Antibiotic-Free Meat Map Launched for Consumers
Coinciding with the new “Meat Without Drugs” campaign announced this week, tech start up Real Time Farms launched a crowd-sourced map to help consumers locate meat from animals raised without antibiotics.
The FixAntibiotics Food Finder allows shoppers to look up retail locations, farmers markets, farms, and restaurants sourcing antibiotic-free meat using their zipcode or by zooming into a geographic area.
Real Time Farms also asks users to add to the database if they know of another location that is not listed on the map.
“This campaign, as with so many things, comes down to people voting with their wallets because government is seen as moving too slowly,” said Real Time Farms, in a blog post on Thursday.
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Illness in Louisiana Brings E. coli O145 Outbreak Count to 15
One new illness in Louisiana has brought the case count to 15 in the ongoing E. coli O145 outbreak in the southern U.S. and California, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 21-month-old girl died on May 31 after falling ill to the outbreak strain.
The source of the outbreak remains unknown as state and federal health officials continue to investigate the outbreak, but experts believe it originated in food. Four people have been hospitalized.
Artificial and Natural Trans Fats: They Are Different
By now, almost everyone has heard about trans fats and how unhealthy they are. In fact, studies have shown that trans fat consumption causes at least 30,000 deaths in the United States every year. The government has not set an upper limit on trans fat consumption because there is no safe intake amount.
But there are two kinds of trans fat: natural and artificial. Natural trans fats occur naturally in dairy products and meat, made by a enzymatic process in the guts of ruminant animals. Artificial trans fats are man-made by bubbling hydrogen through polyunsaturated oils, making it a solid. And scientists think that natural trans fats are good for you.
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E.coli In Aberdeen SD Drinking Water Prompts Boil Water Advisory
E.coli levels in the drinking water supply for the city of Aberdeen, SD have reached dangerous levels, prompting city officials to issue a boil water advisory.
Aberdeen residents should not drink tap water without boiling it first. Before it is safe to drink, the water needs to boil for a full minute. “Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice,” the advisory states.
Boiling kills E.coli and other dangerous bacteria that cause serious, sometimes life-threatening illness. Most at risk are small children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of an E.coli infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, nausea and headaches. Residents who develop these symptoms should seek medical attention.
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Food Safety Scandals Fuel Urban Gardening in China
Food safety concerns and increasing incomes are sparking growth in urban gardening and farming among Chinese consumers, according to China Daily.
“More urban residents, many of whom are young people between the ages of 25 to 35 living in metropolises such as Beijing, are growing vegetables and herbs on their balconies or rented farmland in the suburbs, and turning to Taobao, a major online shopping service provider in China, to start their apartment gardens,” the paper reported Monday.
According to China Daily, online searches for the Tabao have jumped 280 percent in the past year — indicating that a growing number of people are looking to buy seeds and tools to start vegetable patches.
The paper features Xue Ling, 26, who says she has been planting vegetables on the small balcony of her apartment since 2010.
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Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Live Poultry from Missouri Hatchery
At least 66 people have fallen ill in 20 states in a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry from a Missouri hatchery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. Sixteen people have been hospitalized while one infected person in Missouri has died, though Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor to the person’s death.
The number ill by state are as follows:
Alaska (1 illness), California (2), Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Iowa (2), Kansas (10), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (22), Nebraska (5), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota (1), Vermont (1) and Wyoming (1).
Epidemiological and laboratory evidence have linked this outbreak to Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.
India to Implement Standards for Street Food
For the first time, street food vendors in India will soon be required to meet a set of sanitation regulations, announced the government Tuesday.
Street food is a popular option in India because it’s convenient and cheaper than offerings at hotels and restaurants. But at the majority of stands it’s also unsafe.
found that, out of 50 random samples of street food taken in 2010, 47 of them – approximately 90 percent - were contaminated with foodborne pathogens. Cooked foods were no exception, suggesting mishandling after preparation.
Raw Scraped Tuna Salmonella Outbreak Grows Again; 390 Now Ill
According to the CDC, the Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nchanga outbreak linked to raw scraped tuna has grown again. Now 390 people in 27 states and the District of Columbia have been sickened by the contaminated product; that’s an increase of 74 new cases from the last update in May. Kansas is now part of the outbreak. Forty-seven people have been hospitalized in this outbreak.
A raw tuna product called Nakaochi Scrape imported by Moon Marine USA Corporation was recalled as the source of this outbreak. Lab tests conducted by public health laboratories in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin have isolated the outbreak strains of Salmonella from 95% of the samples taken from intact packages of that product. And in April 2012, the FDA inspected the Moon Fishery facility in India that supplied the raw tuna and found violations of their HACCP plan, which did not contain the necessary critical control points.
