Articles Posted in Food safety

hamburger-gb0d465128_1920-300x225It’s common knowledge that fast food isn’t the most nutritious dining option, but you should at least be able to expect that the hamburger or chicken nuggets you are devouring are nontoxic. That may not be the case, say researchers at George Washington University. A new study published in the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology has revealed that most of the food items at popular fast-food restaurants are full of chemicals known as phthalates that have been linked to a host of health problems. This is the first study to measure phthalates directly in fast food and contributes to the scientific evidence linking fast food consumption to higher levels of phthalates.

What Chemicals Did the Researchers Find?

Researchers at George Washington University bought 64 popular menu options from Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell and tested them for 8 common phthalates and 3 replacement plasticizers. 10 of the 11 chemicals were present at high levels in nearly all of the samples. 81% of the samples contained DnBP and 70% contained DEHP; both phthalates have been linked to fertility and reproductive issues as well as increased risks of behavioral, learning, and attention disorders in children. 86% of the samples contained DEHT, a plasticizer that is being used as a replacement for phthalates. Overall, samples that contained meat had significantly higher levels of phthalates than vegetarian options; but phthalates were still present in both types of food.

baby-2423896_1920-1-300x200Beech-Nut Nutrition is voluntarily recalling an infant rice cereal due to high levels of arsenic. The cereal impacted is the Single Grain Rice baby cereal with an expiration date of May 1, 2022. The reason for the recall is that the cereal exceeds the FDA’s limit of 100 parts per billion of arsenic.

In addition, the company announced that it will no longer market Single Grain Rice Baby Cereal, citing their commitment to infant safety and doubt about being able to consistently obtain rice flour below the FDA guidance level for inorganic arsenic as reasons for the decision. This is good news for parents who have been concerned about the recent reports of toxic heavy metals–including arsenic–in the baby food they feed their infants, but it is not enough. It’s critical that the other major baby food companies make the health and safety of children a priority as well.

The scrutiny of heavy metals in baby food is long overdue. Last year, a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, which had been investigating the presence of arsenic and other toxic metals in baby food, issued their final report. The report revealed that all of the major companies that responded to the agency’s request for internal testing documentation had arsenic in their baby food. Beech-Nut was not the only company with this problem; Gerber, Hain, and Nurture also had the same issue. Three other baby food companies—Walmart, Sprout Organic, and Campbell’s–did not cooperate with the investigation.

Co-authored by Jacob Exline of The Collins Law Firm, P.C.

Food-related injuries and death are often overlooked by the American consumer. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 48 million people get sick from foodborne illnesses yearly and almost 3,000 of those people die.1 The need for reform of the rules and procedures for the handling and distribution of food is evident by the increasing amount of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses. Most recently, both Blue Bell Ice Cream and Sunland Peanut Butter had to shut down their production facilities and recall thousands of products from the shelves of retailers.

In response to this growing issue, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released details of a new law that requires businesses in the food industry to comply with stronger and safer food regulations. The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which has been in revisions since 2013, is aimed at reforming the way facilities handle food and assess and respond to hazards that often lead to recalls and illnesses.

Co-authored by Gregory Zimmer of The Collins Law Firm, P.C.

The Food and Drug Administration is hard at work. The first half of this month has already had 3 recalls of nuts tainted with Salmonella and 2 recalls of pet food due to Listeria contamination.1 These recalls follow the highly publicized multistate Listeria outbreak from affected Blue Bell ice cream products which resulted in 10 hospitalizations and 3 deaths.2 While the FDA catches many issues before they are widespread, you may still be at risk. How do you know if you are one of the unlucky few who are affected, and what do you do next?

Foodborne illness typically present symptoms hours or days after contaminated food is consumed, but people can sometimes develop illnesses up to 2 months later.3 You can check here4 for recent and ongoing food recalls.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health officials investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney infections linked to Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter, with SKU # 97111, made by Sunland Inc. of Portales, New Mexico. On November 30, 2012, the CDC issued a final update reporting that this outbreak appeared to be over after a total of 42 people from 20 states (including Illinois) were infected. Other affected states include Arizona, California, Connecticut, Louisiana, Massachusetts, West Virginia, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, and Virginia. Most people injured by the contaminated food were infected with Salmonella and developed diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts from four days to a week. In some people, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream, and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. Young children, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems are the most likely to have severe infections. It is estimated that Approx. 400 persons die every year with acute salmonellosis. The FDA found that between June 2009 and August 2012, Sunland Inc. had distributed, or cleared for distribution, peanut, and almond butter after testing identified the presence of at least one of nine different Salmonella types in those lots. Two of these lots showed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney. Further, during the inspection of the processing plant in 2012, the FDA found the presence of Salmonella in numerous environmental samples, including Salmonella Bredney. Investigators found that employees improperly handled equipment used to hold and store food. There were no handwashing sinks in the peanut processing building production or packaging areas and employees had bare-handed contact with ready-to-package peanuts. This is in addition to numerous other problems with the handling and storage of equipment, and products, both raw and cooked. On November 26, 2012, the FDA suspended the “food facility” registration of Sunland, Inc. which is required for a facility that manufactures, processes, or holds food in the United States. This was the FDA’s first use of its suspension authority under the Food Safety Modernization Act. On December 21, 2012, U.S. District Judge William P. Johnson signed a consent decree imposing requirements on Sunland Inc.to keep potentially harmful products from entering the market. Based on the requirements of the decree, the FDA reinstated Sunland’s food facility registration. However, the company cannot process or distribute food from its peanut butter plant or peanut mill plant until it has complied with the consent decree’s requirements to the FDA’s satisfaction. The consent decree requires actions including that Sunland retain an independent sanitation expert to develop a sanitation control program that the company must then implement, and, the company must conduct environmental monitoring and testing to ensure that disease-causing organisms are not present in its facility or in its food products. Hopefully, all these steps will go a long way toward preventing any future injuries due to food poisoning or other foodborne illnesses. More information on the situation can be found by clicking here.

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