June 25th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to announce a proposed new rule—the Animal Disease Traceability system—that would mandate livestock animal tracking through ID tagging. The agency has proposed similar rules in the past—beginning in the early 1990s and again in 2003 after 3 cases of “mad cow disease,” bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) were discovered in the U.S.
Read More:Will the USDA’s New Livestock Tagging Really Prevent Disease?
November 25th, 2010 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Big factory farms mean big fat problems, just look at the recent Cal-Maine egg recall; 24,000 dozen eggs possibly contaminated with salmonella and now an undercover video showing rampant health violations and animal abuse.
Clearly we need to regulate giant food producers in the United States, but, we also need to protect smaller farms that go about their business without violation and supply their community with fresh local food.
So after much consternation and bickering, the new food safety bill approved by the Senate will have provisions to exempt small farms from costly regulations that could put them out of business.
Read More:New Food Safety Bill to Exempt Small Farms
November 10th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Twenty-three products that contain cilantro—including Trader Joe’s salad dressings and California Pizza Kitchen packaged salads—have been recalled because they may be contaminated with salmonella.
Food packager Orval Kent has taken action because the 43,814 pounds of cilantro it purchased from EpicVeg, Inc., may be tainted with the bacterium.
The affected products were distributed at retail stores nationwide. No illnesses have been reported to date.
If you have purchased any of the following items, do not consume them. Return them to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement.
Read More:23 Dressings, Salads, Salsas Recalled Over Tainted Cilantro Concerns
November 9th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Cal-Maine Foods, Inc., a Jackson, Miss.-based producer and marketer of shell eggs, is recalling approximately 24,000 dozen unprocessed eggs purchased from Croton, OH-based Ohio Fresh Eggs, LLC, because they may be contaminated with salmonella.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently notified Cal-Maine that a routine sample taken at Ohio Fresh Eggs tested positive for the bacterium. The affected eggs were processed Oct. 9–12 and distributed to food wholesalers and retailers in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. No illnesses have been reported to date.
Read More:New Egg Recall Affects Consumers in 8 States
October 26th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Remember Galt, IA-based Wright County Egg—the key factory farm involved in August’s recall of 500,000 eggs after a multistate salmonella outbreak? The company whose owner, Austin “Jack” DeCoster, was called a corporate criminal by former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich?
After the recall, DeCoster was required to outline corrective actions in a formal letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Not surprisingly, the agency has found his proposed measures to be sorely lacking. Kansas City District Director John W. Thorsky has sent DeCoster a warning letter that requires “prompt and aggressive actions” to correct a host of unresolved problems. If DeCoster fails to comply, the FDA can enjoin his company from selling eggs or seize the foul farm.
Read More:FDA Should Shut Down Iowa Egg Farm
October 23rd, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Del Monte Fresh Produce has recalled certain cantaloupes that were grown in and shipped from Arizona, but distributed to limited customers in and around Detroit. The melons may be contaminated with salmonella.
Eighty-one cartons of cantaloupes, each containing 15 melons, were distributed to wholesalers in Detroit. The cantaloupes reached retail and foodservice outlets beginning Oct. 11.
The cantaloupes have a light brown skin and orange flesh. Each has a Del Monte sticker that reads “Cantaloupe USA.”
Read More:Del Monte Recalls Cantaloupes in Detroit Area
August 31st, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Iowa-based Wright County Egg and Hillandale Farms—the two producers responsible for the recall of 500,000 eggs potentially contaminated with salmonella—should be put out of business.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, last week said these companies were “not operating with the standards of practice that we consider responsible,” according to the New York Times.
Now we know some of the specifics: These factory farms, whose eggs have sickened roughly 1,500 consumers, were overrun with rodents, maggots and flies, and chicken manure heaps. Henhouses were filthy and broken down, with rusted holes, structural damage, unsanitary employees and seeping manure.
Read More:Egg Recall: Disgusting Conditions Confirm Dangers of Factory Farms
August 29th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
Cover enough salmonella or E. coli outbreaks, and you become intimately familiar with the “T” word: traceback.
The term refers to the process federal inspectors use to determine exactly where contamination occurred in the food supply chain.