The numbers of new cases has declined since the peak in April 2012. The outbreak may continue for several months because some facilities may have the frozen product in their freezers and continue to serve it, since it has a long shelf-life. If you order any sushi product that contains raw ground or scraped tuna, ask the establishment if it is part of this recall.
Outbreak of Gastroenteritis at George Mason University
On June 21, 2012, according to the Fairfax County Health Department, 40 teens and young adults at the George Mason University Campus became ill with gastroenteritis. They are members of a summer camp group affiliated with the Congressional Awards Foundation. Twenty-one of the students were hospitalized.
The Health Department believes that viral gastroenteritis is the cause of these illnesses. The government is investigating whether or not food was the initial cause of the illness, but they think the virus spread person-to-person.
George Mason University has cleaned the dorm rooms where the patients were staying and is working with state and local officials to investigate the outbreak.
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American Medical Association Calls for Testing of GMO Foods
At their annual convention in Chicago this month, the American Medical Association passed a resolution calling for mandatory testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) foods. The organization did not call for labeling of these altered foods, as many groups want, although 19 doctors did sign a statement calling for labeling.
That statement said:
“In the face of scientific uncertainty, labeling is a common risk management tool and one that could help track any potential adverse health effects. Our support of labeling also takes into consideration the fact that consumers want to know whether there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food, and they have a right to know. We stand with the 90% of Americans who want mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.”
Other organizations that have passed resolutions calling for labeling of GE foods include the American Nurses Association, the California Medical Association, and the British Medical Association. Groups that endorse the California Right to Know Ballot initiative include Physicians for Social Responsibility, the American Medical Students Association, and the American Public Health Association.
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Ground Bacon Recalled: May Contain Cardboard and Plastic Pieces
A Los Angeles-based firm is recalling approximately 1,350 pounds of its ground smoked bacon because the food may contain pieces of cardboard and plastic.
The company – Square-H Brands, Inc. – issued a voluntary recall
of the ground bacon product Thursday after the problem was discovered at a distribution facility in Hawaii. The product had been shipped there for further distribution, but inspectors from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) discovered pieces of plastic and cardboard in the food.
Officials speculate that the problem occurred while the product was being transferred from a cardboard and plastic holding container to the grinder.
The product subject to recall is called “Coarse Ground Smoked Bacon Ends and Pieces” and was distributed in 25 lb. cases. It was packaged April 25 before being distributed to the Hawaii facility for further distribution and use in other products.
Sprouts Recalled for Potential Salmonella Contamination
A Florida-based company is recalling 433 cases of alfalfa sprouts because they may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Leasa Industries Co. of Miami, FL issued the voluntary recall
Wednesday after testing by a buyer revealed the presence of Salmonella on the company’s Living Alfalfa Sprouts.
The product subject to recall is sold in 6 oz. plastic containers bearing the label “LEASA Living Alfalfa Sprouts.” Packaging bears a UPC code of 75465-55912, located on the side of the label that wraps around the container. It is also marked with an expiration date of 7/2/12, located on the side of the plastic container itself.
The company’s alfalfa sprouts are sold to retailers and to food distributors, but the recall notice does not specify where the affected sprouts were distributed.
The company’s website says that “major clients include Publix Supermarkets, Winn-Dixie Stores, Wal-Mart Supercenters, Sedanos Supermarkets [and] Sysco Food Service,” although the recall notice did not say which if any of these companies may be carrying the recalled product.
Senate Passes Farm Bill
Legislation includes study on food recall insurance for farmers
In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate passed the farm bill on Thursday by a vote of 64 to 35. The bill, which sets the nation’s agriculture and nutrition policy for the next five years, would end direct payments for commodity crop farmers, but ramp up subsidized crop insurance to save nearly $24 billion over 10 years.
During three days of debate over dozens of amendments, the Senate touched on food safety a few times.
As Food Safety News reported Wednesday, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA) succeeded in repealing a 2008 farm bill provision that mandated a catfish inspection program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture — even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates seafood. Echoing concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office, Kerry and McCain argued that the program was duplicative, wasteful, and was not likely to yield a food safety benefit.
Due to opposition from livestock groups, the Senate did not consider a controversial proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would have mandated federal welfare standards for egg-laying hens.
“While I am disappointed that my amendment establishing a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens was not considered, I remain committed to this issue and will look for other opportunities to advance that legislation,” said the senator, after the farm bill passed Thursday.
