July 6, 2015

North Carolina Governor Vetoes Ag Gag Bill

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The governor of North Carolina, Pat McCrory, has vetoed the ag-gag bill that was sent to his desk. The bill was designed to give big agriculture and factory farms a civil cause of action against anyone trying to uncover animal abuse. McCrory said in a statement, "This bill is intended to address a valid concern of our state’s businesses—how to discourage those bad actors who seek employment with the intent to engage in corporate espionage or act as an undercover investigator.  This practice is unethical and unfair to employers, and is a particular problem for our agricultural industry. It needs to be stopped. While I support the purpose of this bill, I believe it does not adequately protect or give clear guidance to honest employees who uncover criminal activity.  I am concerned that … [Read more...]

Canadian Risk Assessment Finds GMO Salmon Disease Susceptible

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The Center for Food Safety has released information about a risk assessment conducted in Canada that finds GMO salmon are susceptible to disease. The environmental review of AquaBounty Technologies' GE salmon reveals that the Canadian government disagrees with the FDA on key questions about the safety and performance of the salmon. Food & Water Watch, Center for Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, and Consumers Union are calling on the FDA to terminate its ongoing review of GE salmon. The risk assessment finds that GE salmon are more susceptible to a type of disease-causing bacteria than non-GE domesticated salmon. That indicates that the fish will have unique health problems. It also raises concerns about the public health that the FDA has not considered. The report also states … [Read more...]

FDA 483 Report on Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams

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The FDA has released Form 483 about their inspection of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams facility in Columbus, Ohio. That firm recalled all of their products in April 2015 because Listeria monocytogenes was found in the ice cream. The report states that the Regulatory manager and the Director of Operations, who are responsible for assuring compliance with current good manufacturing practices to all personnel, demonstrated a lack of competency. The observations follow. They did not have an environmental sampling and testing program in place. Neither the Regulatory Manager nor the Director of Operations were aware that "employees on the p.m. shift were not sanitizing the food contact surfaces of the inside of the batch freezers at the end of the production day." Towels which were being used … [Read more...]

Details of 2008 Inspection Report at Jeni’s Ice Cream Facility

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The FDA has released two inspection reports on Jeni's Ice Cream facility in Missouri. A 2008 report found problems, as did a 2015 report. The Missouri Department of Agriculture found Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in Jeni's ice cream in April 2015, and the plant shut down to find the problem. The 2008 report found that plant managers did not take measures to exclude pests from the processing areas. Rodent pellets were found along the oven wall, in the dry food product storage area, and throughout the storage area. A live rodent on a glue trap was found next to the cleaning supply door. The plant did not have adequate screening or other protection against pests. There were "numerous holes in the exterior wall of the facility without screening to prevent pest access." Garage bay doors … [Read more...]

Memorial Day and Summer Holiday Food Safety Tips from the FDA

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The FDA has released tips on eating safely this Memorial Day. Safe food handling when eating outdoors is important and can be tricky. When you are transporting food for a picnic or potluck, make sure to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Cold food should be stored at temperatures below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen so they stay colder longer. Organize cooler components. A plain picnic basket usually isn't insulated enough to hold perishable foods. Use two coolers, with beverages in one and perishable foods in another. As people take out drinks, they won't expose food to warm outdoor temperatures. Keep coolers closed too. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped and separate from foods that will be eaten raw. … [Read more...]

Consumers Will Pay More for Eggs Because of Bird Flu

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The highly-pathogenic avian influenza has spread across the central United States, killing about 39 million chickens, turkeys, and other birds since December 2014. This will affect egg supplies and prices, and may even affect prices for Thanksgiving turkeys this fall. Goldman Sachs reports that U.S. consumers will probably pay $8 billion more to buy eggs this year. That is an increase of at least 75% from last year. Corporations that buy eggs in bulk will also spend much more money. Large chains are concentrating on securing egg supplies. According to the American Egg Board, U.S. consumers ate almost 260 egg per person last year. The bird flu was introduced into this country by wild migrating birds, according to the World Organisation for Animal Health. If the virus moves east, the … [Read more...]

Study Follows Norovirus from Irrigation Water to Produce

A University of Florida researcher is conducting a two-year study of how norovirus travels through irrigation water and onto produce. Dr. Melissa K. Jones, a research assistant professor with the University of Florida, Gainesville, will lead the team. Highly contagious norovirus is responsible for about 40 percent of all food poisoning outbreaks and the leading cause of diarrheal disease in the U.S. "We're kind of on the leading edge of it," said Jones, who will present her findings during the CPS Produce Research Symposium, June 23 - 24, in Atlanta.  "One of the things we're learning about norovirus is they have a really high presence in the environment.  And we've known for a long time that they are very, very stable and can survive for years in the water and the soil." The … [Read more...]

WTO Rules Against U.S. on COOL. Again.

The World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States appeal on an October 2014 ruling delcaring country-of-origin labeling (COOL) in violation of international trade law. U.S. lawmakers want to repeal the legislation. The report issued May 18, 2015 is the fourth and final ruling on COOL. The legislation requires that all livestock from Mexico, Canada, and the United States is separated from birth and identified as to origin on the label. Canada and Mexico are against COOL, saying that it reduces the value of their exports. The ruling lets Canada and Mexico impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods this summer that could reach into the billions of dollars. Supporters of COOL want to work with Congress to make changes with the legislation to bring it into compliance. Most … [Read more...]

USDA Finally Finalizes Mechanically Tenderized Beef Label Rule

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The USDA has finally finalized labeling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef. That product is pierced with needles or small blades to tenderize, which introduces bacteria into the interior. When the beef is cooked less than well done, people who eat it can get sick. The rule will go into effect in May 2016, one year from the date of the rule's publication in the Federal Register. USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said in a statement, "labeling mechanically tenderized beef products and including cooking instructions on the package are important steps in helping consumers to safely prepare these products. This common sense change will lead to safer meals and fewer foodborne illnesses." There have been six foodborne illness outbreaks linked to tenderized beef … [Read more...]

FDA Inspection Report of Blue Bell Brenham, Texas Plant

Blue Bell Listeria Lawsuit

The FDA has released three inspection reports of the Blue Bell ice cream facilities: one in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, one in Brenham, Texas, and the third in Sylacauga, Alabama. We thought it would be a good idea to cover each inspection report, since they highlight problems at the company that may have led to the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has sickened ten people and killed three. The problem was first discovered at the plant in Texas. The inspections on the Brenham, Texas plant were conducted on March 16, 2015 through May 1, 2015, according to the FDA Form 483, which is published after inspections. The inspection discovered multiple problems discovered long before the recalls started . The Great Divide Bar manufactured on 1/12/15, and Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, … [Read more...]

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