September 18, 2020

FDA Announces Voluntary Phase Out of PFAS Used in Food Packaging

The FDA is announcing a voluntary phase out of PFAs that are used in some types of food packaging. PFAS are short chain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances that contain 6:2 fluorotelomer alcohol. This is often used as grease-proofing agents on paper and paper board food packaging. Food safety experts are concerned that the use of these compounds in food packaging. Since paper and paperboard come into contact with food, experts think the chemicals may migrate into the food. PFAS are very persistent, which means they don't break down and can accumulate over time. In animals, PFAS have caused reproductive, developmental, liver and kidney, and immunological effects. They have also caused tumors in animals. In human studies, PFAS can cause increased cholesterol levels, and more … [Read more...]

FDA Puts Some Hand Sanitizer Manufacturers on Import Alert

The FDA is reiterating its warning about dangerous alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain undeclared methanol, and is also putting some hand sanitizer manufacturers on import alert. That means that any product those companies try to import into the United States will be stopped and held at the border. The government is also working with these hand sanitizer manufacturers to recall products and is encouraging retailers to remove recalled products from store shelves. The FDA first became aware of this problem in June 2020 and issued warnings to consumers at that time. Another warning was issued earlier this month about "an increasing number of adverse events, including blindness, cardiac effects, effects on the central nervous system, and hospitalizations and death, primarily … [Read more...]

Drift From a Poultry Farm Moved Aerosols Onto Nearby Almond Orchard

A new study has shown that drift from a poultry farm moved aerosols onto a nearby almond orchard and altered the leaf microbiome. The study was published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Raw almonds have been linked to Salmonella outbreaks in the past. There were also outbreaks linked to raw almonds in 2000 and 2005 in California, and in 2012 in Australia. The movement of pathogens from animal operations into adjacent plant crop fields is not well characterized. The study showed that dust and bioaerosols moved from a commercial poultry operation a short distance into an almond orchard. The scientists found that the microbiome on the leaves was altered. The study was conducted over a two year period. Swabs of orchard soil surface and air, soil, and almond leaf samples … [Read more...]

Salmonella Uses Lettuce As a Host to Evade Cleaning

A study published in Frontiers in Microbiology has found that Salmonella uses lettuce as a host to evade cleaning. The pathogen can get into tiny pores in the lettuce, meaning that it can't be washed off the leaves. This strategy also protects them agains the plant's immune system. Lettuce leaves have tiny pores called stomates that let the plants cool off. The type of Salmonella that sickens people can get into the plants through the stomates  just like fungi and plant bacteria can. This jumping between different kingdoms concerns scientists. The research team, based at the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, and the Department of Animal and Food Sciences at the University of Delaware, wanted to determine if Salmonella Typhimurium applied … [Read more...]

Alaska Death From PSP Triggers Warning From Health Officials

An Alaska death from PSP triggers a warning from health officials in that state. Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) occurs when a person is exposed to paralytic shellfish toxin. This is the first known PSP fatality in that state since 2010, although serious illnesses are reported more often. Since 1993, there have been four cases of PSP deaths in Alaska: one in 1994, one in 1997, and two in 2010. During that same time frame, there have been more than 100 cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning in that state. The person who died ate blue mussels and snails that were collected from a Dutch Harbor beach on July 4, 2020. The shellfish were cooked first; like most toxins, PSP is not rendered inactive by heat. The person did have underlying health conditions that contributed to … [Read more...]

Bird Droppings Carry Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria, Cause Food Poisoning

Whenever there is a food poisoning outbreak linked to produce, we have told you that one source of the pathogen may be bird droppings. A new study conducted at Rice University and published in Elsevier journal Environmental Pollution states that bird droppings carry antibiotic resistant bacteria and may "harbor abundant" numbers of the pathogen along with resistance genes. The study was conducted by environmental engineers and led by postdoctoral research associate Pingfeng Yu of Rice's Brown School of Engineering and co-author Pedro Alvarez. Earlier studies showed that bird-borne antibiotic resistant genes (ARGs) and bacteria can be transferred to humans through these vectors: swimming, contact with bird feces or contaminated soil, and inhaling aerosolized fecal … [Read more...]

FDA Is Resuming Domestic Inspections With New Risk Assessment System

The FDA is resuming domestic inspections with a new risk assessment system during the coronavirus pandemic. Inspections were suspended in March 2020 as the pandemic was just starting. FDA inspectors have still "conducted mission critical inspections," as they put it, even though regular inspections were suspended. The agency continued to maintain reviews of consumer products, especially those related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including hand sanitizers made with methanol and diagnostic tests that were making potentially false claims. The FDA has developed a rating system to let inspectors know when and where prioritized domestic inspections can begin. It's called the COVID-19 Advisory Rating System and uses real time data to assess the number of COVID-19 cases in a local area … [Read more...]

Foodborne Pathogen Growth May Be Linked to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s

According to a new study published in PLoS Pathogens this month, foodborne pathogen growth in the gut may be linked to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease development. In the guts of mice, Salmonella Typhimurium produces curli amyloids in the cecum and colon of mice. This increases joint inflammation and cross-seeding interactions between bacterial amyloids and human amyloids that could trigger similar autoimmune reactions such as Alzheimer's disease. About 5% of patients who contract salmonellosis develop an autoimmune condition called relative arthritis. Some patients remain symptomatic for 5 years or even longer. Salmonella Typhimurium forms biofilms composed of curli, cellulose, BapA, and extracellular DNA that protects the pathogen from environmental stressors. Curli are … [Read more...]

FDA Sees Sharp Increase in Hand Sanitizers With Methanol

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, hand sanitizers have been in high demand and short supply. Many manufacturers have been scrambling to increase their stock, and the products fly off the shelves. But the FDA has noticed a serious problem with some of these products. They have seen a sharp increase in hand sanitizers with methanol. Methanol, or wood alcohol, is life-threatening when ingested and can be toxic when absorbed through the skin. It should never be included in any formula for hand sanitizer. The FDA statement said, "The agency is aware of adults and children ingesting hand sanitizer products contaminated with methanol that has led to recent adverse events including blindness, hospitalizations and death." Methanol is  not an acceptable active ingredient for hand … [Read more...]

Food Thermometer Study Proves Education Improves Kitchen Food Safety

A food thermometer study conducted by the USDA's FSIS and published in the Journal of Food Protection in July 2020 proves that education improves kitchen food safety techniques. The purpose of the study was to test effectiveness of intervention for consumer thermometer use. Using a food thermometer is the only way to make sure that ground meats are safe to eat before serving. Ground beef, pork, and lamb should be cooked to 160°F and ground chicken and turkey should be cooked to 165°F. USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety, Dr. Mindy Brashears, said in a statement, "As a food scientist, it’s important that we publish these results in peer-reviewed journals and that other scientists have access to the methodology and results. This is in direct alignment with my goal to lead food … [Read more...]

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