May 25, 2016

Boston’s Fan Fan Restaurant Closed by Board of Health

Boston's Fan Fan Restaurant has been closed by the Board of Health for food safety violations. Eight of the twenty-seven cited violations are considered risky for critical foodborne illness. And two of the violations are considered critical. The critical violations included cooling food at room temperatures, holding chicken patties at 129°F, when the minimum hot holding temperature is 140°F, storing eggs above 41°F, and lack of pressure at the kitchen hand sink for hot and cold water. Other critical violations include inaccessible hand sink in cooking kitchen, and storing equipment in the hand sink during inspection. Finally, cans of Raid, a bug spray, were found in the food prep areas, and there was no allergen certificate. Critical violations included exterior grounds around the … [Read more...]

National Drug Take Back Day is April 30, 2016

The FDA is bringing attention to an event called National Drug Take Back Day on April 30, 2016. This is a day to take unused prescription medications to a disposal site to safely get rid of them. This event has removed more than 5,000,000 pounds of unwanted, unused, or expired drugs from circulation. Any medications that are no longer being used pose unnecessary dangers to others. In the last twenty years, FDA has received more than 30 reports of accidental exposure to the pain medication in fentanyl patches. Most of those poisoned were children under two years old. Twelve of those people sickened were hospitalized, and twelve died. This program also helps stop drugs from entering the environment, either through solid waste disposal or from flushing unused medicines. The EPA is … [Read more...]

USDA Proposes Organic Animal Welfare Regulations

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)  has issued a proposed rule covering requirements of the welfare of organic livestock. These changes are based on recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board. AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer said in a statement, "the demand for organic agriculture continues to grow each year and these proposed changes will build on USDA's efforts to support organic producers. By strengthening standards for organic livestock and poultry, we are ensuring that we meet consumer expectations and maintain the integrity of the organic seal to support the sector's continued growth. This proposal sets clear standards for organic animals, providing clarify to organic operations and certifying agents, and establishing a level playing field for all … [Read more...]

OSHA Issues Rules for Retaliation Complaints Under FSMA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today published a final rule establishing procedures for retaliation complaints under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). This part of FSMA, which was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011, protects employees who "blow the whistle" about potential violations of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act from retaliation by employers. Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels said in a statement, "food industry workers must never be silenced by the threat of losing their jobs when their safety or the safety of the public is at stake. This rule underscores the agency's commitment to protect the rights of workers who report illegal activity in their workplace." The final rule was made effective on April 18, … [Read more...]

Study Finds WIC Improves Preschool Children’s Diet

A study conducted by the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital in Oakland, California has found that WIC (USDA Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women Infants and Children) improves preschool children's diets. A change made in that program in 2009 provided more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low fat milk in the food voucher package. Diet quality improved for the 4 million children who are served by this federal program. Unfortunately, some in Congress want to cut this efficient and effective program. In the past few years, Republicans in Congress have tried to cut WIC funding, despite the fact that the program improves birth weight, decreases infant mortality, and improves food security. In fact, the program has faced an 8% cut in the past five years, and many WIC clinics … [Read more...]

Import Alert on Shrimp and Prawns from Malaysia

The FDA has announced an import alert on shrimp and prawns from Peninsular Malaysia. Testing has found that one-third of the imports of these types of seafood from that area contain residues of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol. Nitrofurans and chloramphenicol are antibiotics, and both are considered carcinogens. FDA testing last year discovered an increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp and prawns containing residues of these drugs. The drugs are considered contaminants, therefore the seafood is adulterated and not permitted in the United States marketplace. FDA has taken steps in the past to prevent companies with "violative shipments" from continuing to import seafood by placing them on existing Import Alerts. That means the companies' future shipments may be detained without … [Read more...]

GAO Says USDA Needs to Enhance Oversight of GMO Crops

The U.S. Government Accountability Office has released a report stating that the USDA needs to enhance its oversight and better understand the effects of unintended mixing of GMO (genetically modified organisms, also known as GE, or genetically engineered) crops with other crops. This has long been a concern of those opposed to genetically modified organisms. The report states that the USDA has "not updated its regulations to oversee GE drops derived from alternative technologies in which the GE crop developed contains no plant pest DNA." While the EPA regulates some GE crops as part of its pesticide regulation process, and the FDA works with companies that develop GE crops to consider food safety issues, USDA's GE crop regulations only pertain to crops for which the donor, vector, or … [Read more...]

FDA Rescinds Approval of Carbadox to Treat Swine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is starting the process of rescinding approval of the use of carbadox, an antibiotic, to treat swine because it may leave trace amounts of a carcinogen in the meat. The agency recently reexamined the safety profile of the drug and concluded that there could be "potential risk to human health from ingesting pork, especially pork liver, derived from carbadox-treated pigs." Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine said in a statement, "the manufacturer of carbadox has failed to provide sufficient scientific data to demonstrate the safety of this drug given evidence that carbadox may result in carcinogenic residues. As a result, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine is taking … [Read more...]

New Food Poisoning Tests Fast But Lack Detail Needed to Track Outbreaks

New food poisoning tests give faster results than old ones but don't provide the level of detail necessary to track outbreaks, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency is advising health labs to  do the old tests whenever the a new one indicates a foodborne bacterial infection. Over the long-term,  the CDC is working with partners to develop better testing methods that can provide results that are fast and detailed. The new tests, called culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs), can provide results in hours instead of the days needed for traditional culture tests which grow bacteria from stool samples to determine the cause of illness. The culture tests provide detailed information about the specific strain of bacteria. This … [Read more...]

Hawaii Puts Restaurant Inspection Reports Online

The Hawaii State Department of Health now has Hawaii restaurant inspection information online. Consumers can now see  food safety inspection reports with descriptions of violations. “We’re taking transparency to an entirely new level,” said Peter Oshiro, who manages the food safety inspection program. “Information from the inspection reports empowers consumers and informs their choices.” The online information is a companion to the Hawaii State Department of Health’s placard program developed in July 2014. The program gives restaurants green, yellow or red placards which must be posted so they are visible at the entrance of each location. Restaurants are fined for not posting them. “Data from the inspection reports give consumers the details behind the green, yellow or red … [Read more...]

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