August 29, 2014

Researchers Find Substance that Aids Listeria Growth


Researchers at the University of Wyoming have identified a substance that increases the survival of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. The substance, called exopolysaccharide (EPS), is a compound that the bacteria secretes on its cell surface. EPA coats the cells so they can clump together. That protects them from disinfectants and drying. Dr. Mark Gomelsky, a professor at UW's Department of Molecular Biology said in a statement, "we think that EPA plays a significant role in survival of Listeria in the environment, during food storage, processing, and transportation. Listeria rarely causes serious disease in healthy individuals but, in immune-compromised people, elderly and pregnant women, it can be deadly, causing as much as 20 percent to 25 percent mortality." The scientists are … [Read more...]

Unsanitary Conditions at S. Serra Cheese Co Prompt Injunction from DOJ


Lack of action to address unsanitary conditions at S. Serra Cheese Company of Clinton Township, Michigan, has prompted action from the  U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to block the company from distributing cheese. The DOJ filed a civil complaint against the company on August 8. The complaint alleges that the Italian cheese the company makes are produced in unsanitary conditions and the company does take adequate measures to ensure the food safety of its products. “The presence of potentially harmful pathogens in food and processing facilities poses a serious risk to the public health,” said Assistant Attorney General Delery.  “The Department of Justice will continue to bring enforcement actions against food manufacturers who do not follow the necessary procedures to comply with food … [Read more...]

USDA Takes Last Step in Approving Herbicide Tolerant Crops

Crop Spraying

The United States Department of Agriculture this week announced the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for corn and soybean plants resistant to 2,4-D. And Food & Water Watch said, "history will repeat itself." Dow's corn and soybean plants, known as "Enlist" varieties, are genetically engineered to be resistant to two herbicides: 2,4-D, an ingredient in Agent Orange, and glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. Environmental and food safety advocates are alarmed at the huge increase in pesticide use that accompanied the approval and planting of other Roundup Ready crops. The draft version of the environmental impact statement released in January 2014 by the government is the same as the new analysis. The agency did not address the risks Food & Water Watch … [Read more...]

USDA Food Safety Tips for Hawaiians in the Path of Tropical Storms


The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has compiled some food safety recommendations for those in Hawaii experiencing severe weather related to Tropical Storms Iselle and Julio. The storms are expected to reach the Hawaiian Islands on Thursday into Friday. Here's what the agency recommends. If you don't have an appliance thermometer for your fridge and freezer go buy them. Locate your coolers, clean them out. If you don't have one and have perishable food you want to save, buy one. Buy some ice and store it in the cooler. Buy a few days worth supply of fresh water and food that does not need to be refrigerated or cooked. Group meat and poultry  one side of the freezer preferably on a tray to prevent cross contamination from thawing thawing … [Read more...]

U.S. Appeals Court Upholds COOL Labeling Rule


The full U.S. District Court of Appeals rejected the challenge to the USDA's meat labeling rules filed by the meat industry. Those rules are known as country of origin labeling (COOL).  In addition to opposing labeling for economic reasons, the meat industry believes they are being forced to issue statements against their will. A three-panel judge ruled against the meat industry in March 2014 and requested a full court review of the meat industry's First Amendment claims. The court decided that regulations satisfy a government interest to protect consumers. The court stated that Congress has passed mandates for labeling for more than 100 years. The meat industry claims that these labels could drive meat producers out of business if consumers don't want to buy meat that was raised or … [Read more...]

Peanut Corporation of America Trial Begins


The trial of executives of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) began last Friday in Albany, Georgia. Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, and Mary Wilkerson are on trial for 76 felony counts that include allegations of fraud and conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and causing unbranded and adulterated peanut butter and paste to be placed in interstate commerce. No one is being charged with directly causing death in the huge Salmonella outbreak six years ago. The peanut products produced by PCA were contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. In late 2008 and early 2009, at least 714 people were sickened by PCA products across the country. Nine people died in this outbreak. The son of one of those people who died, Nellie Napier, was a Pritzker Olsen client. Randy Napier became an advocate … [Read more...]

Toledo, OH Residents Urged to Not Drink or Touch the Water

Water glasses

The City of Toledo, Ohio has posted an urgent notice for residents of Toledo and Lucas counties who receive water from the city: do not drink or touch the water. The water is contaminated with algal toxins that boiling cannot remove. In fact, boiling will increase the concentration of the toxins. This notice applies to ALL customers of Toledo water. Water should not be consumed until the all clear is issued. Do not give this water to pets. Do not use the water for washing, showering, bathing, brushing teeth, making ice, preparing infant formula, or for cleaning. And do not use it to wash food. Filtration systems will not remove the toxins. In addition, restaurants and food facilities are being asked to temporarily suspend their operations unless they can guarantee no consumption of tap … [Read more...]

USDA Publishes Final Poultry Slaughter Rule


On Thursday, July 31, 2014, the USDA published the final rule of the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection, the highly controversial change in poultry slaughter plants that food and worker safety advocates deplore. That rule removes USDA inspectors from plants and replaces them with company employees, and increases slaughter line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175. There was one change before the rule was released; the government decided to keep the maximum line speed at 140 birds per minute. The rule does require microbiological testing and establishes the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS). Unfortunately, corporations can decide for themselves whether or not to participate in NPIS. Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, "today, … [Read more...]

Chinese Meat Plant Implicated in Food Safety Scandal


According to Food & Water Watch, Shanghai Husi Foods Company, a meat plant in China, is implicated in a Chinese food safety scandal. That plant passed USDA audits in 2004 and 2010. This is a problem because last year the USDA decided to let chicken processed in China be exported to the United States. Food & Water Watch has sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, asking him to stop all activities that would "pave the way for China to export their poultry products to the U.S."  Shanghai Husi Foods sold expired meat and poultry products to Chinese fast food restaurants and exported some of those foods to Japan. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "it has been nearly a decade since China made its initial request to send its … [Read more...]

If You ate Recalled Wawona Fruit and Are Sick, Here’s What to Do

Fruit Recalled for Listeria Contamination

We've received many comments from people who ate Wawona peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots that have been recalled for Listeria and have been experiencing illness. It's important to remember that no illnesses have yet been officially reported in connection with this recalled fruit, and that there is no guarantee that the fruit you purchased was contaminated. Listeria monocytogenes can cause two types of infections: listerial gastroenteritis, which is less serious, and invasive listeriosis, which is a serious blood infection. Listeriosis food poisoning is very rare; there are only 2,500 cases diagnosed in the U.S. every year out of 300,000,000 people. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause serious illness, especially in very young … [Read more...]

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