Health updates, 4 February: All about our food

February 4, 2011 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE, OBESITY

Food Bill Aims to Improve Safety

Data from the CDC indicates that 1 in 6 Americans catch some kid of food-borne disease each year. Approximately 48 million people are affected according to the FDA, resulting in hospitalization and death. This is why the US Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which was signed by US President Obama in early January was welcomed by health authorities. “The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) gives FDA a mandate to pursue a system that is based on science and addresses hazards from farm to table, putting greater emphasis on preventing food-borne illness.” One the provisions of FSMA is the requirement of companies to develop and implement a written food safety plan.

Message from the FDA Commissioner on FSMA

According to US FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg:

“The legislation significantly enhances FDA’s ability to oversee the millions of food products coming into the United States from other countries each year. Among the improvements is the requirement that importers verify the safety of food from their suppliers and the authority for the FDA to block foods from facilities or countries that refuse our inspection. FDA will also be working more closely with foreign governments and increasing its inspection of foreign food facilities. FDA’s new import tool kit will have a huge impact on food safety given that an estimated 15 percent of the U.S. food supply is imported, including 50 percent of fresh fruits, 20 percent of fresh vegetables and 80 percent of seafood.”

USDA and HHS Announce New Dietary Guidelines to Help Americans Make Healthier Food Choices and Confront Obesity Epidemic

The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Agriculture announced the release of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans at the end of last month. The new guidelines give evidence-based nutritional recommendations “to promote health, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, and reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity.” The guidelines include 23 Key Recommendations for everyone and 6 additional Key Recommendations for those with special needs. Some of these are:

New Nutrition Standards in School Food Programs Proposed

Last week, the Obama administration proposed major changes to the Nutrition Standards in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The new standards would be faithful to the recommendations of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines.
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Food Safety Updates, July 9

July 9, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

California Assembly passes bill banning BPA in baby bottles
The anti-BPA movement has gained another victory. The Toxin-Free Babies and Toddlers Act passed the California State Assembly earlier this week. The act would ban the ban the use of bisphenol A (BPA) in baby bottles, baby formula packaging and other baby feeding products for children 3 years old and younger.
“BPA has been linked with health problems such as infertility, autism, asthma, hyperactivity and breast cancer. In January, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reversed its long-held position that BPA posed no concern, calling for more studies of the artificial hormone that often is used in shatter-proof plastic baby bottles, sippy cups and linings of cans, including those containing baby formula.”

Melamine limits set by world food group
Another nasty in the food industry – melamine – is also under scrutiny. Like BPA, melamine is also used in plastic manufacturing and was responsible for deaths and illnesses in Chinese babies a couple of years ago after drinking melamine-tainted power milk products. A recent meeting on food safety in Geneva has finally set the limits for melamine contamination in food products. The new limits for melamine is 2.5 mg per kg with some exceptions, e.g. 1 mg per kg in baby formulas,  equivalent to the U.S. limit of one part per million.

NOAA, FDA, and Gulf Coast State Officials Affirm Commitment to Ensuring Safety of Gulf Coast Seafood
And what about the safety of the seafood coming from the Gulf of Mexico? Several government agencies in the US are working together to address the issue.
According to Eric Schwaab, Assistant Administrator, National Marine Fisheries Service:

“No single agency could adequately ensure the safety of seafood coming from the Gulf following this tragedy, but in working together, we can be sure that tainted waters are closed as appropriate, contaminated seafood is not allowed to make it to market, and that closed waters can be reopened to fishing as soon as is safe.”

FDA: New Final Rule to Ensure Egg Safety, Reduce Salmonella Illnesses Goes Into Effect
The new safety requirements set by the US FDA to prevent Salmonella contamination of eggs took effect today, July 9. The requirements include appropriate storage, refrigeration and transportation of the eggs.
“Egg-associated illness caused by Salmonella is a serious public health problem. Infected individuals may suffer mild to severe gastrointestinal illness, short-term or chronic arthritis, or even death. Implementing the preventive measures would reduce the number of Salmonella enteritidis infections from eggs by nearly 60 percent.
Salmonella enteritidis can be found inside eggs that appear normal. If the eggs are eaten raw or undercooked, the bacterium can cause illness. Eggs in the shell become contaminated on the farm, primarily because of infection in the laying hens.”

All about food safety

May 7, 2010 by  
Filed under HEALTHCARE

Calif. County Law Bans Toys in Unhealthy Kids’ Meals
No more toys in Californian happy meal boxes? A new county law in Santa Clara, California prohibits giving away incentive items such as toys with kiddie meals if the said meals do not meet the nutritional standard set by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). The incentives supposedly make high-calorie, low-nutrient food more appealing to kids, thus contribute to the ongoing obesity problem.
The IOM report Food Marketing to Children and Youth: Threat or Opportunity? found in 2005 that marketing practices aimed at children — including bonus toys and giveaways — have put their health at risk by contributing to their consumption of high-calorie, low-nutrient food and beverages, and setting dangerous eating patterns that can extend their whole lives.

Salt to go: US fast food contains excessive levels of sodium
New York fast food contains lots of salt, according to a recent study. More than 50% of fast food chains in New York serve meals which exceed the recommended daily limit of 1500 mg. If only fried chicken outlets were to be considered, then the figure is up to 84%. Only 1 out of 36 meals tested met the US FDA recommendations of 600 mg.

According to Christine M. Johnson of the Cardiovascular Disease Prevention and Control Program, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:
“This study extends analyses of the nutritional content of fast food from calorie to sodium content and shows that fast food is high in sodium as well as calories,”

FDA Offers Consumer Tips about Shopping at the Store on FoodSafety.gov
Check out FoodSafety.gov for tips about food safety. Last week’s blog post gave consumers tips on how to avoid foodborne illnesses. The seven tips are:

Consumers should:

Reportable Food Registry for Industry
Are you concerned about the safety of the food you buy/have bought? There is a registry for food products that may potentially cause serious adverse health problems.

Where Should Consumers, Food Retailers and Food Service Operators Report a Problem with Food?
In emergencies, consumers, food retailers and food service operators should continue to call FDA at 301-443-1240. For less urgent problems, contact the FDA consumer complaint coordinator3 in your geographic area or see Your Guide To Reporting Problems to FDA.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.