FDA May Ban BPA from Infant Formula Containers
New strategy succeeds in BPA ban where others have failed
After scientific evidence failed to convince the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to outlaw BPA in food packaging, a lawmaker has spotted another way to get the agency to regulate the substance.
Ever since 2008, when new research suggested that bisphenol A – used in packaging to make plastic harder or protect metal can linings – could be harmful to humans, consumer advocates have been pushing for an all-out federal ban on containers carrying the chemical. So far this push has been successful only in the court of public opinion, where the public’s fear of BPA has caused many manufacturers to phase it out of products.
FDA has consistently said that evidence supporting the dangers of BPA is currently too weak to justify banning the substance.
Now a lawmaker has found another way to get this chemical off the market – or at least out of infant formula containers.
In March, Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) petitioned FDA to remove regulatory approval for BPA in three items: baby and toddler food packaging, small reusable household containers and canned food packaging. Markey argued that manufacturers “have abandoned the use of BPA” in these products. Legally, FDA can remove approval for the use of an additive if that use has since been abandoned.
essentially asked FDA to withdraw approval for BPA in these three products on the grounds that this use is no longer practiced and therefore no longer needs approval.
On Wednesday, FDA accepted Markey’s petition to disallow the use of BPA in infant formula containers, but denied the petition as it related to small reusable containers and canned food packaging.
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Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Dog Food Has Sickened 22 in 13 States
Twenty two people in 13 states have now been infected with Salmonella Infantis linked to contaminated dog food, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Multiple brands of dry dog food produced by Diamond Pet Foods at a South Carolina facility have been linked to some of the Salmonella infections, which would likely have been acquired via cross contamination from feeding a pet or from contact with a sick pet.
The five new cases are from: Alabama (1), California (1), Illinois (1), New York (1), and South Carolina (1). Two others have been reported in Canada.
Of the cases CDC has detailed information about, illnesses began between October 2011 and May 11, 2012, and ages range from less than one-year-old to 82, but the median age is 46.5. Sixty-eight percent of patients are female. Of the 17 patients CDC has information about, 6, or 35 percent, were hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Public health officials noted that any illness that may have occurred after May 11 might not be reported yet.
Anyone who thinks they might have become ill after contact with dry pet food or with an animal that has eaten dry pet food should consult a health care provider.
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Two Applications in For Horse Slaughter; Opposition Gears Up
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) won’t admit it has received either request, but the agency now has two formal applications for inspection of horse meat-for-export processing facilities.
As Food Safety News reported earlier
, Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, NM previously filed the first application for equine inspection services with FSIS. The agency has now received a second application for horse slaughter from Unified Equine Missouri for an equine processing plant at Rockville, MO, according to the company.
While FSIS will neither confirm nor deny that the two applications exist, suggesting that the only way get information about them would be to file a Freedom of Information Act request to the agency, one of the most experienced animal protection attorneys in the country is already marshaling the opposition.
Both applications follow the deal by President Obama and Congress to end the 2007 ban on the slaughter of horses for human consumption in the United States. The deal clears the way for FSIS to make its continuous inspection services available for equine production.
Unified Equine’s Chief Executive Officer Sue Wallis told Food Safety News that her company is in the process of acquiring the Rockville processing plant, previously used for beef, and making necessary changes to the facility required before FSIS will conduct a walk-through inspection.
Wallis, who also serves in the Wyoming House of Representatives, says Unified Equine wanted FSIS’s input in advance, but the agency declined for legal reasons. “So we are proceeding with our plans to renovate the existing facility, which was USDA certified for beef, and to install our humane handling system designed for the unique characteristics of horses, ” Wallis said. “Once that work is completed we will be moving forward with our grant of inspection request.”
FSIS officials, according to Wallis, have told the company that the agency is in the process of reestablishing equine inspector training and drug residue plans for horses. Congress cut spending for inspecting horse slaughter about a year before the last three equine operations closed in 2007.
