Tag Archives | FDA

Glow-In-The-Dark Pork And More: China’s Nauseating Food Woes

china-beef-extract-04-300x200Fake soy sauce flavored with hair salon clippings? Fake eggs implanted in fake eggshells? Amazingly, it gets worse in this Los Angeles Times piece on China’s fast-ballooning food safety issues. Never have I been so thankful for the FDA:

If anything, China’s food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre.

In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie. Experts pointed to phosphorescent bacteria, blamed for another case of glow-in-the-dark pork last year.

Farmers in eastern Jiangsu province complained to state media last month that their watermelons had exploded “like landmines” after they mistakenly applied too much growth hormone in hopes of increasing their size.

“The profit margin is bigger than drug trafficking if you add the lean pork powder to the pig food,” said Zhou Qing, an author and dissident, who has styled himself as China’s equivalent of Upton Sinclair.

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Feds Sting Amish Farmer Selling Raw Milk Locally

Raw milk. Photo: Jgharston (CC)

Raw milk. Photo: Jgharston (CC)

Stephan Dinan writes for The Washington Times:

A yearlong sting operation, including aliases, a 5 a.m. surprise inspection and surreptitious purchases from an Amish farm in Pennsylvania, culminated in the federal government announcing this week that it has gone to court to stop Rainbow Acres Farm from selling its contraband to willing customers in the Washington area.

The product in question: unpasteurized milk.

It’s a battle that’s been going on behind the scenes for years, with natural foods advocates arguing that raw milk, as it’s also known, is healthier than the pasteurized product, while the Food and Drug Administration says raw milk can carry harmful bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli and listeria.

“It is the FDA’s position that raw milk should never be consumed,” said Tamara N. Ward, spokeswoman for the FDA, whose investigators have been looking into Rainbow Acres for months, and who finally last week filed a 10-page complaint in federal court in Pennsylvania seeking an order to stop the farm from shipping across state lines any more raw milk or dairy products made from it.

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Maine Town Declares Food Sovereignty

Sedgwick, Maine

Sedgwick, Maine

Do we really need the government to regulate our food? Sedgwick, Maine doesn’t think so and has become the first town to take action towards producing and selling their own foods. Sustainable Cities Collective reports:

The town of Sedgwick, Maine, population 1,012 (according to the 2000 census), has become the first town in the United States to pass a Food Sovereignty ordinance.  In doing so, the town declared their right to produce and sell local foods of their choosing, without the oversight of State or federal regulation.

What does this mean?  In the debate over raw milk, for example, the law opens the gate for consumer and producer to enter a purchasing agreement without interference from state or federal health regulators.  According to the Mayo Clinic, a 1987 FDA regulation required that all milk be pasteurized to kill pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli.  The Sedgwick ordinance declares that:

Producers or processors of local foods in the Town of Sedgwick are exempt from licensure and inspection provided that the transaction is only between the producer or processor and a patron when the food is sold for home consumption.

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FDA Approves First New Lupus Drug In 56 Years

Lupus Varrucosus

Lupus Varrucosus

Via Modern Medicine:

Benlysta (belimumab) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat lupus, the first medication sanctioned for the condition in the United States since 1955.

The injected drug targets B-lymphocyte stimulator (BLyS) protein, which is believed to play a role in abnormal B cells thought to characterize lupus, the agency said in a news release. Lupus disproportionally affects women, usually aged 15 to 44.

As many as 1.5 million people in the United States have the disease, although estimates vary widely, the FDA said. Black women have a three times higher incidence of the disease than Caucasian women.

The safety and effectiveness of Benlysta were established in a pair of clinical studies involving 1,684 people. Those treated with Benlysta had fewer symptoms than those who took a placebo, and the results suggested that those who took the drug also were less likely to have severe lupus flares, the agency said.

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You Can’t Avoid Genetically Engineered Foods

No matter how hard you try to avoid “food” that nature never intended, the U.S. government has made it almost impossible for its citizens to stay GM-free. Three more genetically engineered crops were approved in the last month alone. AP/USA Today tells the sorry story:

You may not want to eat genetically engineered foods. Chances are, you are eating them anyway.

Genetically modified plants grown from seeds engineered in labs now provide much of the food we eat. Most corn, soybean and cotton crops grown in the United States have been genetically modified to resist pesticides or insects, and corn and soy are common food ingredients.

USA. Genetically engineered crops timeline

The Agriculture Department has approved three more genetically engineered crops in the past month, and the Food and Drug Administration could approve fast-growing genetically modified salmon for human consumption this year.

