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Food Safety

April 26, 2007 | Daily News

Creekstone Farms, a specialty beef processor, is delaying its plans to test some or all of the cattle it processes for export to Asia until the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) decides whether to appeal last month's federal court ruling that the company can screen for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

April 25, 2007 | Daily News

OSHA announced yesterday it will start inspecting microwave popcorn makers where workers face the highest risk of exposure to a chemical linked to "popcorn lung disease," but was immediately criticized by key Democrats and unions for not taking more aggressive steps to prevent worker exposure to diacetyl.

April 24, 2007 | Daily News

The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) is asking for congressional hearings to look into whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to implement proper safety procedures to protect food inspectors after three USDA inspectors inspecting meat processing plants in Alabama contracted tuberculosis.

Stan Painter, president of the Southern Council of Food Inspectors, which is affiliated with AFGE, said the three inspectors tested negative for TB in recent months, but two months later posted positive TB tests.

April 24, 2007 | Daily News

A House Energy and Commerce lawmaker is drafting legislation giving FDA authority to recall food, fine companies, mandate food safety standards similar to those imposed on the meat industry, and treat bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella as "adulterants" under food law.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) mentioned the bill during a House Energy and Commerce oversight subcommittee hearing Tuesday (April 24) on food safety. FDA officials did not testify, but FDA Office of Regulatory Affairs officials will testify at a second food safety hearing in May.

April 12, 2007 | Daily News

FDA plans to study consumers' awareness and preparedness for food bioterrorism, experts say, in an effort to ramp up efforts to improve natural food contamination prevention.

Although food bioterrorism once occupied American thought, Robert Norton, an agrosecurity professor at Auburn University, said concern has waned since its recent height when in 2001 anthrax attacks made people realize that if their mail could be at risk, so could their food.

April 09, 2007 | Daily News

The United States and the European Union may begin negotiations to implement a ruling of the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the EU's method of handling biotechnology applications.

A U.S. trade official last week said the United States is still in the process of trying to assess "the seriousness of [EU] intentions," after the two sides discussed ways to "normalize trade in biotech" at a February meeting called at the EU's initiative.

April 03, 2007 | Daily News

FDA is proposing allowing irradiated food be labeled as "pasteurized" or with other euphemisms, according to a guidance document to be published Wednesday (April 4). A consumer advocate group argues FDA's proposed rule finesses the law instead of implementing it and the proposal contradicts FDA's position on meat treated with carbon monoxide.

April 02, 2007 | Daily News

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is investigating FDA over recent reports of pet food contamination. The committee wants to know how often the agency inspects pet food production facilities and how it determines which facilities to inspect.

March 28, 2007 | Daily News

The Office of Management and Budget has released FDA's proposed rule implementing food irradiation requirements mandated by the farm bill Congress passed in 2002, according to OMB's Web site.

There were two farm bill provisions on irradiation that FDA must implement, but it is unclear which one, if not both, the regulatory proposal deals with. FDA did not mention the proposal in its latest regulatory agenda, released in December, and FDA's dockets offer no description of the proposal.

March 26, 2007 | Daily News

An FDA spokeswoman says the agency expects to issue an advanced notice of proposed rule making updating how nutrients are measured on the food nutrition facts panel "well before" the end of the fiscal year, but declined to provide a more specific time in her e-mail. A food product trade group says FDA should issue the ANPR as soon as possible so dietary guidelines advisory committees can use it to revamp national dietary guidelines for 2010.

March 20, 2007 | Daily News

The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund and dozens of other beef industry groups and livestock sale barns are urging members of the Senate to help stop the U.S. Department of Agriculture from writing a final rule that would fully open the U.S. border to Canadian beef and cattle of all ages.

March 19, 2007 | Daily News

U.S. and Korean negotiators last week made little progress toward advancing negotiations over how to open Korea's market, according to U.S. trade officials. Korea is still refusing to address U.S. demands that it allow all shipments of beef in the long term, and no progress was made toward an agreement on how to handle bone fragments in U.S. boneless beef shipments.

March 15, 2007 | Daily News

A leading food industry group hopes to dampen congressional interest in creating a single food safety agency by touting what it views as a better option: setting mandatory on-farm regulations, using the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points system as a model. The group is urging Bush administration officials to set up an interagency work group to craft such good agriculture practices.

March 12, 2007 | Daily News

FDA for the first time is giving fresh-cut produce facilities guidelines to guard against foodborne illness. The guidelines are voluntary, but FDA is not ruling out mandatory regulations in the future.

The agency recommends such facilities follow guidelines similar to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points in place for other food sectors. The guidelines are divided into recommendations for personnel, buildings and equipment, sanitation and production.

March 12, 2007 | Daily News

Sen. Herb Kohl, chair of Senate Appropriations panel with jurisdiction over FDA's budget, is vying for more money to hire FDA food inspectors who work in teams that are strategically located to rapidly respond to foodborne illness outbreaks.

March 09, 2007 | Daily News

A consumer advocacy group is asking FDA to set a safety standard for a plastic ingredient widely used in the lining of food and drink cans due to concerns the ingredient may be harmful to pregnant women and infants. The group is also trying to drum up support for legislation that would force chemical manufacturers to provide health and safety information on chemicals used in consumer products.

March 07, 2007 | Daily News

Three consumer advocacy organizations hope the adoption of strict rules by European countries against the use and import of dairy products containing recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) will convince FDA to consider their petition to suspend approval of a rBGH drug and require milk and other dairy products containing the ingredient to be labeled with a cancer warning.

March 06, 2007 | Daily News

Several natural product industry groups, as well as a food science organization, take issue with an FDA draft guidance on complementary and alternative medicine that classifies live microbial food supplements as falling under dietary supplement, food or biologic drug regulations. The groups say the organisms most often present in dairy products, called probiotics, should be regulated solely as a dietry supplement or food.

March 05, 2007 | Daily News

State governments are making progress in getting food companies to participate in Food Shield, a database of laboratory profiles that among other things helps regulators respond to foodborne outbreaks, either naturally occurring or from terrorists. The Food Shield program has gained support from federal agencies such as FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and state regulators hope they have garnered a critical mass of support that will encourage others to join.

March 02, 2007 | Daily News

Senate Democrats Hillary Clinton (NY) and Frank Lautenberg (NJ) Thursday (March 1) asked FDA and two other federal agencies to form a joint food safety task force charged with telling Congress what changes in law and regulation are needed to improve the federal government's oversight of foodborne-related illnesses.

A spokesman for Lautenberg says the request "absolutely complements" legislation reintroduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) in mid-February that would combine the food oversight responsibilities of 15 agencies under one roof.