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.
The USDA's food safety agency is considering new approaches to reduce salmonella bacteria in poultry that could include "pre-harvest interventions" on the farm, said Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Saundra Eskin on Tuesday. "We know that most salmonella contamination enters the facility with the birds and the more we can do to reduce contamination at the point of slaughter, the less contamination and cross-contamination we have in an establishment."
From lettuce to cookies, avocados to cheesecake, the last few years have seen a number of high-profile food recalls. According to the CDC, an estimated 48 million Americans get sick each year from foodborne illnesses. But the question of whether such outbreaks are getting worse is complicated, due to a combination of improved detection technology, a looser approach to regulation, and growing consolidation in the food industry, as Leah Douglas reports in FERN's latest story, published as part of Time magazine's special issue on the Science of Nutrition.(No paywall)
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.
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.
The Supreme Court assured prison time for Austin DeCoster, once believed to be the largest U.S. egg producer, and his son, Peter, by refusing a petition filed by their attorneys for a review of their sentences.
With a scandal clouding Brazil's meatpackers, Montana Sen. Jon Tester announced legislation for a 120-day ban on U.S. imports of meat from the South American country. The ban will give USDA "time to comprehensively investigate food safety threats and to determine which Brazilian beef sources put American consumers at risk," said Tester's office.
New data on antibiotic resistance in agriculture, released Friday by agencies of the European Union, demonstrate how complicated it is to control all the uses of antibiotics on farms and to prevent all the side effects of antibiotic use.
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.
The Humane Society of the United States is calling for state and federal investigations after it released undercover video, from one of New England’s largest egg producers, that shows chickens caked in feces and packed in tiny cages, in some cases with dead and mummified birds.
Seven separate outbreaks of salmonella this year have been linked to backyard chicken flocks, resulting in 66 hospitalizations, the CDC said. One person who was hospitalized also died, though salmonella was not considered a factor in the death.
The USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will grant poultry processors more time to comply with the agency’s new salmonella and campylobacter standards, giving fowl farmers until July 1 to implement the stricter guidelines.
New federal standards are in effect to reduce illnesses caused by campylobacter and salmonella bacteria in ground chicken and turkey meat, said the USDA.
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.
An additional 77 cases of salmonella were reported in the past week in a outbreak of food-borne illness linked to cucumbers imported from Mexico, said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The U.S. Probation Office, in a pre-sentencing report, recommended life in prison for Stewart Parnell, the former chief executive of Peanut Corporation of America, says Food Safety News.
Research into mice infected with salmonella, a bacteria often the cause of food-borne illness, poses "ominous questions about the widespread, routine use of sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics in livestock," says the Stanford Medical School.
The consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest re-filed a petition that calls for USDA to classify four strains of antibiotic-resistant salmonella bacteria as a food adulterant.