December 18, 2014

Chobani’s Moldy Yogurt, Who Knew What, When?


A 2013 recall of Chobani yogurt has federal and state authorities squaring off over who knew what when. The he said/she debate between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture (ISDA) was touched off by a recent news report about the recall based on Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request obtained by Times-News.  Chobani Inc. is based in Twin Falls, Idaho. In September 2013, the company issued a recall for all of its Greek Yogurt products  "due to reports of product bloating and swelling and some claims of illness." The company temporarily ceased production of the product as it sought to solve the problem which turned out to be a mold, called Mucor circinelloides, that causes dairy products to spoil but does not pose a health risk for … [Read more...]

E. coli In Yuba City Elementary School Well Does Not Cancel Classes

E. coli Bacteria

School administrators at Barry Elementary School in Yuba City, California notified parents that E.coli had been detected in the school's well but that classes would continue. The well has been shut off,  portable hand washing stations and bottled water have been brought into the school, and all meals are being prepared offsite. But the toilets will still be used. Under the circumstances, not all parents were comfortable with the idea of sending their kids to school. Kari Bush told CBS13 that, knowing the risk that E.coli poses for small children, she was uncomfortable with the idea of sending her three kids to school. E.coli can cause serious sometimes fatal illness. Young children are at elevated risk for E. coli poisoning and the serious complications that it can trigger such as … [Read more...]

Avian Flu in Canada “Highly Pathogenic”


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has just released a statement saying that testing has confirmed the avian influenza outbreak on two farms in Fraser Valley is the highly pathogenic H5N2 virus. And preliminary testing has bound that two other farms in British Columbia are "presumptive positive" for H5 avian influenza. Those two farms have been quarantined. Those two new farms received birds from one of the original farms that is infected. When raw poultry is properly handled and cooked, there is no risk to humans. In addition, avian influenza only rarely affects people who do not have consistent contact with infected live birds. Still, cook any poultry thoroughly to 165°F as measured by a food thermometer and be careful to avoid cross-contamiantion between raw poultry and … [Read more...]

Avian Flu is Back in Asia and Canada


The avian flu is making a comeback as winter approaches. An outbreak of the bird flu in Korea last spring resulted in the culling of half a million birds. In Egypt, a seventh person has just died from an H5N1 infection. And the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has confirmed that avian influenza has been found in birds on two farms in Fraser Valley. Human cases of the bird flu are rare, and usually only affect people who have close contact with live poultry. Egypt's cases have been localized in poor areas where people keep and slaughter poultry in their homes. The bird flu has also been reported in the Netherlands, Germany, Britain, India, and southeast Asia. In Canada, the two farms have been placed under quarantine. The actual subtype and strain of the virus is not known; testing is … [Read more...]

CSPI, Others Target Junk Food Marketing to Children


Center for Science in the Public Interest, along with, the American Heart Association, and Prevention Institute are asking candy companies to stop marketing unhealthy foods to kids. Hershey, Mars, and Nestle belong to the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI), but Tootsie Roll, the American Licorice Company, Haribo of America, Perfetti Van Melle, and The Topps Company do not participate in that program. CFBAI participants are trying to change the children's food advertising landscape. Participants pledge to only advertise foods meeting "meaningful nutrition criteria" or to not advertise to children. They also agree to be held accountable by CFBAI for their actions. CSPI says that Haribo and Tootsie Roll Industries do not have any publicly … [Read more...]

PEW Criticizes Gaps in FDA’s Antibiotic Policy


PEW Charitable Trusts is criticizing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policy on antibiotic use in food animals, saying there are gaps in the law that promote the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The organization wants the FDA to remove indications for "feed efficiency" and "weight gain" from the labels of animal antibiotics and require vets to oversee the use of the drugs. FDA issued a new policy on antibiotic use in farm animals called Guidance for Industry #213 that was intended to reduce antibiotic misuse. They removed the use of sub-therapeutic additions of antibiotics for feed efficiency and weight gain, but kept the use for disease prevention. PEW reviewed labels of all of the 287 antibiotic products identified by #213 and looked for overlap in the areas of … [Read more...]

Bacteria, Unsanitary Conditions Prompt FDA to Halt Production at Neptune Manufacturing


An eight-year track record of food safety violations including positive tests for Listeria and failure to control for Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria which causes botulism,  has prompted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt production at Neptune Manufacturing, Inc.  a producer of smoked and pickled seafood products in Los Angeles. Since 2006, the FDA has conducted seven inspections of the facility. Each time, investigators found unsanitary conditions. On four occasions, they found Listeria, and on three visits found "a failure to control for Clostridium botulinum." “When a company and its owners repeatedly violate the same food safety procedures, their failure to improve their processes and clean up their facility endangers the public,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, … [Read more...]

More Than 700 Chefs Tell Congress to Label GMOs


The Center for Food Safety reports that more than 700 chefs are telling members of Congress to mandate labeling of GMO foods. A petition was delivered on December 2, 2014 to advance legislation called the Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act sponsored by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Peter DeFazio (D-OR). The petition states, "as chefs, we know that choosing the right ingredients is an absolutely critical part of cooking. But when it comes to whether our ingredients contain genetically modified organisms, we're in the dark. It's time for Congress to move us forward, not backward, when it comes to our right to know what's in our food." The chefs who signed the petition include Art Smith, Tom Colicchio, Danielle Vogel, Andrea Reusing, and José Andrés. Food … [Read more...]

Coalition Urges Senators to Reject Changes to COOL


A coalition of food safety and consumer advocates has written a letter to the Senate, urging legislators to "reject any effort to repeat, rescind or weaken country of origin labeling (COOL) in any federal spending legislation." The World Trade Organization (WTO) just ruled against the United States COOL system, saying it was punitive to other countries. Roger Johnson, President of the National Farmers Union said in a statement, "Congress needs to stay the court on COOL and leave it alone, especially now that the Obama administration has appealed the current decision to the WTO. COOL has been embraced by consumers who want to know where their food comes from and by family farmers who are proud to provide that information." COOL was first enacted in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills. A … [Read more...]

Study Finds Consumers Think Added Sugar Labels Helpful

A study published in the December issue of the journal Obesity has found that consumers think more information about added sugars on nutrition labels will be helpful. Food manufacturers believe that more information would simply confuse consumers. The study looked at 500 U.S. adults in a voluntary online survey. Most consumers, or 63%, said that knowing how much added sugar was in a food product (as opposed to naturally occurring sugar) would be helpful. Just 18% of respondents thought that adding this information would be confusing, but most of those  people gave reasons "that suggest they were indifferent to the information," according to the researchers. Those reasons included "I don't know" and "I don't care." FDA wants to declare added sugar on food labels and has proposed a … [Read more...]

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