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GRAS Out: Surprising Number of Unregulated Chemicals Found in Food

If you don’t recognize all the high-tech ingredients available in food and drinks these days, you’re not alone. Some of these new additions—such as glucosamine hydrochloride, gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA), or soy isoflavone extract—might show up in product marketing, while others, such as milk protein concentrate, will not. But whether new food additives are being promoted or not, a report released this week by the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) says their novelty isn’t the only reason we should be paying attention. Read more

FDA Announces Finalization of Voluntary Guidance on Antibiotic Misuse in Livestock Industry

So, FDA has finally come out with its much talked-up voluntary guidance (read, recommendations) for the pharmaceutical and livestock industries on appropriate antibiotic use and avoiding antibiotic resistance. It has been pending in draft form for over a year and a half and has been long-criticized as a hollow gesture to tackle antibiotic resistance.  Despite FDA’s assurances, the reality is that this final guidance: 1) doesn’t do much, 2) pretends to do more, and 3) kicks the can significantly down the road. Here’s why: Read more

The FDA: Working Hard to Protect Industry

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) made two moves in recent days that seemingly address consumer concerns on some hot button issues. First, it banned the use of bisphenol A (BPA) based epoxy resins in coatings for baby formula packaging. Second, it proposed a limit on how much arsenic is allowed in apple juice. Looking more closely at these decisions, however, it seems that FDA is really more interested in appeasing industry, than doing its duty to protect the public.  Read more

Time For the Livestock Industry to Move in the Right Direction on Antibiotic Use

As the proverb goes, if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging. Unfortunately, new data released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this week shows that the livestock industry continues to move in the wrong direction on antibiotic use—digging all of us into a deeper “hole” when it comes to the public health crisis of antibiotic resistance.

The data shows continued very high levels of antibiotic sales for meat and poultry production, with a steady uptick in overall antibiotics use in the livestock sector over the last decade, culminating in record high sales in 2011. Read more

Will a Federal Compromise on GMO Labeling Trump State Law, Forever?

Recent reports of secret meetings among industry reps and the Food and Drug Adminstration over GMO labeling piqued my interest, mostly because this critical aspect was missing: any effort to label GE foods at the federal level could bring the current grassroots movement to a grinding halt by preventing any stronger local laws from ever being enacted. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Last month, Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association and one of the leaders of the GMO labeling effort, recently published an article about how “representatives of Wal-Mart, General Mills, Pepsi-Frito Lay, Mars, Coca-Cola and others” met with the FDA on January 11 “to lobby for a mandatory federal GMO labeling law.” Read more

3 Steps the FDA Can Take in 2013 to Show It Is Protecting Americans from Harm

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced two sweeping programs for protecting Americans from contamination in our food.  Every year tens of thousands of Americans get sick from the presence of Salmonella, E.coli, and other bacteria in the food we eat. These new programs will help prevent some of the contamination from happening in the first place.

This is a welcome departure for an agency better known for paralysis than prevention. Perhaps this bold New Year’s announcement means the FDA is kicking off a new focus on shielding Americans from harm. Or perhaps the agency will simply fall back into its familiar pattern of delay. Read more

FDA Releases Two Long-Awaited Food Safety Rules

After a year-long delay, two sweeping new food safety rules that will for the first time mandate produce safety standards and preventive controls nationwide will be released today and published to the Federal Register on Monday, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

“It’s a big deal that these two are coming out because it’s the central framework for prevention,” said Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Comissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, in an interview with Food Safety News. “We’re eager to get to the next phase of the process.” Read more

What Not to Eat: Arsenic!

Never one to pass up an opportunity to spread a little doom and gloom, I felt compelled to emerge from blog-writing hibernation to bring you the latest bummer food news.  Today, Consumer Reports released “Arsenic in Your Food,” a report describing its recent investigation of arsenic levels in rice.  The results are unsettling.  According to the report, analysis of 65 rice and rice products (including infant cereals, hot cereals, ready-to-eat cereals, rice cakes, rice crackers, rice pasta, rice flour and rice drinks) revealed that samples of almost every product contained measurable levels of total arsenic, including organic and inorganic forms. Read more