TN Health Officials Warn of Raw Milk Dangers
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/tn-health-officials-warn-of-raw-milk-dangers/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 1, 2015)
Consumers searching for natural foods shouldn’t be duped into thinking raw milk is a safe choice, say Tennessee health officials. Unpasteurized milk can harbor dangerous bacteria that can cause life-threatening illness.
Contact an E coli Lawyer“It’s true many people grew up on farms and drank raw milk from their cows and goats with no ill effects,”said John Dunn, DVM, MPH, director of foodborne disease prevention services for the Tennessee Department of Health. Dunn “It’s also true others weren’t as lucky, swallowing bacteria-laden milk that did great harm. Pasteurization destroys dangerous microorganisms without substantially altering the taste or nutritive value of milk.”
Infants, young children, pregnant women, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risks of serious health complications if they consume raw milk or products made from raw milk such as cheese, ice cream or yogurt.
“In 2013, we had one outbreak of nine children in Tennessee becoming extremely ill after drinking raw milk, with five of those requiring hospitalization and three developing severe, life-threatening kidney problems,”said Dunn. In that outbreak, E. coli 0157 in their raw milk put those children’s lives at risk.”
The children with kidney problems had hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a potentially fatal complication of E.coli infections in children. Treatment for HUS, which causes kidney failure, includes dialysis, blood transfusions and kidney transplant.
In Tennessee, the sale of raw milk is illegal, but some people use cow share or goat share programs as a way around the law. That was the case in the 2013 outbreak which was linked to a cow share program at McBee Dairy Farm in Mascot, TN.
“Some sellers tout cleanliness of their dairy operation or the health of their livestock, but the simple fact is all raw milk contains bacteria that pasteurization would destroy,” Dunn said. “Your best choice for healthy, nutritious milk is the pasteurized kind you find in grocery stores and markets. Choosing raw milk instead can be one of the unhealthiest decisions you make for yourself or your family.”
E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella in Sprouts: 8 Outbreaks, 7 Strains, 6 Years
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/e-coli-listeria-and-salmonella-in-sprouts-8-outbreaks-7-strains-6-years/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 1, 2015)
A look at food poisoning outbreaks linked to bean sprouts in recent years shows what a great medium they are for bacterial growth.From 2009 through 2014, eight “sproutbreaks” were caused by seven strains of three pathogens.
The three pathogens are Salmonella, Listeria and E.coli. By pathogen, the breakdown of sproutbreaks from 2009-2014 looks like this: Listeria 1, E.coli 3, Salmonella 5.
In 2014, there were three sproutbreaks each caused by a different pathogen. A Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak sickened 115 people in 12 states, an E.coli O121 outbreak sickened 19 people in six states and a two-state Listeria outbreak killed two people and sickened three others.
In 2012, an E. coli O26 outbreak linked to clover sprouts served at Jimmy John’s sickened 29 people in 11 states. And in 2011, another Salmonella Enteritidis sprout break occured sickening 25 people in four states.
In 2010, there were two multistate sproutbreaks. One, caused by Salmonella serotype I 4,,12:i:- sickened 140 people in 26 states. The other, caused by Salmonella Newport, sickened 44 people in 11 states. And in 2009, a Salmonella St Paul outbreak sickened 235 people in 14 states.
Public health officials consider raw sprouts a special risk and advice that the safest way to consume sprouts is to thoroughly cook them.
Food safety cleanup
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/03/food-safety-cleanup/
By Doug Powell (Mar 1, 2015)
In honor of fall cleaning of smelly hockey gear – and what use is scaffolding if not to dry out hockey equipment – I offer this cleanup of smelly food safety news.
Lots of Asian countries, including China have banned Canadian beef after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) showed up on the same farm as a case diagnosed in 2010. How effective is enforcement of that feed ban?
Men wash their hands less than women.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is going to speed up implementation of labeling of needle or mechanically tenderized beef to 2016. If Canada can do it in 2014, so can the U.S.
New Zealand is going to require child care centers to have a food safety plan when they serve meals to little kids, and get inspected once a year. Australia should do the same.
50 school cafeterias out of the 350 in Rhode Island racked up the most food safety violations. Who knew Rhode Island had 350 schools?
Fancy food ain’t safe food, Scotland edition, the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian in Edinburgh has failed basic hygiene inspections by food safety authorities. No details of why the hotels had failed food inspections.
The manager of a former railway station in Ireland that was converted to a restaurant told an food safety type it was really busy, and that’s why they violated 44 food hygiene and safety regulations. Guilty.
Most organic food in market is fake: food safety official
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/most-organic-food-in-market-is-fake-food-safety-official/article6947909.ece
By thehindu.com (Mar 1, 2015)
Much of the organic foods available in the markets are fake, Assistant Food Safety Commissioner (Kollam) A.K. Mini has said.
“Marketers of most organic products are cheating customers by charging more through false claims and this sector is now growing into one of the biggest ways through which people are cheated”.
Ms. Mini said this while addressing a seminar on “safe water and food”, organised by the Laboratory and Technical Division (LTD) attached to the Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI), here on Saturday. This situation calls for stringent and flawless methods to certify organic food products, she said.
Overdose of permitted colours in food is rampant in Kollam, and this is harmful to human health.
She said only 100 milligrams of permitted colour was the upper limit for one kilo gram of pastry product. But many bakeries do not have any measuring standards. Adding even permitted colours to meals sold from restaurants is an offence.
Earlier food safety authorities looked only for unpermitted colours. But now, detection comprises quantitative analysis to find out whether permitted colours have been added in excess of the permitted levels. Ms. Mini said all food supplements could be marketed only after obtaining the mandatory approval from the Food Safety Authority of India.
Such food imported should comply with the domestic regulations in force in the country. This is the reason why some food products from China have been denied import permission recently. “Our food products exported should mandatorily comply with the food safety standards of the importing country”. She said while cigarettes were not banned, pan masala was banned under the Food Safety and Standards Act because it was a consumable product. More than 2 tonnes of such tobacco products were seized from the district during raids. The High Court has now given permission to destroy the entire seized quantity.
She said during drives in the past the use of hazardous chemical erythrocin in watermelons was detected in Kollam district. Now with the start of the watermelon, the surveillance has resumed.
Pulled Pork Cause of North Carolina Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/pulled-pork-cause-of-north-carolina-salmonella-outbreak/#.VPUaBtj9ns1
By Bruce Clark (Feb 28, 2015)
According to N.C. Department of Health and Human Services and Gaston County, pulled pork served at a church convention is most likely to blame for a Salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 70 people last fall.
