April 17, 2015

New CFSAN Center Director Announced

FDA

The Food and Drug Administration announced today that in January 2014, Dr. Susan T. Mayne will be the new director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition as of January 2015, taking over from Michael M. Landa, who is retiring. Dr. Mayne is a scientists and public health leader who has been trained in nutrition, toxicology, and epidemiology. She is currently the C.-E.A. Winslow Professor of Epidemiology and Chair, Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health, and the Associate Director of Yale Cancer Center. She has worked with state legislators to pass public health bills and has conducted research into food, nutrition, and obesity as determinants of chronic disease risk. She is the author of more than 200 scientific publications. Dr. … [Read more...]

GAO Finds FDA Should Strengthen Pesticide Monitoring

CropSprayinglg

The Government Accountability Office has released a new report that states the FDA and USDA should strengthen their pesticide residue monitoring programs and disclose the limitations of their systems. The most recent data from 2008 through 2012 shows that residue in 10 selected fruits and vegetables is low, but the monitoring approach has limitations. GAO found that FDA tests relatively few targeted samples for residues. For example, in 2012, the agency tested less than one-tenth of 1 percent of imported foods. And the FDA does not test for some commonly used pesticides with an EPA established tolerance. Unfortunately, this list includes glyphosate, the main ingredient in Roundup, which is used on GMO crops that have been manipulated to be resistant to the chemical. Recent studies have … [Read more...]

Advocates Sue FDA Over Ractopamine Used in Food Animals

Pigs

The Center for Food Safety, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Sierra Club filed a lawsuit against the U.S. FDA on November 6, 2014 for approving ractopamine in a series of animal drugs used in food production "without fully examining how they affect people, animals, and the environment." The government approved those drugs for rapid weight gain in food animals. The drug is given to pigs, cattle, and turkeys to cause quick weight gain. Between 60 and 80% of pork sold in U.S. supermarkets comes from pigs treated with this drug. The lawsuit states that the FDA approved 11 ractopamine-based drugs with no analysis of environmental and public health risks. Paige Tomaselli, senior attorney for CFS said, "FDA is basing controversial drug approvals on incomplete and inadequate … [Read more...]

CSPI Wants to See Study of Illegal Drug Residues in Milk

Milking Cows

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) filed a Freedom of Information Act request for survey data from the FDA on illegal drug residues in the U.S. milk supply. Food safety advocates have been waiting for two years for the government to release this data. The FDA survey was conducted in 2012, giving the agency more than 2 years to analyze the data and prepare and release a report. CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett said, "consumers have a right to know what's in their milk, and if there are dangerous drugs in it, they need to know what the FDA is doing about that. Why are those dairies that either can't or won't follow the rules allowed to continue to market milk?" A quick browse through FDA warning letters sent to dairies around the country finds that … [Read more...]

FDA Rejects Calls for Aspartame Ban

Soda

The FDA has rejected calls for a ban on aspartame, stating that no credible scientific evidence for the ban has been presented. In a FDA Letter to Paul Stoller, the government says they have been monitoring scientific data on aspartame since the 1970s and believes that the compound is "safe for the general population except for individuals with phenylketonuria." And in another FDA Letter to Betty Martini, the government denies her request to recall aspartame. The FDA said it conducted an analysis of 195 cases of aspartame-related reported adverse events between January 2004 and December 2013 and "had not identified any causal link between aspartame consumption and the reported adverse events." The National Cancer Institute states "there is no clear evidence that the artificial … [Read more...]

Mixing Dietary Supplements and Meds Is a Danger

Dietary-Supplements

The Food and Drug Administration, in one of its Consumer Updates, reminds you that mixing medications and dietary supplements can endanger your heath. Robert Mozersky , a medical officer at the FDA said, "Some dietary supplements may increase the effect of your medication, and other dietary supplements may decrease it." Dietary supplements can change metabolism, absorption, and excretion of a medication and affect how it works. Mozerky added, "you may be getting either too much or too little of a medication you need." One example a supplement that interacts with prescription medications is St. John's Wort. That supplement, taken for depression, can make meds for HIV/AIDS, heart disease, depression, birth control pills, and treatments for organ transplants less effective. Other … [Read more...]

FDA Agrees to Finalize GRAS Rule of 1997

FDA

The FDA has agreed to finally finalize its GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) rule, in response to a Center for Food Safety lawsuit. For 17 years, the FDA has let corporations fast track their food additives to get products onto the market. That allowed corporations to sell products that had not been reviewed by the government to see if they are safe for human consumption. In 1958, Congress passed a law requiring the FDA to conduct "rigorous reviews" of food additives before they were put into the marketplace. Those additives were supposed to be rejected or approved based on scientific evidence. Common ingredients that were used for decades, such as sugar, were deemed "generally regarded as safe" and exempt from review. Corporations could formally petition FDA to approve a food additive … [Read more...]

FDA Warning Letters for September 2014

FDA

The FDA has sent many warning letters to corporations during the month of September 2014. These letters inform the corporation owners of problems with food safety and HACCP violations. Well Luck Company in New Jersey received a letter on September 17, 2014 warning about rodent problems at their facility. Live mice were spotted in the facility during an inspection. Dead mice were found on glue traps in the picking area and next to the cooler entrance door. A dead rat was found in a rodent trap in the warehouse storage area. In addition, roach-like insects "too numerous to count" were in the fortune cookie processing room. Equipment was not properly stored, litter and waste was not removed, and food products were spilled onto the warehouse floor. Losurdo Foods of New Jersey was warned … [Read more...]

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...]

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