January 30, 2023

FDA Announces Action Levels For Lead in Processed Baby Food

The FDA is announcing action levels and draft guidance for lead in processed baby food. This, the FDA says, would result in "significant reductions in exposures to lead from food while ensuring availablility of nutritious foods. This plan is part of Closer to Zero, part of the governments' plant to reduce exposure to the heavy metals lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury in foods consumed by young children and babies. FDA Commissioner Robert M. Califf, M.D. said in a statement, "For more than 30 years, the FDA has been working to reduce exposure to lead, and other environmental contaminants, from foods. This work has resulted in a dramatic decline in lead exposure from foods since the mid-1980s.The proposed action levels announced today, along with our continued work with our state … [Read more...]

DOJ Starts Criminal Investigation into Abbott Over Formula

According to news reports, the Department of Justice has started a criminal investigation into Abbott Laboratories in relation to the cronobacter contamination at the Abbott plant that caused a shutdown last year and the resulting baby food supply crisis that triggered a severe shortage of powdered baby formula. Cronobacter can cause serious illness in infants and can be deadly. In September 2021, an infant in Minnesota developed a cronobacter infection. Minnesota is the only state in the country that requires reporting this illness. Minnesota officials reported the issue to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).¬†Babies in Ohio and Texas also got sick; the infant in Ohio died. In all, four infants were sickened and two babies died. With more infants sick, FDA … [Read more...]

CSPI and Consumer Reports Want Red Dye #3 Banned

CSPI (Center for Science in the Public Interest) and Consumer Reports want the government to ban Red Dye #3 for several reasons, mostly because the FDA has found the additive causes cancer in laboratory animals. Those organizations, along with other consumer advocate organizations, petitioned the FDA to ban this ingredient on October 24, 2022. Now they are asking the public to sign a petition to help. According to federal law, a color additive "shall be deemed unsafe, and shall not be listed, for any use which will or may result in ingestion of all or part of such additive, if the additive is found by the Secretary to induce cancer when ingested by man or animal." And according to the Delaney Clause, the FDA can't find as safe the use of any additive that it has been found to induce … [Read more...]

FDA Closes Mystery Salmonella Outbreak With 274 Sickened

The FDA has closed another mystery Salmonella outbreak with no resolution. The Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 274 people has ended, and the investigation has been closed; no food source was identified. This is the 14th outbreak in the last year that has been unsolved¬†by the FDA. It's unusual that with so many people sick, a food source could not be found. The pathogen responsible for those illnesses was Salmonella Typhimurium. The FDA did initiate traceback, and conducted sample collection and analysis, but couldn't solve this mystery Salmonella outbreak. That means there are only two active outbreaks going on in the United States right now that are linked to FDA-regulated foods. Both outbreaks are active, and the investigations are ongoing. Those outbreaks are the … [Read more...]

It’s Official: Sesame is a Food Allergen, Per the FDA

Sesame is a food allergen, according to the FDA. As of January 1, 2023, sesame allergen labeling is required on all food packages. But there is a lag time. Sesame joins the eight other major food allergens: eggs, milk, soy, finfish, shellfish, peanuts, tree nuts, and wheat. These ingredients must, by federal law, be listed on ingredient labels and any food that includes them must also have an allergen statement. The transition period, however, means that people who are allergic to sesame must still be careful. Food products that are already in the store, in stock, or in transport to stores do not need to have the label yet. And since some foods have a long shelf life, it could be months before all foods that contain sesame actually have an allergen statement. It's also … [Read more...]

How Many Food Poisoning Outbreaks Were Unsolved in 2022?

How many FDA-regulated food poisoning outbreaks were unsolved in 2022? Taking a look at the FDA's CORE Outbreak Investigation Table, there were 25 multi-state outbreaks in 2022 that the FDA believes were linked to foods that agency monitors. Of those 25 outbreaks, 13 outbreaks were unsolved. The minimum number of people sickened in those unsolved outbreaks was 483. Every year in the United States, 48,000,000 people are sickened from contaminated food. There are 128,000 hospitalizations and about 3,000 people die. The FDA and USDA started using outbreak tables to inform the public about these events. The tables do not have much information until there is some action that consumers can take. However, before the tables were introduced, the public was never informed about these … [Read more...]

Is the Honey You Buy Really Pure Honey?

The FDA has released data on economic adulteration in honey, from an assignment that was carried out in 2021 and 2022. The agency tested imported honey for what is called economically motivated adulteration, or EMA. Someone can leave out, take out, or substitute a valuable ingredient or part of a food, or can add a substance to a food to make it appear better. So is the honey you buy really pure honey? Products labeled as honey can contain less expensive sweeteners, such as corn syrup and cane syrup. The FDA tested 144 samples of imported honey from bulk and retail shipments that came from 32 countries, and found that 14 samples, or 10%, were not pure honey. Those shipments were refused entry into the United States and those companies were placed on an import alert. When … [Read more...]

FDA CORE Table Has Just Two Active Outbreak Investigations

The FDA's CORE Outbreak Investigation Table has just two active outbreaks. Since the last update, three outbreaks have ended. The currently active outbreaks include the mystery Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak that has sickened at least 274 people. That's a very large outbreak with no food attached. The only action taken so far is traceback. There is no more information about this outbreak. And the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to enoki mushrooms imported from Korea is still active. Two people are sick in that outbreak, and both have been hospitalized. That outbreak investigation has not been updated since November 17, 2022. The closed investigations include the mystery E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened at least 11 people, the E. coli O121 outbreak that was linked … [Read more...]

Get Holiday Food Safety Tips From the FDA

It's the holiday season, which means that people are cooking more and hosting parties and gatherings. But this may be the first time cooking for a large group for you. In that case, these holiday food safety tips from the FDA will help. If you don't understand food safety, the risk that someone will get sick from how you handle food increases. The possibility of cross-contamination, undercooked, and improper chilling and reheating exists every time you are in the kitchen. Learning these rules is especially important if you have anyone at your gathering who is at higher risk for serious complications from food poisoning, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women, and those with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems. It's important to know the four basic food … [Read more...]

FDA Issues Guidance on Requirements For Food Allergen Labeling

The FDA has issued new guidance for food allergen labeling. This new document will answer questions about label requirements, and update information that was in earlier editions of this final document. The FDA is seeking comments on this new guidance. There are nine major food allergens, according to the government. If one of these ingredients is present in the food, it must be listed in the ingredient list on the label, and in a special allergen statement that is put on every package. Those nine allergens are milk, soy, wheat, eggs, finfish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, and sesame seeds. Sesame was added when the FASTER Act was passed in April 2021. Those allergens were chosen based on how common the reactions to them are, and their severity. The draft guidance includes new … [Read more...]

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