October 21, 2014

FDA Goes Sour on Antibacterial Soaps


The FDA is taking a closer look at antibacterial soaps. Their issue is with ingredients called triclosan and triclocarbon, chemicals that may act as hormone disruptors. And those ingredients don't have any proven benefit; they doesn't kill more bacteria than plain old soap and water. There is no evidence that over the counter antibacterial soaps are more effective at preventing illness than ordinary soap and water. Dr. Colleen Rogers, a lead microbiologist at the FDA said, "new data suggests that the risks associated with long-term, daily use of antibacterial soaps may outweigh the benefits." The soaps may also contribute to the serious problem of antibiotic resistance. The government issued a proposed rule on December 13, 2013 that would require manufacturers to provide more … [Read more...]

Sriracha Sauce Producer Shut Down for a Month


Huy Fong Foods in California has been shut down for 30 days by the California Department of Health. After months of talks, public health officials closed the business so they can inspect the bottles, the ingredients, and the process to make sriracha hot sauce, a popular condiment. A 30 day hold will let officials test the product to make sure there is no growth of microorganisms in the sauce. The pH level in the sauce must be at a certain number to reduce bacterial growth. Bacteria do not grow in lower pH level ingredients. While no recall has been ordered and no pathogenic bacteria have been found in the sriracha, a new manufacturing process must be tested before the product can be sold to the public. Residents in Irwindale, California, where the Huy Fong Foods plant is located, … [Read more...]

In a Twist, China Bans U.S. Shellfish


We're used to hearing about how food from China is banned from entering the U.S., or that consumer and food safety groups oppose measures to bring food from that country here. But now China has turned the tables by banning all imports of West coast shellfish from its borders. The issue is paralytic shellfish poisoning toxins and arsenic found in geoduck clams harvested in Renton, Washington and Ketchikan in Alaska. No shellfish harvested on the entire West coast will be exported to China for the foreseeable future. The ban applies to clams, oysters, geoducks, and all bivalve shellfish harvested off Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and northern California. The health departments of those states routinely test for PSP and arsenic, as well as other parasites and bacteria. Officials with the … [Read more...]

Californians Warned to Avoid Bivalve Shellfish From Two Areas


The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is telling consumers not to eat recreationally harvested mussels, clams, or whole scallops from two areas because the shellfish may have dangerous levels of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) toxins. The regions are Monterey Bay and Inner Tomales Bay in Marin County. This warning is in addition to the annual mussel quarantine that was extended on October 31, 2013 for northern Humboldt County. That quarantine remains in effect. This warning doesn't apply to commercially harvested and sold clams, mussels, scallops, or oysters from approved harvest areas. State law allows only state-certified commercial shellfish harvesters or dealers to sell those foods. The shellfish are subject to frequent mandatory testing to monitor for these and … [Read more...]

Chinese Chicken Proves Unfit


Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, has released a statement on the USDA's decision to let processed chicken from China enter U.S. borders. This decision was made a few weeks ago, but yesterday USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service admitted that China's poultry slaughter system is not equivalent to the U.S. system. That means China is not eligible to ship poultry products made from Chinese-raised chickens to the U.S. Ms. Hauter said, "China's food safety record is horrific and there are serious concerns with avian influenza. We have also just learned that USDA Secretary Vilsack is scheduled to visit China next week. We sincerely hope that this visit will not be a prelude to a new audit of the Chinese poultry slaughter system. USDA should stop wasting … [Read more...]

USDA Offers Tips on Sending Care Packages to U.S. Military


This holiday season, many people are sending care packages to those in the U.S. military who can't be home. The USDA is offering tips about the best things to mail and how to make sure the foods you send stay safe to eat. Food gifts that are mailed should not be perishable. The foods should also be able to tolerate a range of temperatures and not break even with rough handling. The recommended foods for mailing include dried products such as jerky and fruits, shelf stable canned foods, and condiments such as hot sauce that could be used to add flavor to MREs. Homemade cookies, candy, and low-moisture breads and bar cookies are also recommended. Mail order foods are a good choice too. Any shelf stable food that you can order online can be sent to military personnel. Those foods … [Read more...]

Johns Hopkins Experts on FDA Antibiotic Guidance

Petri Dish

The experts at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future have released a statement on the FDA's guidance document for reducing antibiotic use in farm animals. They say that "FDA's voluntary guidelines on antibiotics fail to protect public health." Guidance for Industry #213 asks drug companies to voluntarily withdraw approvals to use antibiotics for growth promotion. Unfortunately, factory farms can still use antibiotics at a sub therapeutic level for disease prevention. And since 80% of antibiotics sold in this country are used in food animals, not to treat sick people, this is significant. CDC has stated that just one antibiotic resistant pathogen, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) causes more than 94,000 resistant infections and kills more than 18,000 people in … [Read more...]

Expensive Restaurants Aren’t Always Safe Restaurants

Restaurant Outbreak

According to Voactiv.com, four of New York City's Michelin-starred restaurants have received C grades from the Department of Health this year. The scoring of restaurants is based on whether there is a public health hazard, critical violations, or general violations of food safety and cleanliness rules. Some violations include failing to keep food at a safe temperature (under 40 degrees or over 140 degrees F), serving raw produce without washing it first, or not properly sanitizing cooking utensils. The letter grades are given according to the number of violations in each public health inspection visit. Restaurants with a score between 0 and 13 points get an A; 14 to 27 points earns a B; and those with 28 or more points have a C grade. The restaurants that received a C grade include … [Read more...]

Trader Joe’s E. coli Outbreak Ends With 33 Sick in 4 States


The E.coli outbreak linked to ready-to-eat salads made by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe's stores has ended after sickening 33 people in four states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced today. Seven people were hospitalized, two of whom developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Public health investigators used epidemiologic and traceback investigations to link two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s to illnesses in four states. By state the case count was as follows: Arizona (1), California (28), Texas (1), and Washington (3). On November 10,  Glass Onion recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap … [Read more...]

1 in 6 Raw Milk Drinkers Gets Food Poisoning, Study Says

Raw milk myths busted

One of every six people who drinks raw milk gets food poisoning, according to a new study from officials at the Minnesota Department of Health.  That percentage is much higher than the number of cases reported in relation to outbreaks associated with raw milk and, researchers say, it's increasing even as some states push to relax raw milk regulations. To get a better idea of the number of illnesses associated with raw milk, (milk that has not been pasteurized) researchers looked at a decade of data on sporadic, or non outbreak-related, illnesses from food poisoning bacteria and parasites reported in Minnesota, one of 30 states where the sale of raw milk is legal. They found that, from 2001 to 2010, 530 people or about 3.7 percent of those sickened by food poisoning bacteria such as … [Read more...]

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