Friday, April 27, 2007

Tainted Pet Food Reaches Pork

In our earlier story about tainted pet food, we mentioned the concern some experts had about the melamine-tainted wheat gluten entering our food supply. This concern was expanded to a rice protein, also imported from China. According to AOL News today, this may have happened -- not directly, but indirectly through pork. (link)
WASHINGTON (April 26) - Several hundred of the 6,000 hogs that may have eaten contaminated pet food are believed to have entered the food supply for humans, the government said Thursday. The potential risk to human health was said to be very low.

In the state-by-state breakdown of potential hogs contaminated, it's the South Carolina investigation which caught my attention:
SOUTH CAROLINA: Urine tests done on some of the 800 hogs now quarantined at a farm have tested positive for low levels of melamine. None went to slaughter. According to the state veterinarian, none of the suspect feed was fed to the hogs. Federal tests on the feed have come up negative. The positive urine tests could not be immediately explained, although contaminated feed could have escaped detection during tests, the FDA said.

If they did not eat the tainted pet food in question, then one has to wonder how melamine could have gotten into this group of hogs.
CLEMSONews indicated;
The potentially contaminated feed was bought as salvage pet food from Diamond Pet Foods Inc., which received contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate from China. ...State officials are waiting for guidance from the FDA, FSIS and EPA as to the significance of these tests and other pending tests.

Livestock and Poultry Health is a unit of Clemson University Public Service and Agriculture. The agency inspects and regulates the state meat and poultry industries.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food

The USA Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a new report last week that reveals startling deficiencies in food safety. For examples, there has been a 50 percent increase in E coli infections since 2004, and a whopping 78 percent increase in Vibrio infections (generally caused by eating raw shellfish) over the past decade.

Progress was made against rising cases of food contamination through consumer education, where the USDA and other Government entities promoted fully cooking of meat products (such as sea food, poultry, eggs, and beef) and thoroughly washing surfaces that came into contact of such raw produce.

BUT, the huge outbreaks associated with spinach, lettuce, tomatoes and peanut butter that have occurred over the last 6 months suggest the battle for reducing foodborn illnesses is losing ground. The problem has spread to foods that are commonly eaten raw.

As important as it is to detect contamination and quickly pull such products from the market is equally important -- MORE important in my humble opinion -- to prevent contaminations at the source.

As BeverageDaily writes, " absolute priority needs to be better systems for prevention."
Voluntary guidance or industry self regulatory schemes is a short sighted answer to a growing problem that calls for immediate and permanent solutions, according to Consumers Union...

ConAgra [in response to the Peter Pan Peanut Butter contamination responsible for at least 4 deaths] said it "had plans in place to address this kind of situation". Now the firm is totally renovating and redesigning its plant to separate raw ingredients from finished products, as well as appointing a Global Food Safety executive and forming a Food Safety Advisory Committee.

These are all positive moves, it's just a shame they needed to be prompted by disaster. Learning from mistakes is good, but preventing them is even better.

Salmonella infections cause an estimated 1.4 million human illnesses and 400 deaths annually in the United States, according to the CDC. In total, the CDC estimates that 76 million Americans get sick and 5,000 die from foodborne hazards each year in the United States.


CDC Report (link): "Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food --- 10 States, 2006"

BeverageDaily (link): "Food contamination: time for action"

CDC Report (link): "Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium Infections Associated with Eating Ground Beef --- United States, 2004"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Taste Test for Smokers

"With a few modifications to their diet - consuming items that make cigarettes taste bad, such as a cold glass of milk, and avoiding items that make cigarettes taste good, like a pint of beer - smokers can make quitting a bit easier," says Dr Joseph McClernon, lead researcher on a new study that was conducted by researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

Overall, dairy products (such as milk or cheese), non-caffeinated beverages (such as water or juice), and fruits and vegetables were found to worsen the taste of cigarettes, by 19 percent, 14 percent and 16 percent of respondents respectively.

