October 31, 2014

Positive and Negative Trends in Antimicrobial Resistance

Antibiotics

The FDA released its National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) 2011 Executive Report this week, showing both increasing and decreasing antimicrobial resistance levels. The report focuses on resistance to antibiotics that are considered important in human medicine, as well as bacteria that are resistant to three or more classes of antibiotics. Samples are collected from people, food producing animals, and retail meat source, then tested. The key findings include: 85% of non-typhoidal Salmonella collected from people had no antibiotic resistance. In people, the five-drug resistance pattern discovered in Salmonella Typhimurium declined to 19.5% in 2011 from its peak of 35.1% in 1997. Salmonella resistance to ciprofloaxcin, one of the antibiotics used to treat those … [Read more...]

Senators Ask FDA for More Info About Animal Antibiotic Use

Congress

Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) have written a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, asking her for more information about the public health threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria. They are concerned that the FDA's policies on sub therapeutic use of antibiotics in farm animals do not go far enough to address this growing problem. A recently approved Veterinary Feed Directives rule would require farmers to obtain a "prescription-like document" to acquire "nearly all" antibiotics. Last week the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that the FDA does not need to hold hearings on antibiotic use in farm animals to force the industry to prove this practice is safe. Food safety advocates were dismayed by this … [Read more...]

Court Rules FDA Doesn’t Need to Hold Hearings on Antibiotic Use

Gavel

In a serious blow to those concerned about antibiotic use in farm animals, the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled on Thursday, July 24, 2014 that the FDA does not have to hold hearings on the safety of feeding antibiotics to farm animals at sub therapeutic levels. Two years ago, two courts ruled that the FDA is required to hold those hearings to force the industry to prove that this particular use of antibiotics is safe. The appeal would have forced the FDA to end the use of penicillin and tetracyclines, two classes of antibiotics that are critical to human health, in animal feed. There is overwhelming scientific evidence linking this misuse of drugs in food animals to rising antibiotic resistance in many pathogenic bacteria. At least 20,000 people in the United … [Read more...]

FDA: Avoid Pure Powdered Caffeine

Powdered Caffeine

The FDA has released an advisory to consumers about powdered pure caffeine: do not use it. This product is being marketed to directly to consumers. The government is aware of at least one death of an 18=year-old Ohio teenager who used this product. Parents should be aware that teenagers and young adults may be using these products to stay awake. Powdered caffeine is 100% caffeine. One teaspoon of this product is equivalent to the amount in 25 cups of coffee. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant and people can easily overdose on it. The symptoms of caffeine overdose include rapid or dangerously erratic heartbeat and seizures, along with vomiting, diarrhea, stupor, and disorientation. These symptoms are much more severe when taking the powdered caffeine rather than caffeinated beverages. … [Read more...]

Keep Picnic Food Out of the Danger Zone

Picnic

Lots of folks like to have a picnic during the summer months and keeping food at safe temperatures is the key to making sure no one gets sick, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cooking, storing and serving food at the proper temperature is key to food safety whether you are eating inside or out. Remember that food can spend a maximum of two hours in the “danger zone” of 40˚F to 140˚ F, or one hour if the outdoor temperatures are above 90° F.  In the danger zone,  bacteria such as Salmonella, E.coli and Listeria multiply rapidly elevating the risk of food poisoning. If  you're cooking food on the grill, use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to its proper temperature. Then keep it warm until serving by moving to the side of the grill, just away from the … [Read more...]

FDA: Know the Risks of Raw Food Pet Diets

Cat and Dog

The FDA has released advice for consumers about the risks of feeding raw diets to their pets. Not only can your pets become ill, but you can too, either through contact with contaminated food or if your pet sheds pathogenic bacteria. Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes are two bacteria found in raw diets that are especially dangerous to pets and humans. Raw pet food is meat, bones, and organs that have not been cooked. FDA does not believe feeding raw pet foods to animals is "consistent with the goal of protecting the public from significant health risks." The agency recommends cooking raw meat and poultry to kill pathogenic bacteria before you give the food to your pets. One of the problems with a raw food diet is that people think it's natural for animals to eat raw meat. Feral … [Read more...]

CSPI Finds More Deaths Caused by Energy Drinks

energydrinks

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has obtained documents from the FDA and has found 17 previously unreported deaths linked to energy drinks. Since 2004, 34 deaths have now been linked to those products. Of those, 22 are linked to 5-Hour Energy, 11 to Monster, and one to Rockstar. In addition to those deaths, 56 previously undisclosed injuries were reported to the government through the FDA's adverse event reporting system. Those injuries included high blood pressure, convulsions, and heart attacks. Dr. Stacy Fisher, director of complex heart diseases at University of Maryland School of Medicine told CSPI, "as I see in my medical practice, energy drinks are clearly causing symptomatic arrhythmias. These new reports of deaths and other injuries raise the level of … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Final Guidance on Nanotechnology in Food

Nanoparticles

The FDA just released final guidance for companies that use nanotechnology in food products. The government's recommendation is that companies consult with the agency before taking products to market, and also tells companies that nanotechnology-enhanced products may require additional safety review. Center for Food Safety thinks that the FDA needs to take a more active approach overseeing these products. Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst for CFRS said in a statement, "under these guidelines, companies will consult with the FDA but the FDA will not review products for safety. Guidances alone are not sufficient to account for the novel risks of nanotechnology. FDA must issue mandatory regulations." Current products will not be allowed through the fast-track GRAS (generally regarded … [Read more...]

FDA Updates Fish Advisory for Pregnant Women, Others

pregnant-belly_edited-1

The Food and Drug Administration has updated their advice on how much fish pregnant women, breastfeeding mothers, and young children should eat, considering that much of that food is contaminated with mercury. This draft will replace the current advice issued ten years ago. Several advocacy groups, including Environmental Working Group, have been critical of the government's apparent lack of information and response on this issue. The FDA's last advice in 2011 told pregnant women to double their intake of fish to get more omega-3 fatty acids. This recommendation put pregnant women at risk of consuming harmful amounts of mercury. Mercury is actually present in food in the form of methylmercury. This neurotoxic compound adversely affects a developing fetus' brain and neurological … [Read more...]

FDA Published Final Rule on Infant Formula Protections

baby milk bottle

The FDA has published its final rule setting standards for manufacturing infant formulas. Those standards include current good manufacturing practices, including required testing for Salmonella and Cronobacter. The manufacturers must also demonstrate that the formula they product supports normal physical growth. And finally, infant formulas must be feted for nutrient content three times: in the final product stage, before entering the marketplace, and at the end of the products' shelf life. Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA's acting chief scientist said in a statement, "FDA sets high quality standards for the safety and nutritional quality of infant formulas during this critical time of development." The rule applies to formulas intended for use by healthy babies without any "unusual medical … [Read more...]

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