December 9, 2016

Senators Ask FDA to Collect More Antibiotic Data

Four U.S. Senators have written a letter to the FDA to ask that agency to increase tracking of antibiotics used in food animals. They want the agency to propose a rule that improves collection of data on farm antibiotic use and its connection to bacterial resistance. Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) all wrote the letter.  It states, "we applaud your agency's recent step to issue improved, more transparent reports on annual food animal antibiotic drug sales and distribution data. However, we are disappointed to learn that your agency has decided to delay proposing a rule that would further enhance data collected on this topic until next year, when the OMB estimated the rule would be released in 2014." Foodborne … [Read more...]

Slaughter Wins U.S. House Race

Representative Louise Slaughter, the only microbiologist in Congress who has a Master's degree in public health, won her race against Mark Assini, who conceded Wednesday. Slaughter is a food safety advocate and a sponsor of PAMTA (Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act). Slaughter said in a statement, "It's gratifying to be re-elected for another term so that I can continue fighting for the community I love and am honored to represent. Like I said during this campaign, Washington might not be working, but I sure am, and I'm glad to continue that work." PAMTA is designed to reduce the number of antibiotics that are used in the production of farm animals. Massive scientific evidence shows that this overuse of antibiotics, especially in sub therapeutic ways, contributes … [Read more...]

More Food Safety Election Day News

The election may be over, but the food movement is still making news about ballot initiatives and members of Congress. In Oregon, the initiative to label genetically engineered foods is still too close to call. Measure 92 is only 6,900 votes behind, and enough absentee ballots are still outstanding that it may pass. The ballots will be counted until November 18. In Maui, voters passed an initiative to "prohibit the growth, testing, or cultivation of genetially engineered crops" until environmental and public health studies show they are safe. The opposition, consisting mostly Monsanto and Dow Chemical, spent $362 per vote and still lost. Voters in California's Humboldt County also voted to ban GE crops from their farmlands. Four other counties in California already ban these … [Read more...]

Dirty Dozen Food Additives Guide Published

Environmental Working Group has published its first-ever "dirty dozen" guide to food additives. That organization has a "dirty dozen" list of produce that contains large amounts of pesticides and herbicides. This list is for label readers; it tells you which additives to avoid. Nitrates and nitrates are first on the list; they are chemicals used in cured meats to make the product pink and add flavor. Nitrites have been linked to stomach cancer and may be associated with brain and thyroid cancers. Scientists at the World Health Organization have declared that these chemicals are probable human carcinogens. Potassium bromate is next on the list. This chemical strengthens wheat doughs and help them rise during baking. It is listed as a known carcinogen by the state of California. It is … [Read more...]

USDA Food Safety Tips for Winter Weather Emergencies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)  has compiled some food safety tips for those affected by severe winter weather in the northern Rockies and upper Great Lakes. Heavy snowfalls in Montana, the Dakotas, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan could cause power outages posing which create food safety risks. FSIS recommends consumers follow these steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events. Before the storm, purchase appliance thermometers for the refrigerator and the freezer, freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately. Group foods together in the freezer, it will help them stay cold longer. Freeze water in one-quart plastic … [Read more...]

New CFSAN Center Director Announced

The Food and Drug Administration announced today that in January 2014, Dr. Susan T. Mayne will be the new director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition as of January 2015, taking over from Michael M. Landa, who is retiring. Dr. Mayne is a scientists and public health leader who has been trained in nutrition, toxicology, and epidemiology. She is currently the C.-E.A. Winslow Professor of Epidemiology and Chair, Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, and the Associate Director of Yale Cancer Center. She has worked with state legislators to pass public health bills and has conducted research into food, nutrition, and obesity as determinants of chronic disease risk. She is the author of more than 200 scientific publications. Dr. … [Read more...]

Campylobacter’s 2013 Toll: 845,000 Cases, $1 Billion, 162 Deaths

When dozens of Wisconsin high school students developed Campylobacter infections after attending a football team banquet, it didn't take health officials long to trace the source of the illness to raw milk provided by a parent who did not disclose its lack of pasteurization. Raw milk and poultry are often associated with Campylobacter, a pathogen that causes more damage than most people realize. Campylobacter is transmitted when food or beverages contaminated with animal feces are consumed. Symptoms of an infection, called campylobacteriosis, include diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody, abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting. In rare cases, a complication called Guillain-Barré syndrome can develop. Guillain-Barré causes weakness and paralysis and can occur several weeks after … [Read more...]

GE Simplot Potato Approved by USDA

A new genetically engineered potato is going to enter the market soon. The potato is engineered to produce little or no acrylamide, a carcinogen, when cooked at high temperatures. The Simplot Potato is made using a new type of genetic engineering called RNA interference (RNAi). The potato was approved last week by the USDA. Doug Gurian-Sherman, Center for Food Safety's director of sustainable agriculture said in a statement, "we simply don't know enough about RNA interference technology to determine whether GE crops developed with it are safe for people and the environment. If this is an attempt to giver crop biotechnology a more benign face, all it has really done is expose the inadequacies of the U.S. regulation of GE crops. These approvals are riddled with holes and are extremely … [Read more...]

GAO Finds FDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Monitoring

The Government Accountability Office has released a new report that states the FDA and USDA should strengthen their pesticide residue monitoring programs and disclose the limitations of their systems. The most recent data from 2008 through 2012 shows that residue in 10 selected fruits and vegetables is low, but the monitoring approach has limitations. GAO found that FDA tests relatively few targeted samples for residues. For example, in 2012, the agency tested less than one-tenth of 1 percent of imported foods. And the FDA does not test for some commonly used pesticides with an EPA established tolerance. Unfortunately, this list includes glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, which is used on GMO crops that have been manipulated to be resistant to the chemical. Recent studies have … [Read more...]

Will USDA’s New E. coli Rule Lead to More Beef Recalls?

For the last few weeks, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been using a new procedure to more quickly trace the source of ground beef that tests positive for E. coli. The change is meant to remove contaminated products from the market faster and prevent incidents of contamination from occurring. “A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves,” said Brian Ronholm, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “The expedited traceback procedures being announced today will allow FSIS to take action more quickly, which will make a significant difference in food safety investigations and in preventing foodborne illnesses.” FSIS is now conducting immediate investigations … [Read more...]

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