April 28, 2016

Groups Urge FDA to Withdraw Approval of Ortho-Phthalate Food Additives

Consumer and public health groups, including the Consumer Federation of America, are urging the FDA to withdraw approval of ortho-phthalate food additives used in food packaging and food handling equipment. The groups filed a citizen's petition with the government. Those chemicals are used as plasticizers, binders, coating agents, defoamers, gasket closures, and slimicide agents on machines used to process and package food. Any chemicals that are "reasonably expected" to get into food from their use in materials are considered food additives. The government lets food producers use these compounds in cellophane, paper, paperboard, and plastics that come into contact with food. Studies have linked these compounds to developmental, reproductive, and endocrine health problems. In fact, … [Read more...]

National Drug Take Back Day is April 30, 2016

The FDA is bringing attention to an event called National Drug Take Back Day on April 30, 2016. This is a day to take unused prescription medications to a disposal site to safely get rid of them. This event has removed more than 5,000,000 pounds of unwanted, unused, or expired drugs from circulation. Any medications that are no longer being used pose unnecessary dangers to others. In the last twenty years, FDA has received more than 30 reports of accidental exposure to the pain medication in fentanyl patches. Most of those poisoned were children under two years old. Twelve of those people sickened were hospitalized, and twelve died. This program also helps stop drugs from entering the environment, either through solid waste disposal or from flushing unused medicines. The EPA is … [Read more...]

Import Alert on Shrimp and Prawns from Malaysia

The FDA has announced an import alert on shrimp and prawns from Peninsular Malaysia. Testing has found that one-third of the imports of these types of seafood from that area contain residues of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol. Nitrofurans and chloramphenicol are antibiotics, and both are considered carcinogens. FDA testing last year discovered an increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp and prawns containing residues of these drugs. The drugs are considered contaminants, therefore the seafood is adulterated and not permitted in the United States marketplace. FDA has taken steps in the past to prevent companies with "violative shipments" from continuing to import seafood by placing them on existing Import Alerts. That means the companies' future shipments may be detained without … [Read more...]

FDA Rescinds Approval of Carbadox to Treat Swine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is starting the process of rescinding approval of the use of carbadox, an antibiotic, to treat swine because it may leave trace amounts of a carcinogen in the meat. The agency recently reexamined the safety profile of the drug and concluded that there could be "potential risk to human health from ingesting pork, especially pork liver, derived from carbadox-treated pigs." Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine said in a statement, "the manufacturer of carbadox has failed to provide sufficient scientific data to demonstrate the safety of this drug given evidence that carbadox may result in carcinogenic residues. As a result, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine is taking … [Read more...]

Groups Sue FDA to Ban Perchlorate in Food Packaging

The Center for Food Safety and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with four other public health and environmental organizations, have sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to force the agency to act on a petition to ban perchlorate in food packaging. The original petition was filed in December 2014. The FDA missed a June 2015 deadline to respond. Perchlorate is an endocrine disruptor that impairs hormone production crucial to brain development. It poses a health threat, especially to fetuses, infants, and children. The FDA has approved this chemical for use as an anti-static agent in plastic packaging for dry foods such as beans, rice, and flour. Erik Olson, director of the Health Program at NRDC said in a statement, "this is a toxic chemical, and it's all over our … [Read more...]

FSMA Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Food Released

The FDA has released the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. The earliest compliance dates for some firms begin one year after publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Problems in transportation, including mishandling and dirty containers, have been the cause of some food poisoning outbreaks over the years. The goal of this rule is to "prevent practices during transportation that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food." The rule builds on safeguards envisioned in the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act. Unsanitary transportation practices have been discovered over the years, and regulations are … [Read more...]

Blue Bell May Have Figured Out Listeria Contamination Source

According to two letters sent to the FDA in mid-February, 2016, Blue Bell thinks they have identified where the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria were living in two of its plants last year. But the problem areas were redacted in the letters that the FDA published recently, to "protect trade secrets." The company found the pathogenic bacteria in equipment at its Brenham, Texas plant and thinks it spread in the drainage system of the plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. The deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Blue Bell products prompted a massive recall of all of Blue Bell's products. All three plants were shut down for months last summer. The company started producing and selling ice cream again in August 2016 after an investor stepped up to help them out. Ten people in four … [Read more...]

EWG Warns of Mercury in Seafood

Environmental Working Group (EWG) has produced a new study called "U.S. Fish Advice May Expose Babies to too Much Mercury." In it, they say that "adhering to the federal government's recommendations on seafood and mercury may be risky, potentially leading women to eat too much of the wrong kind of fish." The guidelines were issued as a draft recommendation in 2014 that recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding eat more fish that is lower in mercury. Their tests found that mothers who eat species of fish in the amounts recommended by the EPA and FDA may risk exposing their fetuses to harmful levels of mercury. And those species do not have enough omega-3 fatty acids that are recommended in the diet. Mercury has toxic effects on the nervous, digestive and immune systems, … [Read more...]

Iowa Suspended Egg Facility Inspections After Bird Flu Outbreak

The Des Moines Register has discovered that Iowa suspended its egg facility inspections last year in the wake of the bird flu. Public health officials feared that inspectors could spread the virus as they traveled between egg facilities. The pathogenic outbreak that killed millions of birds nationwide started in December 2014. The height of the epidemic occurred in early spring 2015. This action is concerning for two reasons. One is that a Salmonella outbreak in Ohio at Lucky's Taproom and Eatery, that has sickened at least 80 people, is associated with shell eggs produced at Kenneth Miller Farms that are now being recalled for Salmonella contamination. Mayonnaise, made with eggs, at Lucky's Taproom tested positive for Salmonella contamination during the outbreak investigation. The … [Read more...]

Safety of Raw Manure Questioned Under FSMA Rule

The safety of raw manure under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) final rule on produce safety is being questioned by the FDA. Submissions on assessing the risk of raw manure as fertilizer are requested. Manure from cattle, chickens, horses, and other farm animals can be, and usually are, contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella bacteria. The FDA is going to conduct a risk assessment to find out how much consumer health is put at risk by the use of raw manure as fertilizer in growing crops covered FSMA's produce safety rule. The agency wants helps of stakeholders, the animal agriculture industry, academia, and members of the public. Produce is the most common food source linked with food poisoning outbreaks. Recent outbreaks just in the past few weeks linked to raw produce … [Read more...]

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