October 9, 2015

Senators Follow up on Unanswered Antibiotic Resistance Questions


United States Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) sent a letter to the Interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, asking again for information on how that body plans to address critical gaps in the FDA policies on overuse of antibiotics in food animals. A letter was sent in December 2014, but they have not received a formal response. The letter states, "we are extremely disappointed that we have not received a formal response form your office. Antibiotic-resistant bacteria present a major public health threat and public health experts agree that antibiotic resistance stems not only from antibiotic use in human medicine, but also from use in animals." The senators asked for a response within 30 days. They … [Read more...]

Canada Restricts Poultry Imports from US for HPAI


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has placed restrictions on poultry imports from the United States because of the highly pathogenic avian influence (HPAI) outbreak in that country. All raw poultry and poultry products and by-products that are not fully cooked, including eggs and raw pet foods, that are sourced, processed, or packaged from these states are under restriction. The states include: California, Nebraska, Idaho, North Dakota, Indiana, Oregon, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Washington, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Missouri. Arkansas and Montana were on the list, but those states are now free of HAPI and imports are permitted. Restricted items include live birds, hatching eggs, eggs, yolks, egg whites, poultry meat, raw pet foods containing poultry products, feathers, … [Read more...]

Contaminated Beef Destroyed Before Leaving Plant


Officials in Montana say that malfunctioning equipment may have contaminated beef being processed, but the beef was identified and destroyed before leaving the plant. A water machine that is used to clean carcasses didn't reach temperatures high enough to kill E. coli and other pathogens. The ground beef was sampled in a weekly routine and was found to be contaminated. None of it shipped to consumers, according to the Meat Inspection Bureau. The name of the plant and the brand are not being released because no recall was issued. Whole beef cuts are often contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 and other bacteria. The bacteria are then mixed throughout the product when the meat is ground into hamburger. That is why food safety experts tell consumers to cook hamburgers to well done, or 165°F … [Read more...]

Vancouver Restaurants Must Cook Oysters Before Serving

Raw Oysters

Vancouver Coastal Health has issued a public service announcement, stating that restaurants in that province must cook oysters harvested in British Columbia before serving. Only oysters harvested outside of that province may be served raw at this time. An ongoing outbreak of Vibrio parahaemolyticus relating to the consumption of raw oysters is ongoing in Canada. This bacteria is naturally occurring in coastal waters. This illness increases in the summer months, but the outbreak is large enough this year to warrant this preventative measure. Thirty-one people have been sickened with Vibrio infections so far in Vancouver. The actual number of Vibrio illnesses is probably much higher, since most cases of foodborne illness are not reported to authorities. Only 16 cases were reported in … [Read more...]

Report Finds Trans Fats Increase Mortality Risk

Food Label

A study published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has found that consumption of trans fats is associated with greater risk of mortality, a greater risk of dying from heart disease, and a greater risk of developing heart disease. Researchers in Canada reviewed 41 observational studies, which means the association cannot be "causal". But the certainty between trans fat consumption and coronary heart disease is "moderate", and the certainty between saturated fat and all mortality outcomes is "very low". Dietary guidelines recommend that saturated fats should be limited to less than 10% of daily calorie intake. The report concludes that "Saturated fats are not associated with all cause mortality, CVD, CHD (coronary heart disease), ischemic stroke, or type 2 diabetes, but the … [Read more...]

FDA Releases NARMS Report on Antibiotic Resistance


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released its 2012-2013 National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) Integrated Report. The report focuses on major food born pathogens that are resistant to antibiotics important in human medicine, and on multidrug resistant pathogens. NARMS screens for non-typhoidal Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus. Salmonella and Campylobacter are the leading causes of bacterial food poisoning. The report reveals "mostly encouraging findings, with some areas of concern." About 80% of human Salmonella isolates are not resistant to any of the tested antibiotics. This number has not changed in the past 10 years. In addition, Salmonella multi-drug resistance has not changed, and the number of multi-drug resistant Salmonella … [Read more...]

Scientists Learn How Listeria Grows on Smoked Salmon

Smoked Salmon FPB

One of the biggest problems with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is that it grows at refrigerator temperatures. That means that refrigeration, one of the methods traditionally used to control bacterial growth on food, does not work for this pathogen. Now scientists are learning how Listeria grows in vacuum-packed smoked salmon. The study, published in the journal American Society for Microbiology discovered that Listeria uses different metabolic pathways when it grows on salmon than those used when cultured in the laboratory. Principle investigator Dr. Teresa Bergholz, who is the assistant professor in the Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences at North Dakota State University-Fargo said, "there may be ways we can use this information to control the pathogen both in … [Read more...]

COOL Damages Much Lower Than First Thought


The legal wrangling over country of origin labeling (COOL) took a new turn this week, when the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) filed a brief in the World Trade Organization dispute over the issue. The brief states that the $3 billion sought by Mexico and Canada in retaliatory tariffs vastly overestimate damages. The brief recommends that the damage limits be set at $43.22 million for Canada and $47.55 million for Mexico. USTR says that the methods used by the two countries to estimate damage was flawed and "severely overestimates the level of nullification or impairment attributable" to COOL. Food & Water Watch's Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, "the WTO has never certified Canada and Mexico's absurdly high claims for damages from the COOL case and is only now considering … [Read more...]

FDA Announces Raw Milk Cheese Data Call


The FDA announced late last week that it is requesting public comments to assist the agency in evaluating measures that may minimize the risk of harmful bacteria in raw milk cheeses. Raw milk cheese is made from unpasteurized milk. The government, in conjunction with Health Canada, is also  releasing a technical Quantitative Risk Assessment (QRA) report to evaluate the effects of factors in cheesemaking on the overall risk of listeriosis to the consumer. It includes estimates of the number of servings of raw milk cheese that result in one cases of invasive listeriosis, as well as the prevalence of contaminated servings, and the increased risk of invasive listeriosis per serving of raw milk cheese. The FDA released a statement about this call: "The FDA recognizes that there is broad … [Read more...]

CDC Announces Awards to Help Fight Infectious Disease


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week that they are awarding almost $110 million to help states strengthen their ability to track and respond to infectious diseases. Increases in funding are going to foodborne-disease prevention and advanced molecular detection. The funding is allocated through the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement (ELC). Fifty-one million dollars is provided through the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund. Infectious disease surveillance and outbreak response, public health labs, health information systems, and efforts to combat foodborne disease, zoonotic disease, and healthcare-associated infections are supported by this money. The CDC funds all 50 state health … [Read more...]

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