October 25, 2014

Undeclared Allergens the Leading Cause of FDA Recalls

undeclared-allergens

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is using a three-pronged approach to reduce the number of leading cause of food recalls it requests: undeclared allergens.  Ingredients such milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans cause serious, sometime life-threatening reactions for those with allergies. The agency says that by researching the source of labeling errors; working with industry to develop best practices; and exploring new allergen testing methods it can improve the labeling process and minimize the problem. All food regulated by the FDA is required by federal law to have labeling that identifies major food allergens. Products that don't  are considered misbranded and can be seized by FDA, but most companies recall such food products … [Read more...]

Bacteria in Kitchen Towels: Or Why I Use Paper Towels

Kitchen Towel

I am, obviously, extremely conscious of food safety in the kitchen. I have had food poisoning twice in my life: once as a child after eating hard boiled eggs that were left at room temperature, and as an adult after eating candied pineapple. Those terrible experiences, and my education, have prompted me to help others avoid this horrible illness. I try to tell you about prompt refrigeration, cleaning methods, safe cooking and handling methods, and other factors that can affect your risk of getting food poisoning. This topic is not well covered: the safety of kitchen towels. A new study published in Food Protection Trends documents the presence of bacteria in kitchen sponges and dishcloths. Researchers looked at kitchen hand towels and tested them to see if they contain pathogenic … [Read more...]

Salmonella, Campylobacter Cases Rise in Australia as Overall Food Poisoning Rates Decline

Raw egg

Salmonella and Campylobacter poisoning cases are on the rise in Australia, even as the overall rate of food poisoning there declines, according to a new study. Campylobacter and Salmonella are commonly associated with poultry and dairy products. Food poisoning is common in Australia, where one in five people suffer a bout each year, similar to the U.S. where one in six people are stricken annually. For this study, researchers included 23 pathogens in their analysis of a decade of data from 2000 to 2010. For most of the illnesses, about 80 percent of them, the specific pathogen was unknown. For illnesses where the pathogen was known, 93 percent were attributed to just four pathogens: E.coli, Camplobacter, Salmonella and norovirus. Overall the number of cases of food poising dropped … [Read more...]

GAO Report: USDA Efforts to Protect Consumers from Salmonella, Campylobacter in Poultry Lacking

FPBchickeninpackage

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service isn't doing enough to protect Americans from poultry contaminated with the pathogens Salmonella and Campylobacter, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  More than 2 million Americans are sickened by Salmonella and Campylobacter every year and poultry contaminated with those pathogens causes more deaths than any other commodity. The report,  requested by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) in March, outlines four flaws in the USDA's efforts to reduce pathogen contamination of poultry and makes four recommendations to address them. For example,  the USDA  guidelines to control Salmonella and Campylobacter on poultry farms, … [Read more...]

WTO Rules Against COOL. Again.

GroundBeefLabel

The World Trade Organization released its compliance panel reports on the United States "country of origin labeling" (COOL) disputes Monday, and ruled against the United States. WTO found that "the amended COOL measure violates Article 2.1 of the TBT Agreement because it accords to Canadian and Mexican livestock less favourable treatment than that accorded to like US livestock." The ruling states that COOL has a "detrimental impact" on competitive opportunities of imported livestock because it necessitates "increased segregation of meat and livestock according to origin." WTO also states that the labels place a higher record keeping burden on imported meats, and increases the potential for label inaccuracy. Consumer advocates, including Center for Food Safety, are disappointed by … [Read more...]

FDA Agrees to Finalize GRAS Rule of 1997

FDA

The FDA has agreed to finally finalize its GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) rule, in response to a Center for Food Safety lawsuit. For 17 years, the FDA has let corporations fast track their food additives to get products onto the market. That allowed corporations to sell products that had not been reviewed by the government to see if they are safe for human consumption. In 1958, Congress passed a law requiring the FDA to conduct "rigorous reviews" of food additives before they were put into the marketplace. Those additives were supposed to be rejected or approved based on scientific evidence. Common ingredients that were used for decades, such as sugar, were deemed "generally regarded as safe" and exempt from review. Corporations could formally petition FDA to approve a food additive … [Read more...]

NAMA Conference Presents Trends in Beef and Food Poisoning

ground_beef_260px

The North American Meat Association (NAMA) held its Pathogen Control and Regulatory Compliance in Beef Processing conference last week, and reported on the foodborne disease outbreaks that are attributed to meat. Meatingplace.com says that Hannah Gould of the CDC's National Outbreak Reporting System reported on the data. According to the data, about 9% of foodborne illness outbreaks in the U.S. are attributed to beef; 9% to chicken; and 7% to pork. Between 2009 and 2013, of the illnesses linked to beef, 35% involved E. coli O157:H7 and 23% were caused by Salmonella. And between 2003 and 2012, 55% of all E. coli outbreaks attributed to food were associated with beef consumption. Of those outbreaks, 69% were from ground beef, 14% from steaks and 17% from other beef products. This … [Read more...]

Congress Members Ask for More Answers on Poultry Inspection

Chickencarcass

Fifteen members of Congress sent a letter last week to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack about the new poultry inspection system that has been criticized by consumer, food safety, and workplace safety advocates. They wrote they are "extremely disappointed" that the USDA did not address their concerns about the new rule about HIMP, or the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). The letter states "the new rule will create a system that is detrimental to food and worker safety, as well as animal welfare. This rule abdicates food safety oversight from the USDA into the hands of industry and it places workers in jeopardy." The rule removes USDA-FSIS inspectors from processing lines in poultry plants and instead lets corporations use their own employees for inspections. This creates a … [Read more...]

National Seafood Month Food Safety Tips

FPBSeafood

October is National Seafood Month and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has compiled some food safety tips to help consumers makes smart choices and reduce the risk of food poisoning. They are as follows: Buying Fresh Fish or Shrimp? If something smells fishy, don’t buy it. Fish should be odorless. It should not smell fishy, sour or like ammonia. Whole fish should have firm, shiny flesh; clear, slightly bulged eyes and red gills that are free of slime. Shrimp should also be odorless. Its flesh should be shiny and translucent. Don’t buy seafood that is not refrigerated or displayed on a bed of ice. Buying Fresh Shellfish? Look for labels or tags on sacks of live shellfish that have information such as the processor’s certification number, which means that the shellfish were … [Read more...]

How Do Your Representatives Score on Food Policy?

Congress

Food Policy Action has released its Legislative Scorecard for the 113th Congress. It gives 71 members perfect scores, and 35 a score of zero. The grades were set based on how the Senators and Representatives voted on six specific bills relating to food safety, domestic hunger programs, animal welfare, nutrition, organic farming, and food accessibility and if they sponsored the eight related bills that did not come to a vote. The list of bills used on the Scorecard include the Senate's Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2013 (PARA), the House's Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act of 2013 (PAMTA) and the Grayson Food Safety Inspection Amendment. Tom Colicchio, FPA board member, said in a statement, "few things have as much of an impact on our lives as food. … [Read more...]

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