April 20, 2014

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...]

FDA’s Guidance on Antibiotics in Animals Flawed


Food & Water Watch has studied the FDA's list of 400 drugs that fall under the jurisdiction of their Veterinary Feed Directive, voluntary guidance GFI #213, and found that 89% of them can still be given to healthy animals for reasons other than growth promotion. That guidance asks veterinary drug makers to voluntarily rescind the approval of the antibiotics for growth promotion. The antibiotics can still be given to animals in their feed, at sub therapeutic levels, to prevent disease. The list of drugs includes "217 medically important antibiotic drugs with growth promotion indications." Of those, 63% also have disease prevention indications. Of the remaining drugs, 59 can still be used for "disease control". That leaves just 23 drugs with non approved non therapeutic uses under the … [Read more...]

FDA Closes Roos Foods Cheese Plant After Listeria Outbreak

Queso Fresca cheese

The FDA has suspended the food facility registration of Roos Foods Inc. of Kenton, Delaware today after the FDA found there was a "reasonable probability of food manufactured, processed, packed, or held by Roos Foods causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans." Cheese and other products made by Roos Foods are linked to a Listeria outbreak that has sickened at least seven people in Maryland and killed one person in California. The investigation by the FDA, CDC, and state and local authorities found that the cheese was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This is only the second time since 2011 that the FDA has used its power to close a facility for producing a contaminated product. Inspections by authorities found that the roof was leaking so badly that water … [Read more...]

Consumer Groups Sue FDA Over Mercury in Seafood


Earthjustice, along with Center for Science in the Public Interest and the Mercury Policy Project, are suing the FDA for "failing to respond to a July 2011 petition in which the groups asked the FDA to give consumers clear, accurate, and accessible information about toxic mercury in the seafood they eat." At this time, the latest recommendations for pregnant women eating shellfish are to avoid certain species, and eat up to 12 ounces a week of other fish. Those recommendations were set in 2004. The lawsuit asks for a court-ordered deadline for the FDA to respond to its request that signs be required at seafood counters and on seafood labels to let consumers know how much mercury is in the fish they buy. The FDA had 180 days, three years ago, to respond to the petition, but did … [Read more...]

Consumers Can Report Food Safety Complaints to USDA, FDA


The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has an Electronic Consumer Complaint Reporting Form that anyone can use to file a complaint. The form covers any incident of "reports of illness, injury, foreign objects, contamination (including chemical contamination), allergic reactions, and improper labeling" associated with meat, poultry, or processed egg products. Those are the foods governed by the USDA. Consumers are the last line of defense in food safety. Even though corporations and food manufacturers must file an HACCP plan and adhere to food safety standards, contamination, improper labeling, and unsafe foods are produced all the time. This reporting system may help prevent injuries and illnesses by alerting public health authorities to … [Read more...]

Center for Food Safety: FDA Should Protect Public Health


Center for Food Safety is calling on the FDA to protect public health, not factory farms. The overuse of antibiotics on these farms is compromising public health, since 70 to 80% of antibiotics used in this country are given in sub therapeutic levels to farm animals. The drugs are used as growth promoters and to prevent illness in unsanitary and overcrowded conditions, two conditions that promote the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. They have put together a petition you can sign to ask the FDA to make the proposed Veterinary Feed Directive a law, not a guideline. Since it is only a guideline, no factory farm in the nation has to comply with it. The National Academy of Sciences has said that "a decrease in antimicrobial use in human medicine alone will have little effect on … [Read more...]

Center for Food Safety Sues FDA Over Food Additives


The Center for Food Safety has filed a lawsuit against the FDA over food additives. The suit asks the Court to vacate the government's 1997 proposed rule on generally recognized as safe (GRAS) additives that lets corporations determine if a substance is GRAS or not. CFS wants the agency to go back to its old process of having corporations petition FDA to approve a new additive based on scientific studies. That 1997 rule has never been finalized. Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you about this issue before. CFS says that because the government is "indefinitely operating under a proposed rule in lieu of promulgating a final rule, FDA has deprived the public of the vital procedural rights afforded by the Administrative Procedure Act." CFS says that these actions violate the APA's … [Read more...]

Increase in Recalled Food Units in Fourth Quarter 2013


According to Stericycle ExpertRecall, the number of food units recalled in the fourth quarter 2013 in the U.S. increased by 52%. More than 10.6 million units of food were recalled in the last three months of 2013, in comparison with 6.9 million units in the third quarter. The report was issued February 29, 2014. At the same time, the 134 food recalls in that time frame were down 47% from the third quarter. That means each recall was for a much larger amount of food, which most likely affected more people. Three recalls in the fourth quarter involved more than 1 million food units. In addition, there was a large increase in complex, nationwide recalls. In the third quarter, just 12% were nationwide recalls, but in the fourth quarter that number jumped to 27%. In the fourth quarter, … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Delivers Petition on China Pet Treats


Food & Water Watch has delivered a petition on behalf of "animal parents" to the FDA against pet treats and food made in China. They want the agency to implement Section 211 of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that would inform consumers about the dangers of these treats. Under that rule, grocery stores will have to post notices in conspicuous places telling consumers about contaminated food products, including pet food. Terry Safranek, a founding member of APAPTFMIC (Animal Parents Against Pet Treats & Food Made in China), said in a statement, "I lost my beloved dog Sampson in January 2012 to poisonous pet jerky treats made in China. Since 2007, FDA has reported that 600 dogs have died and over 4,600 have gotten sick and the common denominator is that all of these pets … [Read more...]

Advocates Want to Ban Possible Carcinogenic Additive in Bread


Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) wants to ban a chemical used in many fast food breads. Azodicarbonamide is used to make bread and is included in the rolls McDonald's and Arby's sell. Subway recently banned the chemical from their bread. Other companies that use this chemical to make their bread include Starbucks, Wendy's, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, other restaurants, and grocery store chains. Schumer said in a statement, "many countries in the developed world have banned this toxic chemical from food products, and it's time for the U.S. to follow suit. While Subway should be commended for removing it voluntarily, it shouldn't have even been a choice in the first place. The FDA needs to take another look at this chemical and make sure that the thing that makes our rubber rubbery … [Read more...]

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