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Raw-Milk Advocates Plan Another Effort in South Carolina Legislature

The South Carolina Legislature will have only one more Republican vote next year than it had this year, but Delegate Kelli Sobonya (R-Cabell) thinks her colleagues may be more “liberty minded” in 2015. During the 2014 session, Sobonya sponsored two bills to promote raw milk sales in South Carolina, but both measures were killed in committee.

When the legislature convenes in Charleston in January, Sobonya will be back with her bills, one to permit the commercial sale of unpasteurized milk, and the other to allow raw milk to be acquired through herd shares. She won’t be alone.

Ernie Fazenbaker, owner of Windy Ridge Dairy in Independence, is looking to Sobonya and South Carolina State Sen. Daniel Hall (R-Wyoming) to push raw milk during the coming session. Hall introduced measures in the Senate that were similar to those backed by Sobonya in the House. Hall’s bills also died in committee.

Hall will chair the SC Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee come January, but he’ll need support from Sen. Ryan Ferns, who will chair the Health and Human Services Committee, if raw milk legislation is going to get a SC Senate floor vote. Hall, who will also be majority whip, predicts that Fern will give raw milk “a fair shot.”

Sobonya says that raw milk is part of “food freedom” and that all food comes “with a risk.” She points to raw oysters, sushi, rare steaks, and other foods people enjoy, but that come with a certain amount of danger.

Fazenbaker says he is only seeking to sell raw milk from his 35 dairy cows to his friends and neighbors. Some returning South Carolina lawmakers say they will oppose retail sales of raw milk in the state, but might be open to herd or cow share schemes to allow people who really want raw milk a way of obtaining it.

As in other states, the pasteurized dairy industry is expected to continue to oppose bills to liberalize raw-milk sales in South Carolina.

The GOP next year will have a 28-18 edge in the South Carolina Senate and a 78-46 margin in the House.

Food Safety News

Obama plan may allow millions of immigrants to stay and work in U.S.

Obama plan may allow millions of immigrants to stay and work in U.S.

President Obama is expected to announce, as early as next week, a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.

Mr. Obama intends to order changes that will significantly refocus the activities of the government’s 12,000 immigration agents. One key piece of the order, officials said, will allow many parents of children who are American citizens or legal residents to obtain legal work documents and no longer worry about being discovered, separated from their families and sent away

That part of Mr. Obama’s plan alone could affect as many as 3.3 million people who have been living in the United States illegally for at least five years, according to an analysis by the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration research organization in Washington. But the White House is also considering a stricter policy that would limit the benefits to people who have lived in the country for at least 10 years, or about 2.5 million people.

Extending protections to more undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, and to their parents, could affect an additional one million or more if they are included in the final plan that the president announces. White House officials are also still debating whether to include protections for farm workers who have entered the country illegally but have been employed for years in the agriculture industry, a move that could affect hundreds of thousands of people.

Mr. Obama’s actions will also expand opportunities for legal immigrants who have high-tech skills, shift extra security resources to the nation’s southern border, revamp a controversial immigration enforcement program called Secure Communities, and provide clearer guidance to the agencies that enforce immigration laws about who should be a low priority for deportation, especially those with strong family ties and no serious criminal history.

A new memorandum, which will direct the actions of enforcement and border agents and immigration judges, will make clear that deportations should still proceed for convicted criminals, foreigners who pose national security risks and recent border crossers, officials said.

White House officials declined to comment publicly before a formal announcement by Mr. Obama, who will return from an eight-day trip to Asia on Sunday. Administration officials said details about the package of executive actions were still being finished and could change. An announcement could be pushed off until next month but will not be delayed to next year, officials said.

Please click here to read the full article from the NY Times.

Publication date: 11/14/2014


FreshPlaza.com

In Wake of Outbreak, Foster Farms Outlines New Salmonella Plan

Foster Farms, the California-based poultry company whose chicken was the source of a recent 17-month Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 600 people, has announced a new plan to control contamination of its product.

