FSIS claims downward E. coli trend
On Sept. 17, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released data showing a drop in the number of E. coli O157:H7 positive samples in ground beef collected to date in 2003 compared with past years. Of the samples collected and analyzed through Aug. 31, 0.32% tested positive for E. coli O157:H7, down from 0.78 in 2002 and 0.84 in 2001. In 2000, after FSIS began using a much more sensitive E. coli O157:H7 test, 0.86% of samples tested positive.
FDA warns producers on “Hormone Free” claims
On Sept. 16, the Food and Drug Administration issued warning letters to four manufacturers of whole milk, reduced fat milk, and ice cream, informing them that their products are mis-branded because the labels contain the false statements, “No Hormones” or “Hormone Free.” During recent inspections, FDA investigators collected labels of dairy products, including various milk and ice cream products. FDA reviewed the labels and determined that the statements “No Hormones” and “Hormone Free” are false claims and therefore the products are misbranded. The letters explain that “No Hormones” and “Hormone Free” are false claims because all milk contains naturally occurring hormones, and milk can not be processed in a manner that renders it free of hormones. For more information, see www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/fprbst.html.
Comments requested on revised food guide pyramid
USDA called for public comments on proposed revisions to the daily food intake patterns that serve as the technical basis for the Food Guide Pyramid. USDA is reassessing the Food Guide Pyramid, which was originally developed in 1992 to help Americans implement the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Final release of the updated Food Guide Pyramid and related consumer materials is scheduled for early 2005. For more information on the Pyramid and the Federal Register notice, see www.cnpp.usda.gov. Written comments on the daily food intake patterns can be sub mitted to: Food Guide Pyramid Reassessment Team, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, 3101 Park Center Dr., Room 1034, Alexandria, VA 22302.
FDA issues advisory on star anise “teas”
On Sept. 10, FDA advised consumers not to consume “teas” brewed from star anise. It has come to FDA’s attention that brewed “teas” containing star anise have been associated with illnesses affecting about 40 individuals. Consumers should not use the teas or give them to infants and children. For more information, see www.fda.gov/bbs/topics/NEWS/2003/NEW00941.html.
Group petitions FDA on milk definition
On Sept. 9, the National Farmers Union delivered 3,398 petitions to FDA urging the agency not to change the definition of milk. The National Cheese Institute, Grocery Manufacturers of America, Inc., National Food Processors Association, and American Dairy Products Institute recently filed petitions with FDA requesting a revision of the definition of milk. The petitions request permission to use fluid ultrafiltered milk as an approved ingredient in standardized cheeses and other cheese products. Under current standard of identity regulations, fluid ultrafiltered milk is not an approved ingredient in more than 70 different cheeses. National Farmers Union opposes allowing fluid ultrafiltered milk to be used as an ingredient in natural cheese and cheese products.
Grape seed extract listed as GRAS
FDA’s Office of Food Additive Safety has notified Polyphenolics, a division of Canandaigua Wine Co., Inc., that it currently has no questions regarding the conclusion, reached earlier by Polyphenolics, that its grape seed extract and grape pomace extract are Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) for use in fruit juices and fruit flavored beverages. The products may be used in fruit juices, fruit flavored beverages, fruit flavored beverage mixes and carbonated fruit flavored beverages at a concentration of up to 210 ppm.
by JAMES GIESE