November 26, 2014

New CFSAN Center Director Announced


The Food and Drug Administration announced today that in January 2014, Dr. Susan T. Mayne will be the new director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition as of January 2015, taking over from Michael M. Landa, who is retiring. Dr. Mayne is a scientists and public health leader who has been trained in nutrition, toxicology, and epidemiology. She is currently the C.-E.A. Winslow Professor of Epidemiology and Chair, Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, and the Associate Director of Yale Cancer Center. She has worked with state legislators to pass public health bills and has conducted research into food, nutrition, and obesity as determinants of chronic disease risk. She is the author of more than 200 scientific publications. Dr. … [Read more...]

Campylobacter’s 2013 Toll: 845,000 Cases, $1 Billion, 162 Deaths


When dozens of Wisconsin high school students developed Campylobacter infections after attending a football team banquet, it didn't take health officials long to trace the source of the illness to raw milk provided by a parent who did not disclose its lack of pasteurization. Raw milk and poultry are often associated with Campylobacter, a pathogen that causes more damage than most people realize. Campylobacter is transmitted when food or beverages contaminated with animal feces are consumed. Symptoms of an infection, called campylobacteriosis, include diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. In rare cases, a complication called Guillain-Barré syndrome can develop. Guillain-Barré causes weakness and paralysis and can occur several weeks after … [Read more...]

GE Simplot Potato Approved by USDA


A new genetically engineered potato is going to enter the market soon. The potato is engineered to produce little or no acrylamide, a carcinogen, when cooked at high temperatures. The Simplot Potato is made using a new type of genetic engineering called RNA interference (RNAi). The potato was approved last week by the USDA. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Center for Food Safety's director of sustainable agriculture said in a statement, "we simply don't know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment. If this is an attempt to giver crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops. These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely … [Read more...]

GAO Finds FDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Monitoring


The Government Accountability Office has released a new report that states the FDA and USDA should strengthen their pesticide residue monitoring programs and disclose the limitations of their systems. The most recent data from 2008 through 2012 shows that residue in 10 selected fruits and vegetables is low, but the monitoring approach has limitations. GAO found that FDA tests relatively few targeted samples for residues. For example, in 2012, the agency tested less than one-tenth of 1 percent of imported foods. And the FDA does not test for some commonly used pesticides with an EPA established tolerance. Unfortunately, this list includes glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, which is used on GMO crops that have been manipulated to be resistant to the chemical. Recent studies have … [Read more...]

Will USDA’s New E. coli Rule Lead to More Beef Recalls?


For the last few weeks, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been using a new procedure to more quickly trace the source of ground beef that tests positive for E. coli. The change is meant to remove contaminated products from the market faster and prevent incidents of contamination from occurring. “A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves,” said Brian Ronholm, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “The expedited traceback procedures being announced today will allow FSIS to take action more quickly, which will make a significant difference in food safety investigations and in preventing foodborne illnesses.” FSIS is now conducting immediate investigations … [Read more...]

After Recalls, Dietary Supplements with Banned Drugs Stay on Market


About half of all FDA drug recalls in the last decade have been for dietary supplements that contain  banned ingredients. These recalls are meant to be swift enforcement actions that protect consumers from serious, sometimes life-threatening, conditions,  but in some cases these dangerous products remain on the market for longer than six months after they are recalled, according to a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). For the study, Harvard researchers looked at supplements recalled between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012 that were still on the market with the same name, maker and distributor in July or August of 2013. Of the 274 dietary supplements recalled, 27 met these criteria. These recalled supplements, labeled as weight loss, sports … [Read more...]

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...]

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