McCain Takes Aim at ‘Senseless’ Catfish Inspection Program
Senator and former presidential contender John McCain (R-AZ) is at war against “senseless” measures in the farm bill and the pending catfish inspection program is on his list of top targets.
On the floor Thursday, Sen. McCain mocked a variety of farm bill programs, including a $15 million grant program to improve the sheep industry, a $200 million overseas ag marketing program, and a $25 million initiative to study the health benefits of peas, lentils, and garbanzo beans.
“Mothers all over America that have advocated for their children to eat their peas will be pleased to know there’s a study…” joked the senior senator.
McCain also mocked a mohair subsidy, “which has been fleecing the American people since 1954.” (The subsidy was repealed in the 1990s, but was reinstated in the 2002 farm bill).
“The mohair program, which costs taxpayers about $1 million a year, may not be particularly expensive compared to most farm programs,” said McCain. “I suppose where some of my colleagues see a minor government pittance for wool socks, I see a disgraceful example of how special interests can embed themselves in a Farm Bill for generations.”
One item that seems to have McCain particularly fired up is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s pending catfish inspection program, something that was added to the 2008 Farm Bill — under the guise of food safety — to help protect southern catfish farmers from the influx of import competition.
With support from both sides of the aisle — including Sens. John Kerry (D-MA), Tom Coburn (R-OK), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) — McCain has filed an amendment (#2199) to the 2012 farm bill to repeal the new catfish inspection program.
“As my colleagues know, USDA inspects meat, eggs, and poultry, but not seafood,” said McCain in remarks released by his office. “Thus, a whole new government office is being developed at USDA just to inspect catfish. Catfish farmers have tried to argue that we need a Catfish Inspection Office to ensure Americans are eating safe and healthy catfish. I wholeheartedly agree that catfish should be safe for consumers.”
“The problem is FDA already inspects catfish – just like it does ALL seafood – screening it for biological and chemical hazards,” added McCain. “If there were legitimate food safety reasons for having USDA inspect catfish, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.”
US Bans Korean Shellfish After FDA Finds Fecal Matter, Norovirus In Growing Areas
Korean shellfish is not safe to eat and Korea has been removed from the U.S. list of approved shellfish shippers after officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered unsanitary conditions that exposed molluscan growing areas to human fecal matter, norovirus and pollution, the agency announced yesterday.
Previously, the FDA had issued a recall of Korean shellfish imported to the U.S. after May 1, 2012. But now the FDA says no shellfish from Korea is safe to eat. Whether they are fresh, frozen or canned; mussels, scallops and oysters from Korea may have been exposed to human fecal matter, may also be contaminated with norovirus and are not safe to eat at this time, according to the advisory.
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California Soup Makers Say Recall Was Only A Technical Foul
The Botulism warning that went out about two companies selling canned soap at California farmers markets really only amounts to a technical foul not dangerous canning practices.
That’s the push-back argument being made by Malibu-based One Gun Ranch and Santa Barbara-based Organic Soup Kitchen four days after the California Department of Health warned the public about products from the two businesses.
One Gun Ranch’s Jennifer Hozer told Food Safety News “there are no incidents or indications that any of our food products are contaminated, whatsoever.” She said the Health Department’s public health warning and subsequent mandatory recall of the canned products was over licensing requirements by local health agencies required by state regulations.
“It was not a result of contaminated food or improper preparation of our jarred food products,” Hozer said. She said One Gun products are prepared in commercial kitchens, which “adhere to the highest standards of operation and regulation required by CDHP.”
In addition to Hozer calling the botulism scare “a paperwork issue,” Organic Soup Kitchen’s founder Anthony Carroccio told the LA Weekly his company has fed 50,000 homeless and low-income people in the last three years “without incident.”
Raw Stuffed Chicken Breast Recalled for Undeclared Allergens
A California-based firm is voluntarily recalling 3,534 pounds of a raw stuffed chicken product because it may contain known allergens that are not declared on the label.
