Food Safety Suffers During U.S. Government Shutdown

U.S. Government ShutdownThe partial U.S. government shutdown, now in its second week, has already started affecting the operations of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Hardest hit are the FDA operations related to foods. Consequently, food importers, retailers, and consumers should be concerned.

The shutdown will have lesser effects, at least in the short-term, on the FDA divisions that deal with human drugs, animal drugs, medical devices, and tobacco, as each of these divisions collects some type of user fees, giving those divisions a buffer when government funding is unavailable, as is the case during the shutdown. Keep Reading

The Future of the Food Safety Modernization Act

In January, President Obama signed a $1.4 billion overhaul of the nation’s food safety system with the Food Safety Modernization Act. Recently, Kelly Hensel, Digital Media Editor at IFT, spoke with John Bode, a Washington, D.C. attorney, to discuss that sweeping legislation, what progress we have seen since it was signed into law, how the U.S. debt crisis may affect its implementation, and what the future holds. Bode was deeply involved in development of the Act, as well as every other major change in federal food law over the past 25 years. While he was in government, Bode was an assistant Secretary of Agriculture.

After listening to John Bode’s opinions on the Act, what do you believe the future holds for the new legislation? Share your thoughts by commenting today!

John Bode

John Bode
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Top 5 Stories for 2010

Food Technology’s Senior Editor and ingredients guru, Don Pszczola has published a list of the Top 10 Stories of 2010 in the Community section of ift.org. As an IFT member (login required) you can access his complete list in his blog—IngredienTalk. Here, Don shares with you an excerpt of the list. These are based solely on his opinions and observations as a food writer. The list appears in order of significance, once again the choices based on Don’s own views. Do you agree with Don’s top 5? What other stories from 2010 had an impact on your career?

http://www.google.com/reader/ui/3523697345-audio-player.swf

Without further wait, (and with a flourish of drums), here is the top 5 from the list. Keep Reading

Benefits of pasteurized eggs

In light of the recent recall of shell eggs, I would like to address the safety of eggs and egg products. First, the risk of an egg being contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis is very low. A joint USDA/FDA risk assessment for Salmonella Enteritidis estimated the risk at 1 in 20,000 eggs (1996). To reduce the risk of consuming eggs which might contain Salmonella Enteritidis, there are some important safe handling practices to keep in mind:

  • Eggs or leftover egg dishes should be kept refrigerated, then cooked and/or reheated thoroughly prior to eating.
  • Avoid cross contamination of raw egg product to cooked products.
  • When preparing dishes that require undercooked eggs (mayonnaise, salad dressings, Hollandaise sauce, Caesar salad dressing, etc.), use pasteurized egg products. Retail and foodservice establishments should also use pasteurized egg products rather than pooled raw or undercooked shell eggs.

Pasteurized eggs are a good choice for vulnerable populations because they receive a heat treatment that destroys any potential pathogens in the egg. Pasteurized eggs can be used in the preparation of all products but should specifically be used when preparing dishes that require raw or undercooked eggs. Keep Reading

Is Acrylamide a Reproductive Toxicant?

Under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 (Proposition 65), the state is required to maintain a list of chemical substances known to the state to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.  The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has recently proposed that acrylamide, a Proposition 65 listed chemical carcinogen produced during the cooking of certain foods, should also be listed as a reproductive toxicant. Keep Reading

Let the U.S. Government Budget Games Begin!

Now that the U.S. government’s budgetary pencil dust has settled a bit, we can see features of President Obama’s proposed 2011 budget worthy of praise, as well as some budget gimmickry.

For example, the President proposed an increase in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) food safety funding from $1.049 billion in FY 2010 to $1.368 billion in FY 2011—a whopping 30% increase on top of substantial increases the two previous years. This would boost the recent influx of new FDA personnel with an additional 718 Full-Time Equivalents (FTEs) for food safety activities. Keep Reading

Lack of Visibility + Product Recall = Perfect Disaster

The rising number of large-scale food recalls in recent years is not going unnoticed. Incidents such as the recent beef recall from Huntington Meat Packing and the January 2009 peanut butter Salmonella outbreak are all stacking up, adding to the lack of consumer confidence, growing scrutiny from regulators, unprecedented demand for food from emerging nations, and increased demands for brand-protection assurance. Keep Reading

A New Decade Deserves a New Commitment to Safe Food

The second decade of the 21st century is here. Cars can speak to drivers and direct them where to go. Masses of readers have ditched dog-eared paperbacks for electronic surrogates that can hold hundreds of volumes yet fit comfortably in their hands. With all of this, isn’t it reasonable to expect that consumers be able to walk into supermarkets and come out with food they know is safe?

According to U.S. government estimates, eating contaminated food causes hundreds of thousands of Americans to be hospitalized and thousands to die each year. Foodborne illness also takes a financial toll on victims, their families, and society, costing hundreds of billions of dollars annually, according to one expert analysis. The fear—and consequences—of foodborne illness are real, and consumers want better assurance that it will not strike them or their loved ones. Keep Reading

Can Meta-analysis Help Biosafety Research?

Santa Clara University Biology Professor Michelle Marvier and her colleagues have recently published a meta-analysis of field studies that concluded that Bt crops are generally more benign for non-target invertebrates than chemical insecticides. A second meta-analysis of lab studies found no harmful effects of Bt proteins on honeybees. Although these reports will probably fail to convince skeptics, they raise an important question: Can meta-analysis be used to tease meaningful results out of a series of studies that, taken individually, are inconclusive? Given the cost and methodological complexity of ecological studies, it’s an important question. Keep Reading

BPA Returns to the Consumer Stage

A recent issue of Consumer Reports contains results of a limited monitoring program that detected Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used in the manufacture of polycarbonate plastics that include some food packaging materials, in several of the 19 name-brand foods tested. While the findings were predictable, the article drew national headlines with its contention that consumers could be facing serious risks from exposure to BPA in their foods. Keep Reading

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