FDA outlines dietary supplement enforcement plan
from: IFT Daily News
before the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET)
and the American Society for Nutritional Sciences on April 19, Lester M. Crawford,
Acting Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), outlined the agency's
science-based approach to protecting American consumers from unsafe dietary supplements.
Crawford said the agency would soon provide further details about its plan to
ensure that the consumer protection provisions of the 1994 Dietary Supplement
Health and Education Act (DSHEA) are used effectively and appropriately. Through
DSHEA, which sets up a distinct regulatory framework for dietary supplement products,
Congress attempted to strike a balance between providing consumers access to dietary
supplements and giving FDA regulatory authority to act against supplements or
supplement ingredients that present safety problems, are marketed with false or
misleading claims, or are otherwise adulterated or misbranded.
NCBA pans Creekstone's media offensive
Daniel Yovich on 4/20/04
Just one day after the New York Times criticized the largest players in the industry, its lobbyists and the Agriculture Department for their opposition to Creekstone Farms' plan on its editorial page ?in addition to running a feature story chronicling the Arkansas City, Kan.-based processor's fight with USDA ?NCBA President Jan Lyons said Creekstone's efforts only serve to impose economic stress on producers and "undermine consumer confidence" in a safe product.
"Testing of all cattle is not scientifically justified. The world's leading experts in animal health and risk analysis, including the World Organization for Animal Health and the USDA's International Review Team, have agreed that testing all cattle does not provide additional protection for consumers," Lyons said. "The International Review Team report commissioned by USDA states, 'the subcommittee considers testing of all cattle slaughtered for human consumption to be unjustified in terms of protecting human and animal health.'"
On Sunday night, ABC News broadcast a story on Creekstone's efforts. Last week, the Washington Post published a lengthy story outlining the company's failed efforts to win USDA approval for 100 percent testing of its product. That testing would have allowed the company to ship its product to Japanese customers, despite that country's import ban on U.S. beef enacted after the Dec. 23 discovery of a single Washington state cow with BSE.
Is that your final answer?
Creekstone CEO John Stewart told Meatingplace.com that he does not consider the issue resolved. Stewart said he is gaining confidence that USDA may review its decision not to allow the company to test in the wake of increased media attention to the issue. Stewart also noted the support building for the company's efforts from state agriculture officials and smaller producers and said the company is receiving telephone calls from congressional staffers seeking background on the issue.
"I think ?I'm hopeful, anyway ?that we might see USDA rethink their position on this," Stewart said. "We are getting support from across the country, and I think the volume of that support hasn't been lost on USDA."
NCBA's Lyons also noted on Monday that Creekstone's efforts to conduct 100 percent testing "can disrupt negotiations that are ongoing right now with Japan." However, those efforts may already have been complicated, if not derailed, by a letter penned last week by former Kansas Sen. Nancy Kassebaum Baker, the wife of the U.S. ambassador to Japan, who asked Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to consider reversing the agency's position on voluntary total testing.
"At this time in our critical export markets we need to get behind all the best marketing tools we can," Kassebaum Baker said in the letter.
Creekstone officials argue that the testing plan would, in effect, be a marketing tool, and that they believe it would not put other processors at a disadvantage with domestic consumers, an argument supported by Kassebaum Baker.
USDA appears to be making some progress in its efforts to pry open at least some of the more than 50 markets that closed their borders to U.S. beef in the wake of the December BSE discovery. Mexico has already relaxed much of its beef ban, and China is expected to ease a portion of its ban this week.
Undersecretary J.B. Penn will head to Japan April 24 and 25 for renewed talks on the beef ban, and said during a Friday news conference that he was "optimistic that if we are sitting across the table and we are discussing issues, that we have some opportunity to make some progress.
"Internationally recognized scientific standards must be the guidepost for food safety and trade decisions. Allowing private companies to use testing as a 'marketing' tool, before the government first establishes the framework for trade based upon science, will place undue costs on cattlemen without producing additional protections for consumers and our animal herds. Resources spent on this unwarranted effort will take resources away from efforts that do improve the safety of our food supply and the health of our cattle."
Seafood allergies more popular than peanuts; more care needed
SAN FRANCISCO A new survey suggests 2.3% of North Americans are allergic to seafood more than twice the rate of peanut allergy.
The figure came from a telephone survey of more than 5,500 U.S. households, representing almost 15,000 Americans.
The figures are likely comparable in Canada, according to Anne Mu?z-Furlong, who presented the data at the AAAAI meeting here.
Although the survey relied on self-report, participants were counted as allergic only if they said the condition had been diagnosed by a physician or if they could provide a convincing history of allergy.
The survey responses revealed reactions to any type of seafood in 0.6% of children (younger than 18 years) and 2.8% of adults, said Mu?z-Furlong, founder and CEO of the Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), a patient advocacy group based in Fairfax, Va. Her colleagues included researchers at the Elliot and Roslyn Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
A closer look showed 0.4% of all reactions were to fish, 2% to shellfish and 0.2% to both, or 2.3% overall.
The most common fin-fish culprits were salmon, tuna and halibut, and the leading causes of shellfish allergy were shrimp, crab and lobster.
Well over half of respondents who were allergic to both kinds of seafood said they'd had recurrent and severe reactions, said Mu?z-Furlong.
Only 55% of the fish-allergic and 40% of the shellfish-allergic respondents had sought medical attention for their reactions, and far fewer only 15% sed epinephrine.
"Individuals often believe they can simply avoid the food," Mu?z-Furlong told a news conference.
