September 2, 2014

Tell USDA No Apples from China


The USDA this summer proposed to amend the fruits and vegetables regulations to allow the import of fresh apples from China into the United States. the only condition is that apples from areas in China where the Oriental fruit fly is not known to exist would include special rules. Those rules would include registration of places of production, inspection for quarantine pests and bagging of fruit and treating the apples with fumigation and refrigeration. All apples from China must be accompanied by a "phytosanitary certificate" stating that all conditions for importation of apples have been met. Food & Water Watch opposes this rule, stating that "the proposed approach for managing the threat of quarantine pests would increase the volume of imported apples that should be inspected … [Read more...]

Canada Mandates Labeling Mechanically Tenderized Beef


The government of Canada is mandating labeling of mechanically tenderized beef. All MTB products sold in Canada must be clearly labeled as "mechanically tenderized" and include instructions for safe cooking. These products have been tenderized by piercing with needles or blades. This process introduces bacteria into the center of the cut of meat, and means the meat is not safe to consume unless it is cooked well done. Several outbreaks in both Canada and the United States have been linked to undercooked mechanically tenderized beef. An E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Canada in 2012 was linked to mechanically tenderized beef produced by XL Foods; at least 10 people were sickened. In the United States, there were at least five outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 linked to mechanically tenderized … [Read more...]

WHO Updates Ebola Advice About Transmission Through Food


The World Health Organization has released information about Ebola transmission and food safety. An outbreak of Ebola is ongoing in several African countries. The infection is only transmitted through direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, and tissues of infected people or animals. The Ebola virus can sicken non-human primates, bats, small rodents, and shrews. The initial source of past Ebola outbreaks was human contact with wild animals through hunting, butchering, and preparing meat from infected wild animals. Most of the cases in the current outbreak, however, are through human to human contact. If foods are properly prepared and thoroughly cooked, people cannot get sick by eating them. The virus is killed by cooking temperatures. Basic hygiene measures can prevent infection, … [Read more...]

Rancho Feeding Corporation Co-Owner, Employees Indicted


The co-owner of Ranch Feeding Corporation, Jesse J. Amaral Jr.  and two workers have been indicted on 11 felony counts after the huge beef recall last year. The charges include distribution of adulterated and misbranded meat, conspiracy, and mail fraud. The other co-owner of the company, Robert Singleton, is expected to be charged soon. Amaral pleaded not guilty last week and was released on bail. Government officials believe that the owners told employees to get around inspection procedures for cows that exhibited signs of cancer of the eye. Employees then allegedly substituted cows that were not inspected for those that had already passed inspection. This apparently took place from mid to late 2012, until January 10, 2014. The diseased cows were allegedly slaughtered and their … [Read more...]

Another Flip Flop on COOL


A World Trade Organization (WTO) panel has ruled against the U.S. country-of-origin labeling law, according to the Wall Street Journal. Canada and Mexico are opposed to the labels, since they fear that Americans who see that meat was raised or slaughtered in another country may not buy it. Other parties in this dispute include China, the European Union, India, Brazil, Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Columbia, Guatemala and Mexico. The United States will have 60 days from the date of the report to appeal the decision. The history of COOL (country of origin labeling) has been long and convoluted. The proposed rule would require information about the location of each step in the production of muscle cuts of meat. Where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered would have to be … [Read more...]

Hepatitis A Exposure at Whataburger in Austin, Texas


An employee at Whataburger in Austin, Texas who handles food has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to the Austin/Travis County Health and Human Services Department. The restaurant is located at 2800 Guadalupe Street in Austin. If you or anyone you know ate there between August 7 through August 19, 2014 you may have been exposed to the virus. Transmission of infection is not likely, but health officials are recommending that anyone who is over the age of 75, who is immune compromised, with chronic liver disease, had a liver transplant, has clotting-factor disorders, or anyone experiencing the symptoms of hepatitis A contact their doctor. You can also call the Austin/Travis County health and Human Services Department at 512-972-4372 with any questions or concerns. If you do … [Read more...]

Back to School Lunch Safety Tips for Parents


The USDA is offering back to school safety tips for parents. Children are at high risk of contracting food poisoning because their immune systems are still developing. Children under the age of 5 have the highest incidence of Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter infections of any age group in this country. The four food safety tips of Clean, Separate, Cook, and Chill must be followed in the kitchen. USDA recommends that before school starts, parents and kids try a food safety experiment to ensure that home-packed lunches are safe to eat. Pack the lunch and store it as they would at school. After the normal time between packing and lunch time has passed, test the temperature of the food. Cold items should be below 40°F and hot items should be above 140°F. Any foods in between those … [Read more...]

CSPI Says FDA Should Protect Consumers from Quorn

Veggie Burger

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released a statement from its Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson asking the FDA to protect consumers against the fungus-based meat substitute "Quorn". Before it was turned into food for consumers, it had never been used for human food. The fungus is grown in large vats. Since its introduction, CSPI has collected more than 2,000 adverse reaction reports from consumers who have eaten it. The company that produces Quron has tested the product; their studies indicate that almost 5% of test eaters became ill after eating the protein. CSPI wants the FDA to pull the product off store shelves. Some of the adverse reactions after eating Quorn include nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and anaphylactic shock, which is characterized by swelling of … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch States Toledo Water Crisis Only the Beginning

Water glasses

Food & Water Watch states that the crisis over Toledo's compromised water system is only the beginning in the United States. Earlier this month, levels of a toxin called microcystin prompted government officials to tell consumers not to use the water for drinking, cooking, bathing, or teeth brushing. That toxin is produced by a strong algal bloom. Over the weekend, the City was increasing monitoring and testing because they said "the testing level of untreated water at the direct intake is showing a strong presence of microcystin." The water was still considered safe to drink, since the water tested at .972; the World Health Organization has set a limit of 1.0 for that toxin. Chemicals brought the level of the toxin down to .456. Customers may have noticed a film on the water that … [Read more...]

FoodBorne Chicago Uses Twitter to Track Illness, Find Offenders


Can Twitter be used to identify sources of food poisoning ? FoodBorne Chicago, found success with a trial run and now Boston and New York are considering similar programs. FoodBorne Chicago is a project of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization with the goal of using technology to improve the lives. Using an algorithm, FoodBorne Chicago tracked tweets originating from the Chicago area that mentioned food poisoning. During the 10-month study period, March 2013–January 2014,  2,241 tweets mentioning food poisoning originated from the Chicago metropolitan area. Of those, 270 described specific instances of food poisoning, eight of whom said they sought medical attention. Project staffers replied to these tweets saying "Help us prevent this and report where you ate here … [Read more...]

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