Agribusiness and the seed companies say their products help boost crop production, lower prices at the grocery store and feed the world, particularly in developing countries.

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Caramel Coloring In Coke Causes Cancer

Photo Credit: Jorge Bach, CSPI

Photo Credit: Jorge Bach, CSPI

A few days ago it was revealed that diet soda can trigger strokes in regular drinkers of the sweet fizzy beverages. Now the Center for Science in the Public Interest is petitioning the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prohibit what it says is carcinogenic “caramel coloring” (that is, not real caramel but synthetic, chemical “caramel”):

The “caramel coloring” used in Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and other foods is contaminated with two cancer-causing chemicals and should be banned, according to a regulatory petition filed today by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

In contrast to the caramel one might make at home by melting sugar in a saucepan, the artificial brown coloring in colas and some other products is made by reacting sugars with ammonia and sulfites under high pressure and temperatures. Chemical reactions result in the formation of 2-methylimidazole and 4 methylimidazole, which in government-conducted studies caused lung, liver, or thyroid cancer or leukemia in laboratory mice or rats.

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Is the FDA Hiding the Ingredients of Your Food?

Guess which one is genetically altered... Source: AquaBounty

Genetically altered salmon. Source: AquaBounty

Not only won’t the FDA require genetically modified food be labeled as such, they’re apparently making it harder for non-GM foods to be labeled as such.  From the Washington Post:

The labeling matter is further complicated because the FDA has maintained a tough stance for food makers who don’t use genetically engineered ingredients and want to promote their products as an alternative. The agency allows manufacturers to label their products as not genetically engineered as long as those labels are accurate and do not imply that the products are therefore more healthful.

The agency warned the dairy industry in 1994 that it could not use “Hormone Free” labeling on milk from cows that are not given engineered hormones, because all milk contains some hormones.

It has sent a flurry of enforcement letters to food makers, including B&G Foods, which was told it could not use the phrase “GMO-free” on its Polaner All Fruit strawberry spread label because GMO refers to genetically modified organisms and strawberries are produce, not organisms.

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Kids On Dex

If you're from the UK you've probably experienced the powerful drugs in over-the-counter cough medicines like codeine. In the US abuse of cough medicine hasn't been quite the same, but nevertheless it looks like the government will make these drugs prescription only, as reported by CNN:
Last year, more than 8,000 people, mostly teens, were treated at emergency rooms because they abused over-the-counter cough suppressants, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Now in an effort to control these substances, the FDA is considering whether to make medicines like Nyquil, Robitussin and Tylenol Cold tablets, prescription drugs. An FDA advisory committee, which is meeting today...
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FDA To Curb Access of Cough Medicine Used For ‘Robotripping’

Like so many household supplies, cough suppressants have found their way into the drug culture. The FDA is now looking into how to restrict the access to dextromethorphan, the “euphoric” ingredient, especially to the targeted “robotripping” group of adolescents. LA Times reports:

Federal health regulators are weighing restrictions on Robitussin, NyQuil and other cough suppressants to curb cases of abuse that send thousands of people to the hospital each year.

The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday posted its review of dextromethorphan, an ingredient found in more than 100 over-the-counter medications that is sometimes abused for its euphoric effects. The practice, dubbed “robotripping,” involves taking more than 25 times the recommended dose of a cold medicine and is mainly associated with teenagers.

At high doses the drug causes increased blood pressure, heart rate and fever. Abusers can also suffer side effects from other ingredients mixed in cough medicines, such as acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage.

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Genetically Modified Salmon Near FDA Approval

Photo: Atlantic salmon

Photo: Atlantic salmon

While most people are wondering what will happen to the fishing industry in the Gulf, Massachucettes geneticists are raising quick-growing Atlantic salmon.  Les Blumenthal of McClatchy Newspapers writes:

WASHINGTON — They may not be the 500-pound “Frankenfish” that some researchers were talking about 10 years ago, but a Massachusetts company says it’s on the verge of receiving federal approval to market a quick-growing Atlantic salmon that’s been genetically modified with help from a Pacific Chinook salmon.

Though genetically engineered crops such as corn and soybeans have been part of the American diet for several years, if the Food and Drug Administration approves it, the salmon would be the first transgenic animal headed for the dinner table.

“I would serve it to my kids,” said Val Giddings, who worked as a geneticist at the U.S. Agriculture Department for a decade before becoming a private consultant.

The financial rewards could be enormous.

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