October 4, 2015

Memorial Day and Summer Holiday Food Safety Tips from the FDA

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The FDA has released tips on eating safely this Memorial Day. Safe food handling when eating outdoors is important and can be tricky. When you are transporting food for a picnic or potluck, make sure to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Cold food should be stored at temperatures below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen so they stay colder longer. Organize cooler components. A plain picnic basket usually isn't insulated enough to hold perishable foods. Use two coolers, with beverages in one and perishable foods in another. As people take out drinks, they won't expose food to warm outdoor temperatures. Keep coolers closed too. Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped and separate from foods that will be eaten raw. … [Read more...]

FDA Report on Blue Bell Broken Arrow, OK Ice Cream Plant

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The Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Blue Bell ice cream has sickened 10 people and killed three of those patients. The FDA has issued a report on each of Blue Bell's facilities after extensive inspections and investigations. We told you about the Brenham, Texas facility inspection report last week. Now here are details on the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma facility. The initial recall of Blue Bell ice cream was for product made at the Brenham facility. But officials in Kansas conducted an investigation at the Via Christi hospital kitchen after a Listeria outbreak there earlier this year. An unopened single serving cup of Blue Bell ice cream taken from the hospital kitchen contained the pathogenic bacteria. That ice cream was made in the Broken Arrow plant. The inspection report … [Read more...]

Attorney Discusses Blue Bell FDA Inspection Reports

Kansas Blue Bell Listeria Lawsuit

Attorney Brendan Flaherty, who is representing people sickened in the Blue Bell ice cream Listeria outbreak, discusses the FDA inspection reports about the company's facility. Since ice cream is a ready-to-eat food with no consumer "kill step" of cooking, any finding of Listeria in the plant is a serious issue. Listeria bacteria was present in the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Blue Bell processing plant as early as March 2013, according to the report. Blue Bell was notified of its "improper cleaning" and continued to ship product from the facility. The company knew they had a "pervasive Listeria infestation in their plant. In the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma plant, they sanitized using normal procedures, and subsequent tests found more Listeria. In other words, the cleaning processes were not … [Read more...]

FDA Publishes Draft Guidance on Mandatory Recall Authority


The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has published draft guidance for industry on mandatory food recall authority. The draft contains nonbonding recommendations. The mandatory food recall provisions are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 (FSMA). Section 423 of the FD&C Act gives authority to the government to order a responsible party to recall food when FDA determines there is a reasonable probability that the food is adulterated or misbranded, and that use of the food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. Before FSMA was enacted, FDA had to rely on corporations to voluntarily recall food products. This authority lets FDA force a recall when the responsible party chooses not to conduct a voluntary recall. The items that fall … [Read more...]

FDA Releases 2012 NARMS Retail Meat Annual Report


The FDA has released two reports that measure antimicrobial resistance in certain bacteria isolated from raw meat and poultry. The data is collected through the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS). The 2012 Retail Meat Report summarizes key findings in bacterial resistance related to raw chicken, ground turkey, ground beef, and pork chops collected at retail stores around the country. The 2013 Retail Meat Interim Report is also being released today, which focuses only on Salmonella. These reports detail antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Enterococcus. The reports find that there was a decrease in third-generation cephalosporin resistance amount poultry meats in 2012 and 2013, although current cephalosporin resistance levels are … [Read more...]

EWG Launches Petition to Remove Propyl Paraben


Environmental Working Group (EWG) has launched a petition to remove propyl paraben, an endocrine disruptor, from the country's food. This ingredient is in 49 processed foods, including Sara Lee cinnamon rolls, Weight Watchers cakes, Energy Club nuts and chocolate blend, Entenmann's Coconut Crunch Donuts, Setton Farms' trail mix, and La Banderita corn tortillas. Propyl paraben is on EWG's Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives. The FDA has listed propyl paraben as GRAS, or "generally recognized as safe." But there is evidence that propyl paraben disrupts the endocrine system, which regulates metabolism, sexual function, sleep, reproduction, and mood. A 2010 study at the CDC found that 92.7% of Americans tested had propyl paraben in their urine. Researchers at the Tokyo Metropolitan … [Read more...]

Fourth Quarter 2014 Recall Results


According to Stericycle, products recalled by the FDA were down, although units recalled were up, and the USDA recalls were the highest since Q1 2012. The company keeps track of food recalled in the U.S. for allergens, foreign material contamination, and bacterial contamination. The FDA recalls numbered 105 in the last three months of 2014, which is the lowest number all year. But 13.8 million units of product were recalled, which is a 142% increase from the third quarter. Undeclared allergens were the main reason for recall, at 50% of the total number. Manufacturers need to be more aware of ingredients sources and the supply chain to keep track of these ingredients. USDA issued 31 recalls for meat, poultry, and processed egg products, which is an increase of 48% from the third … [Read more...]

Senator Schumer Wants FDA to Crack Down on Unsanitary Warehouses


Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called on the FDA this week, asking for more inspections on food warehouses. Last year the FDA found "squalid" conditions in 90 warehouses that hold food that is shipped to consumers. In a press release, Schumer said, "at the end of 2014, the FDA quietly revealed hundreds of food safety violations at food processing facilities over the course of the year, and everyone from restaurant-goers to owners are appalled by some of the disgusting conditions at warehouses that supply our food. Reports of the filthy conditions at some of these warehouses sound like a page straight out of Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle'." Some of the issues in those warehouses were dead and alive rats and birds, and rodent feces next to the food. The FDA inspects "high risk" facilities … [Read more...]

Senators Question Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria Task Force

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...]

FDA Shuts Down Hawaiian Bean Sprout Operation

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has taken action to shut down RZM Food Factory, a Hawaiian bena sprout producer for unsanitary conditions. The company has which prepared and distributed mung bean, alfalfa, radish and clover sprouts in Hawaii has ceased operations and cannot resume until it hires an independent sanitation expert and develops a program to eliminate unsanitary conditions at the facility. “The FDA repeatedly advised RZM Food Factory of unsanitary conditions at the facility,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs in a statement. “If and when the company is permitted to resume operations, the FDA plans to continue monitoring its operations and may require the company to recall products or cease production if the agency … [Read more...]

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