November 23, 2014

FDA Food Safety Tips for Diabetics


Diabetics are among those a special risk for food poisoning. And because November is American Diabetes Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has put together some information about food safety for diabetics. Diabetes can impair the proper function of various organs and systems in the body, making diabetics more susceptible to infection. The immune system, the gastrointestinal tract, and the kidneys are all affected by diabetes. And they all play crucial roles in detecting and fighting infections that cause food poisoning. For example, when the body’s immune system is compromised, it doesn't readily recognize harmful bacteria or other pathogens. This delay in immune response can create an increased risk for infection. Or, when diabetes has damaged the cells that create … [Read more...]

CSPI Files Objection to Vitaminwater Lawsuit Settlement


An agreement to settle a class action lawsuit against Coca-Cola over its marketing of Vitaminwater would not stop deceptive marketing of the products or give consumers any relief, according to an objection filed by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI sued Coca-Cola in a California federal court in 2009 citing deceptive and unsubstantiated claims marketing Vitaminwater as being healthier than soda. Coca-Cola has used words such as "defense", "rescue", "energy", and "endurance" to describe the product. Labels on the product also make claims stating that the products promote healthy joints, reduce the risk of eye disease, and other health benefits. The product contains no more than 1% juice, but references blueberry, strawberry, kiwi, peach, mango, and other fruits on the … [Read more...]

Advocates Sue FDA Over Ractopamine Used in Food Animals


The Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the U.S. FDA on November 6, 2014 for approving ractopamine in a series of animal drugs used in food production "without fully examining how they affect people, animals, and the environment." The government approved those drugs for rapid weight gain in food animals. The drug is given to pigs, cattle, and turkeys to cause quick weight gain. Between 60 and 80% of pork sold in U.S. supermarkets comes from pigs treated with this drug. The lawsuit states that the FDA approved 11 ractopamine-based drugs with no analysis of environmental and public health risks. Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for CFS said, "FDA is basing controversial drug approvals on incomplete and inadequate … [Read more...]

CSPI Wants to See Study of Illegal Drug Residues in Milk

Milking Cows

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for survey data from the FDA on illegal drug residues in the U.S. milk supply. Food safety advocates have been waiting for two years for the government to release this data. The FDA survey was conducted in 2012, giving the agency more than 2 years to analyze the data and prepare and release a report. CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett said, "consumers have a right to know what's in their milk, and if there are dangerous drugs in it, they need to know what the FDA is doing about that. Why are those dairies that either can't or won't follow the rules allowed to continue to market milk?" A quick browse through FDA warning letters sent to dairies around the country finds that … [Read more...]

China Completes Paperwork for Poultry Export to U.S.

Chicken chunks

The USDA's FSIS announced yesterday that China has completed the "necessary paperwork" to certify four of its poultry processing plants so they can export processed poultry products to the U.S. The raw poultry will have to come from "approved sources", but food safety advocates are concerned. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food and Water Watch said in a statement, "China's food safety system is a wreck. Food & Water Watch has been fighting FSIS on this issue since it first proposed granting China equivalency status in November 2005. There have been scores of food safety scandals in China, and the most recent ones have involved expired poultry products sold to U.S. fast food restaurants based in China. Now, we have FSIS moving forward to implement this ill-conceived decision, … [Read more...]

GMO Labeling Defeated in Elections; Slaughter Too Close to Call


Voters in Colorado defeated a GMO labeling initiative on the ballot last night, and it looks like Oregon's initiative will be defeated too, although the vote is very close. Even though labeling enjoys overwhelming support in opinion polls, that support will not translate into actual progress. The United States and Canada are the only major countries in the world that do not require labeling of genetically engineered foods. And the only microbiologist in Congress, Louise Slaughter, is ahead of her opponent by just a few hundred votes. Slaughter is a vocal supporter of food safety issues in the U.S. House. Rep. Slaughter is also a defender of medically important antibiotics and wants the FDA to restrict the sub therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals. GMO (genetically modified … [Read more...]

FDA Rejects Calls for Aspartame Ban


The FDA has rejected calls for a ban on aspartame, stating that no credible scientific evidence for the ban has been presented. In a FDA Letter to Paul Stoller, the government says they have been monitoring scientific data on aspartame since the 1970s and believes that the compound is "safe for the general population except for individuals with phenylketonuria." And in another FDA Letter to Betty Martini, the government denies her request to recall aspartame. The FDA said it conducted an analysis of 195 cases of aspartame-related reported adverse events between January 2004 and December 2013 and "had not identified any causal link between aspartame consumption and the reported adverse events." The National Cancer Institute states "there is no clear evidence that the artificial … [Read more...]

Research Shows MRSA Jumps from Animals to Humans


Scientists at the University of Edinburgh have released a paper published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology showing that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can jump from animals to humans. This reinforces the theory that antibiotic-resistant bacteria can move from farm animals to people. The scientists looked at global CC398, a clonal complex of MRSA, mapping the full genetic code of some strains of the bacterium. They then compared these results with published data on the bacteria from livestock and people around the world. Animals and people carry different and distinct varieties of CC398, but researchers found many instances of transmission from livestock to people and from country to country. The paper states "our analysis of CC398 sequences supported the … [Read more...]

Coalition Supporting COOL Change Sends Letter to Congress


Last week a U.S. District Court of Appeals refused to rehear the country-of-origin (COOL) labeling dispute between the United States and the World Trade Organization, effectively making COOL the law of the land. After this decision, stakeholders known as COOL Reform Coalition sent a letter to members of Congress asking them to "immediately authorize and direct the Secretary of Agriculture to rescind elements of COOL that have been deemed to be non-compliant with international trade obligations." That coalition is comprised of organizations such as Hormel Foods, ConAgra, Cargill, National Beef Packing Company, Smithfield Foods, Abbott, Anheuser-Busch, Archer Daniels Midland, Nestle USA, Nestle Waters North America, Unilever, Tyson Foods, and the North American Meat Association. They are … [Read more...]

GMO Labeling on the Ballot in OR and CO


Ballot measures requiring all foods containing genetically modified organisms (GMOS) bear labels that say so will be decided by voters in Oregon and Colorado tomorrow. Proponents of these measures say consumers have the right to know which foods contain GMOs so they can make informed purchasing decisions. Critics say state laws regarding GMOs create problems for food manufacturers. In Vermont, which passed the first such law in May, the issue has landed in court. The Grocery Manufacturing Association (GMA),  the Snack Foods Association, the International Dairy Foods Association and the National Association of Manufacturers filed suit in June to challenge the law set to go into effect July 1, 2016. “Vermont’s mandatory GMO labeling law – Act 120 – is a costly and misguided measure that … [Read more...]

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