The processor’s new program, unveiled Friday at the Delmarva Poultry Industry’s National Meeting on Poultry Health, will put $ 75 million towards reducing Salmonella in its raw products. The plan was developed in anticipation of new government microbiological standards for raw poultry parts, due to be announced soon, said Dr. Robert O’Connor, senior vice president for technical services Foster Farms.

The new strategy, O’Connor said, will center around an intensive data collection and analysis regimen.

The five-part plan will include the following elements:

- Collaboration and information sharing with all stakeholders, including regulatory agencies. The company has formed an advisory board to validate its methods.

- Extensive data collection: Sampling for Salmonella will be done on the ranch and throughout processing. The company has an internal lab, in which it plans to double testing from 80,000 tests to 160,000 tests per year.

- Analysis of internal data to identify trends at individual ranches and factors at different locations that could influence contamination.

- Acting on data: The company has established new procedures for environmental control in and around ranch houses to prevent spreading of Salmonella between flocks.

- Measuring results: According to O’Connell, Foster Farms is continuously measuring Salmonella levels at all stages of production and has recorded a continuous decline of Salmonella levels in packaged parts over the last seven months.

Between March 1, 2013 and July 11, 2014, 634 infections of multidrug-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg were linked to raw chicken products from Foster Farms in 29 states.

Foster Farms’ chicken was also the source of a 13-state outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg that sickened 134 people, mostly in Washington and Oregon, between June 2012 and April 2013. 

Food Safety News

Mushroom Council announces new direction for 2015 marketing plan

Mushroom Council board members met in Kennett Square, PA, to finalize a new marketing plan to focus on the enormous market potential of mushroom blendability, which will be the primary focus of the its marketing efforts. The new targeted approach will develop mushroom blendability pilots, promotions and events in retail and foodservice. This is a shift away from the nutrition communication and influencer platform previously performed by the council to a focused market activation strategy.

“The board feels very optimistic about the new direction and plan we have developed over the past several months for 2015,” Council Chairman Anthony D’Amico, president of To-Jo Mushrooms, said in a press release. “We believe 2015 will go down in history as a pivotal year for the Mushroom Council and the evolution of mushroom blendability. The industry believes strongly in the potential of the mushroom blend. We are willing to position our marketing strategy to fully support this growth.”

Mushroom blendability, the culinary technique of blending fresh, chopped mushrooms with ground meat entrees, has taken off largely in the non-commercial foodservice segment, including school nutrition, university dining, health care and corporate dining. Several commercial foodservice outlets — such as Seasons 52, Macaroni Grill and Cheesecake Factory — have also started featuring the mushroom blend on their menus. The natural progression of the blend will be deeper infiltration into foodservice and introduction to retail.

The council will develop mushroom blend pilots and promotions with retailers across the United States. Mushroom blendability opens up an entire new market for the industry by expanding the consumer experience opportunity of fresh mushrooms past the fresh produce section and into the deli, meat case and more.

“The mushroom blend is the solution to the changing consumer landscape, focusing on the transitional meat consumer which makes up one-third of the U.S. population,” Bart Minor, council president, said in the release. “The council’s new focus on the blend will allow the program to fully develop the existing tremendous blend momentum.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

Mushroom Council announces new direction for 2015 marketing plan

Mushroom Council board members met in Kennett Square, PA, to finalize a new marketing plan to focus on the enormous market potential of mushroom blendability, which will be the primary focus of the its marketing efforts. The new targeted approach will develop mushroom blendability pilots, promotions and events in retail and foodservice. This is a shift away from the nutrition communication and influencer platform previously performed by the council to a focused market activation strategy.

“The board feels very optimistic about the new direction and plan we have developed over the past several months for 2015,” Council Chairman Anthony D’Amico, president of To-Jo Mushrooms, said in a press release. “We believe 2015 will go down in history as a pivotal year for the Mushroom Council and the evolution of mushroom blendability. The industry believes strongly in the potential of the mushroom blend. We are willing to position our marketing strategy to fully support this growth.”

