August 20, 2014

Food & Water Watch Responds to Jerky Treat Pet Illness Report

Pet food recall

Food & Water Watch is responding to the FDA announcement that they are asking for the public's help in the mysterious illnesses apparently caused by pet jerky treats. This week, the government posted an update on the investigation admitting they don't understand what is going wrong, and giving veterinarians information about reporting cases. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, "we appreciate the new information the agency posted. But America's pets are still at risk from these potentially deadly treats. Today's update from the FDA showed a drop in reported illnesses since the decision by Nestle Purina and DelMonte in January to recall their chicken jerky dog treats produced in China. But the source of the problem has still not been … [Read more...]

Government Has Exacerbated Problems with Industrial Animal Farms


Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) has analyzed the Pew Commission on Industry Farm Animal Production (PCIFAP) report and its recommendations to fix health, environmental, animal welfare, and rural community problems caused by industrial food animal production (IFAP). The original report, "Putting Meat on the Table: Industrial Farm Animal Production in America" was released in April 2008. CLF began its analysis late last year. Dr. Robert Lawrence, director of CLF, said in a statement, "There has been an appalling lack of progress. The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse." In 2008, the report found that the negative effects of … [Read more...]

Why are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?


The Food and Drug Administration has just published a report on jerky treats that are making pets sick. The government would like to hear from you if your dog or cat became ill after eating those products. Many alerts have been issued about these products. Since 2007, more than 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill after eating these treats, and almost 600 have died. The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has conducted more than 1,200 tests on the problem products, visited the manufacturers in China (and were refused permission to test the Chinese products in non-Chinese labs), and collaborated with colleagues around the world to study this issue, but have been unable to find the exact cause of the illnesses and deaths. The products were tested for chemical contaminants, … [Read more...]

No Scientific Consensus on GMO Safety


The European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER) has released a statement that there is "no scientific consensus on GMO safety." The statement was signed by more than 90 scientists, academics, and doctors. The statement was issued in response to comments by some GM seed developers, scientists, and journalists who have said there is a consensus on GMO safety and that the debate on this topic is over. The signers say that "the claim that [scientific consensus] does exist is misleading and misrepresents the currently available scientific evidence and the broad diversity of opinion among scientists on this issue. Moreover, the claim encourages a climate of complacency that could lead to a lack of regulatory and scientific rigour and appropriate … [Read more...]

Buying Breast Milk Online Likely to Cause Illness in Infants

baby milk bottle

A study conducted by Nationwide Children's Hospital found that more than 3/4 of breast milk samples purchased online contain pathogenic bacteria. The problems that caused the contamination were poor collection, storage, and/or shipping practices. Breast milk, like other protein-rich foods, is an ideal environment for bacterial growth.  If not properly handled and stored, these products are easily contaminated with dangerous bacteria. And the trend of buying breast milk online has been growing; apparently  in 2011, 13,000 offers for buying human breast milk were on milk sharing websites in the United States. Dr. Sarah A. Keim, principle investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health, said in a statement, "we were surprised so many samples had such high bacterial counts and even … [Read more...]

Listeria Monocytogenes Could be in Norwegian Salmon


A study by the Norwegian National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research has found that Listeria monocytogenes may be in that country's salmon. A study of three companies that produce farmed salmon in various areas of that country identified fifteen types of the bacteria. Nine of the fifteen types were found in patients with listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. That study was published in the journal Epidemiology & Infection. NIFES scientist Bjørn Tore Lunestad said in a statement, "this background is not sufficient for us to claim that fish are the sources of the cases of listeriosis in our study. But on the other hand, we cannot ignore this possibility. Salmon are one of several potential sources of L. monocytogenes." The MLVA profile of … [Read more...]

NDSU Researchers Find Chocolate Compound Combats E. coli

MN E. coli O111 outbreak

Researchers at North Dakota State University may have found a way to fight pathogenic E. coli bacteria. They discovered that B-phenylethylamine (PEA), a mood enhancer, reduces the number of E. coli cells in beef broth. PEA is the substance in chocolate that makes you feel good. PEA also reduced the amount of E. coli biofilm in beef broth. Biofilm is a collection of bacteria enclosed in an exopolysaccharide matrix that makes the pathogen much more dangerous, since it helps the bacteria protect each other and communicate. Bacteria in biofilms cause 60 to 80% of bacterial infections. And biofilms restrict the diffusion of antimicrobials. When exposed to PEA, E. coli bacteria can't produce flagella, the thin appendages that they use to move, bind together, and attach to surfaces. If they … [Read more...]

CSPI: Declare Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella an Adulterant

Petri Dish

While the Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak continues, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling attention to their 2011 petition to the USDA to declare antibiotic-resistant Salmonella and E. coli adulterants in ground meat and poultry. Caroline Smith DeWaal, CSPI food safety director, said, "Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella is too hot to handle in consumers' kitchens." Those resistant pathogens result in longer hospitalizations and an increased death rate. The hospitalization rate in this outbreak is 42%, about twice as high as most other outbreaks. Four out of the seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg in Foster Farms chicken are resistant to antibiotics, which makes infections more difficult to treat. "The number of people we know to be ill is … [Read more...]

Essential Oils Protect Against Bacteria


A literature review by Korean researchers published in Trends in Food Science & Technology has found that essential oils are potential antimicrobial agents in meat and meat products. Scientists have found that plant-derived essential oils protect against spoilage and pathogenic microorganisms in meat and meat products. The use of these products is limited because of their intense smell, and these compounds are volatile at room temperature. Phenolic compounds of essential oils that were extracted from rosemary, oregano, clove, ginger, thyme, and coriander could extend the shelf life of meats. The oils degrade the cell walls of pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli. Other studies have shown similar results. Essential oils have been used for years for … [Read more...]

Today is Global Handwashing Day


Today is Global Handwashing Day! One of the best ways to prevent foodborne illness and other diseases is to thoroughly wash your hands frequently. And correctly. Many people do not wash their hands correctly, which increases your odds for catching the flu, a cold, or a bacterial infection. In fact, 50% of flu cases and 60% of gastrointestinal illnesses in schools are spread by dirty hands. Hand washing with soap and water is more effective at removing bacteria and viruses than antibacterial liquid. Human feces are the main source of pathogens that cause diarrhea. One gram of human feces can hold 10 million viruses and one million bacteria. Using the toilet, changing a child's diaper, or cleaning the bathroom can deposit fecal materials onto your hands. Studies have shown that children … [Read more...]

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