Antonelli’s and Sons of South San Francisco is recalling
the product because it is made with milk, soy and monosodium glutamate (MSG), all known allergens that are not listed as ingredients on packaging.
The product subject to recall comes in an approximately 1 pound tray labeled “TRADER JOE’S CRANBERRY APPLE STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST,” with a Use By date of 06/13/12 through 6/23/12, located on a sticker in the upper right corner of the package.
Navy Beans Recalled For Undeclared Soy
Anyone with an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy should avoid eating Premium Navy Beans manufactured by Truitt Bros., Inc.
The Salem, OR based food manufacturer has recalled its Premium Navy Beans in 15 ounce cans for undeclared soy. The June 15 recall notice said no illnesses had yet been reported in connection with the problem.
Truitt distributed the product with its undeclared soy in Oregon and Northern California to retail stores from Dec. 1, 2011 to June 15, 2012. The company described the product as follows:
Articles of Interest
‘Domino Effect’ Key To Unlocking Shigella Mysteries
Diarrheal diseases are the second leading cause of death, after lower respiratory tract infections, for children under age 5. Of these deaths, a full 75 percent are from shigellosis.
Yet Shigella, the Gram-negative bacterium transmitted via contaminated food or water, does not seem to get the attention it’s due for the worldwide devastation it causes.
According to the World Health Organization, Shigellosis is responsible for 90 million illnesses and 108,000 deaths annually. And while viewed as a Third World disease, WHO says there are half a million cases each year involving military personnel and travelers from industrialized countries.
The United States sees about 14,000 shigellosis cases each year, but the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta says the actual number is probably 20 times higher, as most cases go unreported and are self-treated at home.
Now a team of researchers from three American universities, led by Dr. Erin Murphy, assistant professor of bacteriology at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, is shedding new light on this old plague.
“Our work furthers the understanding of how Shigella responds to the environmental conditions encountered within the human body to control the production of bacterial factors that increase the ability of the bacteria to cause the disease,” Murphy told Food Safety News.
“Understanding how bacteria control the production of such ‘virulence factors’ may, one day, lead to therapeutics that specifically disrupt these processes, ” she continued. “Our work is the basic science that may support future applied studies by others.”
Animal Rights Groups Argue Against Egg Bill
On top of the infighting among animal agriculture groups over a proposed bill to set national welfare standards for egg production — which has pitted the egg industry against pork, beef, and poultry — there is some conflict among animal rights groups as well.
The Humane Farming Association, a California based anti-factory farming group, is trying to convince lawmakers to vote against what it calls the “rotten egg bill,” which has been proposed in both chambers, most recently as an amendment to the 2012 Farm Bill in the Senate.
As the Senate began debate on the Farm Bill Wednesday, the group ran a quarter-page advertisement in the Washington Post calling the egg bill a price-fixing scheme that would “deprive states of the right to enforce anti-cruelty laws which prohibit battery cages.”
The legislation to slowly phase in “enriched colony housing” for laying hens, which would double the space for each bird, was the result of a landmark deal struck between the United Egg Producers and the Humane Society of the United States, two groups who had been fighting bitterly over state egg initiatives for years. The compromise seeks to give egg producers regulatory certainty, while fulfilling HSUS’ goal of giving hens more space.
But HFA and other local groups are angry that standards might preempt state laws that seek to go above and beyond the welfare standards in the HSUS-UEP deal.
New Group will Rate Congress with a Food Policy Scorecard
A new group will rate Congress with a food policy scorecard, according to the Environmental Working Group. The new group, a 501c(4) nonprofit organization, will consist of food and agriculture policy leaders.
This will be the first time an organization has rated politicians on their votes and stance on issues such as food safety, farm subsidies, farm animal welfare, organic and local food, nutrition assistance, fisheries management, and farm and food worker justice.
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