Monday Briefing

Owner of quarantined raw milk dairy pledges quick return to normal operations. The pledge by Mark McAfee of Organic Pastures, near Fresno, Calif., followed Thursday’s announcement by state authorities of a recall and quarantine of the dairy’s raw milk, raw skim milk, raw cream and raw butter. Authorities said that at least 10 people sickened by Campylobacter bacteria in five California counties from January through April reported drinking Organic Pastures’ raw milk prior to becoming ill. None of those who became ill were hospitalized, and there were no deaths. McAfee maintains that the illnesses were not related to products from his dairy, the nation’s largest producer of unpasteurized, raw milk. Food Safety News, The Fresno Bee

Authorities expanding testing of raw ground beef for E. coli. Next month the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which currently tests meat for a single strain of E. coli, will begin testing for an additional six strains to keep the pathogens out of the food supply. The move comes after years of warnings from scientists and government experts about the dangers. Since then, the “Big Six” strains of the bacteria have been repeatedly tied to multi-state outbreaks and illnesses, although most of those illnesses were not linked to beef but to such items as sprouts or lettuce. The meat industry argues that it is being unfairly targeted, but federal authorities say the checking is important to prevent illnesses and deaths. The Washington Post

Reports of young children swallowing batteries soar. A study, published today in the journal Pediatrics, estimated that from 1990 through 2009 nearly 66,000 kids, most under age 6, were brought to U.S. emergency rooms after swallowing batteries. What’s more, the annual number of cases more than doubled, from 2,591 to 5,525, over the 20-year study period. Most of the emergency room trips involved coin-shaped button batteries, now common in toys and remote controls. Those batteries carry extra risks, experts said, because they can become lodged in a child’s esophagus and start an electrical current flowing through the tissue — without kids showing signs of immediate injury. Reuters, USA Today

New rules for sunscreen labels delayed. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is bowing to industry requests for more time to make clear, on product packaging, how much protection the lotions offer. The new rules were to go into effect next month but will be put off until Dec. 17 for big companies, and a year later for smaller manufacturers. The rules are designed to give consumers better information about the effectiveness of over-the-counter sunscreens and will, for the first time, allow the bottles, tubes and sprays to say that sunscreens protect against skin cancer and early skin aging. The new rules also ban sunscreen makers from making some unsubstantiated claims, such as providing all-day protection. The Associated Press, Los Angeles Times

U.S. senator calls for action against fire retardants that pose health risks. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the senate’s assistant majority leader, wrote to the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Inez Tenenbaum, demanding an answer on why furniture flammability rules her agency proposed in 2008 haven’t been adopted. In a separate letter, Durbin urged the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Lisa Jackson, to use all of her agency’s powers to restrict the use of flame retardants linked to health problems. Durbin’s actions came in response to a Chicago Tribune investigative series on deceptive industry tactics that have fueled the rise of toxic flame retardants in American homes. Chicago Tribune

Recalls: Jonlly Fruits beveragesNestlé Purina canned cat foodWhole Foods Market carrot cake cupcakes, Hospira hydromorphone hydrochloride injection

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

Print Print  

Leave a comment