The investigation began after multiple people sought treatment in early October. The local health department collected information and found that many of the patients had attended a conference between Oct. 1 and 5 at Living Word Tabernacle Church in Bessemer City.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services partnered with the local health department to investigate the outbreak.
A report released this week found that Boston butts prepared by a church member was the likely cause.
The pork was cooked overnight in a smoker a day before it was served. Then it was returned to the smoker the day of the meals.
Some of the pork hadn’t cooked all the way through in time for lunch so it was cooked longer then taken to the church for dinner.
The church member who cooked the meat said it was cooked at 350 degrees the first night, but no cooking temperature was given for when the pork was put back on the grill the next day.
About 400 people attended the church conference, and Salmonella was confirmed in 69 patients. Three people were hospitalized.
Regulation, Not Litigation, Is Likely Solution to the Mad Cow
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/regulation-not-litigation-is-likely-solution-to-the-mad-cow/#.VPUShtj9ns1
By Bill Marler (Feb 28, 2015)
In recent years, “mad cow” disease has created considerable confusion for American consumers as it has grabbed headlines, thanks to several now infamous North American bovines – including two recently found in Canada.
The question in many minds is whether litigation will follow.
Many Americans reflexively assume it will; after all, Products Liability 101 teaches that the manufacture and sale of bad food creates liability, and beef from “mad cows” is certainly bad food. From a litigation perspective, however, beef tainted with a potentially brain-wasting disease presents singular difficulties that more common bugs such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 do not.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“BSE”), better known as mad cow disease, was first diagnosed in 1986 by British doctors. Since then, the disease has been confirmed in more than 178,000 head of cattle in Great Britain alone, with a peak rate in January 1993 of 1,000 cases each week.
BSE is a degenerative nervous system disease that, unless something else does the job, will kill every cow that contracts it. Currently, we are without a test to detect BSE in a live animal. Veterinary pathologists confirm the disease posthumously through microscopic examination of brain tissue, which will appear spongy, or by the detection of the infectious protein structures known as prions (short for proteinaceous infectious particles and pronounced “pree-ons”).
BSE does not occur in humans. However, it can cause a similar disease called new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (“vCJD”), a rare, degenerative and fatal brain disorder. As of December 1, 2003, a total of 153 cases of vCJD had been reported worldwide: 143 from the United Kingdom, six from France and one each from Canada, Ireland, Italy, and the United States. Nearly all cases had multiple-year exposures in the United Kingdom between 1980 and 1996, which roughly coincided with the large BSE outbreak among U.K. cattle.
Occurrence of vCJD in humans likely occurs by consuming BSE-contaminated cattle meat products. Knowledge of the specific foods that are associated with transmission is obscure at best — an unsettling thought given the ubiquitous nature of the cow and its constituent parts. Tests on experimentally infected cattle have confirmed signs of BSE in the brain, spinal cord, retina, dorsal root ganglia, distal ileum and bone marrow, suggesting that these tissues are associated with a heightened risk of transmission.
Many countries, particularly those in which an indigenous BSE case has occurred, have implemented control measures to prevent potentially BSE-infected tissues from entering the human food supply. These include increased herd surveillance, destroying sick animals and banning the use of certain “high risk” cattle parts in human or bovine food.
The U.K., for instance, excludes from the human and bovine food supply the parts of all cows older than thirty months of age. Certain European countries require testing of almost every slaughtered cow. Loopholes do remain, however, and certain countries have been less pro-active. In many countries, there remains no prohibition against using poultry litter, cattle blood and restaurant leftovers in cattle feed, and all of these ingredients have roots in the high-risk cattle parts described above.
We do not plan to head any new-fangled ABA mad cow litigation section, not in the short term at least, and for two primary reasons. The first is that the disease is simply not currently prevalent in the United States. As noted above, only one case of BSE has ever been reported in the U.S.
The second problem is less about available markets, and more about causation and other law school basics. As with any foodborne-illness case, the science of the particular bug involved is critically important to the rights and remedies available to victims. More specifically, the incubation period — that is, the length of time between ingesting a pathogen and falling ill — helps to narrow the range of meals or specific food items that could have been the source of somebody’s illness.
For instance, a hamburger consumed 10 minutes before the onset of an E. coli O157:H7 illness cannot possibly have been the source of the infection because the average incubation period for E. coli O157:H7 is measured in days (typically between two and five), not minutes. The source of an E. coli O157:H7 illness must have been something eaten within the expected medical range prior to the onset of symptoms.
In stark contrast to E. coli O157:H7 and other more common foodborne illnesses, the incubation period for vCJD is extremely long, probably more than a decade. No one is going to recall sources of beef consumed years before, much less the more particular identifying information typically necessary to implicate a given defendant.
With other common foodborne pathogens, incubation periods range from a few hours to a couple of weeks. Once an individual tests positive for a pathogen like E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella or Shigella, for example, his or her recent food history can be identified with relative ease. Epidemiological investigation tools can then be used to conclusively establish a link to a particular product, even where there are no contaminated “leftovers.” With BSE-contaminated beef, however, the possible period for consumption is unknown, but is likely years and possibly decades in breadth. This severely limits the effectiveness of an epidemiological investigation.
Nevertheless, mad cow litigation cannot be discounted permanently on these bases. Not so long ago, even the more common foodborne diseases were more difficult to track, for lawyers and health departments alike. Scientific and technological advances have made for more sound conclusions. For example, we are now able to match the
DNA of a particular sample of E. coli O157:H7 or Salmonella — each of these bugs can be likened to a species with different subspecies, each having its own genetic profile — to another sample, thus creating more certainty that the samples had a similar source.
There are steps that the cattle industry can take to minimize the chances that beef from a BSE-infected cow will be transferred to a human in the United States. The industry can and should document where individual cows come from and where specific lots of meat are sold, thus allowing the companies that produced or sold contaminated meat a meaningful opportunity to recall the bad product and avoid injury. Given that, it is plausible to suggest that an enterprising attorney might have success with “enterprise” or “market share liability” theories against the cattle industry as a whole.
It is difficult, at least in part due to the lengthy incubation period of the disease, to accurately assess the threat that BSE presents both in the U.S. and globally. Litigation to address individual cases of BSE is not imminent, and frankly can only come too late for the individual involved. The responsibility for protecting the public lies with regulatory agencies like the USDA and the members of the cattle industry.
Food Safety to Play Important Part in 2015 Dietary Guidelines
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/02/food-safety-to-play-important-part-in-2015-dietary-guidelines/#.VPUSKNj9ns1
By Cookson Beecher (Feb 26, 2015)
What should we eat to be healthy? That’s an important question, because, according to the recently released Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, what we eat has a lot to do with how healthy we are. It’s as simple as that.
