September 23, 2014

Senators Ask President for Increased NARMS Funding


Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are asking the President to increase funding for the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) in a letter sent to the White House on Monday, September 22, 2014. The senators are asking for $15 million in the fiscal year 2016 budget. The senators say that "combatting the mounting threat of antibiotic resistance in foodborne pathogens is one of our top priorities, and NARMS is key in this effort." Last week the White House released a report on combating antibiotic resistance, along with a National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and a Presidential Executive Order which emphasizes the importance of this work. The CDC estimates that 2,000,000 people develop … [Read more...]

USDA Approves New 2,4-D Resistant GE Corn and Soy

Crop Spraying

The USDA has approved new GE corn and soy, which environmental and food safety advocates say will mean the release of millions of pounds of more pesticides into the environment. Center for Food Safety has condemned this decision to fully deregulate Dow Chemical's Enlist corn and soybeans. Those crops are engineered to withstand "repeated spraying of the herbicide 2,4-D." The EPA has yet to approve this new herbicide. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "2,4-D resistant crops pose a monumental threat to our nation's agricultural, environmental, and human health. With this approval comes millions of more pounds of toxic herbicides dumped onto our land. Center for Food Safety will pursue all available legal options to stop the … [Read more...]

Reuters Confirms Antibiotic Misuse on Factory Poultry Farms


Food & Water Watch, which has been working against the sub therapeutic use of antibiotics on factory farms, states that Reuters released a report stating that those uses are continuing. Industry data is usually kept private, even from the FDA. Use of antibiotics in this way is linked to the explosive growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The report, titled Farmaceuticals, showed that the nation's largest poultry farmers feed chickens antibiotics routinely. And some of those antibiotics are medically important to human beings. Five major companies - Tyson Foods, Pilgrim's Pride, Perdue Farms, George's, and Koch Foods were the focus of the investigation. More than 300 documents by poultry producers over the last two years were reviewed. These "feed tickets" come from the mills … [Read more...]

Parnell Brothers Taken into Custody


On Friday, September 19, 2014, brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell were taken to the Crisp County Jail in Cordele, Georgia. After conviction last week on multiple counts of mail fraud and other felonies in relation to the 2008 Salmonella outbreak linked to PCA peanut butter, they did not post secured bail. Mary Wilkerson, who was convicted on one count of obstruction of justice, was not jailed. Attorney Fred Pritzker, who represented clients in a lawsuit against PCA, said about Stewart Parnell, "If anybody deserved it, he did. I am not at all surprised he was found guilty given the evidence against him. I don't view Parnell's conduct as any different than poisoning people or drunk driving. My strong suspicion is that this happens much more often than is known." Stewart Parnell was … [Read more...]

Yelp Reviews Could Help Detect Food Poisoning Outbreaks


Consumer reviews of restaurants and other facilities on Yelp could help track and prevent food poisoning outbreaks, according to a new study published in Preventive Medicine. Researchers at Virginia Polytechnic Institute looked at reviews on Yelp of 5,824 food establishments from 2005 to 2012, screening customer reviews for relevant keywords, then analyzed every review. This information was compared to data from the CDC for the same time period. The scientists found that illnesses reported on Yelp matched the CDC stats. The Yelp reviews were of 13,262 businesses closest to 29 colleges in fifteen states. Those 5,824 businesses were categorized as Food or Restaurants. Researchers constructed a keyword list using common foodborne illness terms such as "diarrhea", "vomiting", and "puking". … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Four Food Safety Modernization Act Rule Revisions


The Food and Drug Administration published four revised provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act today. The rules are for produce safety, preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs. The produce safety rules is being revised for more flexible criteria for determining agricultural water safety along with a tiered approach to water testing. In addition, the government is deferring its decision on the correct time interval between applying raw manure to a crop and harvesting it, removing the original nine-month limit. On the preventive controls for human and animal foods, requirements that facilities test products is revised. Supplier controls will also be implemented. Good manufacturing practice requirements … [Read more...]

Environmental Working Group Releases Seafood Guide


Environmental Working Group has released a "Good Seafood Guide" that helps consumers consume fish and shellfish that are high in Omega-3 fatty acids, low in mercury, and harvested from sustainable sources. The agency offers a calculator, a guide to seafood, and an FAQ on how much seafood people should eat. The calculator lets you input weight, age, gender, pregnancy status, and heart disease condition. A personalized list of which fish to eat will be generated which includes more than 80 species. The seafood is divided into five categories: Best Bets, which include wild salmon and sardines; Good Choices, which include Oysters and Pollock; Low Mercury but Low Omega-3s, which include Shrimp, Tilapia, and Scallops; Mercury Risks Add Up, which include Halibut and Lobster; and Avoid, which … [Read more...]

White House Releases Report on Combating Antibiotic Resistance


The President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) has released a report today about combating antibiotic resistance. The White House also released a National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria and a Presidential Executive Order which emphasizes the importance of tackling this challenge. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are evolving at an alarming rate and are growing faster than the development of new antibiotics. The cost of antibiotic infections in the United States every year is more than $20 billion. The cost of lost productivity due to antibiotic-resistant infections is $35 billion every year. PCAST recommends that there be measures put in place to strengthen antibiotic stewardship, boost surveillance of the growth and evolution of … [Read more...]

New Study Says Artificial Sweeteners May Induce Glucose Intolerance

A new study published in Nature and conducted by researchers in Israel states that while more study is needed, artificial sweeteners may induce glucose intolerance and promote diabetes. They say that the chemicals change the composition of bacteria in your gut, which changes how the body handles sugar.  Studies have shown that these artificial sweeteners do not aid in weight loss, and may actually contribute to weight gain. Non-caloric sweeteners (NAS), or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame are widely used. While they are considered generally safe, scientific data supporting that view is sparse. Obesity and diabetes are linked to changes in gut bacteria, so the scientists looked at the effect of these chemicals on the microbiome in intestines. The researchers added saccharin … [Read more...]

Harvard Developing Device to Filter Pathogens Out of Blood


Researchers at Harvard University are developing a medical device that replicates the function of the human spleen. The scientists say that it can filter pathogens from E. coli bacteria to the Ebola virus. The device, called a biospleen, is under development at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering. The device was primarily developed to treat sepsis, which is a blood infection. The biospleen filters out live and dead pathogens along with dangerous toxins that these pathogens sometimes create. The device removes the pathogens and toxins without having to identify them first. As drug-resistant bacteria continue to evolve and develop, creating a device that will remove these pathogens from the blood quickly without a diagnosis is becoming critical to … [Read more...]

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