New: FDA releases pistachio recall widget
Congress calls for outbreak prevention over mitigation
In testimony before a House Appropriations Subcommittee, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged the need for change. “There is no question that whatever system is ultimately devised has to be a system that provides for specific accountability,” Vilsack told the panel that oversees USDA.He also conceded that change might not come easily. “It seems to me today we have competing philosophies,” he said. The food system should be modernized, he added, with an emphasis on preventing, rather than mitigating, the consequences of food-borne illness outbreaks.
Congress should focus on bottoms-up traceability
“Congress continues to view food safety reform as a top policy priority this year,” Stenzel said. “With the hundreds of recalls related to the peanut paste outbreak the past several months, traceability of all foods and food ingredients is now at the center of this Congressional debate. I’m pleased that Congress recognizes the produce industry’s strong voice in these deliberations, and we have a very good story to tell in produce traceability.”
In his testimony, Stenzel highlighted current one-up, one-down traceability practices in the produce industry. He also called on Congress to support the new Produce Traceability Initiative. Launched last year, the initiative is intended to drive streamlined whole-chain traceability based on industry-wide common standards for case coding.“As you weigh various traceability provisions of all the food safety bills under consideration by Congress, I ask you to look at the unique aspects of tracking bulk fresh produce,” Stenzel said. “We are likely to find that overly prescriptive mandates from the top-down are not as likely to be effective as bottom-up efficiencies and systems designed for unique challenges. That’s what we believe we have achieved in the Produce Traceability Initiative. I ask the Committee to support our efforts in this regard, and allow industry innovation similar to what I’ve shared here to flourish. We suggest that Congress should set the goal, not mandate the process.”
Food safety solution in sight
“It is also encouraging that Kraft Foods alerted the FDA to the results of its internal food testing and was able to identify the Setton Pistachio Co. of Terra Bella, CA, as the source of the contaminated pistachios,” Levi says. He adds that since notification of this sort is not required under current food safety laws, and unfortunately, in cases such as Peanut Corp. of
TFAH released Keeping America’s Food Safe: A Blueprint for Fixing the Food Safety System at the US Department of Health and Human Services. This report suggests:
- Increasing and aligning resources with the highest-risk threats;
- Modernizing the mandate and legal authority of the HHS Secretary to prevent illness, which would include enforcing the duty of food companies to implement modern preventive controls and meet government-established food safety performance standards;
- Immediately establishing a deputy commissioner at FDA with line authority over all food safety programs;
- Working through Congress toward the creation of a Food Safety Administration within HHS, strategically aligning and elevating the food safety functions currently housed at FDA, and better coordinating regulation policies and practices with the surveillance and detection of outbreak functions at CDC and with food safety agencies at the state and local level.
New safety net for tuna industry
“This is an unprecedented collaborative commitment on the part of major industry players to work alongside the world’s premier marine scientists and environmental non-governmental organizations, especially our founding conservation partner WWF, to preserve the world’s marine ecosystem,” said ISSF President Susan S. Jackson.
“Our mission is to help ensure that targeted tuna stocks will be sustained at or above levels of abundance capable of supporting maximum sustainable yield,” said
“This includes working towards the reduction of by-catch and helping to fund scientific research that supports improved management of tuna stocks.”The ISSF founders are Bolton Alimentari; Bumble Bee Foods/Clover Leaf Seafoods; MW Brands; Princes Ltd.; Sea Value Co., Ltd.; StarKist Co.; Thai Union Manufacturing Co. Ltd / Chicken of the Sea Intl.; TriMarine International; and WWF.
Too much sodium in American diet
“In light of new data from the CDC, which show that 69 percent of adults are salt sensitive, the need to reduce sodium consumption has become an even higher priority for our country’s health,” said Linda Van Horn, Ph.D., chair of the American Heart Association’s Nutrition Committee and professor of Preventive Medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that most people strive to lower the amount of sodium consumed daily to less than 1,500 mg, to prevent or manage high blood pressure, a major but modifiable risk factor for heart attack and stroke,” Van Horn said. The
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