But on a national level, it becomes more challenging, especially when considering what the report refers to as the “two fundamental realities” that need to be kept in mind. The first is that about half of all American adults — 117 million individuals — have one or more preventable, chronic diseases, and that about two-thirds of U.S. adults — nearly 155 million individuals — are overweight or obese.
No question about it, those are daunting numbers.
The report points out that these unhealthy conditions have been “highly prevalent” for more than 20 years. Also, according to the report, eating unhealthy foods and consuming too many calories, coupled with too little physical activity, directly contributes to these preventable health problems.
The second “fundamental reality” guiding the committee is that people can improve their health by making changes in their lives, among them eating healthier foods and getting more physical exercise.
In other words, for the most part, we, the consumers, are in the driver’s seat, and the dietary guidelines are there to serve as a road map. It’s all about helping to prevent a culinary crash that could ruin our health — or kill us.
And, yes, food safety is part of this, especially when considering the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which, like the report, takes a preventive approach to safeguarding people’s health.
As for the role consumers play in food safety, a section of the report states that individual behaviors, along with sound government policies and responsible private-sector practices, are needed to reduce foodborne illnesses.
A quick background
The 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee was jointly established by the secretaries of the US. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The committee was asked to examine the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, to see if there is new scientific evidence that can be used in the 2015 Dietary Guidelines.
The primary focus of these ongoing reports is to develop food-based recommendations for Americans 2 years old and older. Instead of being mere “dust collectors” to be put on a shelf and forgotten, the reports are used to help develop federal nutrition policy and a variety of programs, among them education, outreach, and food-assistance programs throughout the nation, including food stamps.
What we already know, or at least believe
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-pepperoni-pizza-image15108112For the most part, the evidence the committee examined reveals what many people already know, or at least believe to be true: A healthy diet is higher in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, seafood, poultry, legumes and nuts; lower in red and processed meat; and low in sugar-sweetened foods and drinks and refined grains (such as those used in cookies, snack crackers, cakes, and most breads).
But the report also shows “moderate to strong evidence” that higher intake of red and processed meats was identified as detrimental compared to lower intake, as is the case for higher consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, as well as refined grains.
That’s where some of the nation’s favorite foods — burgers, pizza, tacos, sandwiches, mixed dishes, desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages, all of which are mentioned in the report — come into the picture.
The report suggests that the composition of many of these food items could be improved in ways to increase consumption of vegetables, whole grains and other under-consumed food groups as well as to lower intake of sodium, saturated fat, added sugar, and refined grains.
The report also noted that no matter where people are buying their food — whether in supermarkets, convenience stores, schools, or at the workplace — overall, the needs of a healthy diet for the U.S. population do not meet recommendations for vegetables, fruit, dairy or whole grains and exceed recommended amounts of sodium, saturated fat, refined grains, solid fats and added sugars.
Reading between the lines: The typical American diet is fraught with health risks.
The report includes some proposed changes to the current Dietary Guidelines. For example, the committee recommends lifting previous restrictions on how much cholesterol people should eat (previously 300 milligrams — or about an egg-and-a-half per day). It follows up by stating there’s no clear connection between the amount of cholesterol people eat and their blood cholesterol levels. Going one step forward, it states that saturated fats are to blame for high cholesterol levels.
As for coffee, feel free to drink 3 to 5 cups of coffee a day, since that amount isn’t linked to any long-term health risks. In contrast, according to the report, coffee consumption has actually been associated with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Feel like a drink? While the report agreed with previous Dietary Guidelines that, when consumed by adults in moderation, alcoholic beverages can be part of a healthy diet, it also includes a warning for women. They should be aware that there’s a moderate increase in risk for breast cancer, even when alcohol is consumed in moderation.
What about fish? According to information the committee reviewed, farm-raised seafood has as much or more healthy Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA per serving as wild-caught salmon. Also, according to the report, neither the risks of mercury or organic pollutants outweigh the health benefits of eating seafood.
A call for ‘preventive nutrition’ services
While individuals can take meaningful steps to improve their health through diet, the report calls for government and public-health entities to include preventive nutrition services — which, the reports notes, “are largely unavailable in the U.S. health system.” There’s also a need, according to the report, to “systematically address” nutrition-related health problems, including overweight and obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health outcomes.
In other words, how many doctors and health-care providers actually discuss the type of foods their patients are eating and, if necessary, provide information about which foods would be healthier?
Food safety an important player
With fruits and vegetables in the report’s “health spotlight,” questions about food safety are sure to arise, especially since a lot of produce is eaten raw. Then, too, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working on coming up with a list of “high-risk” foods. Already named as high-risk foods by the agency are leafy greens (raw spinach and leaf lettuce) and tomatoes — both of which have been implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls.
Generally, produce that is eaten raw is more prone to being contaminated with foodborne pathogens than produce that’s cooked simply because high cooking temperatures do a good job of zapping pathogens.
Just recently, whole apples from a California packing company, and, several years ago, cantaloupes from a Colorado farm, were implicated in major foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls. Both came as a surprise to consumers and public health officials alike. In the case of apples, for example, there had never before been an outbreak connected to whole apples.
Referring to foodborne illness outbreaks involving produce, Trevor Suslow, food-safety guru at the University of California-Davis, told Food Safety News in an email that there’s “a notion,” which has been around since the mid-1990s, that at least one reason for the uptick in foodborne illnesses and outbreaks connected to fresh produce in this country is that people are eating more of it.
He points to some reasons for this: year-round availability of most produce, greater foodservice and consumer convenience in the fresh categories, and strong science-based messages extolling the many long-term health benefits of a diet that includes diverse fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
Consumer confidence is an important part of the equation, and Suslow said that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), along with industry-driven initiatives around food safety, are providing, and sustaining, a high level of consumer confidence in the safety of produce in the marketplace.
He’s confident that FSMA’s provisions and compliance requirements in the rule-making process will establish enforceable standards, which will include fresh, minimally processed (fresh-cut), frozen, dehydrated, and traditionally processed produce.
Suslow also said that “with its fundamental focus on prevention,” FSMA is expected to “greatly broaden awareness” of the importance of food-safety principles at all scales of production and handling. This, in turn, supports the public-health objectives of increased consumption of fresh and quick-frozen produce in particular.
“The industry is clearly on board with the proposed Dietary Guidelines and recognizes the importance of designing and implementing a systems approach to food safety,” he said.
FSMA’s final rule on produce safety, which includes standards for the growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce for human consumption is, by court order, due in October. Compliance dates will vary by size of operation and specific provisions dealing with topics such as agricultural water use.
Branch of cherry tree with berries in summer.Warren Morgan, an Eastern Washington orchardist and owner of Double Diamond, which annually packs about 2 million boxes of apples, cherries and apricots, told Food Safety News in an email that he’s glad the proposed Dietary Guidelines encourage eating fresh fruit and believes that it is a healthy choice for kids and their parents.
Pointing out that the industry invests millions of dollars in research, some of which is directed toward the interaction between foodborne pathogens and tree fruits, Morgan said he firmly believes in the importance of following strict food-safety practices. Part of that is adopting a company-wide culture around food safety, which includes training employees and keeping extensive records that document just what’s being done, where and when, all along the line.
“The Washington state tree fruit industry has an obligation to deliver safe and nutritious apples, pears and cherries to consumers,” he said.
Even so, Morgan said that as farming operations become larger, there’s more risk of cross-contamination, which is why following food-safety practices becomes increasingly important.
In an article in Good Fruit Grower, he explained the nitty-gritty realities of the challenge: “Pathogens are doing their best to make it into our buildings, and our job is to beat them back as best we can.”
Red meat battle flares up again
The report’s section on “Food Sustainability and Safety” begins by stating that, “Access to sufficient, nutritious, and safe food is an essential element of food security for the U.S. population.”
But, when it goes on from there to talk about the environment, that’s entering territory it has no business being in, say some livestock industry and conservative think-tank representatives.
Here’s some of that section that’s got them “seeing red”: “The major findings regarding sustainable diets were that a diet higher in plant-based foods, such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds, and lower in calories and animal-based foods is more health promoting and is associated with less environmental impact than is the current U.S. diet.”
From there, it adds some fuel to the fire by stating that current evidence shows that the average U.S. diet has a larger environmental impact in terms of increased greenhouse gas emissions, land use, water use, and energy use, compared to three other diet patterns, the Healthy U.S.-style Pattern, the Healthy Mediterranean-style Pattern, and the Healthy Vegetarian Pattern. This, according to the report, is because Americans eat more animal-based foods and fewer plant-based foods than is the case in the other diet patterns.
However, the report also notes that “no food groups need to be eliminated completely to improve sustainability outcomes over the current status.”
But that’s not flying with those who see “climate-change activists” at work.
Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, stated in a press release that the report was “heavily influenced by activists’ plans to change the nation’s Dietary Guidelines to promote foods that they believe have ‘a smaller carbon footprint.’”
That’s in contrast, he said, to the past intent of Congress when the dietary guidelines were intended exclusively to “promote health and reduce risk for major chronic diseases.”
Stier also warned that if the Obama administration allows this to become part of the official Dietary Guidelines to be released later this year, “it will cost the public money and not make us any healthier.”
We’re talking about red meat for the most part, which has provoked the ire of meat-industry folks. Mary Soukup, the editor of Drovers/CattleNetwork, stated in a commentary that the advisory report decided not only to recommend lower meat consumption but also “to veer off course and venture into the realm of environmental sustainability.”
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-ribeye-steak-image1196285According to Soukup, both the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the North American Meat Institute say that the committee is contradicting itself by first recommending a health pattern lower in red and processed meat, and second, by endorsing the Mediterranean diet, which has higher red meat levels than currently consumed in the U.S.
Soukup’s commentary also points out that in the past 30 years, thanks to advancements in production, genetics and processing, beef has 34 percent less total fat and 17 percent less saturated fat. In addition, beef is recognized as an excellent source of six nutrients: protein, zinc, vitamin B12, vitamin B6, niacin and selenium, as well as a good source of four nutrients: phosphorous, choline, iron and riboflavin.
Another complaint she has relates to the composition of the 14-person Dietary Guidelines committee, which she says is made up of “a plethora of human health and wellness experts,” but not one agronomist, animal scientist, economist or food producer of any type.
On the other side of the fence, Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said that the recommendation to eat less red and processed meat deserves to be in the final Dietary Guidelines for Americans “and not excised at the behest of the meat industry.”
The report has been published in the Federal Register and will be open for public comment until April 8. After the comment period closes, USDA and HHS will review it and the public comments and then publish the 8th edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which will likely happen this fall.
Focus on food safety to prevent illness
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/focus_on_food_safety_to_prevent_illness
By Elaine M. Bush, Michigan State University Extension (Feb 26, 2015)
According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), foodborne illness (at times referred to as foodborne disease, foodborne infection or food poisoning) is common and costly but very preventable. How costly you ask? According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), health experts estimate yearly costs of all foodborne diseases in the U.S. alone is 5 to 6 billion dollars in direct medical expenses and lost productivity. How common? In the United States, each year foodborne diseases result in 48 million people becoming sick, 128,000 requiring hospitalization and over 3,000 dying. Even more sobering are reports from the World Health Organization (WHO) that note that each year, over 2 million people die worldwide because of unsafe food and water.
What is causing these foodborne illnesses and how can one protect themselves and their families from becoming a statistic? Bacteria, viruses, parasites and natural or manmade chemicals in food products can contaminate food and make people ill. There are more than 250 known foodborne diseases ranging from diarrhea to cancers. One may contract a debilitating infection such as meningitis or suffer acute poisoning resulting in a long-lasting disability or death. Contamination can originate at several points along the food chain…during animal slaughter, during food processing if handled by an infected person or cross-contaminated by other raw agricultural products, and when improperly refrigerated or heated by users. It is extremely important to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot (pdf). As most of these microbes or toxins enter our body through the gastrointestinal tract, the CDC states that nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and diarrhea are common symptoms in many cases. Because of the number of different foodborne diseases, symptoms vary and can make an accurate diagnosis difficult.
Experts at WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have identified several factors that further contribute to the incidence of foodborne illness. New threats to food safety including changes in food production, distribution and consumption continue to be discovered. While globalization has created many new markets economically, it has also made both officials and consumers more aware of the importance of ensuring that food safety systems are adequate in all countries involved in world trade. Increases in international travel is yet another avenue for harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemicals contained in unsafe food to spread farther and more quickly than ever before.
While at times only an individual becomes ill after consuming unsafe food, more often those who shared a meal at a restaurant, potluck or catered event will become ill. Sometimes shoppers at several different stores will purchase the same contaminated item and report family members becoming ill after eating the product. Foods which are most often found to be the cause of foodborne illness are raw foods of animal origin. This includes raw seafood (fish, crustaceans, shellfish), raw or undercooked meats, poultry, and eggs, and unpasteurized milk. If raw milk, eggs or ground beef are combined to make a product, the risk of foodborne illness is increased.
Some foodborne illnesses have also occurred after consuming raw fruits and vegetables that may have been improperly handled. This can include use of fresh manure as fertilizer, irrigating or rinsing in water contaminated with animal feces or handling by sick workers. Be aware that washing raw fruits and vegetables before eating is recommended but may not completely eliminate the contamination. Drinking raw (i.e. unpasteurized) juices can also cause foodborne illness.
Foodborne illness can be especially devastating and dangerous for individuals who have compromised immune systems. This includes people who are undergoing, or have previously undergone, cancer treatment, as a weakened immune system is a common side-effect of chemotherapy, radiation and some cancer medications. These individuals are more susceptible to infections and if they develop a foodborne illness, theirs is likely to be more serious and last longer. They need to be very vigilant in what they eat and how it is prepared. Other high-risk groups are HIV-positive individuals, pregnant women, and the elderly as immune systems weaken as we age.
Individuals all along the food chain including farmers, manufacturers, vendors and consumers play an important part in ensuring food safety. Experts are currently exploring critical issues that need to be addressed. Topics under discussion include careful disposal of animal manure while providing safer food and water for animals to prevent contamination at that point in the human food chain. The importance of teaching food safety to restaurant workers, school children and others has been discussed as one means of limiting further contamination. Also of concern is the growing number of bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics. This complicates treatment of many medical conditions and may force doctors to prescribe a drug that could be more expensive, less effective, and potential more toxic to the patient.
WHO has published a toolkit “From Farm To Plate, Make Food Safe” that offers suggestions for both policymakers and consumers interested in making food safer. Resolve today to practice their Five Keys to Safer Food while preparing food: keep clean, separate raw and cooked food, cook thoroughly, cook food at safe temperatures and use safe water and raw materials.
For more information about food safety, visit the Safe Food & Water page of the Michigan State University Extension website or contact your local county Extension office.
73% of England’s Chickens In Retail Have Campylobacter
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/73-of-englands-chickens-in-retail-have-campylobacter/#.VPUTetj9ns1
By Bill Marler (Feb 26, 2015)
The United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) today published the latest set of results from its year-long survey of Campylobacter on fresh chickens at retail.
The results to date show:
•19% of chickens tested positive for Campylobacter within the highest band of contamination.
•73% of chickens tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter.
•7% of packaging tested positive for the presence of Campylobacter.
More than 3,000 samples of fresh whole chilled chickens and packaging have now been tested. The FSA’s 12-month survey, running from February 2014 to February 2015, will test around 4,000 samples of whole chickens bought from UK retail outlets and smaller independent stores and butchers. The full set of results is expected to be published in May.
Wouldn’t be interesting if our government did the same?
Study: E. Coli Vaccines Are Effective But Economic Incentive Needed
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/02/study-e-coli-vaccines-are-effective-but-economic-incentive-needed/#.VPUTtdj9ns1
By James Andrews (Feb 26, 2015)
Despite the proven effectiveness of vaccines designed to decrease the presence of E. coli bacteria in cattle by as much as 98 percent, beef producers are not likely to widely adopt the practice of vaccinating their herds until there is a clear economic incentive, according to a new study by economics researchers at Kansas State University.
Often associated with beef, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli — such as E. coli O157:H7 — is one of the most notorious and harmful foodborne pathogens, infecting an estimated 265,000 people in the U.S. each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Beyond causing fatal outbreaks, E. coli contamination in beef has also led to numerous food recalls costing billions of dollars.
Beginning in 2009, commercial vaccines have been available to beef producers to significantly reduce E. coli in cattle digestive systems by 50 to 75 percent on average, with some cattle showing reductions as high as 98 percent.
In 2013, a study on the vaccines estimated that their use could reduce E. coli infections in humans by up to 83 percent.
But beef producers have been slow to adopt the vaccines. The most likely reason is that, given their cost, there isn’t a clear enough economic incentive, said Glynn Tonsor, associate professor of Agricultural Economics at KSU and co-author of the study.
Simply put, the vaccines are not tied to an immediate economic benefit for producers. As the authors explain, the presence of E. coli in cattle does not hinder the feeding of cattle or the production of beef and, on the other end, there is not a strong market demand for premium-priced beef that has been treated with an E. coli vaccine.
Tonsor and colleague Ted Schroeder estimate that for every head of cattle, administering an E. coli vaccine costs between $8.35 and $15, depending on how much the animal’s behavior and stress level is impacted by the physical act of administering the shots. Extrapolated over a 10-year period, that adds up to a cost of $1-1.8 billion for the industry, assuming a steady adoption rate.
“At the end of the day, it’s just a higher fit cattle price,” Tonsor told Food Safety News.
In other words, producers aren’t going to introduce new costs to their production process unless they see other costs reduced further down the supply chain or an increased market demand for vaccinated beef.
In order for producers to feel confident about adopting a vaccine, they would need to know one of three results — or a cumulative combination of results — would occur to offset costs:
•Domestic retail demand for beef increases by 1.7 to 3 percent
•Export demand for beef increases by 18.1 to 32.6 percent
•Producer costs decrease by 1.2 to 3.9 percent
Tonsor said he does not see any signs that producers will begin adopting the E. coli vaccines in large numbers anytime soon. For that to happen, retailers or meatpackers will need to begin offering price premiums for vaccinated cattle, though that is not likely to occur without a large amount of public demand.
Few beef producers question the effectiveness of the vaccines, Tonsor said. But a technology has to do more than just work if people are going to adopt it; it has to be economically beneficial.
“The economics work, but they don’t always align with our food safety goals,” he said.
Durand Dairy Denies Raw Milk Sickened Football Team
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/durand-dairy-denies-raw-milk-sickened-football-team/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 26, 2015)
The owners of a farm linked to a raw milk Campylobacter outbreak that sickened dozens of students and coaches who attended a football banquet in Durand, Wisconsin agreed to have their Grade A permit suspended for 30 days, but deny their milk was the source of the outbreak.
Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s (DATCP) announced the farm’s permit would be suspended for 30 days because of its link to the outbreak. The farm must abide by terms of an agreement with the ag department or face further penalties.
Roland and Diana Reed pleaded no contest to a charge of distributing unpasteurized milk and maintain that outbreak was caused by other food served at the banquet. But health officials say the outbreak strain found in stool samples taken from those who became ill is a genetic match to the strain found in samples collected from the Reed’s farm.
Contact a Campylobacter Lawyer - Free Case EvaluationThe Reeds sell there milk to a local cheese maker and are not purveyors of raw milk. But, for a potluck dinner for the football team they brought raw milk and did not tell everyone it was unpasteurized.
Thirty eight people got Campylobacter infections. Ten of them were hospitalized.
Concerns over Canada’s food safety
Source : http://www.cattlenetwork.com/news/ag-policy/concerns-over-canada%E2%80%99s-food-safety
By R-CALF USA (Feb 25, 2015)
On February 13, 2015, Canada confirmed its 20th case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in a native-born animal. Although Canada obtained confirmation of this latest case on February 11, it withheld information regarding the age of the cow until February 18, 2015.
