May 27, 2016

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...]

FDA Announces Final Rule on Mad Cow Disease in Food

The FDA has finalized a rule designed to reduce the risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes called "mad cow disease" in human food. This rule covers definitions for prohibited cattle materials in food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. The materials include specified risk materials (SRMs) of brain, skull, eyes, trigeminal ganglia, spinal corn, vertebral column, and dorsal root ganglia of cattle 30 months of age and older, and the tonsils and distal ileum of the small instating of all cattle. Also prohibited are the small intestine from all cattle unless the distal ileum has been properly removed, material from non ambulatory cattle, and material from cattle not inspected and passed, or mechanically separated beef. The rule confirms that milk and milk products, … [Read more...]

Researchers Develop Antimicrobial Wash for Fresh Produce

The Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Dole packaged salads and greens has sickened at least 18 people in nine states. And there are two other ongoing outbreaks of illness linked to fresh produce products. An E. coli O157 outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts produced by Jack and the Green Sprouts has sickened at least 9 people in two states. And a Salmonella Muenchen outbreak linked to Sweetwater Farms alfalfa sprouts has sickened 9 people in three states. All of these outbreaks have consumers understandably nervous. The FDA says that we should continue consuming fresh produce for good health, and that the health benefits of these products outweighs the risk of illness. However, if you have been sickened after eating a salad or a sandwich, the health benefits of lettuce and sprouts … [Read more...]

FDA Says Some Imported Dietary Supplements Can Hurt You

The FDA says that if you buy imported products that are marked as "dietary supplements" and nonprescription drug products from flea markets, swap meets, online, or from ethnic or international stores, you could be harming your health. Health scammers often target people who like shopping at nontraditional outlets, especially those who have limited English proficiency. Cariny Nunez, M.P.H., a public health advisory in the Office of Minority Health at the FDA says, "these scammers know that ethnic groups who may not speak or read English well, or who hold certain cultural beliefs, can be easy targets." Some groups, such as Native Americans, Latinos, and Asians have a long tradition of using herbal or "natural" remedies. But "natural" does not mean "safe". Many "natural" products, such … [Read more...]

FDA Addresses Spice Safety

The FDA has been analyzing a two year nationwide study to collect information on the presence of Salmonella in retail packages of spices consumers buy in supermarkets, ethnic markets, discount stores, and on the internet. There have been several recalls of spices and herbs in the past few years for Salmonella contamination, and a Salmonella outbreak linked to spices in Sweden sickened 178 people last summer. An FDA report in 2013 found that 12% of imported spices are tainted with pathogenic bacteria or filth. The draft risk profile found that the presence of pathogens such as Salmonella, and filth in spices is a "systemic challenge" and that the problem relates in part of poor or inconsistent use of appropriate controls to prevent contamination. In the study, spice shipments from 79 … [Read more...]

FDA Warning Letter to Preferred Meal Systems of Illinois

The FDA sent a warning letter to Preferred Meal Systems in Illinois in February 2016, detailing violations of Current Good Manufacturing Practice in Manufacturing, Packing or Holding Human Food (CGMP) regulation. FDA inspectors collected environmeal samples that found Listeria monocytogenes in the facility. That facility makes ready-to-eat cold cut sandwiches and boxed lunches, for which there is zero tolerance for Listeria contamination. They also make non-RTE cooked frozen entrees and side dishes. The swabs that were positive for Listeria monocytogenes were taken in the Airline Production Room on the floor under the tomato sauce filler, in a square shaped hole, on the bottom of a shovel, in the floor drain, and on the floor near the roll up door to the dock area. In addition, they … [Read more...]

Dietary Supplement Distributor Ordered to Stop Selling Product

A U.S. District Judge for the Middle District of Florida, James S. Moody, Jr. has entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the United States and James R. Hill of Florida, doing business as Viruxo LLC, a distributor of dietary supplements, for unlawfully distributing an unapproved new drug and misbranded drug. The complaint also includes a civil fraud charge, by promoting the product to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent a disease despite the absence of well-controlled clinical studies or any other credible scientific evidence to support the claims. Hill was sent a warning letter in April 2011, stating that the therapeutic claims he is making are untrue. The FDA has not approved the product for any use. The product was marketed as a treatment for herpes. In addition, the … [Read more...]

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