Possibly contaminated products from Europe being detained
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on June 3 said that it would hold all imports of pork and poultry from all European Community member states because of the possibility that the livestock may have been fed contaminated feed. And the Food and Drug Administration announced on June 11 that all imports of eggs, products containing eggs, and FDA-regulated game meats from Belgium, France, and the Netherlands, and all animal products, including animal-derived medicated and nonmedicated feeds, feed ingredients, and pet foods, from all European countries will be detained at U.S. ports of entry because of the possibility that they may be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxins. For products to be released from detention, importers must provide laboratory test results showing that PCBs are not detectable and/or that dioxins do not exceed 1 ppt. PCBs and dioxins may be potential carcinogens at low levels of exposure over extended periods of time and may have other types of toxicological effects. A fat product from a rendering company in Europe was contaminated with PCBs and dioxins in January 1999 and was subsequently sold to European animal feed manufacturers. Most of these feed manufacturers are in Belgium, although some of the contaminated feed has reportedly been shipped to feed manufacturers in France and the Netherlands. Food-producing animals may have consumed the feed, resulting in potentially contaminated food products such as eggs. Since some animals that ate the contaminated feed may have been rendered and the renderings added to feed shipped to other European countries, FDA is also detaining all animal-derived feed and feed ingredients as well as pet food from all European countries. FDA will provide updates at www.cfsan.fda.gov, under the heading “What’s New.”
Meat and poultry firms should reassess their HACCP plans
FSIS has stated that in light of findings from testing a range of ready-to-eat products and information from investigations of outbreaks of listeriosis, manufacturers of ready-to-eat livestock and poultry products must reassess their HACCP plans. If reassessment results in a determination that Listeria monocytogenes contamination is reasonably likely to occur in the establishment’s production process, it must be addressed in a HACCP plan. FSIS is setting out several factors that it believes an establishment should consider when performing its reassessment and is making guidance material available via the Internet at www.fsis.usda.gov/index.htm. Deadline for comments is July 26. Details are in the Federal Register of May 26 (64 FR 28351–28353). For more information, contact D.L.Engeljohn at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250-3700 (phone 202-720-5627).
Deadline for comments on revising irradiation labeling extended
FDA is extending until July 19 the deadline for comments on its advance notice of proposed rulemaking that the agency is considering revising its labeling requirements for foods treated with ionizing radiation. The notice appeared in the Federal Register of February 17 (64 FR 7834) and is available via the Internet at www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/fr021799.htm. Details of the extension are in the Federal Register of May 24 (64 FR 27935–27936). For more information, contact W.J. Trotter at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3088).
Input sought on changes to Food Chemicals Codex
FDA is requesting comments on material for publication in the second supplement to the fourth edition of Food Chemicals Codex to be published next spring. Proposed new monographs include sheanut oil, refined lcarnitine, ferric citrate, and ferrous citrate. Proposed changes to existing monographs include calcium citrate, cellulose gum, diatomaceous earth, tribasic magnesium phosphate, nickel, sodium erythorbate, sucrose, and synthetic terpene resin. And a proposed new general analytical procedure is for total unsaturation, using Fourier transform infrared multivariate analysis. The material can be accessed via the Internet at www2.nas.edu/codex. Deadline for comments is July 9; comments received later will be considered for later supplements or for a new edition. Details are in the Federal Register of May 25 (64 FR 28204–28205). For more information, contact P.M. Kuznesof at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3009).
USDA dedicates new center of excellence
On June 2, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman dedicated a new Center of Excellence and a USDA seafood safety lab at Delaware State University, an 1890 historically African-American land grant university. The new Microbial Safety of Aquaculture Products Center of Excellence will focus on microbiological food safety issues of aquaculture products, in particular, developing faster, more-efficient tests to detect disease-causing viruses and bacteria in clams, mussels, and oysters.
by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN