Thursday

Industry’s ‘Undue Influence’ Mars Decisions on Food Additive Safety, Study Finds

Experts who gauge the safety of food additives often are employees or consultants to manufacturers. Under current law, food companies decide for themselves whether an additive is safe and voluntarily notify the U.S. Food and Drug Administration of the decision. What’s more, even when the FDA is notified, the safety assessments often are made by food company employees or consultants rather than by third party experts. A JAMA Internal Medicine study found that was the case in 35 percent of 451 additive safety notices submitted to the FDA from 1997 to 2012. “Rules governing the chemicals that go into a tennis racket are more stringent than [rules for] the chemicals that go into our food,” the lead author said. NatureUSA Today, Reuters

Proposal would let oil companies continue dumping polluted wastewater at a Wyoming reservation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has proposed permits for several oil fields on the Wind River Reservation that would allow companies to continue their current practice of dumping wastewater, some of which contains chemicals used in fracking and other hazardous substances. So much wastewater is dumped there that it sometimes causes raging streams. While state rules ban companies from dumping water used for fracking and water containing other chemicals, those rules don’t apply on reservations. The proposed permits would set some limits on the amounts of naturally occurring chemicals permitted in dumped wastewater, but not on added chemicals. NPR

Wal-Mart agrees to make safety improvements at 2,875 stores and pay $190,000 fine. The settlement comes after inspectors found repeat violations at a Rochester, N.Y., store, along with hazards at company locations in nine other states. In Rochester, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration charged the retailer with using unsafe trash compacting procedures, failing to train workers using hazardous chemicals and blocking exits. Under the settlement, which covers Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in 28 states, the company will keep trash compactors locked when not in use, improve chemical handling procedures and hire an outside monitor to check compliance with the settlement every four months for two years. OSHA originally proposed a fine of $365,000. The Guardian, The Washington Post, OSHA

Half of small cars fare poorly in updated crash tests. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety increased the rigor of its crash tests last year to include a front overlap test, which simulates collisions involving only a front corner of the vehicle. This type of crash accounts for nearly one quarter of the collisions that cause serious injury or death. New results show that six of the 12 cars tested, mostly 2013 models, were rated “poor” or “marginal,” including the Chevrolet Sonic, Kia Soul, Nissan Sentra and Volkswagen AG Beetle. A spokesman for the institute said the issue doesn’t lend itself to a quick fix and most manufacturers will have to address the problem when they fully redesign the models. Larger vehicles also have fared badly in the new tests. Reuters

Amid mounting parasailing injuries, Coast Guard issues safety alert. Parasailing accidents have caused 11 deaths and 52 injuries in the U.S. over the last seven years. Last month, two teenage girls were critically injured in Panama City, Fla., when they crashed into a condominium after their parasail broke loose from the boat towing them. The industry operates with little oversight — parasailing equipment is not regulated or inspected by the federal government and only boats with room for more than six passengers require Coast Guard inspection. Florida lawmakers tried this year to pass legislation tightening regulation, but the effort failed amid industry opposition. The Coast Guard recently advised parasailing operators to check equipment, monitor weather and prepare for emergencies. Northwest Florida Daily NewsFox 13 News (Tampa Bay, Fla.)WKRG (Mobile, Ala.)ABC News

Compiled by Bridget Huber

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