Mushroom blendability, the culinary technique of blending fresh, chopped mushrooms with ground meat entrees, has taken off largely in the non-commercial foodservice segment, including school nutrition, university dining, health care and corporate dining. Several commercial foodservice outlets — such as Seasons 52, Macaroni Grill and Cheesecake Factory — have also started featuring the mushroom blend on their menus. The natural progression of the blend will be deeper infiltration into foodservice and introduction to retail.

The council will develop mushroom blend pilots and promotions with retailers across the United States. Mushroom blendability opens up an entire new market for the industry by expanding the consumer experience opportunity of fresh mushrooms past the fresh produce section and into the deli, meat case and more.

“The mushroom blend is the solution to the changing consumer landscape, focusing on the transitional meat consumer which makes up one-third of the U.S. population,” Bart Minor, council president, said in the release. “The council’s new focus on the blend will allow the program to fully develop the existing tremendous blend momentum.”

The Produce News | Today’s Headlines – The Produce News – Covering fresh produce around the globe since 1897.

White House Calls for Action Plan to Address Antibiotic Resistance

The White House announced Thursday its plan to make the issue of antibiotic resistance a national priority.

In addition to the release of the much-anticipated President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) report on antibiotic resistance requested by President Obama last year, there are three related developments.

These include an Executive Order (EO) establishing an interagency task force for combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria, the release of the administration’s National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria, and a $ 20-million prize, co-sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, for developing rapid, point-of-care diagnostic tests for identifying highly resistant bacterial infections.

“Controlling the development and spread of antibiotic resistance is a top national security and public health priority for this administration,” said John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and assistant to the president, during a call with reporters.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic-resistant infections are associated with 23,000 deaths and 2 million illnesses in the United States each year.  Estimates of annual impact of antibiotic-resistant infections on the U.S. economy vary but have ranged as high as $ 20 billion in excess direct health care costs and even higher if you count lost productivity from sick days and hospitalizations.

The interagency task force will be co-chaired by the Secretaries of Defense, Agriculture, and Health and Human Services and must submit an action plan to the president by February 2015 that implements the national strategy and addresses PCAST’s recommendations.

The PCAST report recommends steps to improve surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, increase the longevity of current and new antibiotics, and increase the developments of new antibiotics.

When it comes to antibiotics use on farms, the report states that, “The benefits of antibiotic use in animal agriculture, however, must be weighed carefully against the serious potential risks to human health posed by antibiotic resistance.”

Its recommendation for limiting the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture is to support FDA’s new Guidances 209 and 213:

  • FDA should proceed vigorously with the implementation of these guidances, including completing its rulemaking to update the language of the Veterinary Feed Directive.
  • USDA, through its Cooperative Extension Service, should establish and lead a national education and stewardship program to assist farmers, ranchers, and animal agriculture producers across the United States in complying with these FDA guidances.
  • FDA should assess progress by monitoring changes in total sales of antibiotics in animal agriculture and, where possible, in usage of such antibiotics; and by developing and undertaking studies to assess whether decreases are observed in antibiotic resistance among farm animals.

“If the FDA guidances are not effective in mitigating the risk of antibiotic resistance associated with antibiotic use in animal agriculture, FDA should take additional measures to protect human health,” the report added.

It also recommended that alternatives to antibiotics in agriculture be developed.

“The national strategy correctly recommends improved tracking of antibiotic use and resistance in human medicine and agriculture,” said Allan Coukell, senior director of drugs and medical devices at The Pew Charitable Trusts. ”The administration has already taken steps to phase out these drugs for growth promotion in livestock. It is essential now to ensure that antibiotic use in animals is really reduced and that these important drugs are administered only in medically appropriate ways under the supervision of a veterinarian.”

