February 6, 2016

New 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines Released

The Obama administration has released new dietary guidelines for 2015 - 2020, as is standard every five years. They state that nutrition and health are closely related. A message from the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and USDA states that about half of American adults have preventable chronic diseases related to poor dietary habits. The focus of this edition is on disease prevention, not treatment. The main purpose of the Guidelines is to inform the development of Federal food, nutrition, and health policies and programs, such as the National School Lunch Program, Women Infants and Children (WIC) and the Administration on Aging. Since the rates of chronic illnesses have increased, the government wants Americans to focus more on healthy nutrition and more exercise. The most … [Read more...]

U.S. Marshals Seize Dietary Supplements Made with Kratom

The FDA has announced that U.S. Marshals, at the agency's request, seized almost 90,000 bottles of dietary supplements that contain kratom, a botanical substance that poses a risk to public health. This plant, whose Latin name is Mitragyna speciosa, grows in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea. It is toxic to multiple organ systems. Consumption of kratom can lead to respiratory depression, vomiting, nervousness, weight loss, and constipation. It has narcotic and stimulant effects and causes withdrawal symptoms, including hostility, aggression, excessive tearing, aching of muscles and bones and jerky limb movements. The FDA issued an import alert last year to let U.S. officials detain imported dietary supplements and ingredients that contain kratom without physical … [Read more...]

FDA Bans Three Chemicals From Food Packaging

The Food and Drug Administration announced this week that they are banning three chemicals linked to cancer from use in pizza boxes, microwave popcorn bags, sandwich wrappers, and other food packaging, known as food-contact substances (FCSs). This ban, which takes place February 1, 2016, comes more than a decade after consumer advocates raised concerns about the carcinogenicity of these compounds. Environmental Working Group and other groups such as Center for Food Safety, Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children's Environmental Health Network, and Natural Resources Defense Council, have been petitioning the FDA for years to prohibit these substances from food packages. EWG President Ken Cook said in a statement, "industrial chemicals that pollute people's blood clearly have … [Read more...]

Wyoming’s Ag-Gag Law Dealt Serious Blow

Food Poisoning Bulletin has been reporting about so-called "ag gag" laws for years. These laws are intended to prevent whistleblowers from reporting on animal abuse at factory farms, and levy penalties against those who go undercover to film problems at these facilities. A federal judge, last week, noted "serious concerns and questions" about the constitutionality of Wyoming's data trespass laws in an order released about a lawsuit against that state and refused to strike claims against the law. These laws criminalize undercover reporting on farms and in slaughterhouses that reveal animal abuse, food safety violations, and violations of food worker health and safety laws. Center for Food Safety and other groups have sued Wyoming over this law, claiming that the laws punish communication … [Read more...]

FDA Withdraws Approval of Arsenic in Animal Feed

The FDA has announced it has withdrawn approval of all applications for nitarsone (an arsenic-based drug) in animal feed as of December 31, 2015. There are now no FDA-approved, arsenic-based drugs for use in food producing animals. Last April, the FDA announced it received a letter of commitment from Zoetis Animal Health that the company will suspend sales of Histostat, the commercial name for nitarsone. This was the only arsenic-based animal drug used in food animals. It is used for the prevention of disease in turkeys and chickens. Studies have found that organic arsenic, the less toxic form of the chemical used in these drugs, can transform into inorganic arsenic, which is a known carcinogen. In 2011, an FDA study found that higher levels of inorganic arsenic were in chicken … [Read more...]

Department of Justice Investigating Blue Bell after Listeria Outbreak

CBS News is reporting that the Department of Justice has started an investigation into Blue Bell after their ice cream was linked to a deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that killed three people. An FDA investigation found the pathogenic bacteria in two of Blue Bell's three production plants in Alabama, Oklahoma, and Texas.  The company allegedly knew that one plant was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes in 2013, according to records. The Blue Bell ice cream outbreak was the tenth largest outbreak of 2015, sickening at least 10 people in four states. Three people who were in a Kansas hospital died of their infections after consuming ice cream made by Blue Bell. The company recalled all of its products in April 2015 and closed down all of its production for weeks. FDA … [Read more...]

Salmonella Survives 6 Months in Cookie and Snack Filling

University of Georgia researchers have discovered that Salmonella can survive six months in low-moisture fillings of sandwich cookies and filled cracker snacks. The study was published in an October issue of the Journal of Food Protection. Study co-authors Larry Beuchat and David Mann of the Center for Food Safety on the UGA campus in Griffin wanted to see how long the foodborne pathogen could survive in dry foods. "There have been an increased number of outbreaks of diseases associated with consumption of contaminated dry foods. We wouldn't expect salmonella to grow in foods that have a very dry environment," said Beuchat. They injected Salmonella into two kinds of fillings for sandwich cookies -chocolate and peanut butter; and two kinds of fillings for cracker snacks- cheese and … [Read more...]

Osage Lane Creamery Raw Feta Cheese Warned over Listeria

The FDA sent a warning letter to Osage Lane Creamery in Pataskala, Ohio stating that they found Listeria monocytogenes in the facility. That creamery makes and sells raw goat milk Feta cheese, which is not pasteurized to destroy pathogens such as Listeria. Swabs taken from various areas in the processing area revealed the presence of the pathogenic bacteria. Listeria contamination in soft cheeses, particularly raw milk cheeses, can be a persistent problem. This bacteria can be very harmful, especially to those in high risk groups such as children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. The discovery of the bacteria means that the food products are considered adulterated. The firm has "significant deviations" from the Current Good Manufacturing … [Read more...]

Harmless Harvest Thailand Sent FDA Warning Letter

The FDA sent a warning letter to Harmless Harvest Thailand last month, telling them that their 100% Raw Coconut Water products are considered hazardous, since they are processed in a manner that does not comply with the juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems regulation.  The juice products are considered adulterated within the meaning of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. The firm provided documentation and information about the processing methods used to make this product. Those methods did not meet the FDA's regulation. The micro filtration process, risk assessment for that process, the HACCP plan and manual, and documentation about High Pressure Processing (HPP) were not adequate. The company must included control measures that will consistency … [Read more...]

Campylobacter Infections Rise in EU for Sixth Straight Year

The number of reported cases of campylobacteriosis in the European Union rose for the sixth straight year in 2014, according to the latest annual report by European Food Safety Authority and European Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). In 2014, Campylobacter was the most commonly reported source of food poisoning bacteria in the European Union. There were 236,851 cases reported, a 9.6 percent increase from 2013.  It was the sixth straight year that the number of confirmed cases rose. Campylobacter is bacteria that is transferred via the fecal-oral route, meaning those who develop Campylobacter infections have ingested microscopic amounts of animal feces. In the E.U., most cases were associated with broiler chicken meat. Of 6,703 samples of fresh broiler meat … [Read more...]

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