Food Safety Scan for Feb 07, 2014

Salmonella in chicken
Safeguarding infant formula

Feds mull new measures to limit Salmonella in chicken

With shortcomings in poultry safety highlighted recently by the Foster Farms Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has multiple efforts under way to make chicken consumption safer, the Washington Post reported yesterday.

The report said it's not clear how likely the USDA would be to ban certain antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella, as it reviews a 2011 petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) seeking that step. Industry groups have said eliminating the bacteria isn't feasible, and USDA officials have raised concern that a ban on Salmonella strains would trigger a legal challenge from the industry, according to the story.

Meanwhile, the USDA is planning to set new standards to reduce Salmonella contamination in chicken parts, after finding that lowering the acceptable contamination level in carcasses didn't reduce the frequency of illness in humans, according to the report. Two years ago the agency did a study and found that 24% of chicken parts had Salmonella contamination, nearly four times the frequency of contamination on whole carcasses, the story said.

USDA officials said that same percentage was found at the Foster Farms plants tested during the recent outbreak. As part of the outbreak response, Foster Farms has adopted 23 new processes to reduce Salmonella, which involve applying antimicrobial treatments to chicken parts after processing.

The USDA is also airing a proposal that would retool its poultry safety inspection system, which it said could drop Salmonella illness rates by 1.9%, a level that the Government Accountability Office has said might not be realistic.
Feb 6 Washington Post report


New FDA rule aims to ensure safety, quality of infant formula

An interim final rule and two draft guidance documents for industry on manufacturing standards for infant formula were issued yesterday by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and will be open for public comment shortly, according to a press release from the agency.

The new rule, which will become effective Jul 10, implements remaining provisions of the Infant Formula Act of 1980 and the 1986 amendments to the act. It includes changes to current FDA quality-control procedures, notification, and record and reporting requirements, and it requires Cronobacter and Salmonella testing, among other measures.

It will be open for comment for 45 days after publication in the Federal Register, scheduled for Feb 10.

Companies currently manufacturing infant formula already comply voluntarily with many of the practices and requirements in the new rule and guidance, says the release.

One quarter of newborns are not breastfed at all and rely on formula feeding from birth, and two-thirds receive at least some of their nutrition from formula by the age of 3 months, according to the FDA.

"The FDA sets high quality standards for infant formulas because nutritional deficiencies during this critical time of development can have a significant impact on a child's long-term health and well-being. This rule will help to prevent adulteration in infant formula and ensure infant formula supports normal, physical growth," stated FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine Michael Taylor.
Feb 6 FDA news release with link for public comment
FDA page with links to infant formula documents


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