June 26, 2016

Import Alert on Shrimp and Prawns from Malaysia

The FDA has announced an import alert on shrimp and prawns from Peninsular Malaysia. Testing has found that one-third of the imports of these types of seafood from that area contain residues of nitrofurans and/or chloramphenicol. Nitrofurans and chloramphenicol are antibiotics, and both are considered carcinogens. FDA testing last year discovered an increase in shipments of Malaysian shrimp and prawns containing residues of these drugs. The drugs are considered contaminants, therefore the seafood is adulterated and not permitted in the United States marketplace. FDA has taken steps in the past to prevent companies with "violative shipments" from continuing to import seafood by placing them on existing Import Alerts. That means the companies' future shipments may be detained without … [Read more...]

FDA Rescinds Approval of Carbadox to Treat Swine

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) is starting the process of rescinding approval of the use of carbadox, an antibiotic, to treat swine because it may leave trace amounts of a carcinogen in the meat. The agency recently reexamined the safety profile of the drug and concluded that there could be "potential risk to human health from ingesting pork, especially pork liver, derived from carbadox-treated pigs." Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine said in a statement, "the manufacturer of carbadox has failed to provide sufficient scientific data to demonstrate the safety of this drug given evidence that carbadox may result in carcinogenic residues. As a result, FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine is taking … [Read more...]

Groups Sue FDA to Ban Perchlorate in Food Packaging

The Center for Food Safety and the Natural Resources Defense Council, along with four other public health and environmental organizations, have sued the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to force the agency to act on a petition to ban perchlorate in food packaging. The original petition was filed in December 2014. The FDA missed a June 2015 deadline to respond. Perchlorate is an endocrine disruptor that impairs hormone production crucial to brain development. It poses a health threat, especially to fetuses, infants, and children. The FDA has approved this chemical for use as an anti-static agent in plastic packaging for dry foods such as beans, rice, and flour. Erik Olson, director of the Health Program at NRDC said in a statement, "this is a toxic chemical, and it's all over our … [Read more...]

FSMA Final Rule on Sanitary Transportation of Food Released

The FDA has released the final Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rule on Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food. The earliest compliance dates for some firms begin one year after publication of the rule in the Federal Register. Problems in transportation, including mishandling and dirty containers, have been the cause of some food poisoning outbreaks over the years. The goal of this rule is to "prevent practices during transportation that create food safety risks, such as failure to properly refrigerate food, inadequate cleaning of vehicles between loads, and failure to properly protect food." The rule builds on safeguards envisioned in the 2005 Sanitary Food Transportation Act. Unsanitary transportation practices have been discovered over the years, and regulations are … [Read more...]

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...]

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