July 28, 2014

FDA Keeps an Eye on Packaged Ice


A typical American consumer buys about four bags of packaged ice each year, usually during the summer months when 80 percent of packaged ice sales take place. But most people don't know that packaged ice is one of the many items that is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although small-scale producers are exempt, larger producers must comply with FDA regulations and are subject to inspection. FDA inspectors make sure that packaged ice makers follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices such as producing, holding  and transporting ice in clean and sanitary conditions; monitoring the cleanliness and hygiene of employees; using properly cleaned and maintained equipment, and using water that is safe and sanitary. FDA inspectors check plumbing design to make sure it … [Read more...]

Best and Safest Fish to Eat in the Summer


The Center for Food Safety is offering tips on the best and safest seafood to eat this summer. Most seafood sold in the U.S. is imported, and less than 2% of those products are inspected for contamination. Moreover, those fish are often caught in places where environmental and health standards are weak or non-existent. By eating locally caught, sustainable seafood, you are protecting your family from foodborne illness as well as potential problems from other contaminants such as PCBs and mercury. Buy local if possible, and choose wild over farmed. If the seafood is farmed, choose that produced in the U.S. Favor fish caught by hook, line, handling, jig, or speargun. Avoid trawl fishing, which is destructive to the environment. Avoid fish high in mercury, PCBs, or farmed fish that are … [Read more...]

CDC Study: 57 Percent Check Calories in Fast Food Before Ordering

Not everyone uses calorie counts at fast food restaurants

Fast food menu boards that give calorie counts for food and beverages options are meant to help people make healthier choices, but not evryone uses them. According to a new report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 57 percent of people surveyed said they check calorie counts on menu boards. Researchers surveyed 10,548 people in 17 states and asked them this question:  "When calorie information is available in the restaurant, how often does this information help you decide what to order?"  The response options were "always," "most of the time," "about half the time," "sometimes," and "never." About 11.9 percent said "always," 13.7 percent said "most of the time,"  8.8 percent said "about half the time. 22.8 percent said "sometimes" and 42.7 percent said … [Read more...]

USDA Sends HIMP Poultry Rule to OMB


The USDA has submitted a draft final version of the HAACP Based Models Project (HIMP), the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule to the Office of Management and Budget today. That rule has been criticized from everyone from food safety advocates to workers unions. Food & Water Watch does not like this rule, which would reduce the number of USDA inspectors in poultry slaughter plants and replace them with company employees. Line speeds for poultry carcass inspections will be increased to 175 birds per minute, which critics claim is much too fast for any reasonable inspection. The industry will gain at least $260 million every year because of fewer regulations, increased production, and no guarantees of food safety. Only one USDA inspector will be on each slaughter … [Read more...]

U.S. Attorney Seeking Victims of Wright County Egg Salmonella Outbreak


The U.S. Attorney's Office in Iowa is looking for anyone who was sickened by Salmonella in 2010 by eggs produced by Quality Egg, LLC, also known as Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. Between early 2010 and August of that same year, about 2,000 people were sickened with Salmonella bacteria that was linked to eggs produced by that corporation. Environmental samples collected at the Wright County Egg facilities tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. Positive samples were found in the walkways, equipment, in manure at the farm, and in other surfaces in and around the facility. More than 500,000,000 eggs were recalled in August of 2010 as a result of that outbreak. On June 3, 2014, Quality Egg LLC and two company officials, Jack DeCoster and his son, Peter … [Read more...]

FDA: Know the Risks of Raw Food Pet Diets

FDA says no to raw pet food

The FDA has released advice for consumers about the risks of feeding raw diets to their pets. Not only can your pets become ill, but you can too, either through contact with contaminated food or if your pet sheds pathogenic bacteria. Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes are two bacteria found in raw diets that are especially dangerous to pets and humans. Raw pet food is meat, bones, and organs that have not been cooked. FDA does not believe feeding raw pet foods to animals is "consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks." The agency recommends cooking raw meat and poultry to kill pathogenic bacteria before you give the food to your pets. One of the problems with a raw food diet is that people think it's natural for animals to eat raw meat. Feral … [Read more...]

EFSA Says Acrylamide may be a Bigger Cancer Risk than First Thought


The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that acrylamide, a chemical formed when asparagine, an amino acid, is heated to temperatures above 120°F. High temperature baking and frying are particular culprits in acrylamide development. Acrylamide is often found in such foods as potato chips, crackers, and cookies. The same chemical reaction that produces the appetizing brown color in foods also produces acrylamide. Previous animal studies has found that acrylamide increases the risk of developing cancer in all age groups. The Authority's expert Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) has developed a draft scientific opinion on acrylamide in food. Dr. Diane Bedford, Chair of CONTAM said in a statement, "acrylamide consumed orally is absorbed from the gastrointestinal trace, … [Read more...]

Study Identifies Risky Home Food Safety Practices

A new study at UC-Davis has identified many risky practices of consumers in their homes. The study looked at the preparation of raw poultry. The two most common mistakes were cross contamination and insufficient cooking. Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for consumer research at the university, who authored the study said in a statement, "the most surprising aspect of these findings to me was the prevalence of undercooking. We are now in summer, the peak season for foodborne illness, and these results come at a time when more consumers can benefit from being aware of better food safety practices." Those good practices include always washing hands with soap and water before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs, never rinsing poultry in the sink, and always using … [Read more...]

UN Makes a Top 10 List of Parasites That Cause Food Poisoning


Ever wondered which foodborne parasites cause the most illness? The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO) have recently compiled a Top 10 list so public health efforts can be focussed on the bugs with the greatest impact. Like foodborne bacteria, foodbrone parasites affect the health of millions of people every year. Health effects include damage muscles and organs, epilepsy, anaphylactic shock and dysentery.  Some parasites can live on in our bodies for decades. Parasites can be found in meat, poultry and produce. Last year, a cyclospora outbreak linked to fresh. imported produce sickened 631 people in the U.S. But cyclospora didn't make the Top 10 list. These bugs did. Number 1, Taenia solium, or pork tapeworm, contracted by … [Read more...]

Food Safety Tips for Hurricane Arthur Victims


The USDA is offering food safety recommendations for those affected by Hurricane Arthur. If you lose power, food could spoil and pathogenic bacteria can grow. Keep appliance thermometers in the fridge and freezer. Safe temperatures are 40°F in the refrigerator and 0°F in the freezer. Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or containers before a storm. Water expands when it freezes, so don't overfill. Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry to keep them at a safe temperature longer. Know where you can get block or dry ice. Fifty pounds of dry ice will keep an 18-cubic-food freezer cold for two days. Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerated food cold if the power is out for more than four hours. Group foods together in the freezer for an … [Read more...]

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