Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Celebrating Our 16th Anniversary of Protecting America’s Food Supply

Safe Tables Our Priority is celebrating our 16th anniversary this holiday season.  We have accomplished so much in the past year, and we’re even more excited about what we plan to accomplish in the future.  Here is a sampling of what we’ve been doing this year and projects that we’ve started:
Created a Victim Helpline: 1-800-350-S.T.O.P.--Begun a Long-term Complications Study that will help us track victims who have suffered long-term consequences--Sent out S.T.O.P.  E-alerts to inform the public about food safety information and recalls--Set up victim matching to provide support--Started consumer coalitions with other consumer groups--Produced a S.T.O.P. Tele-seminar Series--Advocated Food Safety--Updated our website to include more resources for the public, including a Legislative Action Center--Increased our public health presence-- Found a whistleblower for the PCA peanut products outbreak and initiated a plant closing--Launched a social media campaign to better connect with our victims and the general public
We are America’s Voice for Safe Food…. We’re out there helping victims, researching, advocating, and educating on your behalf, every single day.

We wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season with good friends, good cheer, and great food made safer by a strong S.T.O.P. organization.  For food safety tips for Thanksgiving and the Holidays, go to our website to check out our Recipe for a Foodsafe Holiday Season.  For more information about food safety and recalls remember to sign up for our S.T.O.P. E- alerts.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekly Round Up

We’ve been very busy over at S.T.O.P. due to the Food Safety Modernization Act that just passed through the Senate HELP Committee this week. A lot of the stories and information for this week’s round-up pertain to the bill and people supporting it. You can receive these updates on food safety, plus recalls and more by signing up for our S.T.O.P E-alerts.

U.S. Food Safety Likely to Get Overhaul in 2010
• Reuters article about the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passing the Food Safety Modernization Act. The full Senate probably won’t vote on the bill until 2010.

Food Safety: Another Benefit of Healthy School Lunch Programs?
• A blog post about the lack of food safety in schools and the need for school lunch reform that will help keep kids’ lunch foods safe from contaminants

Wilton family joins Dodd in Calling For Overhaul of Food Safety System
• Haylee Bernstein, a young S.T.O.P. member who was infected by E.coli at the age of three, and her family join Senator Dodd at the HELP Committee session and support the prevention of food supply contamination.

Local Family Knows Foodborne Illness Heartbreak
• A touching story about Nellie Napier, a foodborne illness victim whose entire family has been working with S.T.O.P. on food safety reform this past year.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Animal Waste in Faulty Tank
• An informative article about the 2008 salmonella outbreak that was caused by animal waste contamination in a drinking water storage tank.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

S.T.O.P.--An Organization Supporting Victims Suffering From Long-Term Consequences of Foodborne Illness

Recent reports have highlighted what S.T.O.P. has known for a long time: that the long-term consequences of foodborne illness are under-reported, under-diagnosed and not given nearly enough public health attention.  The negative impact of this lack of attention comes in two forms.  First, proper attention and medical care is not given to people who suffer from long-term consequences, such as Guillain Barre Syndrome (paralysis), Reactive Arthritis, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), just to name a few. Second, the effects of these consequences are not being factored into the economic food safety risk equation used to calculate the costs to society by putting food safety prevention measures in place.

Safe Tables Our Priority has over 16 years of experience in assisting and supporting victims of foodborne disease and a large contingency of victims have been telling us about their long-term consequences and frustrations with medical treatment and attention.  These victims have suffered long-term complications due to infections from E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria, Vibrio, Hepatitis A, Shigella, and other foodborne pathogens.  We offer support groups, investigate case studies, and are planning a long-term consequences meeting.

In 2008, S.T.O.P. formalized intake for a long-term consequences database and anyone can contact us and join. If you would like to join our registry, call S.T.O.P. at 1-800-350-STOP, or email us at: mail@safetables.org. You can also still get information on food safety and food recalls by signing up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Round Up

There is a wealth of news and articles about food safety that contain a lot of interesting and useful information.  Here are some links I’ve come across this week that I think are valuable reads.

