Jose Esteban, the chief scientist at USDA's meat inspection agency, is President Biden's choice to become agriculture undersecretary for food safety, announced the White House. If confirmed by the Senate, Esteban would be the USDA leader on issues ranging from prevention of food-borne illness to regulation of cell-cultured meat, now approaching commercialization.
Pointing to the tens of thousands of salmonella illnesses linked to poultry products each year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said on Tuesday that the USDA would mobilize "a stronger and more comprehensive effort" to reduce the risk of the disease-causing bacteria in raw poultry meat. The process could include pilot projects that encourage "pre-harvest controls" on the farm, an area not directly under USDA jurisdiction.
Lactalis, the biggest dairy company in France, has recalled over 7,000 tons of baby formula and powdered milk products across 80 countries, reports the New York Times. The recalls, which were implemented over the course of several weeks, amounted to one of the biggest such recalls in history. At least 38 children were sickened by salmonella found in the recalled products.
In order to modernize its work at slaughter plants, the USDA proposed a new inspection program that allows "innovation and flexibility" at plants slaughtering young and generally healthy market hogs. The consumer group Food and Water Watch called the proposed New Swine Inspection Sytems an attempt to privatize meat inspection and to speed up line speeds.
A well-known cause of food-borne illness is the E. coli bacteria, usually associated with moist foods, such as meat or bagged salad leaves. In solving a food illness mystery of 2016, researchers determined that Shiga-producing E. coil bacteria can survive in raw flour, an arid host, according to an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Federal researchers say multi-drug resistance has increased to 12 percent of salmonella bacteria found in the digestive systems of ill people, up from 9 percent in the previous year. Salmonella is a common type of food-borne illness estimated to affect 1 million Americans annually and to cause 380 deaths a year.
Ending a visit prompted by a meat-inspection scandal, the EU food safety commissioner said Brazil's meat inspection system "must be independent and not under the influence of politicians and other actors," reported Reuters. EU commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis told the wire service that EU restrictions and stepped-up checks of meat from Brazil may not be removed in the near term.
Two years ago, the FDA began testing foods for the presence of disease-causing bacteria as a way to learn how prevalent they are and how to prevent food-borne illness. In its latest round of tests, the agency said 1 percent of cucumbers and 3 percent of hot peppers, such as jalapeños and serranos, carried salmonella bacteria, said Stat, the medical news site.
The 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reconsider a ruling that gave Jack DeCoster and his son, Peter, three-month prison sentences for the 2010 outbreak of food illness linked to their egg farms, says Food Safety News. At the time, the DeCosters were believed to be the largest egg producers in the country.
Hotter ocean temperatures have nearly tripled the incidence of waterborne food illnesses, says the Seattle Times. Roughly a dozen species of vibrio bacteria make people sick from eating undercooked seafood — particularly raw oysters — and from swimming in tainted water.
For the fourth time since May 31, General Mills expanded its recall of flour because of illnesses linked to handling or eating uncooked flour dough and batter. The company said E. coli bacteria, which can cause food-borne illness, "has been detected in a small number of ... flour samples and some have been linked to new patient illnesses that fall outside of the previously recalled dates."
The 10th-largest U.S. food processor, General Mills, is recalling 10 million pounds of wheat flour because it might be linked to an outbreak of food-borne illness, said NBC News. “It’s a huge recall of a item not normally linked with outbreaks of food-borne illness, but state and federal health …
Children and people in low-income areas are hit the hardest by food-borne diseases, which strike as many as 600 million people annually, or one in 10 of the global population, said the World Health Organization in its most comprehensive tally yet.
A federal judge sentenced Stewart Parnell, owner of the now-defunct Peanut Corp. of America, to 28 years in prison in connection with a salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and sickened hundreds, said the Associated Press.
President Obama selected Robert Califf, a new arrival in FDA's senior ranks, to become the next commissioner of the agency that regulates products that account for 20 percent of consumer spending.
The Obama administration issued two rules, applying to food and feed, that require companies to analyze weak spots in their operations and implement plans to prevent contamination of their products. The so-called preventive-control rules are the first of seven that the FDA is writing under the 2010 Food Safety Modernization Act.