As many of you know, in March, 2012 I launched on The Lunch Tray a Change.org petition seeking to remove lean, finely textured beef (“LFTB,” more widely known as “pink slime”) from the ground beef procured by the USDA for the National School Lunch Program. The petition garnered over a quarter of a million signatures in just a few days and ultimately led the USDA to change its policy, allowing school districts for the first time to opt out of receiving beef containing LFTB. Read more
Amidst the current furor over a government shutdown, the federal budget, debt ceiling, food stamps, immigration, and other programs that are either held up or being curtailed, another huge issue is quietly moving forward that could profoundly impact American agriculture and consumers.
If you go out of your way to enjoy fresh and locally grown food sold at grocery stores or served up at a favorite restaurant, if you care what your child is served to eat at school, or if you have ever considered starting your own food or farm business, you need to know about the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA. Read more
While Congress battles it out over health care reform, the resulting government shutdown will have far-reaching impacts on food safety, environmental protections, food production, and farming. It also has serious implications for the health and nutrition of many Americans. Depending on the duration of the shut down, it could be nothing less than catastrophic for a great number of people. Read more
My partner eyed me sternly when I announced that my next book was going to be an investigative look at pork production. “Does this mean that I’ll have to give up eating bacon?” she asked.
Deadly outbreaks of E. coli and Salmonella in spinach and cantaloupes, antibiotic-resistant “superbugs” connected to pork and chicken production, potent drugs that are banned in the United States in imported shrimp and catfish: Nothing has the potential to destroy your appetite quite as thoroughly as writing about industrial food production or living with someone who does. Somehow, I have remained omnivorous, more or less. But there are only five things that I absolutely refuse to eat. Read more
David Gumpert is an advocate and a journalist who writes almost exclusively about raw milk, private food buying clubs, and the conflict around various government attempts to regulate the two. In his new book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights, Gumpert delves deeply into an array of legal cases brought against small producers selling their food outside the commercial realm and raises the question: “Is there such a thing as private food?” Read more
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
‘Tis the season for giving thanks, counting blessings and reflecting on the year past. While many Americans may not be aware, we can all now be grateful that on November 27, President Obama signed the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA) into law, providing federal government employees with the power to speak the truth … which consequently gives all consumers the gift of safer eating.
How? Because now, more than 110,000 USDA and FDA employees enjoy solid whistleblower protections, and can feel more secure to speak up when they see something wrong with the food we eat. Read more
In a new study of raw pork chops and ground pork, Consumer Reports found 69 percent samples were contaminated with Yersinia enterocolitica, according to a report published by the group today. A lesser-known foodborne pathogen, Yersinia enterocolitica can cause fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea, lasting one to three weeks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There is approximately one confirmed infection per 100,000 people reported each year, but since these cases are severely under-reported, CDC estimates there are actually around 100,000 infections in the United States annually.
Consumer Reports tested 198 samples and found that while the vast majority were positive for Yersinia, only 3 to 7 percent were positive for more the more common foodborne pathogens Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureus or Listeria monocytogenes.
According to the report, several of the isolates found were resistant to one or more antibiotics: Six of the eight Salmonella samples, 13 of the 14 Staphylococcus samples and 121 of the 132 Yersinia samples. The study also found MRSA on one sample.
The group points to the widespread use of antibiotics in agriculture as a key contributor to the resistance problem. Read more
After years of debating, petitioning, rulemaking, and outright stalling, this week the federal government is finally implementing new requirements for testing E. coli in ground beef.
Why is this cause for celebration?
Because while the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has for years required testing of the deadly 0157:H7 strain of E. coli, numerous other strains have also become a significant safety threat.
So now, any ground beef that tests positive for six additional strains will be considered adulterated under the law, which means the product cannot be placed into commerce. That’s what makes this such a big deal. Read more