October 20, 2014

USDA Should Protect Consumers from Australian Meat


Food & Water Watch sent a letter to the USDA to protect U.S. consumers from Australian meat and to re-evaluate the equivalency of that country's meat inspection system. Meat companies are abandoning the Australian Meat Inspeciton System (AEMIS) that was found to be equivalent to the U.S. system. This is the fifth time in two years that Food & Water Watch has asked the USDA to look at the Australian system. Food & Water Watch's executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, "Although the European Union has flagged definite problems in allowing meat companies to police their own inspection systems, the USDA has yet to speak out about this every obvious conflict of interest. Yet if the result of a privatized meat inspection system in Australia is food that is unsafe to … [Read more...]

Knott’s Berry Farm Restaurant Treated for Cockroaches


The restaurant called Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner Restaurant at Knott's Berry Farm in California was closed this week after cockroaches were found during a routine inspection. The permit for the establishment was restored Thursday, October 7, 2014 after treatment was completed. Officials at the park said the infestation was an "isolated structural incident" and was contained to utility areas in the restaurant. The restaurant was closed from 2:00 pm to 9:30 pm. Cockroach feces can cause allergic reactions and trigger serious asthma symptoms in some people. The insects can also carry pathogenic bacteria, including E. coli, Shigella, Cryptosporidium, and Salmonella, along with parasitic worms. They can also spread typhoid and dysentery. They eat fermenting products, glue, soiled … [Read more...]

FDA Warning Letters for September 2014


The FDA has sent many warning letters to corporations during the month of September 2014. These letters inform the corporation owners of problems with food safety and HACCP violations. Well Luck Company in New Jersey received a letter on September 17, 2014 warning about rodent problems at their facility. Live mice were spotted in the facility during an inspection. Dead mice were found on glue traps in the picking area and next to the cooler entrance door. A dead rat was found in a rodent trap in the warehouse storage area. In addition, roach-like insects "too numerous to count" were in the fortune cookie processing room. Equipment was not properly stored, litter and waste was not removed, and food products were spilled onto the warehouse floor. Losurdo Foods of New Jersey was warned … [Read more...]

Mercer Island, WA Still Under Boil Water Advisory

Water glasses

The City of Mercer Island, Washington has issued another statement on the boil water advisory in place for E. coli found in the water supply. Officials have set a timeline for ending the advisory. For the fifth day in a row, all of the latest water-sample tests are clear. But one child has been diagnosed with an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Lab tests are still pending to see if this illness is linked to the water supply problem or is the result of exposure to another source such as contaminated meat, raw milk, or feces. Mayor Bruce Bassett said, "We know this incident has been challenging, and we thank Islanders for their patience, as well as star and partner agencies. At this point, we are all eager to see life return to normal, but our first priority is protecting the health of our … [Read more...]

Consumers Union: Cost of GE Food Labeling $2.30 Per Year

New Nutrition Label

Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports has estimated the cost of labeling GE foods and has released a report based on a literature review. They state that the median cost incurred by producers and retailers will be $2.30 per person per year; less than a penny a day. Labeling foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients has been a contentious issue for years. Consumers and consumer groups want these food labeled so people can make an informed choice; polls show that more than 90% of consumers want these foods to be labeled. Industry generally opposes labeling, stating it would increase costs dramatically. Consumers Union asked ECONorthwest to resolve this disagreement. The studies reviewed include assessments … [Read more...]

WHO Study Evaluates Global Listeria Burden

A study of the global burden of listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, has been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. The study’s authors reviewed 12,000 studies on Listeria infections published from January 1, 1990 to May 21, 2012. Listeria bacteria are difficult to control, partly because they can grow at refrigerator temperatures, in low-water foods, and aren’t easily destroyed with cleaning materials. Listeria monocytogenes infected more than 23,000 people worldwide in 2010. Of those, 5,463 were killed. This is a far higher rate of death than those caused by Salmonella infections. This poses an urgent effort to discover more about the bacteria and its prevalence in developing countries. … [Read more...]

Health Groups Ask Congress for More Money for FSMA

Several health advocacy groups have written a letter, asking Congress to add $50 million to the FDA’s fiscal year 2015 budget to full fund implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). FDA has estimated that it needs an additional $300 million over the next few years to fully implement the law, which was the first reform of the nation’s food safety regulations in years. FDA is finalizing the rules of the law and is building the systems needed to implement it. FSMA changed FDA’s approach to food safety, focusing the agency’s efforts on preventing food safety problems before they occur rather than reacting to illnesses and outbreaks after they occur. The comprehensive food import oversight system section of FSMA is a first, making importer responsible for the safety … [Read more...]

Small Game Hunters Reminded of Tularemia Risk

Fall is the beginning of game hunting in many states. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is reminding hunters that many animals carry tularemia, a bacterial disease. It causes illness and death in rabbits and rodents. People get tularemia if they handle infected animals or are bitten by ticks or deer flies. State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer House said, “we haven’t seen this many tularemia cases in Colorado since the 19802. In the last 10 years Colorado has averaged three human cases of tularemia a year. So far in 2014 we have had 11 and additional suspected cases are under investigation.” In Colorado, animals from 12 counties tested positive for the disease. Public health officials say that hungers should only harvest small game that looks and acts … [Read more...]

In Canada, Ground Chicken Products Recalled for E. coli O157:H7

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage are recalling frozen, raw, ground chicken products for possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products. There have been four reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. The recalled products were sold in Alberta at the retail level. They are all Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage brand products with variable UPC numbers. They were all sold between July 14, 2014 and October 3, 2014, inclusively. They include Garlic, Garlic, & More Garlic Chicken Sausage in 454 gram packages; Garlic, Garlic, & More Garlic Chicken Sausage in 227 gram packages; Garlic, Garlic, & More Garlic Chicken Burgers in 340 gram packages, and Garlic, Garlic, & … [Read more...]

FDA Publishes Report on Antibiotics Used in Farm Animals


The FDA has published its annual summary report on antimicrobials sold or distributed in 2012 for use in food-producing animals. Antibiotic drug sponsors are required to report yearly to the FDA the drugs they sell or distribute for use in farm animals. Trends from the report are: the total quantity of medically important antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals increased by 16% from 2009 to 2012. But the percentage of domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials approved for production use decreased from 72% to 68%. And the percentage of domestic sales of antimicrobials used in animals that are medically important to humans decreased from 98% to 97%. The sales and distribution data does not represent how the drugs are actually … [Read more...]

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