Some consumer advocate groups such as Keep Antibiotics Working were frustrated that the report didn’t include “more effective” actions.

“While the Council rightly acknowledges the seriousness of antibiotic resistance and its link to antibiotic overuse, their recommendations related to animal agriculture fall dangerously short,” read a statement from the coalition. “Instead of recommending that FDA move to address overuse of antibiotics for disease prevention and the farming practices that create the need for them, the report recommends a wait and see attitude on reducing antibiotic use in food animals.”

Food Safety News

Partnership and the right marketing plan way to global expansion

Tim Riley – Giumarra and Kevin Fiori – Sunkist
Partnership and the right marketing plan way to global expansion

Tim Riley, president of the North American company Giumarra, and Kevin Fiori, VP of Sales and Marketing of Sunkist USA, took part in a session entitled Global opportunities abroad, in which they outlined their companies’ strategies for international growth and how they tackled some of the obstacles along the way.

For the president of Giumarra, the key to its company’s success was the development of global partnerships since the 1990’s. “From our base in North America we moved to South Africa and South America, mainly Chile and Argentina, as well as Europe and Asia. The reason for this is that it enabled us to create a network of growers allowing for year-round supply of consistent quality produce.”

“In 2005, for example, it came to point where we needed 12 month supply of blueberries, so we looked for like-minded companies in countries like Chile, Argentina and Mexico and we created our separate organisation to partner and collaborate with them. We had such a success with our operation, that in 2007 we decided to do the same with avocados,” explains Tim.

Nowadays, Giumarra has grown into an international network of fresh produce growers, distributors and marketers, allowing its customers to source virtually any type of fresh produce item from or to almost anywhere in the world.

For his part, Kevin Fiori, of Sunkist, described how about ten years ago his company was suffering of lack of international demand for lemons in existing key markets, such as North America and Japan, and of the near-absence of demand in countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong or China. “We looked at pricing and this really had no impact, so we needed to conduct research to make sure we took the appropriate actions to change what was going on,” said Kevin.

He explains that “elasticity was the key factor. Almost nobody was purchasing lemons for anything other than to use them as garnish, for seafood, for lemonade or cocktails, so they were at a secondary demand level. We therefore wanted to target the primary drivers of demand.”

“We redesigned our marketing plans taking into consideration that price was not the key factor and we spent a lot of time introducing secondary displays in primary demand departments (seafood, alcohol, etc.) and we registered a 30% increase in our raw demand; a huge impact.”

According to Kevin, “it is also essential to take into account that what you do in the United States or South Africa doesn’t necessarily translate into other cultures, but we felt a huge impact on overall demand by making sure that the money was spent in the right promotions. This case is about lemons, but it really applies to all products. It all comes down to conducting the right marketing.”

Publication date: 8/22/2014
Author: Nichola Watson
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com


FreshPlaza.com

Developing a Food Recall Plan is Important to any Food Processor’s Business

(This article by Frank Gublo of Michigan State University Extension and Paige Filice of MSU’s Department of Fisheries and Wildlife was first posted July 28, 2014, on the MSU Extension site and is reposted here with permission.)

Food processors should have processes in place, such as a HACCP plan and a recall plan, to evaluate products and the management of complaints related to food safety. Typically, food safety problems are found both internally and externally, through consumer and regulatory notification as well as through internal inspection and laboratory discovery.

Upon receiving notification or a consumer complaint, the food processor should establish a record of the notification. The processor will need to know who is notifying the processor of the problem, including name, address, phone number and email address. Also, record what is wrong with the product, what is the unique batch or production code, what was the purchase date and location and what were the injury or illness, if any.

For small processors, the owner/operator will likely receive the complaint. In larger firms, the person receiving the complaint would forward the complaint to those responsible for the recall plan. In either case, the responsible person should make an initial assessment, and, if necessary, put the recall plan into effect.

