November 23, 2014

FDA Publishes Report on Antibiotics Used in Farm Animals

Pigs

The FDA has published its annual summary report on antimicrobials sold or distributed in 2012 for use in food-producing animals. Antibiotic drug sponsors are required to report yearly to the FDA the drugs they sell or distribute for use in farm animals. Trends from the report are: the total quantity of medically important antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals increased by 16% from 2009 to 2012. But the percentage of domestic sales and distribution of medically important antimicrobials approved for production use decreased from 72% to 68%. And the percentage of domestic sales of antimicrobials used in animals that are medically important to humans decreased from 98% to 97%. The sales and distribution data does not represent how the drugs are actually … [Read more...]

FDA Offers Prize for Breakthrough Food Safety Ideas

FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is offering a challenge to scientists on how to identify Salmonella in produce. The challenge, called "Advancing Breakthroughs in Foodborne Pathogen Detection" offers $500,000 in prizes for "cutting-edge techniques to achieve significant improvements in the speed of the FDA's detection methods for Salmonella with identification to the subtype/serovar level in minimally processed fresh produce." Five finalists will be awarded $20,000 each. The government is most interested in ideas that use novel or revolutionary techniques for detection and those that explore the acceleration or elimination of sample preparation. The challenge was developed under the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 that gives federal agencies the ability to hold … [Read more...]

FDA Releases Four Food Safety Modernization Act Rule Revisions

FDA

The Food and Drug Administration published four revised provisions of the Food Safety Modernization Act today. The rules are for produce safety, preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, and Foreign Supplier Verification Programs. The produce safety rules is being revised for more flexible criteria for determining agricultural water safety along with a tiered approach to water testing. In addition, the government is deferring its decision on the correct time interval between applying raw manure to a crop and harvesting it, removing the original nine-month limit. On the preventive controls for human and animal foods, requirements that facilities test products is revised. Supplier controls will also be implemented. Good manufacturing practice requirements … [Read more...]

FDA Warning Letters for September 2014

FDA

The FDA has sent a warning letter to M & B Sea Products of New Bedford, Massachusetts, alleging that the facility has "serious violations of the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulation." The company's refrigerated, reduced oxygen packaged raw, scallops are adulterated. The facility does not have an HACCP plan to list critical limits to be met. Because the scallops were not refrigerated at a temperature below 38°F, Clostridium botulinum toxin can form. FDA inspectors found fresh dry scallops packed in metal cans stored in the walk-in cooler, which meant they could not be visually examined. The firm did not maintain monitoring records for two days in July 2014. In addition, the company did not have anyone trained in seafood HACCP to perform necessary … [Read more...]

Most Kids Exposed to Food Dyes

Food Colors

The Food and Drug Administration has found that 96% of children age 2 to 5 years are exposed to food dyes. Center for Science in the Public Interest petitioned the FDA in 2008 asking to ban eight of the nine certified color additives. CSPI senior scientist Lisa Y. Lefferts said in a statement, "such widespread exposure to artificially colored foods is bad news for all children, since artificially colored foods aren't healthy foods in the first place. The FDA is failing kids and parents by allowing the use of these purely cosmetic chemicals in food, which trigger behavioral problems in some children, as even FDA conceded in 2011." The full results of the exposure assessment have not been published. The assessment was based on the amount of color additives in almost 600 food products … [Read more...]

Consumer Reports States Pregnant Women Should Not Eat Tuna

Tuna in Can

Consumer Reports has published a special report about eating fish and mercury exposure. They say that to limit your risk, choose the right fish. And they advise pregnant women to avoid eating tuna altogether. They also recommend that anyone who eats 24 ounces or more of fish per week should avoid species high in mercury. Almost all seafood contains the toxic metal in different amounts. Too much mercury can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in children and fetuses. Adults who consume too much mercury can have problems with speech, sleep, walking, and fine motor coordination. More than 95% of the methylmercury in seafood is absorbed into your body when you eat it. Mercury levels in the northern Pacific Ocean have increased by 30% in the past 20 years, and are expected to … [Read more...]

CSPI Says FDA Should Protect Consumers from Quorn

Veggie Burger

Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has released a statement from its Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson asking the FDA to protect consumers against the fungus-based meat substitute "Quorn". Before it was turned into food for consumers, it had never been used for human food. The fungus is grown in large vats. Since its introduction, CSPI has collected more than 2,000 adverse reaction reports from consumers who have eaten it. The company that produces Quron has tested the product; their studies indicate that almost 5% of test eaters became ill after eating the protein. CSPI wants the FDA to pull the product off store shelves. Some of the adverse reactions after eating Quorn include nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and anaphylactic shock, which is characterized by swelling of … [Read more...]

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...]

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