February 21, 2019

Research Shows Possible Link Between E. coli and Cancer

A new study from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and Masonic Cancer Center, published in the journal Science, finds a possible association between E. coli and cancer. The scientists have determined how toxins produced by the pathogen interact with and damage DNA on the molecular level. Applications from this study may help doctors understand how toxins affect DNA, and may help them to develop tools to improve chemotherapy treatments. The main researchers are Silvia Balbo, School of Public Health assistant professor, and Peter Villalta, mass spectrometry services coordinator at Masonic Cancer Center. Support was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute. The method uses mass spectrometry to study how toxins interact with … [Read more...]

Dying Bacteria Absorb Antibiotics, According to New Study

A new study from researchers at Princeton University and California State University-Northridge has found that dying bacteria can absorb antibiotics, giving other pathogens the chance to survive. The dying bacteria can absorb large amounts of the antibiotic. The paper was published in eLife on December 18, 2018. The work is supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the University of Waterloo in Canada. That's not the only way pathogens can survive antibiotic doses. They can also delay their growth, grow more quickly,  or create biofilms as they grow that shield them from the drug. Researchers created a mathematical model to try to explain this phenomenon. The model "describes the dynamics of bacterial populations facing different … [Read more...]

Scientists Use Machine Learning to Find Source of Salmonella

Scientists at the University of Georgia Center for Food Safety has developed a new approach to identify the animal source of some types of Salmonella outbreaks. The researchers have developed a machine learning approach. The study is published in the January 2019 issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases. Researchers Xiangyu Deng and Shaokang Zhang, along with a team of colleagues, used more than a thousand genomes to predict the animal sources of Salmonella Typhimurium. The project used experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Food & Drug Administration, the Minnesota Department of Health, and the Translational Genomics Research Institute. Almost 3,000 outbreaks of food poisoning were reported in the U.S. from 2009 to 2015. Ninety percent of those … [Read more...]

FDA Strengthens Process For Issuing Recall Warnings

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is taking steps to strengthen the process they use for issuing a public warning about food recalls and notification of recalls. While most companies collaborate with the FDA when a problem, whether it's an undeclared allergen, foreign material in a product, or contamination with a pathogen, the agency sometimes need to provide advice to protect consumers. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, Commissioner of the FDA, says the agency has finalized the mandatory recall guidance for foods. While most companies do cooperate with the government when a problem arises, some cases will not voluntarily issue a recall. FDA was given mandatory recall authority in some cases by the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The agency has used this power just once, when … [Read more...]

FDA Goes After Dietary Supplements That Claim Alzheimer’s Treatment

The FDA is taking action against 17 companies for illegally selling dietary supplement products that claim to treat or cure Alzheimer's disease. The agency posted 12 warning letters and 5 online advisory letters to those corporations. The companies are illegally selling more than 58 products, many sold as dietary supplements, that are unapproved new drugs or misbranded drugs. These products have not been reviewed by the FDA and are not proven safe and effective to treat these diseases and health conditions. In fact, these products could be unsafe and could prevent a patient from seeking proper treatment. FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement, "Science and evidence are the cornerstone of the FDA’s review process and are imperative to demonstrating medical … [Read more...]

New Study Finds Canadian Cookbooks Don’t Provide Food Safety Info

A new study, published in Food Control for June 2019, finds that meat and seafood recipes in some popular Canadian cookbooks do not provide adequate food safety information. The authors included 19 cookbooks that focused on meat and seafood.  The study was conducted at the Canadian Research Institute for Food Safety in the Department of Food Science at the University of Guelph in Ontario. The evaluated cookbooks were published from 2015 to 2017. In 2017, another study published in the British Food Journal found the same thing; no food safety information or incorrect info. Overall, the study found that "cookbooks are not a good source of reliable food safety information or safe food handling practices, and they do not encourage the reader to practice safe food handling during … [Read more...]

Study Finds Short Term High Animal Fat Diet Increases Listeria Risk

According to a new study published in Microbiome, the short term consumption of a high animal fat diet increases a person's susceptibility to a Listeria monocytogenes infection. The study refers to this type of diet as "westernized." The study was conducted on mice at the University College Cork. Researchers found that a high fat and low fermentable fiber diet increases the number of goblet cells, which are a binding site for Listeria bacteria. The diet also "induces profound changes to the microbiota and promotes a pro-inflammatory gene expression profile in the host." Apparently, host inflammatory responses, which is the body's response to an "invader," are significantly downregulated. The effects were seen beyond the gut, as the diet increased the mice sensitivity to altered … [Read more...]

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro Urges End to Shutdown

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) is urging the government to reopen areas that are shutdown, and end food safety risks to consumers. The shutdown is now on Day 28. Some employees at the FDA and USDA are furloughed, and others are working without pay. The FDA has brought back some workers, but they are not being paid. In her statement, she writes, "The President’s shutdown is putting our nation’s food supply at risk—a fundamental responsibility of the FDA and USDA. FDA inspectors are still working without pay, and they are only able to carry out one third of regular inspections. FDA also remains understaffed for food surveillance and food recall operations, and enforcement appears to be down. At the same time, the status of FDA’s work finalizing guidance and implementing rules … [Read more...]

U.S. PIRG: Hazardous Meat and Poultry Recalls Nearly Double in 2018

U.S. PIRG, the federation of state PIRGs (public interest research groups), has found that the recalls of potentially hazardous meat and poultry recalls nearly doubled from 2013 to 2018. Their report, How Safe Is Our Food? During that time frame, while there has been a 10% increase in overall recalls, there was a 70% increase in chicken recalls, and an 83% increase in Class 1 meat and poultry recalls, which are those likely to cause serious illness or death. Some of these recalls may be because of better identification of pathogens in food, and new technology such as whole genome sequencing. The U.S. PIRG also says that the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 has also increased food recalls. Adam Garber, U.S. PIRG Consumer Watchdog said in a statement, "The food we nourish … [Read more...]

Judge Strikes Down Iowa Ag Gag Law

A federal judge struck down Iowa's ag gag law last week. Those laws make it illegal for animal rights advocates to go undercover to expose animal abuse at farms and puppy mills. The 2012 law was approved by Iowa lawmakers, and carried a fine of up to year in jail. ACLU legal director Rita Bettis Austen said the ruling was "an important victory for free speech." She also said that the law was an example of government using its power to protect those in power. She added, "Ag gag clearly is a violation of Iowans' First Amendment rights to free speech. It has effectively silenced advocates and ensured that animal cruelty, unsafe food safety practices, environmental hazards, and inhumane working conditions go unreported for years." The Animal Legal Defense Fund was one of the … [Read more...]

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