The first step would be to determine what hazards have been identified with the food product and determine the public safety concerns. Two basic criteria can be used to determine how to proceed. These criteria are related to how widespread is the problem and what is the severity of the problem. For instance, E. coli O157:H7 is a serious condition, and one illness related to a product should prompt a recall, where less serious and less widespread illness may not prompt a recall.

Beyond the basic criteria of severity and spread, additional criteria may be used in the evaluation and the decision of how to handle a complaint related to a product. Public relations, contracts establishing rules for recalls, and actions by retailers may also influence the decision to enact the recall procedures.

In any case, food safety is a serious concern, and protection of the public should be an important consideration. Having a recall plan is an important piece of any food processor’s business. When a complaint is received, the plan will provide guidelines and eliminate mistakes made under stress when determining what actions to take.

Food processors who are taking their first steps into distribution should consider developing a recall plan. Educators at Michigan State University Extension and Innovation Counselors at the Michigan State University Product Center assist businesses in the establishment of good practices to improve business effectiveness. For further information and assistance with employee communications, please contact your local MSU Extension office.

Food Safety News

Whole Foods Sale of Rabbit Meat Sparks Weekend Protest Plan

Animal advocacy groups are planning to protest this weekend at Whole Foods Markets nationwide to oppose the retail sale of rabbit meat and to “politely” remind customers via handouts that rabbits are friendly animals often kept as pets.

“Rabbits are the 3rd most popular furry companion in the US and have unique personalities, just like dogs and cats,” a leaflet from House Rabbit Society states. “They enjoy running, jumping, snuggling with other rabbits, and form deep bonds with their humans.”

The advocacy groups will be asking customers to fill out comment cards opposing the sale of rabbit meat at Whole Foods and to let store managers know how they feel about the issue. In addition, a Change.org petition is posted claiming more than 10,000 signatures of people who are against the company’s retail sale of rabbit meat.

A Whole Foods spokesman said the company recently began a pilot program of selling rabbit meat at certain stores in northern California, the mid-Atlantic states, the Midwest, the Northeast, the South and the Pacific Northwest because of ongoing customer demand.

Stressing what it calls “a resurgence” of including rabbit meat in the American diet, Whole Foods notes that it’s a more sustainable and leaner protein option since six pounds of rabbit meat can be produced using the same amount of food and water it would take to produce one pound of beef.

The company has also made efforts to ensure that its suppliers provide improved conditions for rabbits raised for meat destined for retail sale in its stores.

“To meet our customers’ requests for rabbit, we needed our own set of animal welfare standards. These animal welfare standards are a direct result of a rigorous four-year process to address the welfare issues in rabbit production,” Mike Silverman told Huffington Post.

Concerns about how rabbits are raised for food led to a company statement released in May setting out how newly devised animal-welfare standards were being met, noting that the company’s supplier had “set up several innovative family farms that are meeting those standards” and adding that the program was being tested in a limited number of stores in northern California and the Washington, D.C., metro area.

“It was important to us to provide rabbits that were raised in better conditions than what the industry offered,” the statement reads, calling most current rabbit production conditions “grim.”

Whole Foods Market’s stated animal-welfare standards for rabbits are designed to:

  • Take into account the fact that rabbits socialize in groups. While most rabbits raised for meat are kept in cages, we require group pens on solid floors with plenty of dry bedding, additional places to hide and climb, and room to forage, groom, hop, socialize and play.
  • Require that our rabbits have continuous access to drinking water, feed, roughage, gnawing blocks, tunnels and places for seclusion.
  • Ensure injured animals are treated.
  • Allow the mother rabbit time to nurse and recover before being re-bred, as rabbits are famous for their prolific breeding.

Whole Foods Market is reportedly under investor pressure to step up its game in the increasingly crowded organic food sector. The company has reduced its revenue forecast four times in the past nine months and now faces competition from retail giants Walmart and Kroger, which have recently launched into organics and offer cheaper prices and many more outlets than Whole Foods.

