December 21, 2014

Senators Question Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Task Force

Antibiotics

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have sent a letter to Secretaries Chuck Hagel, Tom Vilsack and Sylvia Burwell of the Interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria to ask how gaps in the FDA's plan to combat antibiotic-resistant bacteria will be addressed. President Obama issued an executive order on September 18, 2014 to set up that Task Force. The first guiding principle of the national strategy is that "misuse and over-use of antibiotics in health care and food production continue to hasten the development of bacterial drug resistance, leading to the loss of efficacy of existing antibiotics." But almost 75% of the antibiotics sold every year in this country are used in food animal production, in a way that … [Read more...]

CSPI: FDA Should Ban Retail Sale of Bulk Caffeine

Powdered Caffeine

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is saying that the FDA should ban the retail sale of bulk caffeine as a dietary supplement. Parents of two young men who died after ingesting this product met with FDA officials and senators to press their cause. CSPI is formally petitioning the FDA over this issue. Katie and Dennis Stiner of Ohio lost their 18 year old son Logan in May of this year. James and Julie Sweatt of Alabama lost their 24 year old son Wade in July 2014 after he ingested caffeine powder for the first time. One teaspoon of powdered caffeine is equivalent to 25 cups of coffee. It is very difficult to determine the difference between a safe dose and a deadly dose when caffeine is used in this form. Serving sizes are between 1/32 and 1/16 of a teaspoon - amounts that … [Read more...]

PEW Criticizes Gaps in FDA’s Antibiotic Policy

Pigs

PEW Charitable Trusts is criticizing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policy on antibiotic use in food animals, saying there are gaps in the law that promote the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria. The organization wants the FDA to remove indications for "feed efficiency" and "weight gain" from the labels of animal antibiotics and require vets to oversee the use of the drugs. FDA issued a new policy on antibiotic use in farm animals called Guidance for Industry #213 that was intended to reduce antibiotic misuse. They removed the use of sub-therapeutic additions of antibiotics for feed efficiency and weight gain, but kept the use for disease prevention. PEW reviewed labels of all of the 287 antibiotic products identified by #213 and looked for overlap in the areas of … [Read more...]

CSPI Asks FDA to Label Sesame an Allergen

Sesame Seeds

Regular readers of this site know that recalls are often issued in Canada for sesame seeds, but those types of recalls are not issued in the U.S. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the FDA to require that sesame be disclosed on food labels in the same manner as the other major food allergens, which include milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, what, and soy. When Congress passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act in 2004, the "Big 8" allergens account for 90% of allergic reactions caused by food. But experts think that sesame is an emerging cause of severe allergy. About 300,000 to 500,000 Americans are allergic to sesame. CSPI filed the petition earlier this month, asking that the agency raise awareness among food service … [Read more...]

Documents Show Possible Collusion Between FDA and Pfizer

Chicken

Food & Water Watch has released documents, including draft press releases and emails, that they say shows the FDA colluded with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer to minimize the results of a study that links inorganic arsenic, which is a carcinogen, to the U.S. food supply. Food & Water Watch obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act. Communications between the government and Pfizer began before a 2011 announcement to suspend sales of roxarsone, an arsenic-based drug used in poultry feed. A 2007 study suggested that roxarsone converts into the most dangerous form of arsenic in chickens. Elevated levels of inorganic arsenic were found in the livers of chickens given the drug compared to chickens that never got it. Continued approval of roxarsone violates the … [Read more...]

Dirty Dozen Food Additives Guide Published

Food Colors

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...]

New CFSAN Center Director Announced

FDA

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...]

GAO Finds FDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Monitoring

CropSprayinglg

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...]

Advocates Sue FDA Over Ractopamine Used in Food Animals

Pigs

The Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the U.S. FDA on November 6, 2014 for approving ractopamine in a series of animal drugs used in food production "without fully examining how they affect people, animals, and the environment." The government approved those drugs for rapid weight gain in food animals. The drug is given to pigs, cattle, and turkeys to cause quick weight gain. Between 60 and 80% of pork sold in U.S. supermarkets comes from pigs treated with this drug. The lawsuit states that the FDA approved 11 ractopamine-based drugs with no analysis of environmental and public health risks. Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for CFS said, "FDA is basing controversial drug approvals on incomplete and inadequate … [Read more...]

CSPI Wants to See Study of Illegal Drug Residues in Milk

Milking Cows

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for survey data from the FDA on illegal drug residues in the U.S. milk supply. Food safety advocates have been waiting for two years for the government to release this data. The FDA survey was conducted in 2012, giving the agency more than 2 years to analyze the data and prepare and release a report. CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett said, "consumers have a right to know what's in their milk, and if there are dangerous drugs in it, they need to know what the FDA is doing about that. Why are those dairies that either can't or won't follow the rules allowed to continue to market milk?" A quick browse through FDA warning letters sent to dairies around the country finds that … [Read more...]

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