April 26, 2015

EWG Launches Petition to Remove Propyl Paraben


Environmental Working Group (EWG) has launched a petition to remove propyl paraben, an endocrine disruptor, from the country's food. This ingredient is in 49 processed foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes, Energy Club nuts and chocolate blend, Entenmann's Coconut Crunch Donuts, Setton Farms' trail mix, and La Banderita corn tortillas. Propyl paraben is on EWG's Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives. The FDA has listed propyl paraben as GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe." But there is evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, sexual function, sleep, reproduction, and mood. A 2010 study at the CDC found that 92.7% of Americans tested had propyl paraben in their urine. Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan … [Read more...]

BMPEA, Ingredient in Dietary Supplements, Never Studied


A new study published in Analytical Chemistry has revealed that an ingredient common in many dietary supplements, weight loss supplements, and workout supplements has never been studied for safety and efficacy in human beings. The ingredient is called β-methylphenylethylamine (BMPEA). It is chemically almost identical to amphetamines, so it is called an amphetamine isomer. Canadian health officials pulled supplements that contain BMPEA from store shelves in December 2014. But in the U.S., the FDA has said that the stimulant "does not identify a specific safety concern at this time." Many scientists disagree. In the United States, the multi-billion-dollar supplement industry is not well regulated. In fact, what is in the dietary supplement you buy doesn't always match the ingredient … [Read more...]

World Health Day Stresses Food Safety

World Globe and Stethoscope

Today is World Health Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) is making the centerpiece of this year's celebration food safety. New data on the harm caused by food poisoning stresses the global threat caused by contaminated food. WHO states that there is a need for coordinated, cross-border action across the entire food supply chain. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said in a statement, "food production has been industrialized and its trade and distribution have been globalized. These changes introduce multiple new opportunities for food to be contaminated with harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals." Food that is not safe to eat can contain bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemical substances. Unsafe food can cause more than 200 diseases. WHO is releasing the … [Read more...]

After Easter, a Word About Egg Safety

Hard Cooked Egg

After Easter, most people have hard cooked eggs that they have dyed for the holiday. The FDA wants you to know some food safety tips for handling this food. Fresh eggs can contain Salmonella bacteria that are in the actual egg itself, not just on the shell. The FDA estimates that 142,000 illnesses are caused by consumers eating eggs that are contaminated with this pathogenic bacteria. Although there are regulations in place to help prevent contamination on the farm and during shipping, eggs will contain Salmonella. The bacteria is actually in the hen's ovaries. Consumers are the last measure of defense against food poisoning from eggs. All cartons of shell eggs that have not been treated to destroy Salmonella bacteria are required to display this safe handling statement: "To … [Read more...]

USDA Releases “FoodKeeper” App for Consumers


The USDA, along with Cornell University and the Food Marketing Institute, has released FoodKeeper, an app that will help consumers keep the food in their homes safe while minimizing food waste. American consumers waste at least 30% of the food they buy, which comes to about 133 billion pounds every year. FoodKeeper "contains food safety and storage advice to help you maintain freshness and quality of foods," according to the Food Marketing Institute. The app gives consumers information on temperature and storage for items that must be refrigerated, information about packaging, freezer burn, and defrosting frozen food, and information on temperature and storage of low-acid canned foods, high-acid canned goods, and canned hams. The app is free for download on the App Store and Google … [Read more...]

West Virginia Governor Vetoes Raw Milk Bill


West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has vetoed a bill that would have legalized herd-share agreements allowing consumers to obtain raw milk bu owning a share in a milk-producing animal.  In his veto message, Gov. Tomlin said signing the bill into law would have posed a serious public health risk. The bill (SB30) acknowledged that consuming raw milk poses inherent dangers as it can contain pathogens that are especially harmful to children, pregnant women, seniors and those with compromised immune systems, Tomblin said. "A product with these types of health risks should be subject to more supervision than merely requiring a person to release the seller from liability for such risks. Second, the bill lacks provisions regarding oversight and regulatory authority with respect to … [Read more...]

DARK Act to Prevent GE Labeling Introduced to Congress


Representatives Mike Pompeo (R-KS) and G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) have introduced what opponents are calling the "DARK Act" to Congress. This bio would block both the FDA and individual states from requiring labels on GMO and GE foods. And it would also supplant mandatory disclosure with voluntary labeling standards. The Deny Americans the Right To Know (DARK) Act was debated in the House Agricultural Committee last week. Two committee members said that more diversity of opinion was needed on the bill before voting on it. The Act is called, ironically, the Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act of 2015. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "This bill is simply not the solution Americans are looking for. An overwhelming majority of American … [Read more...]

Hospital Listeriosis Outbreaks Deadly and Difficult to Detect


Hospital listeriosis outbreaks, such as the one in Kansas linked to Blue Bell ice cream, can be difficult to detect and especially dangerous because 90 percent of Listeria-related illnesses fall on expecting mothers, infants, seniors and others who are immuno-suppressed. In 2010, a determined group of epidemiologists at the Texas State Department of Health Services launched an investigation into a puzzling outbreak that killed five hospital patients over a period of seven months at various hospitals in the central portion of the state. The team wrote about their work in the Oxford Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases, raising questions about why hospitals don't do more to protect vulnerable patients from food poisoning. The same agency recently helped to confirm that Blue Bell ice … [Read more...]

Study Finds Raw Milk Benefits Do Not Outweigh Risks


A study conducted by the Department of Environmental Health Services at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future has found that the benefits of consuming raw milk do not outweigh the risks. The study was done for the Maryland General Assembly as they consider a bill to legalize the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk in that state. The study, which was completed in December 2014 but just released to the public, states, "Overall, our review identified no evidence that the potential benefits of consuming raw milk outweigh the known risks." The bill, House Bill 3 was introduced to the Maryland House of Delegates during the 2014 session. The researchers looked at the scientific literature for studies regarding health benefits and risks … [Read more...]

L.A. Star Seafood Company Ordered to Close Down


The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against L.A. Star Seafood Company of Los Angeles and its corporate officers. The company was producing adulterated seafood products. The complaint alleges that the sanitation practices at the facility were deficient. Acting Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer said, "the failure to actively plan for and control the presence of bacteria and neurotoxins commonly found in seafood processing facilities can pose a serious risk to the public health." FDA inspections in 2013 and 2014 documented a pattern of insanitary conditions. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were found at the facility. Workers at the facility did not adequately clean surfaces and utensils for … [Read more...]

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