Food Safety News

Fairway tempers store growth plan

Fairway Markets is treating its growing pains with more powerful medicine, taken less frequently.

Officials of parent Fairway Group Holdings in a conference call Thursday said the company would open just one or two projects per year in coming years, with an eye toward sites that can draw considerable customer attention and regional draw. One such project will be on the way in fiscal 2016 in the New York borough of Staten Island, where officials announced a newly built Fairway would anchor a planned redevelopment of the Staten Island Mall. That project draws some 12 million visitors a year, Edward Arditte, Fairway’s CFO and co-president, said.

“That’s the type of thing we want to be able to do,” Arditte told analysts. “And I would tell you that just about everything in our pipeline is of that type of characteristic. Those are the things we’re focused on.”

Fairway has built its prospects on growth but has encountered issues including cannibalization when its new stores open, and a portfolio of widely varying fortunes. It recently opened a store on Lake Grove, N.Y., and expects to open a new store in Manhattan’s Tribeca neighborhood early next year.

A store in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards and the Staten Island location are the only announced projects for respective fiscal years 2016 and 2017 at this point, although officials said they expected a second store in 2017 and could add one to the 2016 schedule if an opportunity arose.

Analyst Kelly Bania of BMO Capital, who had anticipated Fairway’s growth pace would be more in the range of two to three new stores a year, termed the new pace “cautious” and portends a slower outlook for growth, she said in a research note published Friday.

“Fairway’s differentiated store format, which offers a combination of organic, prepared, specialty and conventional foods, supports an outlook for significant long-term new store growth,” Bania said. However, she considered less visibility and predictability into new store openings as an “executional hurdle” for the retailer.


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The Lake Grove store, which opened on Long Island’s Suffolk County earlier this summer, is the chain’s “best new store,” Bill Sanford, Fairway’s interim CEO, said. That store is piloting design and productivity elements that officials intend to roll into additional units in coming months.

Officials made their remarks during a conference call reviewing first-quarter financial results.

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Supermarket News

Gallery: Family Dollar’s shareholder’s rights plan, Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices,’ and other trending news

Last week, readers were interested in SN’s Center Store survey results and the “hard choices” that Hillary Clinton says the food industry faces. In case you missed it, here are popular stories from SN’s daily e-newsletter.

Supermarket News

Gallery: Family Dollar’s shareholder’s rights plan, Clinton’s ‘Hard Choices,’ and other trending news

Last week, readers were interested in SN’s Center Store survey results and the “hard choices” that Hillary Clinton says the food industry faces. In case you missed it, here are popular stories from SN’s daily e-newsletter.

Supermarket News

White House Releases Spring 2014 Regulatory Plan

The White House has released its “Current Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” for Spring 2014.

When Food Safety News reported on the Fall 2013 agenda, we told you about the food safety issues in development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. All of the key regulations we highlighted then have pushed passed the schedule set last fall.

The Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection final rule, which had been expected in April, is now scheduled for July.

The June date for the final rule for labeling mechanically tenderized beef products has been pushed to September, along with a proposed rule to require companies to report the distribution and sales information for antimicrobial active ingredients used in food-producing animals.

The proposed rule for updating the nutritional and ingredient information on pet food labels is now expected in October.

Final action on adding nutrition labeling to restaurant menus had been expected in February, but is now planned for June. So is regulation on calorie labeling for food in vending machines.

And a list of pathogens with the potential to pose a serious threat to public health (including Acinetobacter species, Staphylococcus aureus, Campylobacter species, Clostridium difficile and Vibrio cholera) has inched past its expected date in June but is still required to be published by July 9.

