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FDA proposes regulation to improve shell egg safety
On Sept. 20, the Food and Drug Administration proposed a regulation to further improve the safety of shell eggs on the farm. According to the agency, when implemented, the production changes defined by the regulation will significantly reduce the number of illness caused by eggs contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis. The proposed regulation would require implementation of prevention measures for all egg producers who have 3,000 or more laying hens that produce shell eggs for retail sale and who do not process their eggs with a treatment, such as pasteurization, to ensure their safety.
FSIS issues notice on humane slaughter practice
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which enforces the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, has published a notice encouraging establishments to use a systematic approach to ensure that they are meeting the requirements of the law during handling and slaughter. For more information, see www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/NR_090904_01/index.asp.
USDA to improve food stamp program
USDA has awarded about $1 million to eight community-based organizations to improve access to and awareness of USDA’s Food Stamp Program for eligible low-income households. The purpose of the outreach grants is to test innovative food stamp outreach strategies to underserved eligible low-income individuals and families. The new grantees will use community events and education; establish partnerships with employers, food retailers, and other Food and Nutrition Service programs; and test provision of services at alternate work or community sites to reach those in need.
GMO applications pending in EU
Monsanto Co. currently has five applications in the European Union for various types of genetically modified maize and one for GM sugar beet, and AgrEvo has one for GM soybeans. A brief summary of the status of these applications can be found at http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/food/biotechnology/authorisation/app_pend_2004.pdf.
UK launches campaign to lower salt consumption
The UK Food Standards Agency has launched a major public health campaign to reduce high salt consumption in the UK. Eating too much salt is a significant risk factor in developing high blood pressure, a cause or contributing factor in 170,000 deaths a year in England alone. The cost to the National Health Service of prescriptions for reducing high blood pressure is around £840 million, nearly 15% of the total annual cost of all primary care drugs. Studies show that reducing salt in the diet can lower blood pressure within four weeks, which helps protect the individual and reduces the cost to the National Health Service. For more information, see www.food.gov.uk/news/newsarchive/2004/sep/saltcampaignews.
EU panel reviews dietary intakes of trans fats
The Scientific Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published on August 31 an opinion relating to the presence of trans fatty acids in foods and the effect on human health of their consumption. Trans fatty acids, like saturated fatty acids, raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels in the blood, thereby increasing the risk of coronary heart disease. The panel concluded that at equivalent dietary levels, the effect of trans fatty acids on heart health may be greater than that of saturated fatty acids. However, current intakes of trans fatty acids are generally more than 10-fold lower than those of saturated fatty acids whose intakes in many European countries exceed dietary recommendations. The NDA panel also evaluated other health effects and concluded that scientific evidence with regard to a possible relationship of TFA intake to cancer, type 2 diabetes, or allergies is weak or inconsistent. Finally, the panel advised that there are no analytical methods available to distinguish between trans fatty acids from natural sources and those formed during food processing.
by JAMES GIESE