In 2006, I almost died after eating spinach contaminated with E. coli. I spent nearly a month in and out of multiple emergency rooms and urgent care facilities. When I was able to return home, I had lost nearly 20 percent of my total body weight, and my recovery lasted five additional months of continuous treatment.More info
''As Food Recalls Mount, White House Still Lingering Over New Safety Rules''
"Families who’ve lost loved ones to foodborne illnesses have watched with alarm in recent months as producers have recalled mangoes, cantaloupe, ricotta cheese, dog food and peanut butter after people were sickened by the tainted goods.A landmark food safety law passed nearly two years ago was supposed to help curtail such outbreaks. But the Obama administration has yet to issue the final rules that will give the Food and Drug Administration more authority over food producers.
The rules are supposed hold producers accountable for the quality of their products and produce and will allow federal regulators to better track and contain outbreaks. Some food safety advocates believe such rules could have helped prevent the most recent salmonella outbreak in peanut butter, which has sickened 35 people since June, mostly children younger than 10. A peanut butter recall was expanded last week and fallout continues; on Wednesday an ice cream company in California, Clemmy’s, recalled its peanut butter chocolate chip ice cream because of salmonella fears.
"We have to get ahead of it,” said Paul Schwarz of Independence, Mo., whose 92-year-old father died earlier this year after eating cantaloupe tainted with listeria, a particularly nasty bacteria for older people to fight off. "It’s not a matter of party. To me, it’s a matter of life or death."
"Food safety advocates are antsy. "We’ve got to get these things moving," said Sandra Eskin, the project director of the Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign.
Producers, including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which represents food producers who sell goods to grocery stores, want the rules released, too, said Leon Bruner, chief science officer for group.
The new law will require processors to look at their entire operation to identify points where contamination is likely, and it will put in place measures to limit contamination. It would make FDA oversight more comparable to poultry and meat monitoring by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, experts say.
Most reputable food processors already comply with such rules, said Linda Harris, associate director of the Western Institute for Food Safety and Security at the University of California, Davis. "For most people who are applying food safety principles to food safety processing, it’s not going to be a huge change,” she said.
Once the rules are released, there are some in Congress and in the industry who fear the looming post-election budget fights could mean the FDA won’t have the money to actually implement the law. Pew Health Group’s Food Safety Campaign estimates it will cost $200 million to apply the lawhand, I always look at food safety as the incredibly low-hanging fruit in terms of doing something positive," he said."
"Some families, though, are unsure that more government regulation is the answer. They include Jeff Allgood of Chubbuck, Idaho, whose 2-year-old son Kyle died in 2006 after drinking a homemade smoothie containing spinach tainted by E. coli. Allgood said he has come to believe that food producers need to regulate themselves.
"I look at the debt that our government’s incurring right now, and for them to hire a bunch of inspectors and more food police, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense right now," Allgood said.
Yet he and his wife, Robyn, helped push for the law’s passage, and relate their son’s story frequently. They tell people they have five children, "including Kyle." He would have been 9 in December, a big brother to two younger siblings born after his death.
"In a lot of ways, we’re still raising our son Kyle," Allgood said. "We think about what he would be doing. We still talk about him daily."
When you spice up your food, you may be adding filth with flavor, according to a new report by the Food and Drug Administration. The FDA found that 12 percent of imported spices are contaminated with insect parts, rodent hairs, animal feces and other debris like twigs, plastic and rubber bands. Nearly 7 percent of the tests turned up Salmonella.More info
Food safety advocates are urging members of a House-Senate conference committee to strike down a pair of GOP-backed amendments to the farm bill now under consideration. The Make Our Food Safe Coalition and the Safe Food Coalition take exception at a pair of measures attached to the House’s version of the legislation, approved in July.More info
The Make our Food Safe Coalition and the Safe Food Coalition sent a letter expressing opposition to actions that would further delay implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act to Frank Lucas (R-OK), Chair of Overall Farm Bill Conference. The correspondence, which went to all Farm Bill Conferees as well, voiced concerns specifically with amendments offered by Representative Steve King (R-IA) and Representative Dan Benishek (R-MI).More info
The government shutdown has caused staff reductions at two important federal health agencies, increasing the risk of serious harm to American consumers from food-borne illnesses. The two agencies — the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — have decided to focus their remaining resources on imminent threats. But they have shut down very important work that allows them to spot potentially serious problems in advance and take steps to head them off. The longer Congressional Republicans allow the shutdown to continue, the greater the danger of harm.More info
The following Q&A—prepared by the food and medical products programs at The Pew Charitable Trusts–helps explain how the federal government shutdown is affecting the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other agencies and departments with responsibility to protect the public’s health.More info
"Six years ago, I learned a painful lesson. I bought Veggie Booty for our triplets, who were 20 months old at the time. That purchase ultimately opened my eyes to the need for better oversight of food that comes from abroad."More info
Consumers across the United States are demanding meat and poultry raised without antibiotics—and large producers, restaurants, and other institutions are listening. Following is a list of some leading companies offering responsibly produced food.More info
"The public will have its first chance Thursday and Friday to weigh in on new federal rules aimed at improving the safety of food imported into the United States. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's first public meeting on imported food safety rules that the agency initially proposed in July is taking place in Washington, D.C."More info
On Thursday, February 28 and Friday, March 1, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold public hearings in Washington, D.C., on FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) draft rules released earlier this year. The public will also have the opportunity to testify at agency meetings in Chicago and Portland on March 11-12 and March 27-28, respectively.More info
"For three days after Merrill Behnke ate the tainted Italian cheese she felt fine. On the fourth night, Behnke developed an intense headache. She awoke the next morning to severe body pains and a temperature of 102 degrees. A lumbar tap and a CT scan indicated meningitis. A test of her spinal fluid linked the illness to Listeria, a rare but deadly bacterium. Behnke, 31, will recount her bout with food poisoning in Washington, D.C., Thursday at a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hearing on how to ensure that foods from abroad are safe."More info
"As we have become a nation of aspirational gourmets, we like to import our coffee beans, cheeses and wines. We want them to be exotic, connoting adventure and an appreciation for the extraordinary. Thanks to globalization, an increasing number of less-fancy foods are imported, too. But there is a problem with this bounty. We want to eat well and not die of food poisoning."More info
"Proposed new rules aimed at improving the safety of imported food were bottled up so long that some advocates were worried that the Obama administration had lost the political will to put them into effect."More info
"As a physician in Aurora training to care for children with injuries or illnesses that impact their ability to move, I am used to helping my patients recover from all sorts of ailments; spinal cord injury, cancer, and neurologic disorders. However, I was surprised to learn about another extraordinarily common health threat that may bring patients to my hospital: food-borne illness."More info