Details about the markup of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act scheduled for November 18

A well-stated argument on the importance of protecting our kids from foodborne illnesses

Washington Post article with additional information about the controversy over treating oysters harvested from warm waters to kill the bacterium vibrio vulnificus
An informative article discussing how E.coli actually gets into our meat

Informative piece on the new FDA code for regulating the retail and foodservice segment of the food industry
Keeping Food Safe Ahead of the Holidays
With the holidays coming up, there is tons of food preparation going on. This post has a few great tips on keeping your food and family safe!
Tainted food surprisingly deadly in adults
This shocking article discusses the enormous number of annual deaths due to contaminated food.

For more information and articles about food safety and food recalls delivered right to your inbox, please be sure to sign up for our S.T.O.P E-alerts.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Only Good Oyster is a Safe Oyster

It never ceases to amaze me how business interests have more sway with Congress than good, protective food safety measures. 

Two weeks ago, the FDA finally did the right thing and told the shellfish industry that, starting in 2011, gulf coast oysters would have to be post-harvest processed to kill the deadly bacteria vibrio vulnificus that they harbor in summer months. Vibrio vulnificus is fatal to 50% of those it infects, and causes devastating illness and loss of limbs in those lucky enough to survive it. Anyone who eats raw oysters and has diabetes, liver problems, AIDS, or cancer is particularly susceptible to the bacteria. Since 1995, 225 people have died simply from eating raw oysters.

The new FDA regulation would save at least 15-30 lives a year in the United States. Unfortunately, the oyster industry has convinced several members of Congress that the mere two cents per oyster it would take to make the seafood safe would be a hardship for the industry. They are now putting forth legislation to fight the FDA and reverse the ruling. 

If you're going to enjoy oysters raw, the only good one is a safe one.

Until our legislative officials get it right and realize that public health and saving lives trumps spending a few pennies more for a safer product, you can protect yourself by finding out what foods are making people sick. For information about recalls due to vibrio in oysters, as well as for all other contaminated foods, you can sign up for S.T.O.P. E-alerts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Sydney and Cole: Victims of Foodborne Illness

Working with victims of foodborne disease at  S.T.O.P, I’ve heard many stories about people that just break my heart.  But, the ones that hit me hardest are those involving children.  The story of two triplets, Sydney and Cole, who contracted Salmonellosis , shows not only the dangers of foodborne illness but also the great  strain and stress that can accompany a foodborne illness as a parent wonders what they did wrong. 
In late April, two-year old Sydney became very sick with a fever of over 105 degrees for days.  On top of that she was experiencing diarrhea which soon became bowel movements full of blood.  She couldn’t eat or stay hydrated and sharp, painful cramps kept her awake at night as well as diaper rash so severe that her skin was broken and blistered.  One week later, her brother Cole started developing the same symptoms.  Lab reports confirmed that both children had Salmonella.  Their parents are brother Michael were tested, and fortunately the tests came back negative, but Sydney and Cole had to be kept isolated from their brother and all other children so as not to spread the illness.  
This meant no birthday parties, no trips to the pool and no visitors at the house—total isolation for three months.  Finally in late June, the family learned that the Salmonella poisoning came from a snack food called Veggie Booty.  It was in a spice that Veggie Booty imports from China. Sydney and Cole’s parents had no idea that this supposedly gourmet and high-priced product located in the organic section of the grocery store was getting ingredients from China. They had truly believed they were buying safe, healthy snacks for their children.  While it was a relief for them to know that they weren’t responsible for giving their children Salmonella poisoning, they still felt the need to do something to make a change.  That’s when they contacted us at S.T.O.P. and asked how they could help.  S.T.O.P. educates families about food safety and smarter ways to handle and prepare food.  In the triplets case, we reiterated to them that this whole situation was not their fault.  
While we are working to advocate changes in public policy and prevent illness from foodborne pathogens, our work is far from done.  Until that day comes, people need to educate themselves.  Please sign up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts, which provide timely information delivered right to your email about current food recalls and outbreaks. Sign up here: http://www.safetables.org/about/root_joinus.cfm