August 14, 2022

CFS Report Warns of Food Safety Problems with TTIP

The Center for Food Safety (CFS) released a report last week looking at the potential food safety effects of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), currently being negotiated by the U.S. and the European Union. The report, titled "Trade Matters" calls the trade agreement "highly undemocratic and non-transparent." TTIP follows the trade agreement models of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which focus on trade barriers. Those "barriers" are actually health and environmental standards that safeguard the citizens of each country. CFS states that "many analysis believe that a central aim of the negotiations is to dismantle many food safety regulations that corporations view as impediments to trade and profit making." The partners negotiating this trade … [Read more...]

USDA Approves Poultry Imports from South Korea Despite Flu

In spite of a massive bird flu outbreak, the USDA has approved import of poultry products from South Korea. The final rule grants equivalency status to the Republic of Korea. It becomes effective May 27, 2014. It reads "slaughtered poultry or parts or other products thereof processed in certified Korean establishments will be eligible for export to the United States. All such products will be subject to re-inspection at United States ports of entry by FSIS inspectors." The bird flu in outbreak in Korea, which was discovered January 2014, has led to the culling of 11 million birds nationwide. Food safety and consumer groups are opposed to this new USDA rule for this reason and for many others. Food and Water Water issued a press release about this matter. They filed comments … [Read more...]

North Carolina Researchers Find Formaldehyde in Imported Fish

Researchers at North Carolina State have verified that an inexpensive instant test for formaldehyde on food has found about 25% of the imported fish purchased at a grocery store chain in Raleigh, North Carolina had unacceptable levels of the chemical. The contaminated fish were imported from China and South Vietnam. Swai, cod, pollack, shrimp, tilapia, and whiting are some of the species that were contaminated. No fish from the United States or other regions tested positive for formaldehyde. The chemical occurs naturally in tiny quantities in fish and other foods, including fruits and vegetables, but the levels found in the tests were far beyond normal or acceptable. The FDA does not test fish for formaldehyde, even though some countries such as Bangladesh use it to preserve food … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch on FSIS Audit of Chinese Poultry Safety System

Last week, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service approved certain Chinese chicken processing facilities to export product to the United States. Their audit says that China's processed poultry inspection system safety system is equivalent to the U.S. system. The report states that "the Central Competent Authority (CCA) has adequately addressed all previously identified concerns. Therefore, the People's Republic of China's processed poultry inspection system meets the equivalence components for FSIS equivalence criteria." The People's Republic of China can now certify a list of establishments that are eligible to export heat treated and cooked poultry products to the U.S. The caveat is that this will be allowed as long as raw poultry is sourced from countries that FSIS has … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Concerned About Contaminated Meat from Australia

Food & Water Watch has issued a statement saying that six months after they sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about how the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) led to an increase in import rejections of unsafe Australian meat, the problems have not improved. A new letter has been sent about this matter. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, "we're calling on Secretary Vilsack to start the process to revoke the equivalency status of Australia's privatized inspection system. The latest import rejections for visible fecal and ingesta contamination point to a failed system. USDA recognized this privatized inspection model in 2011 in its haste to backdoor a privatized inspection system here in the United STates. … [Read more...]

FSMA Imported Foods Rule Takes Effect Today

One of the new rules mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is being put into effect today. the "Information Required in Prior Notice of Imported Food" is now a final rule and is the law of the land. This rule is designed to stop contaminated food at U.S. borders. If a food that is waiting for clearance into the country has been refused entry by another country, it will be rejected at the border. Food importers must follow this rule, which was originally put into place in 2002 after 9/11. The rule states, "for purposes of this regulation, FDA considers 'refused entry' to mean a refusal of entry or admission of human or animal food based on food safety reasons, such as intentional or unintentional contamination of an article of food. This is consistent with the intent of … [Read more...]

Chinese Company Buys Smithfield Foods

The Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings is buying Smithfield Foods, one of the largest producers of pork products in the U.S. Food & Water Watch has released a statement about this purchase. Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said, "the purchase of Smithfield by Chinese company Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd. is bad news for U.S. farmers and consumers, the environment, and food safety. This merger tightens the grip of multinational agribusinesses and Wall Street on America's kitchens, as Shuanghui is partially owned by U.S. investment banker Goldman Sachs." She states that a more complicated supply chain will "leave consumers at higher risk of food contamination." Since this single corporation will produce such a huge amount of pork … [Read more...]

Japan Eases Cattle Restrictions on U.S. Imports

The Japanese government decided yesterday to ease restrictions it has placed on U.S. beef imports. Restrictions put in place in 2006 that partially opened the markets did not allow the import of beef from cattle older than 20 months; the industry standard is 30 months. The agreement, dated January 25, 2013, requires that the U.S. must "meet or exceed" World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines to be considered controlled risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). In addition, U.S. meat establishments should be certified as eligible to export meat to Japan, and the Japanese government may conduct on-site audits of the U.S. inspection system. In 2003, Japan banned U.S. beef completely after a case of mad cow disease was discovered in Washington state in 2003. Secretary … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Disputes US-AU Food Safety Equivalency

Food & Water Watch has sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the equivalency status of Australia's privatized meat inspection program and the USDA program. Last year, the USDA decided to make the two programs equivalent, despite discoveries of contaminated meat imported from Australia. Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, "documents from USDA and Australian officials reveal that the repeated problems from products coming from Australia in 2012 show that this is a systemic problem and that privatized meat inspection in Australia is not working." The meat was contaminated with fecal material and contents of the digestive tract. The organization also opposes the "Beyond the Border" program, which is establishing … [Read more...]

Group Presses White House for Consumer Protections in Trade Negotiations

A bipartisan group including Congresswoman Rose DeLauro (D-CT), Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), and Congressman Walter Jones (R-NC) asked the Obama Administration to ensure public health is protected as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement is negotiated. Two countries involved in this agreement, Vietnam and Malaysia, are seafood exporters and have raised red flags. The group is concerned that seafood imported from those two countries could be contaminated. The letter states, "in Fiscal Year 2012, imported seafood products from Vietnam, the fifth largest exporter of shrimp to the United States, were refused entry 206 times because of concerns including filth, decomposition, drug residues, unapproved food additives, and Salmonella... U.S. Customers and Border Protection … [Read more...]

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