Recent recalls highlight the critical need for an effective product tracing system, according to the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), a Chicago-based organization that represents food scientists and related professionals.
Read More:Product Tracing Needed to Protect Us from Foodborne Illnesses
August 28th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
About 8,500 pounds of ground beef have been recalled by Wyalusing, PA-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.
This is an E. coli-related Class I recall, which designates “a health hazard situation where there is a reasonable probability that the use of the product will cause serious, adverse health consequences or death.”
This isn’t Cargill’s first time at the recall rodeo. As I reported in November, the company was forced to recall 5,522 pounds of beef tongues because workers neglected to remove tonsils—a violation of both USDA regulations and my personal “ick” meter.
Read More:New Ground Beef Recall; More Eggs Join List
August 25th, 2010 - Barbara Feiner
We’ve been regularly updating you on the ongoing egg recall that has sickened 1,300 people, with posts on how salmonella contaminates eggs, the recall’s scope and why going organic is your best choice.
Here’s the latest news wrap-up:
- More Recalls Issued. As expected, more distributors that purchased eggs from Wright County Egg have issued recalls. Fullerton, Calif.-based Luberski Inc. recently recalled eggs distributed to food wholesalers, retail centers and food service companies in California and Nevada; no retail cartons were involved. In addition, Fontana, Calif.-based Moark, LLC, Monday recalled approximately 291,600 eggs sold to retail stores.
- Full Recall List Now Available. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has compiled a master list of recalled egg brands, which will be updated regularly.
- Fears Driving Consumers to Farmers’ Markets. Hallelujah. Mainstream consumers may finally begin to appreciate family farmers.
- Guidelines for Cooking Eggs Emphasized. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is reminding consumers to cook eggs thoroughly. This means scrambled eggs should be cooked until firm, not runny. If you’re frying, poaching, boiling or baking eggs, cook them until both the whites and yolks are firm. And if you’re using eggs in casseroles, cook the dish until the internal temperature reaches 160°F; use a food thermometer to verify.
- FDA Commissioner Speaks Out. Margaret Hamburg, MD, who this week appeared on several network morning shows, says egg-safety laws that took effect in July could have prevented this crisis. She’s now pushing for passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which has yet to receive a full Senate vote. But some critics believe FDA and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigations are inadequate. Food, Inc. producer Robert Kenner continues to call attention to the dangers of factory farms.
- Wright County Egg Owner Called “Corporate Criminal.” Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, reveals that Wright County Egg owner Jack DeCoster’s “malfeasance reaches back for decades, but he seems to regard fines as the cost of doing business.” Check out Reich’s blog for The Christian Science Monitor.
- Congress Is Getting Busy. Thanks to several congressional activists—Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Bart Stupak (D-MI) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT)—our elected officials have launched an investigation into safety protocols and violations (environmental, health, safety, animal cruelty). As DeLauro noted in a press statement:
“This urgent nationwide recall is very disturbing, not only because it appears to have been preventable, but it also may have been the result of an inefficient and unresponsive food safety system. Given the split jurisdiction between FDA and USDA over ensuring the safety of eggs, I fear the investigation and subsequent recall may have been delayed as FDA traced the source of the contamination.
“Because USDA is responsible for egg safety at processing plants, it is troubling that FDA is the lead agency in this investigation, even though it has never inspected the Wright County Egg facility. Instead of reinforcing each other’s work, the current food safety system of split jurisdiction appears to have resulted in a disjointed inspection process.
“It has never been more clear that Congress needs to pass FDA food safety legislation this year that will increase inspections at high-risk facilities, establish performance standards for reducing foodborne pathogens and grant FDA mandatory recall authority. This bill, combined with the FDA egg safety rule that went into effect July 9, could have prevented or minimized this salmonella outbreak.
“In the long term, we must create a single food safety agency that consolidates the work that is currently splintered across 15 federal agencies. One agency focused exclusively on protecting our food supply would prevent jurisdictional confusion, result in an efficient and responsive food safety system, and diminish the potential for future outbreaks such as this one.”
Read More:7 New Facts About Ongoing Egg Recall