February 9, 2016

Food & Water Watch Exposes FSIS Mismanagement

Food & Water Watch sent a letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack today containing examples of meat and poultry plants that have not been inspected because of severe shortages of government food inspection personnel. These examples "directly contradict statements made by high-ranking officials of the Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS), both on USDA's website and before Congress." The letter states, "some products under the jurisdiction of USDA are entering commerce without the benefit of inspection, even though their packaging displays the 'Inspected and Passed' USDA inspection legend." USDA is responsible for overseeing the safety of the nation's meat, poultry, and egg supply. USDA has been hiring temporary inspectors since the spring of 2012 and freezing the hiring of … [Read more...]

Study Identifies Hazardous Chemicals Used in Food Packaging

A new study published in Food Additives & Contaminants, Part A has found that 175 hazardous chemicals are used in food packaging in the United States and Europe. That packaging includes cans, pans, and foils. The chemicals are released into the food and you eat them. Some of the chemicals have been linked to chronic diseases such as cancer. Others are endocrine disruptors, interfere with the reproductive system, or cause mutations. Some of these chemicals accumulate in the body over time; they are called "persistent and bioaccumulative." Unfortunately, these chemicals can act at very low doses, and their toxicity can be increased when other hazardous chemicals are present. Food contact materials are a major source of long term and chronic exposure to chemicals.  The study's … [Read more...]

Roundup May be Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic

According to an article in Truthout.org, the herbicide Roundup, made by Monsanto, may be linked to a fatal kidney disease epidemic in Central America, Sri Lanka, and India. The disease is rampant among poor farmers in those areas. Those farmers have been exposed to herbicides and heavy metals for decades in the course of their work. Doctors are concerned because kidney disease has killed more people in El Salvador and Nicaragua than diabetes, HIV and leukemia combined in the last five years. CKDU is the second leading cause of death in men in El Salvador. The death toll is in the tens of thousands. The epidemic began about 20 years ago. The disease is called Chronic Kidney Disease, or CKDu, of unknown cause. Early studies conducted by scientists looked at heavy metals, pesticides, … [Read more...]

FDA Keeps an Eye on Packaged Ice

A typical American consumer buys about four bags of packaged ice each year, usually during the summer months when 80 percent of packaged ice sales take place. But most people don't know that packaged ice is one of the many items that is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Although small-scale producers are exempt, larger producers must comply with FDA regulations and are subject to inspection. FDA inspectors make sure that packaged ice makers follow Current Good Manufacturing Practices such as producing, holding  and transporting ice in clean and sanitary conditions; monitoring the cleanliness and hygiene of employees; using properly cleaned and maintained equipment, and using water that is safe and sanitary. FDA inspectors check plumbing design to make sure it … [Read more...]

Best and Safest Fish to Eat in the Summer

The Center for Food Safety is offering tips on the best and safest seafood to eat this summer. Most seafood sold in the U.S. is imported, and less than 2% of those products are inspected for contamination. Moreover, those fish are often caught in places where environmental and health standards are weak or non-existent. By eating locally caught, sustainable seafood, you are protecting your family from foodborne illness as well as potential problems from other contaminants such as PCBs and mercury. Buy local if possible, and choose wild over farmed. If the seafood is farmed, choose that produced in the U.S. Favor fish caught by hook, line, handling, jig, or speargun. Avoid trawl fishing, which is destructive to the environment. Avoid fish high in mercury, PCBs, or farmed fish that are … [Read more...]

CDC Study: 57 Percent Check Calories in Fast Food Before Ordering

Fast food menu boards that give calorie counts for food and beverages options are meant to help people make healthier choices, but not evryone uses them. According to a new report form the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 57 percent of people surveyed said they check calorie counts on menu boards. Researchers surveyed 10,548 people in 17 states and asked them this question:  "When calorie information is available in the restaurant, how often does this information help you decide what to order?"  The response options were "always," "most of the time," "about half the time," "sometimes," and "never." About 11.9 percent said "always," 13.7 percent said "most of the time,"  8.8 percent said "about half the time. 22.8 percent said "sometimes" and 42.7 percent said … [Read more...]

USDA Sends HIMP Poultry Rule to OMB

The USDA has submitted a draft final version of the HAACP Based Models Project (HIMP), the Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection Rule to the Office of Management and Budget today. That rule has been criticized from everyone from food safety advocates to workers unions. Food & Water Watch does not like this rule, which would reduce the number of USDA inspectors in poultry slaughter plants and replace them with company employees. Line speeds for poultry carcass inspections will be increased to 175 birds per minute, which critics claim is much too fast for any reasonable inspection. The industry will gain at least $260 million every year because of fewer regulations, increased production, and no guarantees of food safety. Only one USDA inspector will be on each slaughter … [Read more...]

U.S. Attorney Seeking Victims of Wright County Egg Salmonella Outbreak

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Iowa is looking for anyone who was sickened by Salmonella in 2010 by eggs produced by Quality Egg, LLC, also known as Wright County Egg of Galt, Iowa. Between early 2010 and August of that same year, about 2,000 people were sickened with Salmonella bacteria that was linked to eggs produced by that corporation. Environmental samples collected at the Wright County Egg facilities tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. Positive samples were found in the walkways, equipment, in manure at the farm, and in other surfaces in and around the facility. More than 500,000,000 eggs were recalled in August of 2010 as a result of that outbreak. On June 3, 2014, Quality Egg LLC and two company officials, Jack DeCoster and his son, Peter … [Read more...]

FDA: Know the Risks of Raw Food Pet Diets

The FDA has released advice for consumers about the risks of feeding raw diets to their pets. Not only can your pets become ill, but you can too, either through contact with contaminated food or if your pet sheds pathogenic bacteria. Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes are two bacteria found in raw diets that are especially dangerous to pets and humans. Raw pet food is meat, bones, and organs that have not been cooked. FDA does not believe feeding raw pet foods to animals is "consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks." The agency recommends cooking raw meat and poultry to kill pathogenic bacteria before you give the food to your pets. One of the problems with a raw food diet is that people think it's natural for animals to eat raw meat. Feral … [Read more...]

EFSA Says Acrylamide may be a Bigger Cancer Risk than First Thought

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says that acrylamide, a chemical formed when asparagine, an amino acid, is heated to temperatures above 120°F. High temperature baking and frying are particular culprits in acrylamide development. Acrylamide is often found in such foods as potato chips, crackers, and cookies. The same chemical reaction that produces the appetizing brown color in foods also produces acrylamide. Previous animal studies has found that acrylamide increases the risk of developing cancer in all age groups. The Authority's expert Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM) has developed a draft scientific opinion on acrylamide in food. Dr. Diane Bedford, Chair of CONTAM said in a statement, "acrylamide consumed orally is absorbed from the gastrointestinal trace, … [Read more...]

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