April 30, 2016

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...]

FDA Cautions Pregnant Hispanic Women About Listeria Risk

Listeria poses a huge risk for all pregnant women. The foodborne bacteria can cause an infection that triggers miscarriage, stillbirth,  premature birth and infection in newborns even if the expectant mother only experienced mild flu-like symptoms. But Listeria poses an elevated risk for Hispanic pregnant women who are 24 times more likely than the general population to contract the infection.  A major factor in the increased risk is the consumption of queso fresco and other soft cheeses. In 2014, two multistate Listeria outbreaks were linked to soft-cheeses. All of those sickened were Hispanic. Some of them were pregnant women. Some were newborns. And some of them died. In October 2014,  the CDC announced an outbreak linked to Oasis cheeses that killed one person in Tennessee and … [Read more...]

E. coli Prompts Boil Water Advisory at Wellesley College

E. coli has prompted a boil water advisory at Wellesley College. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection issued the advisory for  four buildings on the campus: Weston Terrace, Fiske House, the Wellesley Community Children’s Center, and the Child Study Center. The advisory means that anyone using water in these four buildings should boil it before drinking it. The advisory was issued after a problem was discovered during routine testing of the water system. The system is being flushed and retested throughout the weekend. No illnesses had been reported at the time the advisory was issued. E. coli symptoms usually develop within two to five days of exposure but can appear within 24 hours or take as long as 10 days to develop.  They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, … [Read more...]

Home Canning? What to Know About Botulism

Home canning is a great way to preserve the bounty of your backyard harvest, but improper technique can cause serious illness and death.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has compiled some tips on home canning, the most common source of foodborne botulism. Tips from the CDC for proper home canning technique include making sure your food preservation information is up-to-date and to always using a pressure canner when canning low-acid vegetables such as green beans, potatoes and corn or, meat, fish and poultry. Click the preceding link for more tips. Botulism is caused by a nerve toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum which is found in soil and dust. Symptoms include: double vision, blurred vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty … [Read more...]

Groups Sue FDA to Ban Perchlorate in Food Packaging

The Center for Food Safety and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with four other public health and environmental organizations, have sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to force the agency to act on a petition to ban perchlorate in food packaging. The original petition was filed in December 2014. The FDA missed a June 2015 deadline to respond. Perchlorate is an endocrine disruptor that impairs hormone production crucial to brain development. It poses a health threat, especially to fetuses, infants, and children. The FDA has approved this chemical for use as an anti-static agent in plastic packaging for dry foods such as beans, rice, and flour. Erik Olson, director of the Health Program at NRDC said in a statement, "this is a toxic chemical, and it's all over our … [Read more...]

Tennessee Department of Health: Raw Milk Can Be Hazardous

As several states around the country try to pass legislation to make the sales of raw, or unpasteurized, milk legal, and the CDC announces a study about a serious Listeria monocytogenes outbreak at the Ropelato Dairy Farm in Utah in 2014 linked to raw milk, the Tennessee Department of Health is weighing in on the topic. They released a statement that "raw milk can be hazardous to your health." The opening paragraph states, "Milk, whether it comes from seemingly healthy cows, goats, or any other animal, can cause serious health problems, including death, if it has not been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria." Dr. John Dreyzehner, Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner, says that those who think raw milk has health benefits compared to pasteurized milk should understand the … [Read more...]

OSHA Fines Pilgrim’s Pride $122K for Ammonia Release

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Pilgrim's Pride Corporation, the nation's largest chicken producer, for failur to use proper safety procedures that resulted in the release of 79 pounds of anhydrous ammonia. The release of the chemical on Sept. 28, 2015 endangered workers at the plant because it can burn skin and cause death if inhaled. "Anhydrous ammonia can have devastating and lethal effects," said Jack Rector, OSHA's area director in Fort Worth. "Had Pilgrim's had the right processes in place, this ammonia release may have been prevented. We will continue to monitor the company's progress as they make much-needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training to keep their workers safe." OSHA issued the citation after investigators inspected the … [Read more...]

Often Linked to Salmonella Illnesses, Turtles Are Not Good Pets

Turtles are frequently linked to Salmonella illnesses and should not be purchased as pets, health officials warn. Two Salmonella outbreaks linked to tiny pet turtles have sickened at least 51 people in 16 states, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Small turtles have long been associated with Salmonella infections, especially in children. For this reason, the sale of turtles with shells of less than four inches in length has been banned since 1974. Many of the case patients in these outbreaks reported buying the small turtles from street vendors. Unfortunately, children are disproportionately affected by Salmonella outbreaks linked to turtles. About half of the illnesses in these outbreaks affected children 5 and under. Epidemiologic … [Read more...]

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