April 18, 2014

Food & Water Watch on FSIS Inspector Shortages

Carcass

There is a problem with inspector shortages at the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). This fact threatens the safety of all Americans, since inspectors are on the front line against foodborne pathogens in the food supply. A letter sent to Representative Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development from Executive Director Wenonah Hauter states, "after finally making some progress on long-standing problems with inspection staffing for U.S. meat, poultry, and egg products facilities in FY 2012, FSIS embarked on a policy not to hire permanent inspectors to fill vacancies, but instead to hire temporary inspectors to fill the positions. This was based on the agency's plan to drastically change the way inspection is conducted in … [Read more...]

Raw Milk: 1 Percent of Consumers, 70 Percent of Milk Outbreaks

Raw milk food poisoning

Although only about 1 percent of Americans drink it, raw milk accounted for 70 percent of milk-related food poisoning outbreaks between 2002 and 2011, according to a new report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The enormous risk of illness reflected by those numbers shows why raw milk is an urgent public health risk, according to the consumer group which compiled the report by examining the most recent 10 years of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Raw milk can be contaminated with many pathogens. In recent years, there have been outbreaks associated with E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Infection from these pathogens can have long-term health effects such as heart problems, eye problems, digestive issues, reactive arthritis and … [Read more...]

Cleveland and Pittsburgh Resolutions Against Antibiotic Use in Livestock

Antibiotics

The cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh have passed resolutions calling for a ban on the sub therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock. The cities of Providence, Rhode Island and Redhook, New Jersey have also approved resolutions, and Seattle may join them soon. Seattle Council member Mike O'Brien said, "antibiotic resistance is a lot like the 'global warming' crisis of clinical medicine. It's a serious problem which will only worsen unless we take immediate action at all levels of government." The use of antibiotics for growth promotion and disease prevention in farm animals is linked to antibiotic resistance. Some antibiotics that are medically important for human beings are used on factory farms, endangering their use. In fact, the Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak that has … [Read more...]

Salmonella Infection in Childhood Risk Factor for IBS

Foodpoisoning

Food poisoning in childhood is a risk factor for developing other diseases later on. Anyone who has suffered an E. col infection, for instance, is at risk for kidney and heart problems, as well as high blood pressure that can lead to strokes and heart attacks. Now a study has found that contracting salmonellosis gastroenteritis during childhood increases the risk of developing irritable bowl syndrome (IBS)and functional dyspepsia (FD) as an adult. The study, published in the journal Gastroenterology, looked at a group of children who had been sickened in 1994 with Salmonella enteritidis. The 1,811 patients affected buh that outbreak lived in Bologna, Italy. The patients were sent a questionnaire 16 years after the outbreak. A cohort study was designed, randomly selecting a group of 250 … [Read more...]

Sport-Harvested Shellfish Warning in Monterey, Santa Cruz CA

clams

The California Department of Public Health has issued a warning for shellfish recreationally harvested in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties because they may contain a toxin called domoic acid, which causes Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning (ASP) that can lead to severe illness or death. The warning does not apply to commercial shellfish which are subject to frequent mandatory tests for toxins. No illnesses have been reported, but dangerous levels of toxins have been detected in the waters of these regions. The illness is now called domoic acid poisoning, since the toxin has also been found in fin fish. Symptoms of poisoning from domoic acid appear between 30 minutes and 24 hours of ingestion and can last several days. They include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache and … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning Investigated in Malaysia MH370 Disappearance

Airplane food

Food poisoning is being investigated as one possible answer to the mystery of the missing Malaysian Airlines MH370 Boeing 777 jumbo jet. According to Illawarra Mercury, Malaysian police officer Khalid Abu Baker said the plane's food caterers are being investigated, as is every possible angle. The plane most likely crashed into the Indian Ocean. The investigators are looking at everything from where the food came from, who harvested it, where it was packed and prepared and who shipped it. These traceback investigations can take weeks or months to complete. Investigators want to rule out sabotage, and deliberately poisoning the food is one possible method. It is highly unlikely that a simple case of food poisoning caused by bacteria or viruses would be responsible for an accident, … [Read more...]

Norovirus is Most Common Foodborne Pathogen in US and Canada

Canada

Norovirus is the most common foodborne pathogen in the US and Canada. But the odds of getting food poisoning and the pathogens in second, third and fourth place vary depending on what country you're in, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. For example, one eighth of all Canadians are estimated to be sickened by food poisoning annually, slightly less than the US where one sixth of the population is affected.  And, in Canada, the top four causes of food poisoning are Norovirus, Clostridium perfringens, Campylobacter and non-typhoidal Salmonella. In the US, the same pathogens are the top four, but the rank in different order: Norovirus, non-typhoidal Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and Campylobacter. The cause of most cases of food poisoning in Canada is not known. … [Read more...]

Radio Waves Kill Salmonella Bacteria in Raw Eggs

Raw egg

A study published in Agricultural Research magazine has found that radio waves can kill Salmonella bacteria in raw eggs without affecting taste or texture. Since one of every 20,000 eggs produced in the U.S. has a high risk of being contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria, and since many people eat raw or undercooked eggs, this is an important finding. At least 3,750,000 contaminated eggs are sold every year in this country. Salmonella bacteria are killed by heat. Pasteurized eggs are safer, but they can be difficult to use, especially since the egg whites do not whip to the same volume as untreated eggs. Pasteurized eggs are immersed in hot water and held at a minimum temperature for about an hour to kill the pathogenic bacteria. In the study, scientists tested 4,000 fresh shell … [Read more...]

CDC’s New Salmonella Atlas Probably Isn’t What You Think

heidelberg-68-75-8

For anyone who thought Christmas came early when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its newly created Salmonella Atlas, compiled from 40 years of disease-tracking data, a word of caution. It's probably not what you think. If you thought, for example, that with a point and click you'd be able to find out which subtype of Salmonella sickened the most Americans each year, which foods have the highest rates of contamination or which subtypes show the most antibiotic resistance you'd be wrong, wrong, wrong. And don't look for an explanation of why the subtype profiles contained in the atlas were chosen or any kind of analysis or discussion of findings. The maps are kind of cool, though. There are more than 2,500 subtypes of Salmonella, not much is known about … [Read more...]

U.S. Army Developing Handheld Food Safety Tool

E.-coli-food-illness

The U.S. Army is developing a handheld inspection tool to increase food safety for soldiers. The Natick Soldier Research, Development, and Engineering Center is making a small, sensitive, hand-held device that will "both capture and detect dangerous pathogens that can cause food-related illness." Scientists at the Natick Center are collaborating with the FDA, Winchester Engineering and Analytical Center, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after receiving a 2013 FDA leveraging and collaboration award. The award is for "Designing Handheld Resistance Based Biosensors Utilizing Conducting Nonwoven Fibers for In-Field Microbial Pathogen Detection." Since food safety is critical to combat readiness, this tool will reduce the danger faced by troops. Andre Senecal, one of the … [Read more...]

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