by Marion Nestle

Currently browsing posts about: Food-safety

Jun 8 2008

Tyson’s antibiotic-free ploy, checkmated

Thanks to Susan Schneider, who writes a blog on agricultural law (now added to my blogroll), for alerting me to her post about the Tyson’s antibiotic-free claim on the labels of its antibiotic-treated chickens. This is a good story–one of the usual deceit and denial–and she tells it well. Enjoy?

Jun 6 2008

Food safety: this time, tomatoes

So now tomatoes are contaminated with Salmonella, this time with the uncommon serotype, Saintpaul, and the FDA says not to eat tomatoes from a bunch of states in the Southwest.  But the New Mexico government says the contaminated tomatoes come from Mexico.  If this is correct, it’s globalization time again.  The FDA notes that tomatoes from everywhere are now coming into harvest. That is why, in 2007, the agency started a “tomato safety initiative” to get growers to take action to prevent Salmonella contamination. Initiatives are voluntary, here and in Mexico. Surely, it is time for mandatory? And mandatory import inspections?  Michael Doyle, a food safety expert based at the University of Georgia, says globalization raises food safety risks. This may seem evident, but I like his quote: “It is the industry that is responsible for producing safe foods. It is the government’s responsibility to verify that they are producing safe foods.”

As for the perspective of strong supporters of the produce industry, check out what the Perishable Pundit has to say about the way the FDA is handling this incident.   What he calls the “gracious” comments of California tomato growers are also worth a look.

May 27 2008

Food safety politics again

Here’s a useful post from Science Progress (in which I am quoted) on the push to fix the U.S. food safety system by creating a single food safety agency. It comes with an instructive diagram of the various agencies now involved–this alone is a good reason why the system needs a fix.  Science Progress is a project of the Center for American Progress, of which I had not heard until now.

Apr 23 2008

Foodborne illness: not much progress

The CDC has just released its latest report on cases of illness due to eating contaminated food in the ten states it uses to track such information. The bottom line: there was some progress prior to 2004 but not much progress since then. Worse, toxic cases of E. coli are increasing.  The CDC says you should be following standard food-safety procedures. Of course you should.  But how come the CDC isn’t pushing companies to produce safer foods in the first place!

Apr 2 2008

Salmonella in imported cantaloupes: a problem?

I am indebted to Jim Prevor, the Perishable Pundit, for close tracking of the FDA’s import alert on Salmonella in cantaloupes. His most recent post contains a terrific interview with an FDA official about this incident. It is as good an example of what the FDA is up against in these kinds of investigations as any I can imagine. Perishable Pundit views food safety issues from the standpoint of the producers of fruit and vegetables who have much to lose if the FDA finds something wrong. The FDA looks at the issues from the standpoint of consumer protection. Thanks to the interviewer, Mira Slott, and to the FDA official, Sebastian Cianci, for grappling with these issues with much thought and mutual respect.

Apr 1 2008

Your thoughts on FDA’s food protection plan?

The FDA is seeking public comment – that means you – on its food protection plan announced late last year. The request for comment points out that we now get our food from 150 countries through 300 ports-of-entry, and that imported foods account for 15% of all foods by volume, 60% of fresh fruits and vegetables, and 75% of seafood. Gulp. Here’s your chance to say what you think the FDA should be doing to ensure the safety of the food supply, domestic and imported. How about standard food safety rules (of the HACCP and pathogen reduction type) from farm to table, for starters? Just dreaming….

Feb 19 2008

Food safety: the big picture?

Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, has tallied up the recalls and other food safety scares from the last 18 months.  It’s an impressive list, and provides plenty of evidence for the need of a complete overhaul of our food safety system.

Nov 7 2007

Tracking E. coli Outbreaks: An Interactive Map

MSNBC has produced a nifty map of the sources of E. coli outbreaks by state, from 1990 to the present. Click on the year, and see where the outbreaks occurred. If the list seems sparse, it’s because not all are listed. If we don’t do something serious about regulating food production, the map will just get more complicated.