October 22, 2016

Catfish Inspection Program Nullified by the U.S. Senate

Last November, the USDA released its final rule on catfish inspection. The rule became effective in March 2016. But last week, the U.S. Senate voted to shut the program down by passing a resolution of Congressional disapproval and nullification. The program had been finding antibiotics and carcinogens from Siluriformes fish imported from Asia. Catfish used to be inspected by the FDA, but the inspection process was transferred to USDA in the 2008 Farm Bill. USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors would conduct inspections during all hours of operation at domestic facilities that slaughter and processes these fish, similar to the inspections they conduct at poultry and meat slaughter facilities. In 2011, the FDA tested less than 0.1% of all imported seafood for drug … [Read more...]

Iowa Suspended Egg Facility Inspections After Bird Flu Outbreak

The Des Moines Register has discovered that Iowa suspended its egg facility inspections last year in the wake of the bird flu. Public health officials feared that inspectors could spread the virus as they traveled between egg facilities. The pathogenic outbreak that killed millions of birds nationwide started in December 2014. The height of the epidemic occurred in early spring 2015. This action is concerning for two reasons. One is that a Salmonella outbreak in Ohio at Lucky's Taproom and Eatery, that has sickened at least 80 people, is associated with shell eggs produced at Kenneth Miller Farms that are now being recalled for Salmonella contamination. Mayonnaise, made with eggs, at Lucky's Taproom tested positive for Salmonella contamination during the outbreak investigation. The … [Read more...]

FDA Inspection Report of Blue Bell Brenham, Texas Plant

The FDA has released three inspection reports of the Blue Bell ice cream facilities: one in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, one in Brenham, Texas, and the third in Sylacauga, Alabama. We thought it would be a good idea to cover each inspection report, since they highlight problems at the company that may have led to the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has sickened ten people and killed three. The problem was first discovered at the plant in Texas. The inspections on the Brenham, Texas plant were conducted on March 16, 2015 through May 1, 2015, according to the FDA Form 483, which is published after inspections. The inspection discovered multiple problems discovered long before the recalls started . The Great Divide Bar manufactured on 1/12/15, and Chocolate Chip Country Cookie, … [Read more...]

FDA Not Keeping Up with FSMA Foreign Inspection Law

A report released last week by the Government Accountability Office says that the FDA has to do more about inspecting food facilities in countries that export that food to the United States. The GAO studied the FDA's foreign offices in 2010 and found that they have a too heavy workload. A follow-up report found that the FDA is not inspecting enough facilities as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The FDA is supposed to inspect 600 foreign food facilities in the first year after FSMA was signed into law and, for each of the next five years, inspect at least twice the number of firms inspected the previous year. According to those calculations, the government should have inspected 4,800 facilities last year, but only conducted 1,323 inspections. The report states, … [Read more...]

USDA Inspectors Say HIMP Compromises Food Safety

Three current and one retired USDA officials are criticizing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Inspection Models Project (HIMP) at hog processing facilities. HIMP increases line speeds and lets company employees do some of the inspection work formerly done by government employees. They say that food safety has been compromised as a result of these projects. Affidavits were released last week by the Government Accountability Project detailing the problems. As a result of these documents, GAP Food Integrity Campaign wants Hormel Foods to reduce line speeds at its facilities. USDA released an assessment of HIMP in November 2014, stating that the five participating plants are performing as well as those under the current inspection system. In one of the affidavits, an … [Read more...]

Advocates Want OMB To Finalize Catfish Inspection Rule

Food & Water Watch along with other organizations such as Consumer Federation of America and Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention called on the Office of Management and Budget to finalize an inspection program for domestic and imported catfish. The USDA drafted a final rule on this matter back in 2008 but nothing has happened since then. The FDA currently regulates catfish. Domestic processors are currently inspected just once every 5 to 10 years; only 2% of imported catfish is inspected. In 2013, Americans consumed more than 305 million pounds of catfish; about 78% of this is imported, with 95% of imported products coming from Vietnam. That country uses many animal drugs in aquaculture that are not approved in the U.S.; 32 drugs have been approved for use in … [Read more...]

Cobblestone Farms Baby Back Ribs Recalled

Cobblestone Farms Baby Back Ribs, which were produced in Canada, are being recalled because they were not presented at the border for inspection. Skilcor Food Products in Brampton, Ontario, is recalling approximately 36 pounds of the fully cooked pork baby back ribs in honey garlic barbeque sauce which were distributed to Shop Rite stores in Brooklyn. The recalled products was sold in 1.5 pound packages labeled  “Cobblestone Farms Fully Cooked Pork Baby Back Ribs in Honey Garlic Barbeque Sauce”  with the package code “Sell By 2015-AL-08” and case code “15201” The Canadian mark of inspection with establishment number “624” also appears on the product. There have been no reports of illness. But consumers who have purchased this product should not eat it. Anyone with concerns about an … [Read more...]

Shop Rite, Stop and Shop Recall Pasta Products

Stop and Shop and Shop Rite are among the retailers recalling products made by Real Pasta Inc. of North Bergen, NJ. There are 25,000 pounds of assorted frozen Real Pasta products under recall, some that were made without the benefit of inspection, some that were misbranded and may contain soy. To see the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) list of retailers that sold the products click here. No illness have been reported in association with this recall. The recalled items were sold under a variety of  brand names including: Angelina Foodservice, Deer Park Ravioli, K-Bella, La Gustosa Ravioli, NY Ravioli and Pasta, Pasta Del Mondo, Queen Ann Ravioli, Raffetto’s Corp, Real Pasta Inc, San Marco Ravioli, Serino’s Italian Foodservice, and Vitamia. The products under recall include: … [Read more...]

Rep DeLauro to FDA: Tell Us What You Need For Food Safety

The FDA’s hour-and-a-half-long budget hearing before a House subcommittee today began with the chairman enumerating the agency’s many challenges including its glacial pace with respect enacting guidance rules and regulations and filing its budget, and ended with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) asking FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg for a breakdown of inspection personnel and an answer to the question: what do you require to ensure the public health of this country? To view C-SPAN’s recording of the hearing click here. Hamburg appeared along with the FDA’s CFO James Tyler and Norris Cochran, deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA and Related Agencies to discuss food … [Read more...]

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