November 24, 2015

Salmonella on 60 Percent of Chicken Tested by USDA in 4th Quarter of 2013

Salmonella was present on about 60 percent of chicken tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) during the fourth quarter of 2013, according to a report by the agency. About 23 percent of turkey samples tested were positive for the bacteria, giving an average of 47 percent for all poultry tested from Oct.1 through Dec. 31. Results for Campylobacter testing were listed in the same report. That bacteria was found on about 10 percent of chicken tested and about 1 percent of turkey samples that were tested. Those numbers are not surprising considering other published data. A Consumer Reports  story found some kind of bacteria on 97 percent of chicken breasts it tested. The magazine found E. coli on 65.2 percent of samples, Campylobacter on 43 percent; and Salmonella on … [Read more...]

Serving Up Norovirus, Restaurants are Most Common Source of Outbreaks

Norovirus causes more food poisoning outbreaks than any other pathogen and most of those outbreaks occur at restaurants, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Restaurants were the source of almost two thirds of all foodborne norovirus outbreaks between 2009 and 2012. The reason? Sick employees. About 70 percent of norovirus outbreaks at restaurants originate from a sick food worker.  Norovirus, which is highly contagious, is usually spread via the fecal-oral route, meaning an infected person didn't wash hands properly after using the restroom and then contaminated various surfaces or foods by touching them. The contaminated foods are then eaten by customers who become ill. This is how almost 20 million Americans contract norovirus every … [Read more...]

Costco Pepper Salmonella Warning

Salmonella may be in some packages of Costco pepper. Over the last 24 hours, the company has been calling the 140,000 of its customers who may be affected by the potentially contaminated product, according to NBC News. The company has not issued a recall or posted product safety information on its website. The product in question is Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Black Pepper with a "best before" date of March 2017. During routine testing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered a rare strain, Salmonella Duisburg, in some of the samples, according to NBC. Contaminated spices are an ongoing problem. When the U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) studied the prevalence of Salmonella in imported spices from samples produced between 2007 and 2009, the agency found … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Prods SEC About Aquabounty Risks

Food & Water Watch is asking the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to make AquaBounty Technologies, the producer of genetically engineered salmon, tell investors about the risks of its product. Aquabounty's SEC filing "misrepresents the market barriers, regulatory hurdles, and financial prospects facing its sole product, GE salmon," according to the agency. Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, "the SEC needs to ensure that investors are able to distinguish between what AquaBounty says in its disclosures and the facts on the ground. Aquabounty's SEC filing confirms a long history of misrepresentation and missing transparency. Even the FDA was recently compelled to rein in AquaBounty for falsely stating that FDA will not require GE salmon to be … [Read more...]

In Texas, Man Died From Variant CJD

According to the CDC, lab tests have confirmed a diagnosis of variant CJD in a patient who recently died in Texas. Variant CJD is a rare, degenerative, fatal brain disorder caused by consumption of products from cattle with mad cow disease. Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, has been a problem in many countries for decades. The disease was first reported in 1996, with 229 patients from 12 countries. According to the CDC, from 1996 to June 2, 2014, variant CJD cases have occurred in these countries: 77 from the United Kingdom, 27 from France, 5 from Spain, 4 from Ireland, 4 from the United States, 3 from the Netherlands, 2 from Portugal, 2 from Italy, 2 from Canada and one each from Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Taiwan. Scientists believe mad cow disease is caused … [Read more...]

USDA to Set New Safety Standards for Campylobacter in Poultry

After the USDA announced they will set new safety standards for Salmonella in poultry, the agency has announced they will set new standards on Campylobacter in chicken products as well. The standards should be released by the end of September, 2014. In a letter sent to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), USDA secretary Tom Vilsack stated that poultry slaughter modernization is a high priority. Consumer groups and food safety advocates have critized that plan, stating that increasing line speeds and turning inspections over to manufacturer's employees is not the best way to improve poultry safety. Senator Feinstein, along with Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wrote to the USDA in March and April of this year. That letter urged the USDA to establish performance … [Read more...]

Jerky Pet Treat Manufacturers Set up $6.5 Million Fund

According to NBC News, two of the largest pet jerky treat manufacturers have created a $6.5 million fund to compensate dog owners whose animals were killed or made sick by their products. Nestle Purina PetCAre Co. and Wsggin' Train LLC have reached an agreement with pet owners in a class action lawsuit announced May 30, 2014. The 158-page agreement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The companies do not accept blame in the settlement. A statement released by lawyers states, "Neither Waggin' Train, Nestle Purina nor any of the consumers concede that their claims or their defenses were not valid. All parties entered into the agreement only to bring the litigation to a prompt and certain resolution." The FDA has stated that jerky pet … [Read more...]

FDA to Airplane Food Maker: Don’t Let Ceiling Drip Into Food

Whatever it is that is dripping from the ceiling might be getting into the food at Gourmail Inc., dba Jyoti Natural Food, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) which sent a warning letter to the company last week. Conditions at the company's plant, in Sharon Hill, Pa., that the airline food prepared there was "prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health." During an inspection, FDA investigators found water dripping into a kettle of food. Although company officials say that batch of food was destroyed, they did not take adequate measures to correct the problem by placing a tarp on the roof. They were also unable to provide a timeframe for when the repair could be made. Stained … [Read more...]

House Republicans Let Schools Opt Out of Nutrition Standards

On Thursday, May 29, 2014, the House Appropriations Committee voted to pass a USDA funding bill that contains a provision letting the nation's schools opt out of rules on nutrition standards. The program faces opposition from the PTA, USDA officials, and advocacy groups such as Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI nutrition policy director Margo G. Wooten said in a statement, "Congress should be a celebrating the excellent progress that school systems are making toward implementing the USDA's nutrition standards. But instead, House Republicsns are playing politics with what's on school lunch trays and children's health. By allowing school districts to opt out of school nutrition standards, House Republicans are opening up the floodgates to let all the old junk food back into … [Read more...]

Researchers Fight STEC E. coli on Beef

Researchers from the department of animal science at Texas A&M Univeristy and Texas A&M AgriLife Research are focusing on ways to inhibit the growth of STEC E. coli on beef. The Shiga-toxin E. coli bacteria cause 230,000 cases of illness every year in the U.S., when beef is not handled properly and is not cooked to a minimum temperature of 160°F. That beef, when it is not cooked properly or deliberately undercooked, also causes more than 2,000 cases of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) every year, a life-threatening complication of a STEC infection that can lead to kidney failure and death. Such is the case with the ongoing E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, and Missouri, where undercooked hamburger is linked with the illness of 11 people, six of whom have … [Read more...]

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