Report on Joint Institute for Food Safety Research available
The U.S. Depts. of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have announced the availability of a final report on the Joint Institute for Food Safety Research. President Clinton on July 3, 1998, directed USDA and HHS to develop a plan to create the joint institute to coordinate planning and priority setting for food safety research among the two departments, other government agencies, and the private sector, and foster effective translation of research results into practice along the farm-to-table continuum, with the ultimate goal of reducing the incidence of foodborne illness as much as possible. The report, submitted to the President on July 2, 1999, is available via the Internet at Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 15 (64 FR 50057). For more information, contact W.C. Wagner at USDA (phone 202-401-4952).

Four health claims for dietary supplements being reconsidered
The Food and Drug Administration is reconsidering whether to authorize four health claims in dietary supplement labeling: “Consumption of antioxidant vitamins may reduce the risk of certain kinds of cancer,’’ “Consumption of fiber may reduce the risk of colorectal cancer,’’ “Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease,’’ and “0.8 mg of folic acid in a dietary supplement is more effective in reducing the risk of neural tube defects than a lower amount in foods in common form.’’ Deadline for comments is Nov. 22. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 8 (64 FR 48841-48842). For more information, contact C.J. Lewis at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-205-4168).

USDA using more-sensitive test for E. coli O157:H7
Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman on Sept. 10 announced that USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has begun using a more sensitive method for detecting Escherichia coli O157:H7 in raw meat products. The “immunomagnetic separation” method is approximately four times more sensitive than previous methods and will be incorporated into the standard procedures in use in all three FSIS field service laboratories. The IMS method begins after a screening test identifies a potentially positive sample. Antibody-coated magnetic beads recognize and capture E. coli O157:H7 cells in meat product enrichment broths. A magnetic device captures the beads after they bind to the pathogen. As a result, live E. coli O157:H7 cells are concentrated to facilitate growth and detection on special agar culture media. Confirmation is by standard FSIS procedures.

Most USDA food aid in 25 years
Secretary Glickman also announced on Sept. 10 that USDA will ship approximately 8.5 million metric tons of U.S. commodities under fiscal 1999 food aid programs—more than five times last year’s 1.6 million tons, and the largest tonnage in at least 25 years. U.S. commodities are being shipped to about 50 countries this year under USDA donation and concessional sales programs.

Vegetable protein comment deadline extended
USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service has extended until Nov. 19 the deadline for comments on its July 20, 1999, proposal to modify the “Vegetable Protein Products’’ requirements in feeding programs. The proposal would rename “Vegetable Protein Products’’ as “Alternate Protein Products”; remove the limit on the amount that can be used; no longer require that the products be fortified; and update the test used to determine protein quality. Details are in the Federal Register of Aug. 25 (64 FR 46319). For more information, contact M. Hinners or J. Fabina at USDA/FNS, 3101 Park Center Dr., Alexandria, VA 22302 (phone 703-305-2621).

Sodium stearoyl lactylate use in liqueur drinks petitioned
American Ingredients Co. has asked FDA to allow use of sodium stearoyl lactylate as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and texturizer in cream liqueur drinks. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 13 (64 FR 49495-49496). For more information, contact M.E. LaVecchia at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3072).

Sodium chlorite use on meat requested
Alcide Corp. has asked FDA to allow use of acidified sodium chlorite solutions as an antimicrobial agent on red meat parts and organs. Details are in the Federal Register of Aug. 30 (64 FR 47193-47194). For more information, contact R.L. Martin at FDA, 200 C St., S.W., Washington, DC 20204 (phone 202-418-3074).

Irradiation of feed proposed
SteriGenics International, Inc., has asked FDA to allow use of irradiation for microbial control of various animal feeds and feed ingredients. Details are in the Federal Register of Sept. 3 (64 FR 48409). For more information, contact J.D. McCurdy at FDA, 7500 Standish Pl., Rockville, MD 20855 (phone 301-827-0171).

Senior Editor

About the Author

IFT Fellow
Editor Emeritus of Food Technology
[email protected]
Neil Mermelstein