As shown by R-CALF USA’s BSE lifespan chart, at 71 months of age this beef cow is the sixth youngest BSE-infected cow to be detected in Canada. Also, the cow was born and raised in the province of Alberta, which R-CALF USA refers to as a “BSE hotspot” because, as R-CALF USA’s BSE matrix shows, 75 percent of Canada’s 20 BSE-positive, native-born cattle originated there. Canada’s confirmation also establishes that the cow was infected with classical BSE, which is the strain many scientists believe is spread via the consumption of contaminated feed. In contrast, the atypical strain of BSE typically affects much older animals and is believed by some scientists to occur randomly or sporadically in nature.
All three of the BSE cases detected in native-born United States cattle were of the atypical strain not known to be caused by the now unlawful practice of feeding ruminant tissues to ruminants. The only case of classical BSE detected in the United States was a cow imported from Alberta, Canada, and subsequently detected with the disease in the states of Washington in 2003.
Based on scientific evidence linking the length of the disease’s incubation period to the amount of infectivity ingested, the cow’s relatively young age indicates she had consumed a relatively high level of infectivity, at least as high as that which caused the infection of Canada’s comparably-aged BSE cases detected in 2003, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
Canada resisted making any improvements to its 1997 ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban until after it had detected multiple BSE-positive cattle born well after the implementation of its feed ban, indicating its original feed ban was ineffective at arresting the spread of BSE in Canada. Canada’s enhanced feed ban was then implemented July 2007 and Canada’s newest BSE case is the country’s first recorded BSE case born after the implantation of its upgraded feed ban.
“Given this new evidence that the BSE agent is still circulating in Canada’s animal feed system, it is more likely than not that Canada’s inferior testing program has failed to detect many other BSE-infected cattle, including asymptomatic cattle entering Canada’s food system,” said R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard.
Unlike other nations that instituted mandatory testing requirements for cattle entering the food chain after detecting multiple cases of classical BSE, Canada relies only on a voluntary testing program. The mandatory testing programs in the European Union and Japan successfully removed BSE-infected cattle that were entering the food system even though the infected cattle did not show any signs of the disease. This is because testing can identify BSE-positive cattle several months prior to the animal exhibiting any signs of neurological disorder.
Under the United States recently implemented country of origin labeling (COOL) law, beef that is derived from Canadian cattle can be distinguished in U.S. retail grocery stores because all muscle cuts of beef and ground beef are now required to be labeled as to their origin.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently concluded that Congress’ objective in implementing COOL included “empowering consumers to take possible country-specific differences in safety practices into account.” The court also acknowledged that COOL can provide economy-wide benefits by “confining the market impact of a disease outbreak.”
“The court found that U.S. consumers can use COOL to avoid purchasing meat from countries like Canada that refuse to implement a responsible testing program to keep diseased animals out of their food system,” Bullard said.
“It is troubling that instead of acting responsibly by adopting the tried-and-proven eradication measures successfully used in the European Union and Japan, the Canadian Minister of Agriculture and other Canadian officials are bulling our U.S. Congress and U.S. citizens into repealing COOL, which is the consumers’ last line of defense when foreign governments try to cut food safety corners.
“Canadian officials are essentially saying that if the U.S. does not agree to hide the origins of their meat in the U.S. market then they will retaliate against us, which is precisely what they are attempting to accomplish with their COOL complaint filed at the World Trade Organization.
“Congress and the public should ignore Canada’s pompous posturing against COOL and instead work to demand that Canada be more responsible in its disease eradication efforts, particularly by implementing a mandatory testing program and strengthening its feed ban,” concluded Bullard.
U.S. needs to rework its byzantine food safety system
Source : http://www.latimes.com/opinion/editorials/la-ed-food-safety-20150225-story.html
By The Times Editorial Board (Feb 24, 2105)
The job of keeping our food wholesome has become more difficult as food itself has become more complicated. Because processed foods include ingredients from many sources, it is hard to trace the origin of pathogens. A package of ground beef, for instance, is no longer put together by a butcher pushing a single hunk of meat through a grinder; these days it includes trimmings from many cattle and multiple slaughterhouses. That means even a small quantity of meat contaminated with E. coli has the potential to taint tremendous amounts of hamburger meat sent out across the country.
Then again, if anything is more complicated than our food, it's our byzantine system for checking its safety. At least 15 agencies are involved, but sorting out the responsibilities of just the two main ones — the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture — is hard enough. Consider a frozen pizza: The cheese is inspected by the USDA, the other ingredients and toppings by the FDA. (Though if you buy your pepperoni separately, it is the USDA's job.) The FDA regulates produce, but the USDA oversees the agreements under which growers police themselves.
Then again, if anything is more complicated than our food, it's our byzantine system for checking its safety. At least 15 agencies are involved, but sorting out the responsibilities of just the two main ones — the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture — is hard enough. Consider a frozen pizza: The cheese is inspected by the USDA, the other ingredients and toppings by the FDA. (Though if you buy your pepperoni separately, it is the USDA's job.) The FDA regulates produce, but the USDA oversees the agreements under which growers police themselves.
The Government Accountability Office has repeatedly called for streamlining these disparate regulatory responsibilities under a single agency responsible solely for food safety, and President Obama has now joined in, proposing a Food Safety Administration within the Department of Health and Human Services. It's a smarter, more efficient and effective way to protect American consumers. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, food poisoning sickens more than 80 million people a year in this country, killing 5,000, sending 325,000 to the hospital and, according to a 2012 study in the Journal of Food Protection, costing $14 billion — which doesn't take into account the cost of lawsuits and recalls.
Previous attempts to glue together a new agency from bits and pieces of others haven't always worked. But safeguarding food is one of the most basic yet most scientifically sophisticated roles of government. In the old days, an FDA inspector could easily sniff out rotten seafood; today's inspections can require lab analysis that read like a chemistry textbook or testing to learn whether, say, milk powder contains illegal melamine, a toxic industrial chemical that has been favored as a cheap filler by unscrupulous Chinese food producers.
How to Choose and Use a Food Thermometer
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/02/how-to-choose-and-use-a-food-thermometer/#.VPUVV9j9ns1
By Lydia Zuraw (Feb 24, 2015)
Our recent article about why thermometers are important for food safety may have gotten you thinking about getting one or using the one you have more often. If so, here’s some advice on how to select and use one.
If you’re in the market for a new food thermometer, there are a lot of options out there from the $6 dial thermometer to the $99 digital thermometer that sends alerts to your smartphone from the grill.
