October 31, 2014

Food & Water Watch Comment on EU’s Clone Directives


Food & Water Watch is commenting on the European Commission's directives on clones in the food chain that states food from offspring of cloned animals doesn't need to be labeled. They say it falls "woefully short" of what citizens want. The draft laws only "provisionally prohibit" cloning farm animals, along with the sale and import of food from clones. The laws do not prohibit the sale of food from the offspring of clones. And the phrase "to preserve the competitiveness of Union farmers, the proposal does not regulate reproductive material of clones" means that farms can import and use that material and sell the food that results from it into the marketplace. Most troubling to food safety advocates, the draft laws don't require labels on food made from cloned animals' offspring. … [Read more...]

Scientists Studying E. coli Blocking Effect on Immune System

Petri Dish

Researchers at Kansas State University are studying how the E. coli O157:H7 bacteria blocks the human immune system to cause illness. The bacteria uses proteins to block the immune system, letting it multiply and release toxins into the bloodstream. Dr. Philip Hardwidge is the lead scientists for this study. He said, "in terms of infectious disease, this inhibition of the human innate immune response is absolutely critical for the bacteria's ability to cause an infection. If we can identify choke points in the interaction between the bacterium and the host, we may be able to inhibit the bacterium and prevent its survival in an infected human being." The National Institutes of Health is providing the grant for this study. Scientists are looking at a protein the bacteria expresses … [Read more...]

Center for Food Safety Challenges Utah’s Ag Gag Law


The Center for Food Safety (CFS) is challenging Utah's so-called "ag gag" law, which criminalizes undercover investigations of factory farms. Several states have finalized these laws, which makes it a crime to video animal abuse and cruelty while undercover. Other animal welfare groups and food safety advocates are  joining CFS in challenging the law as a violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Six states have these laws on the books. Center for Food Safety attorney Cristina Stella wrote, "in the absence of effective government regulation, private, undercover investigations of the kind conducted by the Plaintiffs and outlawed by Utah's 'ag gag' law fulfill the much-needed role of overseeing the safety of our food supply." Several undercover operations have resulted in food … [Read more...]

Natural Label Should Not Include GMO Foods


The Center for Food Safety has called on the FDA to not let GMO foods carry the "natural" label. The Grocery Manufacturer's Association has announced it would submit a petition to the government to define the term "natural" to include foods produced using genetic engineering. CFS is asking that the FDA exclude genetic engineering from any definition of "natural" and to not make any decisions without public input. Colin O'Neil, director of government affairs to Center for Food Safety said in a statement, "there is nothing natural about genetic engineering, which is exactly why the Grocery Manufacturers Association wants FDA to create a special exemption for it. Natural is a great marketing tool and the industry doesn't want to be restricted in using it." Genetic engineering is not a … [Read more...]

Researchers Studying E. coli Bacteria in Five Year Project

E. Coli Bacteria

A major five year research study is looking at E. coli bacteria in beef and how to control it in the food supply. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is heading up the study, along with scientists at Kansas State University and other institutions such as New Mexico State University and the University of California-Davis. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) bacteria cause serious illnesses, including hemolytic uremic syndrome, in hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Of the 500 known STEC bacteria, 100 can cause human disease. The 5-year study involves 48 scientists from 11 land-grant universities and other institutions who are conducting integrated research on the eight types of STEC bacteria. Chavonda Jacobs-Young, acting USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture said, … [Read more...]

Consumer Reports Offers Holiday Food Safety Advice

Holiday turkey on white

Consumer Reports is offering food safety advice when you're cooking some type of meat for the holidays. Ham, beef and pork roasts, turkey, and duck are usually only prepared once or twice a year, so most cooks are unfamiliar with the food safety risks posed by these foods. When buying meats from a stand-alone refrigerator case, don't take the package on top. And if the packages extend above the top of the case, there's a very good chance that meat has entered the temperature danger zone above 40 degrees F. Francis Largeman-Roth, R.D., said, "those cases only keep things truly cold as far as the walls of the case go up." Store these large cuts of meat properly. A fresh turkey should be stored in the refrigerator for only one or two days.  Pork and beef roasts can be in the fridge for … [Read more...]

FDA Announces Intentional Adulteration Rule


The FDA has released a part of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) that addresses intentional adulteration of the food supply. The rule, called "Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration" addresses acts of terrorism. Domestic and foreign facilities must addresses vulnerable processes to prevent this type of terrorism, which is intended to cause large-scale public harm. Food businesses will be required to have a written food defense plan. This type of adulteration includes the goal of inflicting massive public health harm, such as acts of terrorism. While the FDA states that this type of adulteration is unlikely, it could have catastrophic results. In addition to many people becoming ill or dying, loss of public confidence in food safety … [Read more...]

Pew: USDA Should Protect Consumers From Salmonella on Chicken


The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) gets poor marks when it comes to protecting consumers from Salmonella on chicken and other poultry, according to a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.  The report, entitled Weaknesses in FSIS’s Salmonella Regulation, uses the two Salmonella outbreaks associated with Foster Farms chicken this year to highlight deficiencies in agency's efforts to regulate poultry production and says the USDA's new Salmonella Action Plan does not go far enough to protect consumers. “When more than 500 people get sick from two outbreaks associated with chicken that meets federal safety standards, it is clear that those standards are not effectively protecting public health,” said Sandra Eskin, director of Pew’s food safety project. “The Food Safety … [Read more...]

Congress to USDA: No Chinese Chicken in School Lunches

School Lunch

Several members of Congress have sent a letter to ranking members of the Senator and House Committee on Appropriations and Agriculture, telling them that chicken processed in China and exported to the U.S. should not be served in school lunches. The letter was sent to Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR), Roy Blunt (R-MO), and Congressmen Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Sam Farr (D-CA). Those members of Congress are concerned about the problem with food safety in China. They also believe  FSIS will eventually let China export raw chicken to the U.S. They are asking that language in the Fiscal Year 2014 Agriculture Appropriations Bill should ensure that Chinese-processed chicken will not be included in the National School Lunch Program and other federal food programs, and that no funds should be used … [Read more...]

Consumer Reports: Most Chicken Harbors Pathogenic Bacteria

Salmonella on Foster Farms chicken

A new report to be published in the February 2014 issue of Consumer Reports finds that 97% of the chicken breasts they tested harbor pathogenic bacteria. Most deaths from food poisoning in the U.S. are attributed to poultry. So Americans must now assume that the raw chicken they bring into their houses is a hazard. Scientists analyzed more than 300 raw chicken breasts purchased across the U.S. More than half of those samples contained at least one bacterium that was resistant to three or more antibiotics. The Foster Farms outbreak this fall is just one example of the problem. Forty percent of those sickened in that outbreak were hospitalized, which is double the usual percentage, because the bacteria were antibiotic resistant. That makes salmonellosis much more difficult to treat. In … [Read more...]

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