Forty-four percent of participants reported that alcoholic beverages enhance the taste of cigarettes; 45 percent reported caffeinated beverages, such as tea, cola and coffee; and 11 percent reported meat.
If you've been looking for ways to kick the habit, you might want to consider a few changes to your menu plan. Visit this link for more details on this new report.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Pet Food Recall Widens

Del Monte Foods, Nestle Purina PetCare Co., Hills Nutrition and Menu Foods are all part of a growing list of pet food manufacturers who are recalling specific brands of pet food which have been formulated with the contaminated wheat gluten imported from an Asian source.

The latest disturbing news on this is that according to Del Monte (quote):
Del Monte Foods has confirmed that the melamine-tainted wheat gluten used in several of its recalled pet food products was supplied as a "food grade" additive, raising the likelihood that contaminated wheat gluten might have entered the human food supply....

Del Monte issued a voluntary recall Saturday for several products under the Gravy Train, Jerky Treats, Pounce, Ol' Roy, Dollar General and Happy Trails brands.
Wheat gluten is sold in both "food grade" and "feed grade" varieties. Either may be used in pet food, but only "food grade" gluten may be used in the manufacture of products meant for human consumption. Wheat gluten is a common food additive used as a thickener, dough conditioner, and meat substitute. It is widely used as an additive in commercial bakery items and special purpose flours.

Persons suffering from celiac disease must avoid foods containing all forms of gluten. If this particular shipment of gluten has indeed entered the food supply chain, it could have far reaching consequences.
Meanwhile, the FDA now says the contamination in wet pet food that has injured and killed pets across the country may not have been the pesticide aminopterin but possibly a fertilizer and plastics agent called melamine.

...FDA investigators are not certain how melamine would sicken or kill dogs and cats; there is little scientific information available about melamine exposure in animals.
One firm in New York disputes the melamine theory as the source of the many peat deaths and illnesses. They claim the traces of aminopterin discovered are a more likely source owing to its known toxicity as a rat poison and cancer drug treatment.
Earlier in the day, the FDA said its labs found no aminopterin in its tests. Neither did labs at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University in New York. Cornell has been involved in testing of the Menu Foods since the first indication of the problem, "We have not been able to confirm aminoptrin in the food or body samples," says Donald Smith, dean of the college.
For details on the wide range of pet foods recalled by Menu Foods, vist their pet food recall information website here. You can also find the "Frequently Asked Questions" on the Menu Foods pet food recall this site.

Purina's recalled products include:
13.2-ounce and 22-ounce ALPO Prime Cuts cans and 6-, 8-, 12- and 24-can ALPO Prime Cuts Variety Packs. They have four-digit code dates of 7037 through 7053, followed by the plant code 1159. Those codes follow a "Best Before Feb. 2009" date. This information should be checked on the bottom of the can or the top or side of the multi-pack cartons.

Purina's 5.3-ounce Mighty Dog pouch products, manufactured by Menu Foods, were previously withdrawn from the market as a precaution on March 16 as part of the Menu Foods recall.
Hill's Science Diet Savory Cuts Feline canned cat foods, manufactured by Menu Foods, were previously withdrawn from the market as a precaution. Hills Nutrition products are generally only available through a vetrinarian source. Hills' affected products include:
The affected products:

• Prescription Diet™ m/d™ Feline dry food, 4 pound bag, 52742 42770(all lot numbers)

• Prescription Diet™ m/d™ Feline dry food, ten pound bag, 52742 42790(all lot numbers)

The company advised consumers to stop using the product and return it for a refund. Hill's is reformulating the food so that it will not contain wheat gluten, the company said.
Please don't consider the above the ony products affected. There are more not mentioned above which can be found at the various manufacturers' websites.

And as I mentioned, the recall is widening ...the list is still growing as this story continues to evolve.

Yesterday, the FDA announced that it has traced the contaminated wheat gluten to a single processor, Xuzhou Anying Biological Technology of Peixian, China, but has not released the name of the U.S. distributor who supplied the product to Del Monte, Menu Foods, Nestle Purina, and Hills Nutritional.

In all, more than 70 brands and over 60 million cans and pouches of dog and cat food are now part of this massive recall, as well as at least one brand of dry cat food.

We'll bring you more on the subject as the story unfolds.