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-checking-meat-image3197530Any food safety educator you ask will probably tell you about a particular instrument that’s their personal favorite, but in general, they recommend that consumers pick a digital one because it’s tip-sensitive.
From there, the choice to spend $20 or $90 probably depends on how much you cook.
“It’s a tool just like a frying pan,” says Benjamin Chapman, associate professor of food safety at North Carolina State University. “The more you cook, the more investment you put into your tools.”
An inexpensive thermometer makes sense for someone who doesn’t cook a lot of raw meat and poultry.
The different prices for digital thermometers typically have to do with their durability, their speed, and special features such as a smartphone connection or being fully dishwasher-safe.
“You’ll generally pay more for a faster response time,” says Tom Woodbury, chef and national account manager for Thermoworks.
He advises people to be careful with thermometers labeled “Instant Read.”
“Some thermometer manufacturers use that term to describe the frequency with which the display is updated, but not necessarily the speed that the thermometer display reflects an accurate temperature,” Woodbury notes.
As for dial thermometers, or bi-metallic stems, they’re “not great tools,” Chapman says. “They’re fine in a jam, but they do have to be calibrated.”
Over time, the expansion and contraction of the probe’s metal housing can cause the mechanical works inside to shift and then show an incorrect temperature.
To calibrate a thermometer, you place it into either ice water or boiling water and adjust the dial accordingly.
Woodbury recommends that people check the accuracy of their dial thermometers at least one a month, prior to a big cooking event such as Thanksgiving, and if it’s been dropped or possibly damaged in some way.
Chapman says you can also calibrate digital thermometers and that he checks his once or twice a year — typically around Thanksgiving.
“Everyone who’s cooking or eating food should probably have a thermometer,” he says, “but how often you use it is definitely going to dictate how much you would want to invest in it.”
Once you’ve got a thermometer that works for you, you’ll want to use it to find the “cool spot” of whatever you’re cooking. If it’s meat or poultry, try to get the thermometer’s sensor into the thickest part of the muscle, away from bone. This is where it takes the heat the longest to penetrate.
Woodbury says that most digital thermometers have a sensor an eighth of an inch away from the tip, but in dial types, they can stretch up to an inch away.
If you take a reading and find out the meat you’re cooking is at less than the minimum temperature, be sure to wash the thermometer before you take another reading. If the food is contaminated, washing the probe helps to keep from reintroducing any pathogens to the meat.
Chapman adds that it’s a good idea to take the temperature at multiple spots of your food item since the heat could be unevenly distributed, especially when cooking ground meat products and microwaving.
And thermometers aren’t just for omnivores. People who are immunocompromised — those going through chemotherapy, for example — and need all their food to be thoroughly cooked can use a food thermometer to ensure that their fruits and vegetables are safe to eat.
Dairy Products are Most Common Source of Listeria Outbreaks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/dairy-products-are-most-common-source-of-listeria-outbreaks/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 24, 2015)
Dairy products were the most common source of Listeria outbreaks that occurred between 1998 and 2012, according to a new federal study by the Food Safety Analytics Collaboration of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The study was conducted to provide information that can be used to develop better food poisoning prevention measures.
Of the 952 outbreaks attributed to one pathogen during the 14-year study period, 24 were Listeria outbreaks. Dairy products were the source of half them. Turkey was the source of four; pork and sprouts each caused two; and beef, chicken, fruit and row crop vegetables each caused one. The fruit outbreak, the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak of 2011, sickened 147 people and killed 35.
Most of the Listeria outbreaks linked to dairy products were caused by soft cheeses, a pattern that has continued in each year after the study period as well. In January of this year, a Listeria outbreak in Washington linked to Queseria Bendita cheese sickened three people, killing one of them.
A recall for dairy products including Queso Fresco, Panela, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and Sour Cream, produced at the company’s Yakima plant was issued. The recalled products were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon and sold from the company’s ion-site store in Yakima.
They were packaged with clear plastic wrappers or in plastic tub, and stamp coded with the best by date up to 4/16/2015. The products are refrigerated and have the shelf life of up to 90 days. Consumers who have any of these products should not eat them.
In 2014, two deadly outbreaks were linked to soft cheeses. A three-state outbreak announced in October was linked to Oasis cheeses. That outbreak killed one person and sickened two others. In March 2014, an outbreak linked to Roos Cheese sickened eight people in Maryland and California, killing one of them.
And in 2013, a Listeria outbreak linked to pasteurized cheese from Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company in Wisconsin sickened six people. One person died and one woman suffered a miscarriage.
French Retirees Have Contributed to a Foodborne Illness Crisis
Source : http://munchies.vice.com/articles/french-retirees-have-contributed-to-a-foodborne-illness-crisis
By Lauren Rothman (Feb 24, 2015)
If there’s anything the French love more than taking to the streets in protest, it’s retiring, which citizens aged 62 years and older do with gusto. Prior to 2010, the retirement age in France was even lower—60—and when conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy tacked a scant two additional years onto the age of eligibility, the French populace was not happy (but at least it got to engage in its beloved manifestations). Over 18 percent of the country’s population is 65 or older, and the large number of workers retiring each year can upset the day-to-day operations of entire industries.
Such is the case with France’s two government-run food safety organizations, which have seen dramatic losses to their workforce since 2007. And it comes as no surprise that during that same timeframe, incidences of foodborne illness have risen dramatically.
According to a report presented to Minister of Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll in December, both the Directorate General for Food (DGAL) and the Directorate General for Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Control (DGCCRF) are struggling to fulfill their duties as France’s most important food inspection agencies. Since 2007, the report says, DGCCRF has lost 10 percent of its workforce and DGAL has lost nearly 7 percent, “mostly because of positions left unfulfilled after retirements,” according to Food Production Daily. The report, which was written by the food safety agencies’ former directors, also reveals that France currently employs only 2,100 food safety workers, well below the European average. “100,000 people work in food safety in the EU,” the report reads. “As France represents one eighth of the European population, it should employ around 12,000 people”—in other words, nearly six times the workers currently in food safety.
A lack of food safety workers means a necessary reduction in food safety controls, mainly in slaughterhouses, restaurants, and supermarkets—there just isn’t enough manpower to perform the needed inspections. Between 2009 and 2013, controls intended to keep these businesses safe and bacteria-free have fallen by 20 percent. As a result, incidences of foodborne illness in France have ramped up dramatically: from 624 reported outbreaks in 2004 to 1,320 in 2013. “In the past,” the report says, “this increase might have been linked to better detection, but that may no longer be the case more recently.”
