March 29, 2015

Buying Supplements On the Internet Can be Risky

Dietary-Supplements

Dietary supplements are very popular in this country. However, Center for Science in the Public Interest is warning consumers that buying these products over the internet can be risky. First, many "testimonials" from "customers" are fake. The same "person" is usually used repeatedly by different companies, writing the same thing about different products. Second, free samples are offered if you give the company your credit card number. But the time frame for canceling the charge is too short for you to decide if the product works for you. These companies will hype scientific studies that "prove" their product is effective as advertised. But these studies are usually worthless, not adhering to the usual rigor applied to credible nutritional and medical studies. For instance, one … [Read more...]

Fourth Quarter 2014 Recall Results

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According to Stericycle, products recalled by the FDA were down, although units recalled were up, and the USDA recalls were the highest since Q1 2012. The company keeps track of food recalled in the U.S. for allergens, foreign material contamination, and bacterial contamination. The FDA recalls numbered 105 in the last three months of 2014, which is the lowest number all year. But 13.8 million units of product were recalled, which is a 142% increase from the third quarter. Undeclared allergens were the main reason for recall, at 50% of the total number. Manufacturers need to be more aware of ingredients sources and the supply chain to keep track of these ingredients. USDA issued 31 recalls for meat, poultry, and processed egg products, which is an increase of 48% from the third … [Read more...]

McDonald’s Will Source Chicken Raised without Some Antibiotics

Antibiotics

McDonald's announced last week that they will only source chicken raised without some antibiotics that are important to human health. Center for Food Safety and Food & Water Watch are applauding this move, but say that McDonald's should now make similar commitments for their beef and pork supply chains. Paige Tomaselli, Senior Staff Attorney at Center for Food Safety, said in a statement, "As the world's largest fast food chain, McDonald's has taken a significant step forward in reducing the overuse of antibiotics in the poultry industry and preserving antibiotic effectiveness for people." Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said, "we're glad to hear McDonald's realizes the public doesn't want food from factory farms that overuse antibiotics. But voluntary … [Read more...]

FDA Not Keeping Up with FSMA Foreign Inspection Law

FDA

A report released last week by the Government Accountability Office says that the FDA has to do more about inspecting food facilities in countries that export that food to the United States. The GAO studied the FDA's foreign offices in 2010 and found that they have a too heavy workload. A follow-up report found that the FDA is not inspecting enough facilities as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The FDA is supposed to inspect 600 foreign food facilities in the first year after FSMA was signed into law and, for each of the next five years, inspect at least twice the number of firms inspected the previous year. According to those calculations, the government should have inspected 4,800 facilities last year, but only conducted 1,323 inspections. The report states, … [Read more...]

Avian Influenza Discovered in Minnesota Turkey Flock

turkey-farm-usda

The USDA has confirmed the presence of "highly pathogenic" H5N2 avian influenza in a commercial turkey flock in Pope County, Minnesota. This is the same strain that was found in backyard and wild birds in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. Samples from the turkey breeder replacement flock were tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and APHIS National Veterinary Services Labs in Ames, Iowa. State officials have quarantined the premises and poultry barns within a 10-mile radius around the farm. The remaining birds on the property will be destroyed. Birds from the flock will not enter the food system. Almost 15,000 turkeys were destroyed; an additional 29,000 will be killed. A qua The CDC considers the risk to people to be low. No human infections have been … [Read more...]

South Dakota Passes Raw Milk Bill

Milking cows

The South Dakota Legislature has passed a raw milk bill that allows producers to continue to sell raw milk with some restrictions. The provisions were put in place to address concerns raised by the commercial dairy industry. Raw milk farmers will continue to be able to sell raw milk at on-farm stores and deliver to farmers markets if the milk is presold to an existing customer of the dairy. They will not be able to sell raw milk at retail stores and must comply with regular inspections. Nationwide, the number of raw milk outbreaks has been increasing in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The number of raw milk outbreaks increased from 30 in 2007-2209, to 51 in 2010- 2012. Those outbreaks resulted in 979 illness and 73 … [Read more...]

New Study Links Government Food Safety Spending and Illness

FPBBudgetcut

A new study conducted at the University of Washington School of Nursing has found that local government spending on food safety and sanitation programs affects the number of illnesses occurring in surrounding areas. Researchers looked at 11 years of data from county health departments in Washington state and New York. In Washington state, cuts to public health programs correlated with increasing Salmonella infections. In New York, cuts to public health programs correlated with increased Cryptosporidium infections. There have been major budget cuts and job losses in local health departments in recent years. Higher rates of Salmonella infections, which are usually caused by contaminated food, are associated with fewer food safety services. Cryptosporidiosis is waterborne, usually … [Read more...]

Legislators Reintroduce PARA

Congress

Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) reintroduced the Preventing Antibiotic Resistance Act of 2014 (PARA) to Congress on Monday. This is the Senate version of the House bill PAMTA (Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act). This bill would force the FDA to withdraw approval of medically important antibiotics that are used for disease prevention unless the drug's maker can demonstrate that its use on factory farms doesn't pose a risk to humans. A revised label would need to be issued for antibiotics that meet this standard. The bill would close a gap in the FDA guidelines issued in December 2013. At that time, the government asked - not told - asked the industry to eliminate antibiotic use to help animals gain weight. Industry could still use antibiotics … [Read more...]

Vilsack Commits to Exempting Mechanically Tenderized Beef Regulation

Sirloinsteak

According to Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week in a congressional hearing that he may suspend the Uniform Labeling Regulation so that the rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef (MTB) products can be issued. Mechanically tenderized beef is whole cuts of beef that have been pierced with fine blades or needles to break up the connective tissue in the meat. This action introduces bacteria to the interior of the cut, and poses a food safety hazard if the meat is not cooked to 160°F. The MTB labeling rule has been pending for 10 years. Meanwhile, there have been food poisoning outbreaks linked to this product. Two outbreaks, one in 2003 and the other in 2009, caused 174 illnesses and killed one person. And remember that these numbers are only … [Read more...]

TN Health Officials Warn of Raw Milk Dangers

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Consumers searching for natural foods shouldn't be duped into thinking raw milk is a safe choice, say Tennessee health officials.  Unpasteurized milk can harbor dangerous bacteria that can cause life-threatening illness. “It’s true many people grew up on farms and drank raw milk from their cows and goats with no ill effects,”said John Dunn, DVM, MPH, director of foodborne disease prevention services for the Tennessee Department of Health. Dunn  “It’s also true others weren’t as lucky, swallowing bacteria-laden milk that did great harm. Pasteurization destroys dangerous microorganisms without substantially altering the taste or nutritive value of milk." Infants, young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risks of serious health … [Read more...]

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