Food terrorism risk guide available
The Food and Drug Administration announced the availability of a risk assessment for food terrorism and other food safety concerns. FDA is making this document available to promote transparency by communicating publicly the risk to public health of acts of food terrorism. For more information, see the Federal Register of October 10 (68 FR 59078).
Food facility registration rule issued
FDA has issued an interim final regulation that requires domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the United States to register with FDA by December 12. The regulation implements the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act). For more information, see the Federal Register of October 10 (68 FR 58893-58974).
Prior notice of imports required
FDA has issued an interim final regulation that requires the submission to FDA of prior notice of food and animal feed imported or offered for import into the United States. For more information, see the Federal Register of October 10 (68 FR 58975-59077).
FSIS adopts BAX system
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced on October 7 that it has adopted the BAX system to screen for Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products. FSIS has determined that the system is as sensitive as the current method of detecting Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products, but also reduces the reporting time for negative samples by 1–2 days. FSIS has been using the BAX screening system for Salmonella in ready-to-eat meat, poultry, and pasteurized egg products since February 2003 and for Listeria monocytogenes since April 2002.
U.S. diabetes/obesity rates continue to rise
A new report on the nation’s health indicates that average life expectancy reached a record high of 77.2 years in 2001, rising by nearly 2 years since 1990. However, the report also indicated that the diabetes epidemic is getting worse; between 1997 and 2002, the number of Americans diagnosed with diabetes increased by 27%. Obesity has more than doubled from 15% in 1976–80 to 31% in 1999–2000; 65% of adults age 20–74 were overweight or obese in 1999–2000. Health, United States, 2003 can be found at www.cdc.gov/nchs/releases/03news/hus03.htm.
Senate examines dietary guidelines
U.S. Senator Peter G. Fitzgerald chaired a Senate subcommittee hearing on September 30 to examine the effectiveness of the nation’s current dietary guidelines in combating widespread obesity among the American public. The hearing, “The Obesity War: Are Our Dietary Guidelines Losing?” was called by Fitzgerald as chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Consumer Affairs and Product Safety. According to a press release, research has recently indicated that current guidelines are ineffective in helping prevent obesity and obesity-related diseases. The hearing also examined whether the formulation and revision of dietary guidelines are influenced more by commercial interests than sound nutrition science.
Redefinition of poultry classes proposed
FSIS has proposed amending the definitions and standards for the official U.S. classes of poultry so that they more accurately and clearly describe the characteristics of poultry in the market today. Poultry classes are defined primarily in terms of the age and sex of the bird. Genetic improvements and new poultry management techniques have reduced the grow-out period for some poultry classes, while extensive cross-breeding has produced poultry with higher meat yields but blurred breed distinctions. For more information, see the Federal Register of September 29 (68 FR 55902-55905).
NFPA opposes trans fat labeling
In comments to FDA filed on October 9, the National Food Processors Association opposed the creation of a nutrition label footnote for trans fat. FDA is seeking comment on consumer research the agency plans to undertake to consider nutrient content and health claims related to trans fat, as well as a possible footnote or disclosure statement. “NFPA does not believe that a trans fat footnote should be considered by FDA,” said Rhona Applebaum, NFPA’s Chief Science Officer. “It appears FDA’s assumption is that one of the primary purposes of a footnote is to educate consumers. We respectfully disagree with this premise. Consumers must be educated about the need to restrict their intake of trans fat using tools more effective than a label footnote.”
by JAMES GIESE