But Feinstein did succeed on an amendment directing USDA to conduct a study on the feasibility of crop insurance to cover losses for producers affected by, but not responsible for, food safety recalls.
Carrot Juice Recalled for Botulism Risk
Los Angeles-based juice company Health Choice Island Blends, Inc. is recalling all sizes of its Liquid Gold Carrot Juice because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.
The juice was distributed in four container sizes – 128 oz., 64 oz., 32 oz. and 16 oz – in California and sold to wholesale produce companies.
The product comes in plastic see-through containers in gallon, half-gallon and quart sizes. It bears a white label with the name “Liquid Gold” and a picture of carrots and a glass of carrot juice, and UPC code 7 63213 00130.
No illnesses have been linked to the consumption of this product to date.
Anyone who purchased the affected product is urged to return it to the place of purchase or discard it.
Eggs Recalled in Germany for Dioxin Contamination
More than 250,000 eggs are being recalled in the Lower Saxony area of Germany after testing found excessive levels of dioxin. Contaminated feed may be the source of the chemical.
- Manufacturer: 0-0356091-DE
- Expiration date: 14/06/2012
- Stamp number: 0-0356091-EN
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Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. Recalling Uneviscerated Fish
Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. of New York is recalling dried bream that was uneviscerated. Uneviscerated fish may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause a serious and sometimes fatal foodborne illness.
- Dried bream
- Un-coded, 7.5-ounce vacuum packed plastic bag
- Sold nationwide
- UPC number is 7 930042 250954
- Product of Russia
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Dole Recalls Thousand Cases of Bagged Salads for Listeria
Due to possible Listeria risk, Dole Fresh Vegetables is voluntarily recalling 1,077 cases of bagged salads, most of which are likely not on shelves any longer.
The products being recalled are Kroger Fresh Selections Greener Supreme coded N158 211B 1613 KR04 with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC 11110 91039, Kroger Fresh Selections Leafy Romaine coded N158 111B KR11 with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC 11110 91046 and Wal Mart Marketside Leafy Romaine coded N158111B with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC code 81131 02781.
Dole Fresh Vegetables said it is coordinating closely with regulatory officials and that to date no illnesses have been reported in association with the recall.
The Product Code and Use-by date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package and the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in six U.S. states (Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).
“This precautionary recall notification is being issued due to an isolated instance in which a sample of Marketside Leafy Romaine salad yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in a random sample test conducted by the State of North Carolina,” said Dole in a release.
The company said no other Wal Mart Marketside, or Kroger Fresh Selections salads are included in the recall.
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Articles of Interest
Microbe Found in Salt Could Lead to Salmonella Vaccine
The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that a team of University of Maryland School of Medicine scientists have spent years researching and developing salt crystals harboring microbes that could act as carriers vaccines for pathogens such as Salmonella or typhoid.
The microbe, Halaorchaea, could be grown to combat a number of diseases around the world. The team leader, Shiladitya DasSarma, first targeted Salmonella after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to do so.
Organic Standards Protection Act Introduced in Congress
Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) have introduced the Organic Standards Protection Act to the U.S. House of Representatives to give the National Organics Program authority to make sure that foods labeled with the organic seal quality for that designation.
The Organic Trade Association and the National Organic Coalition support this bill.
The legislation would:
- Grant the USDA the authority to stop the sales of products labeled “certified organic” when they are not organically produced or grown.
- Streamline the recordkeeping requirements of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act. All organic producers and certifiers would be required to maintain records and sent them to the USDA.
- A fine of up to $10,000 per incident would be levied for those who continue to label their products organic after the USDA has revoked their certification.
The USDA does not currently have investigative authority over the organic certification program. The National Organic Program cannot stop the marketing or labeling of organic products when they have been treated with pesticides or herbicides at this time. The bill would give the program embargo and stop sale authority.
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Former BPI Employee Plans to File Suit Over LFTB Backlash
“Pink Slime” heading back into the news.
A former Beef Products Inc employee plans to file a civil lawsuit in response to the national frenzy over lean finely textured beef (LFTB), now widely known to consumers as pink slime.
Sioux City, Iowa-based Rauttnee Publishing Company announced it will hold a press conference on Tuesday to detail the suit to be filed by former BPI Environmental Health and Safety Officer Bruce Smith.
The company will be handing out copies of the lawsuit as well as copies of Smith’s new book, titled “Pink Slime Ate My Job.” According to an online business profile, Rauttnee Publishing Company was launched by Smith in 2004.
