January 31, 2015

Senators: New Salmonella, Campylobacter Standards for Poultry Will Reduce Illnesses

chicken-salmonella

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s  (USDA's ) proposed new pathogen standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry pieces will reduce the number of foodborne illnesses reported each year, say Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced yesterday the first ever proposed standards for Campylobacter and Salmonella on poultry parts and revised standards for ground poultry. The agency has implemented performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter on poultry sold whole since 1996, but has never had them for poultry sold in pieces such as breasts, wings and drumsticks or for Campylobacter in ground poultry. Only 20 percent of poultry sold is whole.  So most of the poultry … [Read more...]

Undeclared Allergens the Leading Source of USDA Recalls for 5th Straight Year

usdaart

Undeclared allergens were the leading cause of USDA recalls in 2014, the fifth straight year that they have held the title. Of the 94 recalls, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued last year, 43 were for undeclared allergens. In its breakdown of sources for recalls, the USDA groups all undeclared allergens together, whereas bacterial sources of recalls, such as E.coli, Salmonella and Listeria are listed separately along. Other categories include: extraneous material, processing defect, undeclared substance and other. These USDA considers the wheat, soy, eggs, milk, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, soybeans and fish "the big eight" allergens. About 2 percent of adults and 5 percent of children have allergies.  Those with severe allergies experience anaphylactic shock with … [Read more...]

USDA New Measures to Reduce Contamination in Poultry

Raw-Chicken-Breast

Yesterday, the USDA proposed new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination in ground chicken, ground turkey, and raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings. These standards are part of FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan that was launched in December 2013. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "Today, we are taking specific aim at making the poultry items that Americans most often purchase safer to eat. This is a meaningful, targeted step that could prevent tens of thousands of illnesses each year." According to Consumer's Union, 71% of store-bought chicken is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. And 8% of those products are contaminated with both Campylobacter and Salmonella. Government studies have found that 25% of cut up chicken, and about 50% of ground … [Read more...]

Dietary Supplements Aren’t FDA Approved

Dietary-Supplements

For those trying to make good on New Year's resolutions to lose weight with the help of dietary supplements, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has some advice: beware. The FDA doesn’t evaluate supplements before they enter the market. Manufacturers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe. Unfortunately, not all of them do. In fact, many of these products contain undeclared ingredients that pose health hazards for those with certain medical conditions and interfere with prescription medications. Others have been found to contain banned drugs such as sibutramine, an ingredient in an FDA-approved drug called Meridia, which was removed from the market in October 2010 after being linked to  heart problems and strokes. The FDA has received dozens of reports … [Read more...]

Queseria Bendita Listeria Outbreak: Foods to Avoid in Pregnancy

Queseria Bendita Listeria Outbreak Cheese Recall

The Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to recalled Queseria Bendita soft cheeses and sour cream is a reminder to pregnant women that they should avoid certain foods. One pregnant woman in Washington state was sickened in this outbreak. Some foods are riskier than others because they are more likely to contain pathogenic bacteria, especially Listeria, that can cause serious complications. The outbreak linked to Queseria Bendita Panela, Queso Fresco, Cotija, and Requeson cheeses has sickened three people and killed one person. Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients sickened by this pathogenic bacteria, said, "It is always tragic when people are sickened and killed by contaminated food. Processors have a legal responsibility to make sure the foods they sell are … [Read more...]

USDA Recalls Increased in 2014

usdaart

The number of food recalls issued by USDA-FSIS increased in 2014 over previous years. Ninety-four recalls were issued, compared to 75 in 2013. Pounds of food recalled also increased, from 13.1 million pounds in 2013 to 18.7 million pounds in 2014. USDA oversees the safety of meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products. But there were fewer recalls overall for pathogenic bacteria and more recalls for undeclared food allergens and labeling issues. Most recalls were for undeclared allergens (6.15 million) and "other" reasons (9.64 million). The "other" reasons were lack of inspection, labeling problems, or failure to present import inspection paperwork. Most of the recalls last year were Class I. The government defines that class as "a health hazard situation in which there is a reasonable … [Read more...]

Senator Schumer Wants FDA to Crack Down on Unsanitary Warehouses

FDA

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the FDA this week, asking for more inspections on food warehouses. Last year the FDA found "squalid" conditions in 90 warehouses that hold food that is shipped to consumers. In a press release, Schumer said, "at the end of 2014, the FDA quietly revealed hundreds of food safety violations at food processing facilities over the course of the year, and everyone from restaurant-goers to owners are appalled by some of the disgusting conditions at warehouses that supply our food. Reports of the filthy conditions at some of these warehouses sound like a page straight out of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'." Some of the issues in those warehouses were dead and alive rats and birds, and rodent feces next to the food. The FDA inspects "high risk" facilities … [Read more...]

HSUS Exposes Animal Abuse at Plant in Butterfield, Minnesota

Chicken

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is exposing animal abuse at a "spent" egg-laying hen slaughter plant in Butterfield, Minnesota. The undercover investigation was conducted at Butterfield Foods. Video showed hens scalded alive, forced upside down into tanks of hot water, where they drown. Hens are not covered under the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, even though chickens and turkeys make up 90% of the animals killed for food in the U.S. The spent hens are egg-laying birds that are no longer profitable as egg producers. They are used for cheap meat, often so unsafe that these battery cage facilities can't sell it for human consumption. In addition to the scalding alive, the hens arrived at the plants packed in so tightly they could barely move. Many birds had … [Read more...]

Dog Deaths Prompt Petco to Dump Treats Made in China

At least 1,000 dogs have died from treats made in China.

Petco has become the first national pet specialty retailer to end sales of pet treats made in China. The decision was prompted by continuing reports of illness and deaths associated with the products. Between 2007 an 2014, at least 5,600 dogs illnesses and 1,000 dog deaths were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The chicken, duck, or sweet potato jerky treats have also sickened 24 cats, and three people. "As a trusted partner for pet parents, we believe this is the right thing to do, and we're proud to take this step in the best interest of pets," said Jim Myers, Petco CEO. "What we feed our pets matters, and this milestone supports the company's steadfast commitment to putting our customers, partners, … [Read more...]

Food Safety Violations Found at Kansas Prisons

Prison

Inspections conducted at prisons in Kansas by the Kansas Department of Corrections has found consistent food safety violations in the prison system's kitchens. Almost 340 inspections conducted between January, 2013 and July 2014 at 19 facilities found repeated deficiencies and noncompliance. It is considered cruel and unusual punishment to not take adequate care of prisoners, who are under complete government control. In addition, when outbreaks occur, taxpayer money is then spent giving medical care to prisoners and investigating the problem. Lawsuits against prisons have been filed and won by the families of prisoners who have been sickened in outbreaks at prisons and jails. The violations recorded in the inspections included not keeping proper temperature logs, not having inmate … [Read more...]

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