Two main culprits are making the French sick. Campylobacter is a bacteria found on raw chicken that can cause cramping, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and even death. The other bacteria that’s afflicting France, listeria, can contaminate all manner of raw foods, including meat, vegetables, milk, and raw milk cheeses, the latter being a favored French snack. Usually, listeriosis causes those classically-disgusting-but-ultimately-bearable hallmarks of food poisoning: fever, chills, headache, upset stomach, and vomiting. But in a few specific cases, the infection can be much more dangerous.
As reported by Food Safety News, a patient in Marseilles underwent a routine liver transplant surgery in the summer of 2013, only to fall ill within five days of the operation. Doctors, who at first suspected that the 52-year-old man was rejecting the new organ, adjusted his treatment accordingly. Yet a few days later, the man died. Blood samples revealed that he had been suffering from a rampant postoperative case of listeria infection, which hospital staff concluded came from a food source; the man’s recent surgery had left him particularly vulnerable to the bacteria’s effects. Since his death, four other French liver transplant patients have become infected with foodborne Listeria. Doctors there now recommend a comprehensive food safety-based diet plan for all liver transplant patients to follow both before surgery and for six months afterward.
Recently, the French government announced that it will hire 60 additional food safety workers in 2015. But if you ask us, that sounds like just a drop in a big ol’ bucket of infected raw milk.
Pollies short on food safety answers
Source : http://centenary.stockandland.com.au/news/agriculture/agribusiness/general-news/pollies-short-on-food-safety-answers/2724415.aspx
By COLIN BETTLES (Feb 24, 2105)
FOOD labelling and safety has remained a point of political conjecture as federal parliament resumes in Canberra this week.
Shadow Assistant Health Minister Stephen Jones set the tempo yesterday when he called for stronger government action after 18 cases of Hepatitis A were confirmed over the weekend, following the recent outbreak.
Mr Jones said the virus outbreak was caused by berries imported from overseas that “got through our biosecurity inspection system”.
But he said many questions still remained unanswered.
“Why has it taken the government over five days from the initial discovery of the outbreak to act?” he said.
“Why didn’t the government act over the course of last year when it was clear from cases in Europe and North America that there was a severe risk with imported berries?
“Particularly the risk of imported berries from China, why did the government not act?”
Mr Jones also questioned why the government hadn’t acted to increase the risk rating for screening imported berries.
“We don’t believe that the risk rating has been shifted yet,” he said.
“This is despite the fact that the Department of Agriculture has called for this to occur; this is despite the fact that we had chaos and confusion last week where the Prime Minister was saying that 100 per cent of consignments would be inspected – we don’t believe that this is actually occurring.
“There are a lot of questions that remain to be answered this week and the government is being put on notice today that the Australian public demand answers to these questions.”
Highest safety standards expected
Mr Jones said Australian consumers expected to purchase products from supermarkets - particularly food products - at the highest quality level available to them.
Denmark’s National Food Institute Says Europe’s BPA Safe Levels Need Work
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/02/denmarks-national-food-institute-says-europes-bpa-safe-levels-need-work/#.VPUZS9j9ns1
By News Desk (Feb 24, 2015)
Those epoxy resins used to line metal food cans and some plastic containers are safe at current permitted levels, with some European bickering still going on about where lower limits should be placed.
They may not have gotten that memo yet in North Carolina, where a “Toxic Free Kids Act” has been introduced on the theory that “it can be impossible for parents to tell the difference between toxic products and safe ones.” NC’s Senate Bill 81 would ban bisphenol-A (BPA) in children’s products.
BPAcans_406x250Food safety authorities in both the U.S. and Europe, however, have recently found BPA levels being used in such cans and bottles are safe for children and adults.
Two years ago, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took the precaution of banning the substance in baby bottles and sip cups. But, in its official 2014 assessment, FDA found current exposure levels of 5 micrograms per day as safe, a finding it based on 300 scientific studies conducted from 2009 to 2013.
Then in January, the influential European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) found that BPA exposure from any combination of sources — diet, cosmetics, and even the kind of thermal paper used for cash register receipts — is considerably less than the safe level, or the “tolerable daily intake (TDI).”
EFSA’s report suggested those TDIs be safely lowered, a finding with which the National Food Institute (NFI) at the Technical University of Denmark does not disagree. It just issued its own report stating that EFSA would drop the limits a little too much.
“The National Food Institute has examined EFSA’s toxicological evaluations with a focus on the main conclusions in the report and to determine whether the new TDI is sufficiently protective and thus gives the institute cause to change its earlier assessment of bisphenol A,” according to the NFI’s statement on its review.
NFI’s scientists found that, “… EFSA’s new TDI does not adequately protect against endocrine disrupting effects. One reason is that EFSA does not apply an appropriate uncertainty factor. Moreover the researchers find that EFSA in establishing the new TDI has not sufficiently taken data from animal studies showing effects on female mammary gland, the male reproductive system, and brain development and function into account.”
According to NFI’s calculations, the new TDI should be 0.7 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day, or lower, to be sufficiently protective against endocrine disrupting effects. The institute’s assessment is based on the same studies as those in the EFSA report.
“We maintain the National Food Institute’s previous risk assessment of bisphenol A. We evaluate that a tolerable intake of bisphenol A should be lower than one-fifth of the EFSA recommended limit,” says Professor Ulla Hass from the National Food Institute.
As for the North Carolina bill to totally ban the substance, it has yet to receive any consideration from the committee to which it was assigned.
Obama wants single food safety agency
Source : http://geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/02/23/obama-wants-single-food-safety-agency/
By Ron Nixon (Feb 23, 2015)
To understand America’s fragmented food safety inspection system, consider a slice of frozen pizza. The pepperoni is examined by the Agriculture Department, the cheese and tomato sauce by the Food and Drug Administration, each agency using its own methods for inspecting and testing.
If someone gets ill sampling that slice’s tasty goodness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention might sound the alarm, but it would fall to the F.D.A. to pressure the pizza maker for a recall.
The Obama administration wants a single new agency to sweep all that away: the Food Safety Administration, a colossus that would be housed within the Department of Health and Human Services to “provide focused, centralized leadership, a primary voice on food safety standards and compliance with those standards,” the administration said in its new budget request.
At least 15 government agencies — from the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — have some role in making sure the food Americans eat is safe, according to the Government Accountability Office, a situation that has defied streamlining for decades.
And the Obama administration’s new push to untangle that web is already running into opposition from some food safety experts, consumer groups and the inspectors who would be most affected.
The federal government, they say, does not do well with big.
Entrenched bureaucracies have always been difficult to reconcile. The Agriculture Department and the F.D.A., the two main food safety agencies, have for decades carried out different mandates, operated different types of inspections programs, and required different levels of training and education for inspectors. Long-running turf battles between the agencies would inevitably complicate efforts to consolidate them, experts say.
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