FDA: 12% of imported spices are adulterated by filth

Ryan Jaslow

Ryan Jaslow
CBS News

Americans feasting on meals seasoned with imported spices may be getting more than they bargained for: animal feces, insect parts, disease-causing bacteria, and other foreign contaminants. Read more of this post

Imported-Food Outbreaks Rise, CDC Says

By TIMOTHY W. MARTIN | WSJ

 

Outbreaks of illness linked to imported food have risen since the late 1990s, casting a spotlight on federal inspection standards for fish, produce and other foods brought in from abroad.

The 39 outbreaks from imported food reported between 2005 and 2010 represent a small fraction of total cases of food-borne illnesses such as salmonella or E. coli, according to the data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presented Wednesday. But the rise in imported-food outbreaks—mostly from fish and spices—highlights gaps in the food-safety system that a sweeping new law is intended to address.

CDC researchers found 6.5 outbreaks from foreign foods a year, on average, between 2005 and 2010—more than double the average of 2.7 outbreaks annually between 1998 and 2004.

Of the 39 outbreaks between 2005 and 2010, nearly half—17—occurred in 2009 and 2010.

The foods, including fish, oysters, cheese, sprouts and seven other types of products, were shipped from 15 countries. Nearly 45% of those foods originated from Asia. Most people were sickened with salmonella or histamine fish poisoning, a bacterial disease contracted from eating spoiled dark-flesh fish that causes rashes, diarrhea, sweating, headaches and vomiting. The outbreaks led to 2,348 cases of illness, the CDC said.

Among the largest of those outbreaks was one in 2008 linked to jalapeño and serrano peppers from Mexico contaminated with salmonella. More than 1,400 people were sickened and more than 280 were hospitalized with salmonella in 43 states.

Other major outbreaks reviewed in the study were a 2007 recall of Veggie Booty, a puffed rice snack that was found to contain contaminated raw materials from China that led to 52 cases of salmonella in 17 states, and a 2010 outbreak of typhoid fever tied to frozen fruit pulp that originated in Guatemala.

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FDA Says Brazil’s Orange Juice Is Safe, But Still Illegal

 

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

Antonio Scorza/AFP/Getty Images Oranges for sale at a market in Rio de Janeiro.

NPR      by DAN CHARLES  February 22, 2012

If you happen to notice sometime later this year that you’re suddenly paying a lot more for orange juice, you can blame America’s food safety authorities. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, after several weeks of deliberation, has blocked imports of frozen, concentrated orange juice from Brazil, probably for the next 18 months or so, even though the agency says the juice is perfectly safe.

The FDA’s explanation is that its hands are legally tied. Its tests show that practically all concentrated juice from Brazil currently contains traces of the fungicide carbendazim, first detected in December by Coca-Cola, maker of Minute Maid juices. The amounts are small — so small that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says no consumers should be concerned.

The problem is, carbendazim has not been used on oranges in the U.S. in recent years, and the legal permission to use it on that crop has lapsed. As a result, there’s not a legal “tolerance” for residues of this pesticide in orange products. Read more of this post

Walmart ‘Great for You’ Healthy Labels: Nutrition Experts Say ‘Devil in the Details’

 

BY BRIAN JOHNSON AND ENJOLI FRANCIS  –  WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2012

As Walmart announced plans today to label certain foods with a new green “Great for You” label, some diet and nutrition experts told ABC News they applauded the move, while others questioned whether a company that sells food could set objective standards for what is healthy.

Dr. Darwin Deen, a family doctor and nutrition educator, told ABC News that “an independent opinion of a food’s healthfulness is a good idea but as always, the devil is in the details.”

Walmart, the largest food retailer in United States, will put the new label on select products that meet defined criteria.in its Great Value and Marketside lines. Customers will begin to see the new label on products starting in the spring.

The company said the “Great for You” products meet the rigorous nutrition criteria established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Institute of Medicine.

“Moms are telling us they want to make healthier choices for their families but need help deciphering all the claims and information already displayed on products,” said Andrea Thomas, senior vice president of sustainability at Walmart. Read more of this post

Fungicide In Orange Juice: FDA Steps Up Testing

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration says it will step up testing for a fungicide that has been found in low levels in orange juice.

FDA officials said they aren’t concerned about the safety of the juice but will increase testing to make sure the contamination isn’t a problem. In a letter to the juice industry Monday, the agency said that an unnamed juice company contacted FDA in late December and said it had detected low levels of the fungicide carbendazim in the company’s own orange juice and also in its competitors’ juice. Fungicides are used to control fungi or fungal spores in agriculture.

Carbendazim is not currently approved for use on citrus in the United States, but is used in Brazil, which exports orange juice to the United States. An FDA spokeswoman said the company’s testing found levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide, far below the European Union’s maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion. The United States has not established a maximum residue level for carbendazim in oranges.

In the letter to the Juice Products Association, FDA official Nega Beru said the agency will begin testing shipments of orange juice at the border and will detain any that contain traces of the chemical. Because it is not approved for use in the United States, any amount found in food is illegal.

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