October 19, 2019

White House Threatens Veto of House Agriculture Appropriations Bill

In a Statement of Administration Policy issued June 25, 2013, the White House stated it strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 2410, making appropriations for Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies programs for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2014. The Statement reads "it imposes harmful cuts in rural economic development, renewable energy development, nutrition programs, food safety, agricultural research, and international food aid. If the President were presented with H.R. 2410, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill." The deadline for action on this issue passed more than two months ago. Congress has still not appointed conferees and agreed on a budget resolution. The White House said they are "deeply concerned that the WIC funding level … [Read more...]

Children in Poverty Face Greater Food Safety Risks

A new report by the Consumer Federation of America finds that children from low-income families are at greater risk for foodborne illness and unintentional product injuries than children from higher-income families. The report, titled Child Poverty, Unintentional Injuries and Foodborne Illness: Are Low Income Children at Greater Risk? concluded that researchers must collect better data on the relationship of family income to foodborne illness incidence. More than 2/5 of the 73 million children in America are from low-income families. The report was based on data collected through FoodNet, the CDC's national foodborne illness surveillance system. According to that data, children under the age of 15 account for half of all foodborne illnesses in this country. Children under the age of 5 … [Read more...]

Most Consumers Don’t Wash Their Hands Correctly

A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that only 5% of consumers wash their hands correctly. Scientists trained 12 college students in the field of data collection. They then observed 3,749 people washing their hands in public toilets. The observers found that 15% of the men and 7% of women didn't wash their hands at all. Only 50% of men and 78% of women used soap. People were less likely to wash their hands if the sink looked dirty, and more likely if a sign telling people that hand washing is a good idea was hanging above the sink. And for some reason, more people wash their hands during the day than at night. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that hand washing is crucial to avoid spreading foodborne illness and other infections. If … [Read more...]

CSPI Releases List of Risky Meat

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released a list of meat and poultry products that have the greatest risk of causing foodborne illness outbreaks. They studied 12 years of outbreaks from meat and poultry that occurred in the U.S. from 1998 to 2010. Only illnesses linked to outbreaks that were definitively attributed to meat or poultry product were used in the analysis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that 48 million Americans contract some sort of foodborne illness every year, but most are not known because they are either "sporadic", not linked to an outbreak, or are not diagnosed or reported to public health officials. The vast majority of foodborne illnesses don't require medical attention. And of the illnesses that do require medical … [Read more...]

Snapshot of Foodborne Illness Trends in US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a snapshot of the report card for food safety issued by FoodNet. This data helps public health officials know how much progress (or lack of progress) has been made in reaching goals for reducing foodborne illness. Those goals, enumerated at HealthyPeople.gov, state that the objectives are to reduce infections caused by bacteria and viruses transmitted through food. More specifically, the government is working toward reductions in infections due to STEC bacteria, Listeria, and Salmonella in beef, dairy, fruit, nuts, leafy vegetables, and poultry. They also want to prevent an increase in the proportion of Salmonella and Campylobacter isolates that are resistant to antimicrobial drugs. Finally, increasing the proportion … [Read more...]

Study Examines Treatments for Microbial Contamination in Sprouts

A study published int he April issue of the Journal of Food Science looked at seed disinfection treatments of sprouts. In the last few years, there have been several major foodborne illness outbreaks linked to raw sprouts, including an E. coli outbreak linked to clover sprouts served at Jimmy John's restaurants that sickened 29 people in 11 states. And there were seven recalls of sprouts for pathogenic bacterial contamination. Sprouts are problematic for several reasons. First, the bacteria can be encapsulated inside the seed, making it impervious to physical disinfection such as the application of calcium hypochlorite. And the seeds are sprouted in warm, moist conditions, which are ideal for bacterial growth. The FDA released guidelines in 1999 designed to limit this problem, … [Read more...]

When Good Food Goes Bad: The Recommendations

The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC has developed a report on strengthening the U.S. response to foodborne illness outbreaks. Since 40,000,000 people in this country get sick from foodborne contaminants every year, causing 128,000 hospitalizations and more than 3,000 deaths, some improvement to the current system is warranted. For the first part of this story, see When Good Food Goes Bad: The Problems. After detailing ten major issues with the current foodborne illness prevention and surveillance system, the authors have developed five recommendations. First, they say that the government should fund the development of next-generation technologies for rapidly diagnosing foodborne illness. Those tools need to incorporate culturing pathogens so that facilities such as PulseNET can keep … [Read more...]

When Good Food Goes Bad: The Problems

The Center for Biosecurity at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center has released a report titled "When Good Food Goes Bad: Strengthening the U.S. Response to Foodborne Disease Outbreaks." It is designed to improve the country's ability to respond to large foodborne illness outbreaks. The authors identify emerging trends in outbreak response and recommend ways to accelerate and strengthen public health reaction to these outbreaks. For part two of this story, see When Good Food Goes Bad: The Recommendations. There are ten major findings in the report. The first is that medical expenses and lost productivity cost this country more than $77 billion every year. And that the level of resources devoted to "preventing and responding to such outbreaks" is very small in comparison. They … [Read more...]

Children More Likely to Suffer Foodborne Illness

A new study published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal has shown that children who are younger than five years of age are more likely to suffer from foodborne illness than adults. The study looked at data from Prevention's Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) and the CDC. Children are automatically included in the high risk groups for foodborne pathogens, along with the elderly, those with chronic illnesses, and those with compromised immune systems because their immune systems are underdeveloped. The study's authors thought that the higher rates of illness among children may be explained by "higher rates of medical care-seeking and stool sample submission in this age group." But the illness rates for children were higher even after adjusting for under … [Read more...]

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker: Produce Testing Cuts Unwise

Food Safety Attorney Fred Pritzker discussed how cuts in produce testing will affect food safety with Minnesota Public Radio's Cathy Wurzer on Friday morning. Funding for the Microbiological  Data Program (MDP)  has been cut, so the program will cease to exist after December 31, 2012. What kind of affect will this have on food safety? Not a good one, Pritzker sad. "We know people will be sick becasue of this action," Pritzker said. "Why would we be doing that?" The Microbiological Data Program (MDP) is  a national foodborne pathogen monitoring program  that was cerated in 2001. Operated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program basically brought the USDA's meat and poultry monitoring program to produce. At a cost of about $4 million per year, MDP worked in … [Read more...]

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