No new advisory on methylmercury in fish
The Food and Drug Administration announced on April 8 that contrary to some recent news reports, it has not issued a new advisory on methylmercury consumption. FDA’s current advisory regarding methylmercury and fish consumption still stands. The current advisory, issued March 2001, recommends that pregnant women and women of childbearing age who may become pregnant not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. FDA received a number of recommendations from its Food Advisory Committee last summer on how to improve this advisory. FDA will continue to work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and others in developing the best science-based approaches to dealing with methyl mercury in fish.
Juice HACCP guide available
FDA has announced the availability of a small entity compliance guide for a final rule published in the Federal Register of January 19, 2001, entitled “Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP); Procedures for the Safe and Sanitary Processing and Importing of Juice.” The guide, entitled “Juice HACCP,” details requirements of the final rule and to help small businesses understand the regulation. Details are in the Federal Register of April 4 (68 FR 16541-16542).
Cooked meat importation rules changed
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture is amending its regulations governing the importation of certain animals, meat, and other animal products to allow meat cooked in plastic in processing establishments located in regions where rinderpest or foot-and-mouth disease exists to be further processed after cooking and before importation. USDA is also allowing the pink juice test to be used in determining whether ground meat cooked in such establishments has been adequately cooked. Details are in the Federal Register of April 2 (68 FR 15932-15936). For more information, contact Masoud Malik at the National Center for Import and Export, VS, USDA/APHIS, 4700 River Rd., Unit 40, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231 (phone 301-734-3277).
Agriculture fact book available
USDA’s 2001–02 Agriculture Fact Book is now available. It includes general information and statistical data about American food consumption, the agricultural sector, and rural America. The book also describes USDA’s programs and services, such as farm programs; exports; rural development, food safety; nutrition; management of land, water, and forests; protecting U.S. borders from pests and diseases; and scientific agricultural research. The book can be accessed at www.usda.gov/factbook.
FSIS to use new Salmonella screening system
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has announced a new measure that will increase the agency’s testing efficiency. FSIS has adopted the BAX® system to screen for Salmonella in ready-to-eat meat and poultry and pasteurized egg products. FSIS has determined that the system is as sensitive as the current method of detecting Salmonella but also reduces the reporting time for negative samples by at least three days. For more information, see the FSIS Web site at: www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/news/2003/bax.htm.
How to sample ready-to-eat products
FSIS’s Technical Services Center has posted a new Interactive Knowledge Exchange Scenario, “Sampling Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Products.” The scenario has been issued because of the large number of calls on the new RTE directive received by the center. The intent is to help clarify information concerning what products should be sampled under Directive 10,240.3. Details can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/OFO/TSC/ike_scenario02-03.htm.
FDA corrects food additives CFR
FDA is revising Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 170–199, Sec.172.615(a) to remove the first entry for “Pentaerythritol ester of gum or wood rosin” and adding the following entry in its place: “Sec. 172.615 Chewing gum base.” Details are in the Federal Register of April 9 (68 FR 17277).
Dietary supplements office realigned
FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has realigned its Office of Nutritional Products, Labeling and Dietary Supplements. The office is now organized by product categories to better coordinate staff activities. The realigned office features separate units for dietary supplements, nutrition labeling and program activities, infant formula and medical food, foods standards and labeling, and analytical and database research.
by JAMES GIESE