Neil Mermelstein

Neil H. Mermelstein

Neotame approved as nonnutritive sweetener
The Food and Drug Administration is allowing use of neotame as a nonnutritive sweetener in food. This action is in response to two petitions filed by Monsanto Co., which subsequently sold the rights to the petitions to the NutraSweet Co. Details are in the Federal Register of July 9 (67 FR 45300-45310). For more information, contact Blondell Anderson at FDA, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740-3835 (phone 202-418-3106). Also see the article beginning on p. 36 of the July 2002 issue of Food Technology.

McKee named FSIS Administrator
On July 23, Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the selection of Garry L. McKee as Administrator of the Food Safety and Inspection Service. Since 1999, he has served as the director and cabinet secretary of the Wyoming Department of Health. His experience also includes 18 years as chief of the Oklahoma State Dept. of Health’s public health laboratory and two years as its director of sanitary bacteriology. Since 1992, McKee has been a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Public Health Service Reserve. He also serves as a member of the National Public Health Anti-Terrorism Preparedness Task Force with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and has been a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization on development of laboratory training in Mexico and Guatemala. Among other changes at the agency, Linda Swacina has been named Associate Administrator; Bill Smith has been named Deputy Administrator of the agency’s Office of Field Operations; and Karen Hulebak has been named Deputy Administrator of the Office of Public Health and Science. Bill Hudnall, who was Acting FSIS Administrator for the past three months, will return to his former position with the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service.

Food security workshops scheduled
FDA and the Pacific Region Small Business Office, in cooperation with the Western Association of Food and Drug Officials (WAFDO), is announcing a series of workshops on food security and recalls. Topics include food safety and security guidance and procedures, preparing for and conducting a food recall, the use of tamper-evident packaging to avoid product counterfeiting, and the introduction of adulterants. The one-day workshops target food manufacturers, repackers, growers, and transporters. The first workshop was held on July 25 in Oakland, Calif. The next workshops will be held on August 28 in Los Angeles, Calif., and September 24 in Seattle, Wash. Details are in the Federal Register of July 3 (67 FR 44612). For more information, contact Chuck Henry at WAFDO, 14344 E. Caley Ave., Aurora, CO 80016 (e-mail [email protected]).

Bacteriophage use as antimicrobial agent sought
Intralytix, Inc., has asked FDA to allow safe use of a mixture of bacteriophages as an antimicrobial agent on foods, including fresh meat, meat products, fresh poultry, and poultry products. Details are in the Federal Register of July 22 (67 FR 47823). For more information, contact Raphael A. Davy at FDA, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740 (202-418-3405).

USDA issues “Accepted Equipment” symbol
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s Dairy Grading Branch has a new voluntary program that inspects and certifies the sanitary design of equipment and utensils used to process red meat and poultry products. This program provides a third-party assurance that equipment and utensils meet minimum requirements for cleanability, suitability of materials used in construction, durability, and inspectability. On July 15, FSIS issued a notice informing inspection program personnel about the new program, to make them aware of a possible USDA, AMS, “Accepted Equipment” symbol on equipment. Details can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/25-02.htm.

Biosecurity guidelines available in Spanish
FSIS on July 11 announced that it has issued a Spanish-language version of the “Security Guidelines for Food Processors” that FSIS issued in May. “Making the guidelines available in Spanish helps ensure that biosecurity information is extended to more processing establishments inspected by FSIS,” Under Secretary for Food Safety Elsa A. Murano said. The voluntary guidelines were published to assist meat, poultry, and egg processing plants in strengthening their food security plans. The measures were developed in consultation with industry and consumer groups and are adaptable to plants of different types and sizes. The guidelines in Spanish are available at www.fsis.usda.gov.

by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN
Editor

About the Author

IFT Fellow
Editor Emeritus of Food Technology
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Neil Mermelstein