March 31, 2015

FDA Proposes Rule for Grocery Store Food Recall Notices


The FDA has issued advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to seek public input on part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The FDA may require manufacturers and distributors to submit "consumer-oriented" information when a recall is issued that will help consumers accurately identify whether they have the food that has been recalled. The FDA will then prepare and publish on their website a one-page summary of the information to be printed by grocery stores and displayed. The summary must be displayed prominently within 24 hours after it is published in the web site. The FDA wants input on the content of the consumer-oriented information, when it will be required, the formats required, and how updates will be handled. They also want to define "grocery store", and how the … [Read more...]

Women’s History Month: FDA Spotlights Public Health Pioneer Ruth Kirschstein


During Women's History Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spotlighting the careers of public health pioneers such as pathologist Ruth Kirschstein, M.D. Kirschstein was the first woman to direct the National Institute of General Medical Sciences. She also served as deputy director of the National Institutes of Health in the 1990s, and was acting director of the NIH in 1993 and from 2000 to 2002. Kirschstein was born in Brooklyn in 1926. Her parents wee both teachers. She earned her B. A. from Long Island University in Brooklyn in 1947 and entered Tulane Medical School that same year as one of just ten women in a class of 110. She received her M.D. four years later and completed her residency with an NIH-funded fellowship in pathology in Tulane. In 1955, the year … [Read more...]

Weight Loss Drug Alli Recalled over Possible Tampering

Alli Recall for Tampering

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has recalled all of its Alli weight loss products in the United States, including Puerto Rico, because they think packages may have been tampered with. Some bottles may contain pills that are not Alli capsules. Alli is the only FDA approved over-the-counter weight loss product. Consumers in seven states (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, and Texas) have contacted the company, saying that the Alli bottles they purchased contained "a range of tablets and capsules of various shapes and colors." Missing labels and fake tamper-evident seals have also been found. Some of the bottles do not have a label. The bottles are in boxes that appear to be authentic packaging. Authentic Alli capsules are turquoise blue with a dark blue band. The … [Read more...]

USDA Approves Poultry Imports from South Korea Despite Flu


In spite of a massive bird flu outbreak, the USDA has approved import of poultry products from South Korea. The final rule grants equivalency status to the Republic of Korea. It becomes effective May 27, 2014. It reads "slaughtered poultry or parts or other products thereof processed in certified Korean establishments will be eligible for export to the United States. All such products will be subject to re-inspection at United States ports of entry by FSIS inspectors." The bird flu in outbreak in Korea, which was discovered January 2014, has led to the culling of 11 million birds nationwide. Food safety and consumer groups are opposed to this new USDA rule for this reason and for many others. Food and Water Water issued a press release about this matter. They filed comments … [Read more...]

Women’s History Month: The FDA Spotlights Sharon Holston


During Women's History Month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is spotlighting the careers of food safety and public health pioneers such as Sharon Holston, the agency’s first equal employment officer for the Office of the Commissioner and moved up through a number of positions in the agency before retiring from her final post as Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs in 1994. Under FDA’s long-term training program, she gained a master’s degree in Public Administration at the Harvard School of Government. After graduating, she returned to the agency and was later named Associate Commissioner for Management and Operations. In this role she helped to: create new guidelines for FDA criminal investigators, implement new generic drug regulations, and to establish the agency's … [Read more...]

Maryland Raw Milk Bill Dies


Maryland House Bill 3, the legislation that would have allowed individual cow-share or herd-share in that state, making raw milk legal, is dead.  The bill was stuck in committee after a report by the Department of Legislative Services found that the bill would double raw-milk outbreaks and increase the number of individual illnesses from raw milk. That study showed that making raw, or unpasteurized, milk legal would increase government costs in that state by at least $66,000 per year, up to $95,000 per year in four years. That is independent of the costs of illness, medical bills, and lost wages. Dr. Katherine Feldman, of the Maryland Health Department's infectious diseases bureau, said that "pasteurization if the cornerstone of milk safety and a triumph of public health." States … [Read more...]

New Study Questions Saturated Fat Heart Disease Link


A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine questions the information the public has been told about a link between saturated fat intake and heart disease risk. The study, called "Association of Dietary, Circulating, and Supplement Fatty Acids with Coronary Risk" is a meta analysis and review of studies conducted over the years. The authors of the study did find a link between trans fats intake and heart disease. But they did not find evidence of dangers from saturated fat, the types of fats found in dairy and meat products. They also looked at possible benefits to eating foods rich in long-chain omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Researchers looked at 32 observational studies with 512,420 participants, 17 observational studies with 25,721 participants, and … [Read more...]

General Mills Moves Forward With Sustainable Palm Oil Plan

Palm Oil

General Mills is moving forward with its commitment to source 100 percent of its palm oil from responsible and sustainable producers by 2015. Because of its mild flavor, palm oil, a saturated fat,  is one option food companies have chosen as a replacement for trans fats in snack food items. It's also used in beauty products and cleaning agents. To meet the growing demand for palm oil, suppliers are clearing tropical forests, sometimes by burning them destroying critical habitat and contributing to air pollution by removing existing forest often by burning it. The Union for Concerned Scientists (UCS) has a scorecard for 30 major companies that use palm oil in their products. General Mills is one of them. Although the company committed in 2010 to sourcing all of its palm oils … [Read more...]

FDA Research Focuses on Identifying Pathogens Faster


The FDA is researching new ways to identify pathogens in food more quickly. A team at the FDA's San Juan Laboratory has received seed funding through a Health and Human Services HHSignite award to "adapt traditional chemistry methods for the detection of foodborne pathogens." The research is focusing on Capillary Electrophoresis coupled with a Mass Spectrometer, called CE-MS, that will identify pathogens through specific proteins by fragmentation pathogens. This will identify foot prints for pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus. Researchers hope this will help create faster screening methods so investigators can identify bacteria in an outbreak much more quickly. CE-MS is also used as a way to discover biomarkers for diseases from tissues and … [Read more...]

Canada Wants Option to Fine Meat Plants for Violations

Food Inspection

The Canadian government wants to have the power to fine meat processing plant that violate food safety rules, according to CTVnews. Lisa Murphy, a CFIA spokeswoman, said that "these proposed new fines demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Canada's stringent food safety requirements are being followed." Now, food inspectors can only issue written warnings, or can suspend a facility's license and shut it down, as is the case in the United States. This proposed measure may have been prompted by the huge recall of beef products from the now defunct XL Foods plant in 2012. Beef from that facility caused an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that sickened 18 people. The proposed fines range from $2,000 to $15,000. The meat packing industry is questioning why they are being singled out, and why … [Read more...]

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