Study: Norovirus Infection Rates Correlate with Google Search Trends for Symptoms
Trends in Google internet searches for norovirus symptoms strongly correlate with rates of norovirus infection, suggesting internet searches could serve as reliable surveillance tools for diseases prone to seasonal variations, according to a study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Google Labs in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
The study, published in the July 2012 edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, tracked rises and falls in Google internet searches for certain keywords and phrases related to gastroenteritis, such as “diarrhea,” “vomiting,” and “stomach virus,” that could indicate a norovirus infection. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S., responsible for an estimated 21 million illnesses a year.
The researchers then compared the Google data to trends in lab-confirmed norovirus infections around the nation. If the searches matched up with the rates of confirmed cases, the researchers would uncover a new method of tracking the activity of norovirus, a pathogen with very scarce amounts of surveillance up until now.
The result? The searches and the known cases matched up almost perfectly.
“I think we were surprised at just how strong the correlation was,” said Benjamin Lopman, epidemiologist at the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC and one of the study’s co-authors. “Even having to rely on general search terms, they still match up very well with the actual outcome.”
Red Meat Allergy Likely Caused by Tick Bites
A few years ago, doctors in the southern United States started noticing an odd phenomenon: people were becoming allergic to red meat, seemingly out of the blue. What in the environment was causing this response? The answer, surprisingly, turned out to be ticks.
The researchers who figured this out came upon the answer serendipitously. Thomas Platts-Mills and his colleagues had been studying a cancer drug called Erbitux that was causing severe allergic reactions in patients – but only in southern states. The team had concluded that these people were carrying an antibody that responded to sugars in the drug.
In their findings – published in 2008
– the researchers noted that the sugars in Erbitux, which is derived from mouse cells, are also present in beef, pork and cow mllk.
So the following year when it came to light that otherwise healthy people were developing meat allergies – also in the South – the team began testing samples of their blood and found that they possessed the same Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies as the cancer patients who had reacted to Erbitux.
Since people were reporting a 3-5 hour delay between ingesting meat and having a reaction, scientists guessed that the sugars triggering the response were stored in the fat of the animal, which takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates. That would explain why the reaction wasn’t immediate like most other food allergies.
But the big mystery remained: Where were these antibodies for alpha-gal (the sugars found in Erbitux and red meat) coming from?
“We thought initially that it was a parasite,” says Dr. Scott Commins, an assistant professor of medicine at UVA working on the project under Platts-Mills. “So we screened for all kinds of crazy parasites.”
Then, in August of 2009, the answer quite literally came to Platts-Mills when his own IgE to alpha-gal levels suddenly spiked days after he was bitten repeatedly by ticks while on a hike in the woods.
Out of curiosity, the researchers began asking patients if they had been bitten by ticks before their meat allergy developed.
House Budget For USDA Bans Spending on Horse Slaughter
A House committee vote may have closed the barn door before horse slaughter will ever be resumed in the United States.
The powerful Appropriations Committee has by voice vote agreed to again ban federal funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter facilities. In a deal last year, President Obama and Congress agreed to lift that ban, an action that had led to proposals for horse slaughter facilities in Missouri and New Mexico.
The ban comes in the form of a successful amendment to the fiscal year 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill brought by Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA. The appropriations bill now goes to the floor for a vote by the full House.
“When more than 80 percent of the American population opposes this practice, it is high time that we put an end, once and for all, to industrial horse slaughter, Moran said. “Horses hold an important place in our nation’s history and culture, treasured by all for their beauty and majesty. “
Moran says horses “deserve to be cared for, not killed for foreign consumption.”
The Northern Virginia Democrat argued that it made no sense to have cut USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service budget by $9 million, and then continue to require the food safety agency to add the inspection of horsemeat for foreign consumption to its duties.
Moran said to add inspections for horsemeat for export could only be achieved at the expense of inspections for poultry, pork and beef being consumed by U.S. citizens.
It was the removal of similar language advanced by Moran last year in a House-Senate conference committee that led to lifting of the ban. Theoretically, that could still happen this year.
The last three horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. closed more than five years ago after Congress initiated the original ban in 2006. Only USDA-inspected meat processed in the U.S. may be sold across state or national boundaries.
The two groups with horse slaughter business plans have each requested USDA inspection services. Both groups want to slaughter horses for the human consumption export market, and neither can do business without USDA inspection services. The companies planning to implement horse slaughter are:
- Unified Equine Missouri, a company headed by Wyoming lawmaker Sue Wallis, which has plans to convert a closed beef-packing plant to accommodate horse slaughter in town of Rockville, MO.
-Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, NM – owned by Rick De Los Santos – also wants to convert its former beef facility into a horse packing plant.
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