"However, study after study shows us that in spite of best efforts at avoidance, accidental ingestion is common."
She urged doctors to ask about food allergy, and particularly seafood allergy, and prescribe auto-injectable epinephrine for allergic patients.
At the same time, Mu?z-Furlong announced that FAAN had launched a seafood allergy registry to allow scientists to learn more about seafood allergies. However, the registry is open to U.S. residents only.Microbiologists characterise DNA in bacteria responsible for food poisoning
Research suggests up to one-fifth of all food poisoning outbreaks worldwide may be caused by Bacillus cereus.
19/04/2004 Microbiologists at James Cook University have characterised the DNA in bacteria responsible for one of the world`s most common forms of food poisoning.
The bacteria, which cause millions of violent vomiting cases each year, are only one genetic step removed from anthrax.
Using a powerful molecular method, JCU postgraduate student Paul Horwood has identified the gene in Bacillus cereus that enables this tiny microbe to manufacture the toxin cereulide using the starch in rice.
Research suggests up to one-fifth of all food poisoning outbreaks worldwide may be caused by Bacillus cereus. It is responsible for two distinct food poisoning syndromes: one causes acute nausea and vomiting (the emetic syndrome) and the other diarrhoea.
The emetic syndrome is commonly associated with rice and now, thanks to the JCU project, scientists can detect the cause and carry out structured surveys to accurately define the prevalence of this form of food poisoning. It all comes down to a gene that ultimately may enable rice companies to identify contaminated rice before it even goes to market.
Dr Graham Burgess, who co-supervised Mr Horwood`s PhD studies in JCU`s microbiology and immunology program, says Bacillus cereus produce enzymes that pull amino-acids out of the starchy rice substrate and link them together to build cereulide.
The JCU research has also established that Bacillus cereus have similar genes to Bacillus anthracis, which makes anthrax, and Bacillus thuringiensis, used as a pesticide on food crops because it kills insects.
Bacillus cereus food poisoning is common in Asian countries due to the large amounts of rice consumed, but toxic strains of the bacteria are found worldwide.
There is potential for the JCU findings to be commercialised by companies wanting to test rice batches for toxic bacteria.
Dr Burgess said the extremely small size of the toxin cereulide has made it difficult up until now to produce a reliable toxin detection method. Cell culture methods have been labour-intensive, inaccurate and too subjective.
The project was funded by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) and the Ricegrowers Cooperative.
National Farmers Union backs Creekstone
by Daniel Yovich on 4/15/04 for Meatingplace.com
"The Japanese and other trading partners have indicated a willingness to lift their ban on U.S. beef exports if specific testing protocols are in place," said NFU President Dave Frederickson. "We find it troubling that the USDA has denied Creekstone Farms the opportunity to meet the wishes of an important customer and regain access to the Japanese market. This decision prevents excellent marketing opportunities for farmer-owned beef cooperatives and other small processors of quality U.S.-grown beef."
In an April 14 letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman, Frederickson urged USDA to reconsider its decision last week not to allow Creekstone to test for the brain wasting disease, noting that requirements for international trade are not always based upon science. Japan and more than 50 other countries closed their borders to U.S. beef after a Washington state cow was found to have BSE in December. Japan alone demands that all beef considered for export to that country be tested for BSE.
"Without taking measures to satisfy the needs of our international beef customers, we cannot expect to regain the full value of our export market or reopen the foreign markets now closed to our products," Frederickson wrote. "While 'sound science' is often recited as rationale to not test all processed animals for BSE, we must recognize that international trade is not based purely on scientific standards."
The National Farmers Union says it is a general farm organization with a membership of nearly 250,000 farm and ranch families throughout the United States. During the farm organization's 102nd anniversary convention in March, NFU members adopted a policy statement urging USDA and other federal agencies to allow beef processors to conduct BSE tests that meet international testing standards.
"It is our hope that USDA will do its part to re-establish international trade for U.S. cattle and beef products by reversing its Creekstone Farm decision and implementing mandatory country-of-origin food labeling," Frederickson said.
GMO Standard for Canada
The Standards Council of Canada has adopted new rules for genetically modified foods as part of the National Standard of Canada. The Canadian government said that this means consumers could start to see more labels on some food ingredients and food items indicating whether or not they are a product of genetic engineering.
Adoption of the voluntary standard is the result of a thorough development and approval process - through a multi-stakeholder committee - facilitated by the Canadian General Standards Board and started in 1999.
The process was reviewed by the Standards Council of Canada, the body that administers Canada National Standards System. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Public Works and Government Services Canada, and Health Canada were among the six federal departments that participated in the process for the development of the voluntary standard.
CGSB and the consumer groups and industry groups that participated in the Committee
should be commended for doing an excellent job and working through a number of
challenging issues, Agriculture and Agri-food Minister Bob Speller said. “This
is an important step and I believe that this standard will help respond to consumer
demand by developing meaningful criteria for the labeling of foods derived through
o solution will please everyone, but this standard represents a broad consensus on the part of consumer groups, farmers, industry, and government. It sets a framework for meaningful claims about the presence or absence of genetically engineered food ingredients. As a voluntary standard, the speed at which labeling appears in the marketplace will ultimately be driven by the importance of the issue to consumers,?Jeanne Cruikshank, vice president, Atlantic Region, Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors, stated. Her organization sponsored the initiative. The standard for voluntary labeling is intended to provide further guidance for food companies and manufacturers, which could help consumers make food choices.
review of campylobacter and poultry processing
Coalition opposes effort to gut downed cattle ban