the Agency decide to proceed with implementation of the new system." That new system, commonly known as HIMP, has been heavily criticized by many consumer, food safety, and worker safety … [Read more...]

CFA Says Little Progress in Reducing Foodborne Illness

CDC-2013-FBI-report

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their annual report on the incidence of foodborne illness in the United States on Tuesday. It shows there has been little progress made on the prevention of food poisoning outbreaks in recent years. Salmonella and Campylobacter are the two bacteria that cause the most illness. Progress in reducing illness caused by E. coli O157:H7 bacteria has stalled. The data showed an increase in Campylobacter infections, but there was a small decrease in Salmonella illnesses when compared to 2010-2012. But Christopher Waldrop, Director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America (CFA) said, "for most pathogens, we haven't really been able to move the needle win recent years. The decrease in Salmonella illnesses is … [Read more...]

Listeria in Raw Milk From Greenfield Dairy Prompts Warning

Glassbottleofmilk

Raw milk from Greenfield Dairy in Middleburg, PA may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and consumers should not drink it, Pennsylvania agriculture officials are warning. Results of routine tests on a raw milk sample collected from the farm on April 8 tested positive for the bacteria. The raw milk included in the warning was sold at the on-farm retail store in half gallon glass containers with the Greenfield Dairy label dated April 18, 21, 22 and 24. It is labeled as “raw milk.” Raw milk sales at the farm have been halted by agriculture officials until two samples taken at least 24 hours apart are negative for Listeria. Illnesses have not been reported to state health officials. Symptoms of a Listeria infection, called listeriosis, usually appear within one to three weeks … [Read more...]

Feinstein and Durbin Ask USDA to Address Poultry Contamination

chicken-salmonella

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Representative Dick Durbin (D-IL) sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack this week, asking him to develop strong performance standards for poultry products to reduce foodborne illnesses. Both Campylobacter and Salmonella should be addressed in the new standards. The USDA is going to publish a new Salmonella standard for poultry parts by September 2014, and for ground poultry products by the end of the year. But the government does not have a timeline for establishing Campylobacter standards for those products. And the recent CDC Food Safety Progress Report states that there has been a 13% increase in Campylobacter infections in the U.S. from 2008 to 2013. The letter states that "it is critical that new … [Read more...]

Vermont Senate Approves GMO Labeling Bill

GMOtomato

The Vermont Senate has approved H.112, a bill to label GMO or GE foods, with a vote of 28 to 2. Tee bill now goes to the House for a final vote before it heads to the governor's desk. Governor Peter Shumlin has indicated he is likely to sign it, which would make Vermont the first state to require labeling of genetically engineered products. If the bill does become law, it would go into effect on July 1, 2016. While other states such as Maine have similar bills on the books, they also have trigger clauses, which means the law does not go into effect unless neighboring states pass labeling laws. Vermont Right to Know GMOs, a collaborative project of several consumer advocacy groups, approved the action. That group has submitted petitions to the government with more than 36,000 … [Read more...]

FDA Asked to Monitor False Industry Claims About GMO Salmon

Salmon

Food & Water Watch and Center for Food Safety asked FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to stop erroneous statements by AquaBounty Technologies. The company's vice present Henry Clifford told the press that the government will let the company sell its GMO salmon without a label to inform consumers. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "FDA's failure to take action on AquaBounty's blatant misrepresentation of the facts typifies the agency's entire hands-off regulatory review of GMO salmon. It also illustrates the dangerous level of miscommunication between FDA and AquaBounty that, historically, has caused the agency to overlook critical risks associated with GMO salmon." Environmental experts are concerned that the genetically engineered … [Read more...]

FDA Sends Warning to Makers of CRAZE Dietary Supplement

FDA-Food-Safety

Driven Sports Inc. has some new supplements it would like to start selling, but after its product, CRAZE, was found to contain an unapproved meth-like ingredient, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says it will need some information first. In a warning letter to the company dated April 4, the FDA outlined next steps for the company. CRAZE, which was marketed as a sports supplement, contains "Dendrobex", which is listed on the product label as an ingredient and  N,α-diethylphenylethylamine, the meth-like ingredient, which is not. Neither chemical is approved for use in dietary supplements, so the presence of either one renders product adulterated, according to the FDA. The company has both disputed claims that CRAZE contains N,α-diethylphenylethylamine and cited claims that … [Read more...]

FDA Issues Final Guidance for Import Refusal of Ackee

Ackee Can be Toxic

The FDA has issued final guidance on import enforcement for ackee, a fruit that contains the toxin hypoglycin A. When the fruit is fully ripe, the toxin drops to negligible levels, but if the fruit isn't ripe or if it isn't properly processed to remove the seeds and rind, concentrations of hypoglycin A can rise about 100 parts per million and become a health risk. The FDA now has the authority to seize domestic product and to refuse imports. Ackee is a tropical fruit about four inches long. When immature, it is green. A mature fruit is yellow, with an overlay of bright red with three bulging seams. The fleshy, pale yellow arils inside are the edible part. Ackee is found in West Africa, South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. It is also found in Florida. The fruit is … [Read more...]

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