August 17, 2019

Two Good Reasons to Avoid Raw Cookie Dough: Salmonella and E. coli

Most everyone, by now, knows that food safety experts say you should avoid raw cookie dough or cake batter, because of the possibility of food poisoning. The two culprits in those foods are raw flour and raw eggs. Studies have shown that both of those ingredients can and have been contaminated with pathogens. Flour can be contaminated with E. coli and Salmonella bacteria  (an E. coli outbreak that is happening right now is linked to flour) and raw eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella. But are these foods contaminated often enough to be a problem? The answer is yes, even though only a small percentage of raw flour and raw eggs may be contaminated. These pathogens have what scientists call "low infective doses," which means that just a few bacteria can make you very sick. … [Read more...]

Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked to Flour: Study Shows Raw Wheat Can Be Contaminated

In the wake of the latest E. coli outbreak linked to raw flour, a study published in the Journal of Food Protection has found that a small percentage of raw wheat can be contaminated with Salmonella, EHEC (Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli), and Listeria bacteria. The scientists conducted a baseline study from 2012 to 2014 to determine the prevalence and levels of pathogens in wheat samples taken before milling. The study authors took 5,176 samples and tested for those pathogens. Isolates were fingerprinted using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). They found Salmonella in 1.23% of samples, EHECs in 0.44% of samples, and Listeria species in 0.08% of samples. There was a high diversity for all organisms, which indicates a diverse background of naturally occurring organisms is … [Read more...]

Life Rising Dietary Supplements Seized by U.S. Marshals

U.S. Marshals seized more than 300,000 containers of dietary supplements from Life Rising Corporation in June 2019 at the request of the FDA. The seized goods included tablets, capsules, and teas. The brand names for some of the 500 products are Life Rising, Holicare, or HopeStream. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois found that there was probable cause that "the company prepared, packed, and/or held dietary supplements under conditions that do not conform to the dietary supplement current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) requirements," according to the FDA news release. The FDA issued an Administrative Detention Order in May 2019 to prevent these products from reaching consumers until they could be seized based on these violations. Melinda K. … [Read more...]

Center For Food Safety Forces FDA to Designate High Risk Foods

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) has forced the FDA to complete the high risk food designations and reporting requirements that were part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). CFS filed a lawsuit against the FDA in October 2018 for delaying those requirements. Now, the FDA must designate "high risk" foods by September 2020 and establish the reporting requirements for those foods by November 2022. The settlement was decided in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. Ryan Talbott, CFS staff attorney, said in a statement, "This is a major victory for public health. FDA has sat on its hands for years, neglecting to make these high-risk designations, while outbreaks caused by Salmonella, E. coli, and other pathogens have sicken and killed … [Read more...]

With Warm Weather Here, Learn How to Handle Food Safely Outdoors

With warm weather finally here, many people are planning barbecues and picnics. But warm weather presents special challenges to keeping food safety. Bacteria grow rapidly at temperatures above 40°F and food needs to be handled carefully. The FDA has some advice about how to handle food safely outdoors. First, pack food safety. All cold food should be kept cold. Put child food into a cooler that has ice or frozen gel packs. All cold food should be stored below 40°F to prevent and slow bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while it's still frozen so they stay colder longer. Organize the cooler contents carefully. Put beverages in one cooler and perishable foods in a second. That way, when you open the cooler to get beverages, perishable foods won't be exposed to … [Read more...]

CSPI Calls on FDA to End Sales of Unwashed Poppy Seeds After 12 Americans Die

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is asking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to crack down on the sale of unwashed poppy seeds and seed pods after at least 12 Americans have died after consuming these products. The agency sent a letter to the FDA in April 2019. Those deaths are associated with a type of tea that is made from poppy seeds or pods. CSPI President Dr. Peter G. Lurie said in a statement, "Poppy seed teas are responsible for numerous cases of addiction, overdose, and death. This little-known aspect of the opioid epidemic does appear to be worsening in terms of its toll. The FDA and the Department of Justice are aware of the problem but have failed to fully exercise their authorities." One man, Stephen P. Hacala, died after he drank tea made … [Read more...]

FDA Warns Velvet Ice Cream Company About Listeria Monocytogenes

The FDA has sent a warning letter to the Velvet Ice Cream Company of Utica, Ohio, that Listeria monocytogenes has been found in their facility during inspection. The company makes ready-to-eat ice cream. There is zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria in ready-to-eat products, including deli meats and cheeses and ice cream because the consumer does not heat the food before eating, which would kill the pathogen. Once Listeria is introduced into a facility, it can become persistent and be very difficult to eradicate. In fact, there have been several issues with Listeria contamination in ice cream plants for the past few years. In April 2019, the FDA stated they were taking steps to improve ice cream production after finding the pathogen in 19 of the 89 ice cream … [Read more...]

FDA Addresses Consumer Confusion Over Use By Dates

Frank Yiannas, who is Deputy Commissioner of Food Policy and Response for the FDA, wrote a letter to the food industry on May 23, 2019, addressing consumer confusion over "Sell By," "Use By," and "Best If Used By Dates," as they probably contribute to food waste in the United States. The USDA's Economic Research Service estimates that 30% of the food in this country is lost or wasted at the retail or consumer level. That translates to 133 billion pounds of food lost, that is worth $161 billion. Every year. The use of these phrases is voluntary, and are used to describe quality dates, not spoilage dates. In a 2007 survey of U.S. consumers, less than half were able to distinguish between the meanings of these commonly used phrases. The FDA has found that food waste by consumers … [Read more...]

FDA Investigating Raw Oyster Shigella Outbreak That Sickened Five

The FDA is investigating a subset of the Shigella, Vibrio, E. coli, and Campylobacter outbreak that is linked to raw oysters harvested from Estero El Cardon in Baja California Sur, Mexico. That agency is looking at the five people sickened with Shigella infections. Patients sickened in this raw oyster Shigella outbreak got ill in early 2019. The outbreak notice states that restaurants that sell raw oysters in California, Nevada, New York, and Arizona are part of the investigation. The oysters were sold to wholesale distributors with direct sales to restaurants and were not sold to consumers through grocery retail stores. Consumers should not purchase oysters marketed as being harvested from Estero El Cardon, in Baja California Sur, Mexico from restaurants. If you are not sure … [Read more...]

CDC Study: Antibiotics Used as Pesticides Facilitate Antibiotic Resistance

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have conducted a study that finds that medically important antibiotics that the EPA wants to re-approve for expanded pesticide use on crops can facilitate antibiotic resistance in bacteria. Those pathogens pose "urgent" and "serious" threats to human health. The results of this study were obtained by the Center for Biological Diversity under the Freedom of Information Act. Those dangerous antibiotic resistant-bacteria include MSA, nightmare bacteria (Cabapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), and Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus. Those pathogens cause more than 100,000 infections and 13,000 deaths every year in the United States. Nathan Donley, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity said in a statement, "It’s … [Read more...]

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