Here’s a refresher of what’s planned for the Food Safety Modernization Act:

Rule RIN / Link Next Action Date Final Rule Deadline
Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls 0910-AG36 Re-proposed Language August 2014 Aug. 30, 2015
Current Good Manufacturing Practice, Hazard Analysis, and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Food for Animals 0910-AG10 Re-proposed Language August 2014 Aug. 30, 2015
Produce Safety Regulation 0910-AG35 Re-proposed Language August 2014 October 31, 2015
Foreign Supplier Verification Program 0910-AG64 Re-proposed Language August 2014 October 31, 2015
Accreditation of Third Parties To Conduct Food Safety Audits and For Other Related Purposes 0910-AG66 Final Rule October 31, 2015
Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food 0910-AG98 End of comment period May 31, 2014 March 31, 2016
Focused Mitigation Strategies To Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration 0910-AG63 Final Rule May 31, 2016
FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Amendments to Reportable Food Registry (RFR Requirements) 0910-AG97 ANPRM Comment Period End June 9, 2014 N/A

 

The following is a list of other food safety issues addressed in the agenda:

Agency Agenda Stage of Rulemaking Title RIN Date of Action
HHS/FDA Proposed Rule Stage Food Labeling; Revision of the Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels 0910-AF22 June 2, 2014
HHS/FDA Proposed Rule Stage Food Labeling: Serving Sizes of Foods That Can Reasonably Be Consumed At One-Eating Occasion; Dual-Column Labeling; Updating, Modifying, and Establishing Certain RACCs 0910-AF23 June 2, 2014
HHS/FDA Proposed Rule Stage Food Labeling; Gluten-Free Labeling of Fermented, Hydrolyzed, or Distilled Foods 0910-AH00 Sept. 2014
HHS/FDA Final Rule Stage Veterinary Feed Directive 0910-AG95 April 2015
HHS/FDA Proposed Rule Stage Registration of Food Facilities: Amendments to Food Facility Registration Requirements 0910-AG69 Sept. 2014
USDA/APHIS Final Rule Stage Importation of Poultry and Poultry Products From Regions Affected With Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza 0579-AC36 Sept. 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Product Labeling: Use of the Voluntary Claim “Natural” on the Labeling of Meat and Poultry Products 0583-AD30 July 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Records to be Kept by Official Establishments and Retail Stores That Grind Raw Beef Products 0583-AD46 July 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Public Information; Communications With Federal Agencies, State and Foreign Government Officials, and International Organizations 0583-AD50 Dec. 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Addition of Namibia to the List of Countries Eligible to Export Meat Products to the United States 0583-AD51 Dec. 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Affirmation of Interim Final Rule With Amendments: Control of Listeria Monocytogenes in Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products 0583-AD53 Aug. 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Requirements for the Disposition of Non-Ambulatory Disabled Veal Calves 0583-AD54 Aug. 2014
USDA/FSIS Proposed Rule Stage Change in Accredited Lab Fees 0583-AD55 Sept. 2014
USDA/FSIS Final Rule Stage Mandatory Inspection of Certain Fish, Including Catfish and Catfish Products 0583-AD36 Dec. 2014
USDA/FSIS Final Rule Stage Electronic Imported Product Inspection Application and Certification of Imported Product and Foreign Establishments; Amendments to Facilitate the Public Health Information System (PHIS) 0583-AD39 May 2014
USDA/FSIS Final Rule Stage Electronic Export Application and Certification as a Reimbursable Service and Flexibility in the Requirements for Official Export Inspection Marks, Devices, and Certificates 0583-AD41 Sept. 2014
USDA/FSIS Final Rule Stage Common or Usual Name for Raw Meat and Poultry Products Containing Added Solutions 0583-AD43 July 2014

 

Food Safety News

Two National Pet Retailers Plan to Phase Out Pet Treats from China

According to a May 16 investigation update from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), more than 1,000 dogs have died and thousands of complaints have surfaced since 2007 about illnesses in dogs and some cats potentially linked to Chinese pet treats.

While FDA has stated that the deaths and illnesses may be associated with the consumption of pet jerky treats (typically chicken) from China, the agency still has not pinpointed a specific cause despite ongoing tests for numerous potential contaminants.

