July 27, 2016

Mercer Island, WA Still Under Boil Water Advisory

The City of Mercer Island, Washington has issued another statement on the boil water advisory in place for E. coli found in the water supply. Officials have set a timeline for ending the advisory. For the fifth day in a row, all of the latest water-sample tests are clear. But one child has been diagnosed with an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Lab tests are still pending to see if this illness is linked to the water supply problem or is the result of exposure to another source such as contaminated meat, raw milk, or feces. Mayor Bruce Bassett said, "We know this incident has been challenging, and we thank Islanders for their patience, as well as star and partner agencies. At this point, we are all eager to see life return to normal, but our first priority is protecting the health of our … [Read more...]

Consumers Union: Cost of GE Food Labeling $2.30 Per Year

Consumers Union, the public policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports has estimated the cost of labeling GE foods and has released a report based on a literature review. They state that the median cost incurred by producers and retailers will be $2.30 per person per year; less than a penny a day. Labeling foods that contain genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GMO) ingredients has been a contentious issue for years. Consumers and consumer groups want these food labeled so people can make an informed choice; polls show that more than 90% of consumers want these foods to be labeled. Industry generally opposes labeling, stating it would increase costs dramatically. Consumers Union asked ECONorthwest to resolve this disagreement. The studies reviewed include assessments … [Read more...]

WHO Study Evaluates Global Listeria Burden

A study of the global burden of listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, has been conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and published in the journal Lancet Infectious Diseases. The study’s authors reviewed 12,000 studies on Listeria infections published from January 1, 1990 to May 21, 2012. Listeria bacteria are difficult to control, partly because they can grow at refrigerator temperatures, in low-water foods, and aren’t easily destroyed with cleaning materials. Listeria monocytogenes infected more than 23,000 people worldwide in 2010. Of those, 5,463 were killed. This is a far higher rate of death than those caused by Salmonella infections. This poses an urgent effort to discover more about the bacteria and its prevalence in developing countries. … [Read more...]

Health Groups Ask Congress for More Money for FSMA

Several health advocacy groups have written a letter, asking Congress to add $50 million to the FDA’s fiscal year 2015 budget to full fund implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). FDA has estimated that it needs an additional $300 million over the next few years to fully implement the law, which was the first reform of the nation’s food safety regulations in years. FDA is finalizing the rules of the law and is building the systems needed to implement it. FSMA changed FDA’s approach to food safety, focusing the agency’s efforts on preventing food safety problems before they occur rather than reacting to illnesses and outbreaks after they occur. The comprehensive food import oversight system section of FSMA is a first, making importer responsible for the safety … [Read more...]

Small Game Hunters Reminded of Tularemia Risk

Fall is the beginning of game hunting in many states. The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment is reminding hunters that many animals carry tularemia, a bacterial disease. It causes illness and death in rabbits and rodents. People get tularemia if they handle infected animals or are bitten by ticks or deer flies. State Public Health Veterinarian Dr. Jennifer House said, “we haven’t seen this many tularemia cases in Colorado since the 19802. In the last 10 years Colorado has averaged three human cases of tularemia a year. So far in 2014 we have had 11 and additional suspected cases are under investigation.” In Colorado, animals from 12 counties tested positive for the disease. Public health officials say that hungers should only harvest small game that looks and acts … [Read more...]

In Canada, Ground Chicken Products Recalled for E. coli O157:H7

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage are recalling frozen, raw, ground chicken products for possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products. There have been four reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. The recalled products were sold in Alberta at the retail level. They are all Missing Link Extraordinary Sausage brand products with variable UPC numbers. They were all sold between July 14, 2014 and October 3, 2014, inclusively. They include Garlic, Garlic, & More Garlic Chicken Sausage in 454 gram packages; Garlic, Garlic, & More Garlic Chicken Sausage in 227 gram packages; Garlic, Garlic, & More Garlic Chicken Burgers in 340 gram packages, and Garlic, Garlic, & … [Read more...]

FDA Publishes Report on Antibiotics Used in Farm Animals

The FDA has published its annual summary report on antimicrobials sold or distributed in 2012 for use in food-producing animals. Antibiotic drug sponsors are required to report yearly to the FDA the drugs they sell or distribute for use in farm animals. Trends from the report are: the total quantity of medically important antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals increased by 16% from 2009 to 2012. But the percentage of domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials approved for production use decreased from 72% to 68%. And the percentage of domestic sales of antimicrobials used in animals that are medically important to humans decreased from 98% to 97%. The sales and distribution data does not represent how the drugs are actually … [Read more...]

Another Boil Water Advisory for E. coli in Mercer Island, Washington

Another boil water advisory has been issued by Mercer Island, Washington officials because E. coli and coliform bacteria were found in the city's water. The city was under a boil water advisory last weekend that was lifted on Monday, September 29, 2014. On Thursday, October 2, 2014 another order was issued. All water customers on the Island should boil water before drinking or using in cooking, making ice, brushing teeth, or use bottled water. Bring water to a full boil and boil for at least 1 minute. Dishwashers can be used only with the sanitizing/heat cycle and commercial dishwashing detergent. Hand wash dishes only if you do a final rinse in a diluted bleach solution. If you use the water for bathing, do not let children and babies get water in their mouths or chew on wet … [Read more...]

Governor Brown Vetoes Bill That Would Curbed Antibiotic Use

California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a bill that would have curbed the use of antibiotics on factory farms. He stated that most major producers already go beyond the voluntary FDA standards (guidance) for their use and wants to look for other ways to reduce sub therapeutic antibiotic use. Most food safety and medical experts are unhappy with the FDA's stance on this issue, pointing out that guidance documents do not go far enough and that actual rules and laws are needed to curb this growing problem. The Governor is, instead, directing the California Department of Food and Agriculture to work with the Legislature to find "new and effective ways to reduce the unnecessary antibiotics used for livestock and poultry." If the bill had been signed, it would have been the first time … [Read more...]

Tyson, Perdue End Antibiotic Use in Chicken Hatcheries

Tyson Foods announced that as of October 1, 2014, it will no longer use antibiotics in its chicken hatcheries. Antibiotic use in farm animals for reasons other than treating disease has been linked to the evolution and development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that have made the jump from animals to humans. Purdue announced it was also discontinuing antibiotic use in its chickens last month. Tyson will still use antibiotics when prescribed by a veterinarian, although they will still be used to "prevent disease", which is one of the ways antibiotic resistance develops. They also state that the "vast majority" of antibiotics used in their hatcheries aren't used in human medicine, although antibiotic resistance can still develop even when antibiotics not used in human medicine are … [Read more...]

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