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Food Safety

January 30, 2007 | Daily News

Senate health committee Chair Edward Kennedy (D-MA) and a bipartisan group of 20 of his colleagues penned a letter Tuesday (Jan. 30) to FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach urging him to halt a proposal to close several labs nationwide that investigate public health threats.

The senators admitted funding at FDA is stretched thin and asked the agency to tell them what it needs to keep all of its 13 labs open. FDA is considering closing seven of the labs and consolidating them.

January 30, 2007 | Daily News

The California OSH Standards Board dealt a setback to organized labor groups during a Jan.18 meeting when it rejected a call to enact an emergency diacetyl standard. The board is instead setting up an advisory committee that will further discuss possible regulatory action for the chemical that may cause "popcorn lung" disease.

January 29, 2007 | Daily News

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) introduced a bill Friday (Jan. 26) requiring that companies state on product labels when food is from cloned animals.

Mikulski has no sponsors yet. However, seven senators recently urged FDA to rewrite its risk assessment after the agency in December said food from cloned animals is no different than conventional food, and Mikulski hopes they will sign on to the bill.

January 25, 2007 | Daily News

The Teamsters have begun lobbying Congress to pass new food worker safety measures in 2007. A Teamsters source said the union is concerned food processing industry practices are putting workers at risk for E. Coli exposure.

Constant pressure in the food processing industry to step up production leads to employees not following proper safety procedures, such as ensuring personal protective equipment that they removed during a bathroom break has been put back on before returning to work, the source said.

January 25, 2007 | Daily News

House Rules Committee Chair Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is considering tacking a ban on an antibiotic used to treat bovine respiratory disease onto a bill phasing out antibiotics in animal feed if FDA does not heed her request to reject approval of the animal drug cefquinome. Slaughter is concerned the drugs would spur resistance in humans to similar drugs vital in human medicine.

In a letter dated Jan. 8, Slaughter asks FDA seriously consider the recommendations of its scientific advisory committee to reject the drug.

January 24, 2007 | Daily News

Consumer groups are upset by a recent FDA decision to apply the "lean" nutrient content claim, saying consumers will confuse "lean" and "low-fat" claims. Plus, they note the "lean" claim does not explicitly address trans fat.

The final rule applies to seafood, game meat, and quick, portable meals such as burritos, quiches, egg rolls and sandwiches. It now allows the "lean" label on "mixed dishes not measurable with a cup" that have less than 8 grams of fat, 3.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 80 mg of cholesterol for a selected portion size.

January 19, 2007 | Daily News

The chair of the House Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over FDA's budget said Friday (Jan. 19) she wants to exert more oversight on the issue of drug safety, particularly post-market safety, and how the agency spends taxpayer money.

January 19, 2007 | Daily News

Troubled by recent foodborne illnesses and a dramatic decline in FDA food facility inspectors, Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI), chair of the Appropriations subcommittee with authority over FDA's budget, plans to make the case for increasing the agency's budget for inspectors, a spokesperson for the senator said.

Kohl met Jan. 10 with FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach and food center Director Robert Brackett to talk extensively about how the agency is addressing two recent E. coli outbreaks, one which resulted in three deaths.

January 18, 2007 | Daily News

A natural medicine advocacy group is urging FDA to veer away from the functional food regulatory approach under consideration in Europe, which the group fears would drive smaller companies out of business and reduce consumer choice. The group says the Europeans are pushing drug-like standards for dietary supplements and functional foods that would benefit large companies that could afford clinical trials.

January 18, 2007 | Daily News

FDA's move to consolidate its field product testing laboratories could pressure the agency into using private laboratories that analyze FDA-regulated products, though doing so would be more difficult with Democrats now in control of Congress, according to a former FDA official. FDA officials have already said they are open to using third parties for border inspections, though the import plan that was supposed to be nearly finished months ago has not been released.

January 17, 2007 | Daily News

A prominent professional group and a well-known consumer magazine are noting on their online dietary supplement databases the US Pharmacopeia Verified Mark that the quasi government organization certifies for certain supplements. By partnering with Consumer Reports, USP may increase consumer recognition of the USP supplement seal, which has been a major challenge, an industry source says.

January 12, 2007 | Daily News

Lawmakers seeking to establish a single food-safety agency need to ensure their efforts do not backfire, leading to fewer inspections of facilities regulated by the U.S. Agriculture Department instead of boosting inspections at FDA-regulated facilities, according to sources following the matter. Much of the debate in the past has been over the difficulty of meshing different cultures at FDA and USDA, but some say the biggest challenge would be ensuring there is enough money and authority to beef up inspections.

January 12, 2007 | Daily News

Past congressional proposals to create a single food safety agency did not include any "on-farm" regulations, and the House lawmaker drafting this year's version of the bill does not intend to include such regulations in the new version either. A key consumer advocacy group is petitioning FDA to start regulating growers, but growers say they are already regulated and the marketing agreement they're working on with the federal government suffices.

January 11, 2007 | Daily News

The chief lobbyists for a raft of biodefense laws are turning their attention to the farm bill after managing to get most of what they wanted for vaccine and pharmaceutical makers signed into law over the past few years. McKenna Long & Aldridge hopes to get a pot of money authorized for buying products that prevent agroterrorism -- similar to the BioShield program for biodefense products, according to MLA's John Clerici.

January 09, 2007 | Daily News

The dietary supplement industry is trying to get FDA to issue an interim final rule on manufacturing regulations in lieu of the final rule the agency sent over a year ago to the Office of Management and Budget. Although industry sources say they do not know what the final rule contains, they are worried it may require strict product testing, and unlike a final rule, an interim final rule could be changed.

Industry groups recently met with both FDA and OMB on separate occasions. It is not clear if either is willing to accept industry's proposal.

January 09, 2007 | Daily News

FDA told House lawmakers it takes the agency nearly 16 days from collection to analyze food samples for foodborne diseases and bioterrorism agents, prompting the lawmakers to call for improvements. The news of the response time comes as FDA is considering closing many of its labs.

FDA revealed the response time in answers to questions that former House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Joe Barton (R-TX) and Rep. Edward Whitfield (R-KY) submitted following a hearing by the committee last October on food safety.

January 08, 2007 | Daily News

Consumer advocates think FDA is not doing enough to get trans fat out of processed food so they plan to lobby lawmakers such as Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to lean on FDA to ban trans fat from commercial foods or tighten labeling requirements.

The American Public Health Association and the Center for Science in the Public Interest are also asking state and local governments to do more, pointing to New York City and Chicago as good examples of how municipalities can ban trans fat.

January 08, 2007 | Daily News

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is suing Kraft for calling Capri Sun "all natural," and the consumer group also may sue Cadbury Schweppes for using the term on 7UP. CSPI is separately urging FDA to adopt the U.S. Department of Agriculture's definition of "natural," which the group says would prohibit companies from using the term on products sweetened with corn syrup.

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