FDA officials have said of the 4,800 reported pet illnesses, “about 60 percent are for gastrointestinal illness (with or without elevated liver enzymes) and about 30 percent relate to kidney or urinary signs. The remaining 10 percent of cases involve a variety of other signs, including convulsions, tremors, hives, and skin irritation.”

This past week, two of the nation’s largest pet retailers — Petco Animal Supplies Inc., and PetSmart Inc. — announced that they will stop selling dog and cat treats made in China. San Diego, CA-based Petco indicated that it plans to have all Chinese-made pet treats off the shelves of its 1,300 stores by the end of this year.

“We’ve been following the FDA warnings and related customer concerns closely, and we’ve been actively reducing our China-made assortment and expanding our American-made offerings for several years now,” said Petco CEO Jim Myers.

About half of the jerky treats currently sold at Petco stores nationwide are from China. The company will now transition to carrying treats made in the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and South America, Myers said.

PetSmart, based in Phoenix, AZ, announced plans to remove China-sourced treats from its outlets by next spring.

“By March 2015, PetSmart will no longer sell dog and cat treats manufactured in China. This is something we’ve been working toward for some time, and feel it’s the right thing to do for pets and our customers,” Erin Gray, a PetSmart spokeswoman, told NBC News.

FDA is coordinating further investigation into the problem with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is advising people who feed their dogs pet jerky treats to watch closely for any or all of the following signs which may occur hours or days after consumption of the products: decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea (sometimes bloody), increased water consumption and/or increased urination.

If any or all of those are observed, people are advised to immediately stop feeding the jerky pet treats and consult a veterinarian if the signs are severe or persist for more than 24 hours.

Food Safety News

Plan Offers Insights Into What Worries FDA’s Science Unit

What worries the deep thinkers at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), the agency’s science-based regulatory unit, is pretty well spelled out in the Center’s new Science and Research (CSR) Strategic Plan.

Among these concerns are keeping imported foods safe as that sector doubled during the last decade and continues to grow very rapidly. “In 2011, 80 percent of seafood and 50 percent of fresh fruit consumed in the United States was imported—and consumer demand continues to rise for vegetables, coffee, tea, and cocoa from aboard,” the CFSAN planners wrote.

In addition, the CSR Strategic Plan points to a need for change in sterilizing and disinfecting food to accommodate consumer preferences for more fresh and minimally processed foods.

“New technologies, such as the use of nanomaterials in cosmetics and food packaging, require whole new regimens for assessing safety,” the planners wrote. “Further, ever-increasing consumer interest in dietary supplements poses special challenges for ensuring the safety of marketed products and their supply chain.

“Finally, unexpected contamination of food and cosmetics, whether by familiar agents or previously unrecognized ones, will continue to occur despite a new emphasis on preventing problems before they occur.”

In its forward planning, CFSAN will rest some of its actions on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which calls for updating the nation’s food safety system with hazard prevention controls for both domestic and imported foods.

“The goal of FSMA is to introduce safety standards and practices aimed at preventing contamination of food before it occurs, with standards grounded in the latest food-safety research and science,” according to CSR Strategic Plan. “By setting science-based preventive control standards for the way industry produces, distributes, and markets food, the government can better protect products entering the stream of commerce.”

CFSAN sees itself as a major participant in this effort to establish shared responsibility and accountability for food safety.

The CSR Strategic Plan, according to CFSAN, is “fully aligned” with FDA’s strategic priority to Implement a New Prevention-Focused Food Safety System to Protect Public Health and the goals and strategies of FDA’s new Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine (OFVM).

Five strategic goals, thought to have have the greatest impact for modernizing the nation’s food safety system and protecting public health,are included in the plan. These are:

  • Better control and preparation for hazards
  • Create faster and validated methods
  • Influence consumer behavior toward healthy dietary choices
  • Develop leading edge technology for understanding and evaluating scientific information
  • Improve our adaptability and responsiveness

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