July 2, 2016

Hawaii Restaurant Issued Cease and Desist Order

The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Wastewater Branch has issued a Notice of Violation, Permit Suspension and Order to the Haleiwa Beach House Restaurant because its wastewater system is causing "an imminent threat to public health" by spilling wastewater onto a neighboring property used by children for educational purposes. Stuart Yamada, Environmental Management Division administrator said in a statement, "to protect public health and the environment and prevent the contamination of neighboring properties caused by the overloading of the restaurant's wastewater system, the department is ordering the Haleiwa Beach House to cease operation." The restaurant expanded without state and county approvals, so their system can't handle the expanded capacity of the … [Read more...]

Consent Decree Issued Against Native American Enterprises

The U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas entered a consent decree of permanent injunction last week between the United States and Native American Enterprises of Wichita, Kansas. The action was brought for "significant and ongoing violations of federal food safety laws and regulations." The government alleges that the company's ready to eat refried beans and sauces are adulterated, in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under unsanitary conditions so the food is contaminated with filth or has been rendered injurious to health. The company can no longer sell any FDA regulated products until it comes into compliance with the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. The company was sent a warning letter in August 2013, telling the owners to correct its violations or … [Read more...]

Summer Food Safety Tips From the USDA

Planning a summer picnic or barbecue? Bacteria multiplies rapidly at warm temperatures, so the U. S. Food and Drug Administration has compiled some food safety tips to help people avoid food poisoning during the summer months. Consumers need to be aware of the food "Danger Zone" when temperatures are between 40 and 140 ˚F and perishable food spoils rapidly, said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza.  "Foods that should be served hot or cold should not spend more than one hour in the Danger Zone when temperatures are above 90 ˚F, and two hours when temperatures are below 90 ˚F.” Bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes when perishable food is kept at temperatures in the Danger Zone. To reduce risk, keep cold food, at or below 40 °F, in the refrigerator, in … [Read more...]

Flour and Other Contaminated Foods: Food Defect Action Levels

The recall of Gold Medal flour for possible E. coli O121 contamination and the outbreak that is associated with those products reminded me of my food safety classes at the University of Minnesota. The CDC stated tonight that "collaborative investigative efforts indicate that flour produced at the General Mills facility in Kansas City, Missouri is a likely source of this outbreak." While E. coli bacteria in flour may seem unlikely to many, it does happen. And foods do contain "icky" ingredients in addition to bacteria. Most people don't know that there are allowable levels of "unavoidable defects" in food and that the FDA has set these levels to below what would make an average person ill. Those "defects" include the presence of insect filth, maggots, insect eggs, mold, grit, rust, and … [Read more...]

FDA Issues Final Food Defense Regulation

The FDA released the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rule for mitigation strategies to protect food against intentional adulteration last week. This rule is intended to prevent public harm by requiring companies in the U.S. and abroad to take steps to prevent adulteration of the food supply. These facilities are required to complete and maintain a written food defense plan that assesses their potential vulnerabilities to deliberate contamination. They must also establish food defense monitoring procedures and corrective actions, verify that the system is working, and ensure that personnel assigned to these areas receive training and maintain records. Before 1982, most food and drug products did not have tamper-proof packaging or tamper-resistant seals. In 1982, seven … [Read more...]

Oceana Asks for Turtle Excluder Devices for Wild Caught Shrimp

Oceana is calling on the Obama administration to require the use of improved Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) to save sea turtles and reduce wasted seafood. These devices are metal grates inserted into shrimp nets that allow the turtles and other wildlife to escape. Many shrimp boats in the Southwest have been forced to use TEDs since the 1980s, but more than 2,000 skimmer trawls are exempt. Those trawls could be killing 50,000 endangered and threatened sea turtles every year. In 2013, shrimp trawl fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico threw away 62% of its total catch of ocean wildlife that were caught in the nets. Lora Snyder, campaign director at Oceana, said in a statement "protecting sea turtles and U.S. fishing interests do not have to be mutually exclusive. Requiring TEDs in all … [Read more...]

Catfish Inspection Program Nullified by the U.S. Senate

Last November, the USDA released its final rule on catfish inspection. The rule became effective in March 2016. But last week, the U.S. Senate voted to shut the program down by passing a resolution of Congressional disapproval and nullification. The program had been finding antibiotics and carcinogens from Siluriformes fish imported from Asia. Catfish used to be inspected by the FDA, but the inspection process was transferred to USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors would conduct inspections during all hours of operation at domestic facilities that slaughter and processes these fish, similar to the inspections they conduct at poultry and meat slaughter facilities. In 2011, the FDA tested less than 0.1% of all imported seafood for drug … [Read more...]

Nanoparticles Found in Baby Formula

According to Friends of the Earth, infant formulas sold in the United States contain nanoparticles, which are very small compounds. Research shows that these nanoparticles may pose threats to human health. Friends of the Earth commissioned independent lab analysis that found these particles in six infant formulas that were tested. These nanoparticles are not indicated on the label and they are not regulated by the FDA. The FDA is supposed to regulate baby formulas and making sure they are safe, but the government does not approve the safety of infant formulas before they are marketed.. They only require that the formulas meet nutritional requirements and are screened for pathogens. The rules don't include screening for potentially toxic synthetic ingredients. The products that … [Read more...]

Dangerous E. coli Superbug Now in the U.S.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday, May 26, 2016 that E. coli resistant to the critical antibiotic colistin was found in a person in this country for the first time. In addition, colistin resistance was also found in a sample taken from a pig intestine that was analyzed by the USDA. The E. coli bacteria that was found in the pig was also resistant to ampicillin, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, and tetracycline. This is the scenario that food safety experts and doctors have been dreading for some time. Colistin is a last-resort drug that is used to treat patients who have multi-drug resistant infections. The bacteria has also been found in Europe and Canada. The patient with the resistant E. coli bacteria was treated in an outpatient military … [Read more...]

Sioux City Officials Released Sewage with E. Coli into Missouri River

Sioux City officials are facing penalties for releasing improperly treated sewage that contained E. coli bacteria into the Missouri River. The illegal discharges from the Sioux City Wastewater Treatment Plant took place between March 2012 and June 2015. The Iowa Sierra Club wants federal authorities to file criminal charges against the men responsible, because the Iowa DNR says that criminal charges are not warranted . The Iowa Department of Natural Resources wants the state's Attorney General Tom Miller to file civil suit against the city. Allegedly, twelve federal provisions, seven Iowa codes, and one Iowa code provision were violated. the DNR received a tip in April 2016 that the city was operating the disinfection system for wastewater in violation of the National Pollutant … [Read more...]

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