Aug 4, 2009 | 3
ALBUQUERQUE—The foot-long Tokay gecko's polka-dot skin and wide eyes have made it popular with pet stores, where it can sell for less than $20. But the adorable Asian lizards are also a mixing pot for 10 types of salmonella from local livestock, poultry and rodents, a researcher said today.
For the last several years, Katherine Smith at Brown University and colleagues have worked to document the pet trade's potential to bring new and dangerous diseases to the United States. As Smith reported in Science earlier this year, the U.S. imported 1.5 billion live animals between 2000 and 2006, just 14 percent of which have been identified to species in government records. Even less well-known are the pathogens they may contain. In 2003, for instance, a Gambian pouched rat started an outbreak of monkeypox in the Midwest.
At the Ecological Society of America meeting here today, Smith described new results from a study of 150 wild-caught Tokay geckos imported from Indonesia. She found that 60 percent of the geckos tested positive for Salmonella, which was not too surprising considering that 10 percent of salmonella cases are caused by reptile pets, such as slider turtles and iguanas.
Apr 10, 2009 | 2
The company whose salmonella-tainted peanut products made 691 people sick and may have killed nine others has been fined $14.6 million.
The Texas Department of State Health Services yesterday fined Plainview Peanut Corp. — a plant owned by the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), the company at the center of the salmonella outbreak — for what the agency described as unsanitary conditions and contamination of its goods, as well as illnesses and operating for nearly four years without a food manufacturer’s license from the state. State health inspectors in February discovered dead rodents, waste and bird feathers in a crawl space above the plant's production area. PCA filed for bankruptcy a day after the stomach-turning findings were announced.
Apr 9, 2009
Cases of food-borne illnesses, including infections such as salmonella and Escherichia coli that have been at the center of recent outbreaks, have held steady for the past four years, federal health officials said today.
Salmonella was the most common bacteria transmitted by contaminated food last year, according to today's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Rates of the infection, which has sickened 691 people and possibly killed nine in a recent outbreak via tainted peanut butter, have decreased the least of the nine illnesses that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documents in the report.
Mar 31, 2009 | 1
Oh nuts! Just when you thought it was safe to eat peanut butter again (the stuff in jars is fine but be wary of baked goods that contain it), the feds are warning consumers to avoid pistachios. The alert comes in the wake of a voluntary recall of around a million pounds of the little green nuts due to possible salmonella contamination.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the California Department of Public health are investigating the possibility that pistachios shipped on or after September 1 by Setton Pistachio of Terra Bella, Calif., were to blame for several reported cases of salmonella. The FDA said it's conducting genetic testing on samples from recalled batches to determine if salmonella strains in them match those in people sickened by the bacterial infection.
Mar 26, 2009 | 1
Do you know where your food comes from—or where it's going? If you’re a food distributor or manufacturer, the answer is probably not.
That’s the conclusion of a report presented today by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) inspector general, Daniel Levinson, at a House hearing on food safety. Federal law requires food manufacturers and distributors to keep records on their goods' stops along the production chain, such as the processors and packers that handle them. They're also supposed to track who transports them and what stores they end up in to make it easier for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to trace the origin of food-borne illnesses. But 59 percent of manufacturers and distributors couldn’t provide Levinson's investigators with all of that information, and 25 percent were clueless about the requirement, Levinson told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies.
Mar 14, 2009
President Barack Obama today tapped former New York City Public Health Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, 54, to head the embattled U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and announced creation of a new panel to examine and update food safety laws in the wake of an outbreak of salmonella that sickened hundreds.
Obama announced the moves during his weekly radio address in which he blamed a lack of food inspections and antiquated laws and regs for creating a "demoralized" FDA as well as conditions ripe for a string of food-borne infections over the past few years, including the recent salmonella outbreak linked to peanut butter and paste churned out at a contaminated Georgia plant.
Mar 4, 2009 | 4
Coming on the heels of a sweeping salmonella scare, a bipartisan group of senators yesterday introduced legislation designed to give the feds the financial and regulatory muscle they need to protect the nation's food supply.
"Over the last year, we've seen major recalls of peanut butter spiked with salmonella, spinach laced with E. coli and chili loaded with botulism," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said during a press conference held to announce the move. "These are not isolated incidents and are the result of an outdated, underfunded and overwhelmed food safety system. [This] bipartisan bill will improve the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration's] ability to prevent food-borne illness outbreaks and ensure the FDA responds quickly and effectively when outbreaks do occur."
Feb 13, 2009 | 5
The company responsible for the nation's salmonella outbreak that has sickened some 600 people and may have led to the deaths of eight others today declared bankruptcy. The move comes after the bacterial infection traced to Peanut Corporation of America's (PCA) Blakely, Ga., plant led to one of the biggest product recalls in U.S. history; some 1,800 products have been stripped from store shelves since last month, because they contained or may have contained contaminated peanut butter or peanut paste.
PCA filed a Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Virginia, claiming that the mass recall had an "extremely devastating" impact on its finances, according to Reuters. Under Chapter 7 companies liquidate their assets to repay creditors rather than reorganize.
Feb 11, 2009 | 4
Top brass at Peanut Corp. of America (PCA), whose contaminated peanut products are blamed for sickening 600 people and possibly killing eight others since September, refused to testify today at a congressional hearing. The company closed a second plant, this one in Plainview, Tex., yesterday after tests confirmed it also was contaminated with salmonella.
PCA President Stewart Parnell and Sammy Lightsey, manager of PCA's Blakely, Ga., plant, invoked their constitutional right to remain silent (to avoid providing information that might be self-incriminating evidence of illegal action) during a hearing before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations on the salmonella outbreak. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company knowingly shipped contaminated products from the Blakely plant, which was shuttered after the feds traced the salmonella outbreak in 44 states to peanut butter, paste and other ingredients made there.
Feb 2, 2009
Pres. Obama says he's ordering a “complete review” of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) after state and federal inspectors failed to detect and crack down on a Georgia plant that knowingly sent out tainted peanut butter products that have sickened 529 people in 43 states and may have killed eight.
The oversight is only the most recent of “instances over the last several years” in which “the FDA has not been able to catch some of these things as quickly as I expect them to catch,” Obama told the Today Show this morning. “At bare minimum, we should be able to count on our government keeping our kids safe when they eat peanut butter.”
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