September 2, 2014

Oven Cleaner in Restaurant Iced Tea Leaves Utah Woman in Critical Condition


A Utah women is hospitalized in critical condition after drinking iced tea at  Dickey's Barbecue Pit in South Jordan that contained industrial oven cleaner. An employee who mistook the cleaner for sugar added it to the tea, according to a report from ABC 4 News. The woman is being treated at the University of Utah burn center. Attorneys hired by her family say she filled her glass at the tea dispenser, took a sip and told her husband: "I think I just drank acid." The tea contained a high concentration of the powerful cleaner used to degrease deep fryer equipment. As much as six cups of the cleaner, which is 67 percent lye, were added to the tea. Most household products have a much lower concentration than that,  Barbara Insley Crouch, Executive Director of Utah Poison Control Center, … [Read more...]

Positive and Negative Trends in Antimicrobial Resistance


The FDA released its National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) 2011 Executive Report this week, showing both increasing and decreasing antimicrobial resistance levels. The report focuses on resistance to antibiotics that are considered important in human medicine, as well as bacteria that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. Samples are collected from people, food producing animals, and retail meat source, then tested. The key findings include: 85% of non-typhoidal Salmonella collected from people had no antibiotic resistance. In people, the five-drug resistance pattern discovered in Salmonella Typhimurium declined to 19.5% in 2011 from its peak of 35.1% in 1997. Salmonella resistance to ciprofloaxcin, one of the antibiotics used to treat those … [Read more...]

E. coli Illnesses Prompt Whole Foods Ground Beef Recall in Massachusetts

Whole Foods E.coli Outbreak

Three E.coli illnesses in Massachusetts have prompted a recall of ground beef products sold at Whole Foods stores in South Weymouth and Newton, Massachusetts. Three people who ate ground beef purchased from these stores developed E. coli O157:H7 infections between June 13 and June 25. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service is working with the Massachusetts Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on an investigation of the illnesses. A recall has been issued for 368 pounds of ground beef products produced in June and sold at the stores. Health officials are concerned that some people may have the recalled products in their freezers. Consumers who have any of the products listed below should not eat them as E.coli can … [Read more...]

USDA Announces New Traceback for Suspect Ground Beef


The USDA announced new traceback procedures that will let it trace contaminated ground beef or bench trim back to the source more quickly. Immediate investigations will be conducted at facilities where the product tests positive for E. coli O157:H7 during initial testing. The suppliers that provide the source materials for those products will also be investigated immediately. Government inspectors will be sent in as soon as USDA-FSIS gets a "presumptive positive result" and the facility in question provides information about their supplier. Before this new procedure, FSIS would investigate only after the presumptive positive test was confirmed, which can take up to 2 days. The supplier inspections would have taken place 30 days later. The procedure will "enable FSIS to better … [Read more...]

Vermont Asks Court to Dismiss GMO Lawsuit

GMA sues Vermont of GMO

Vermont's attorney general has asked a federal district court to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and other food industry groups over a new Vermont law that requires all food made with genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such. “The State’s motion makes the case that Vermont’s labeling law withstands all five challenges to its constitutionality made by Plaintiffs and that the Court should dismiss the suit without requiring the State to answer the Complaint or engage in further litigation,” said Attorney General Bill Sorrell. “While the Plaintiffs prefer not to disclose that their products are made with genetic engineering, over 90 percent of the general public supports labeling genetically engineered foods,” he added. The motion, filed … [Read more...]

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...]

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