Thursday, January 28, 2010

Finally -- More Direction at the USDA

S.T.O.P.—Safe Tables Our Priority extends our congratulations to Dr. Elisabeth Hagen on her nomination for the position of Undersecretary for Food Safety.

Dr. Hagen has hands on experience working for the United State’s Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in addition to being board-certified in both internal medicine and infectious diseases. She has also been in various management positions that include risk assessments and applied epidemiology activities that include foodborne illness investigations. I am confident that these qualifications and her background make her more than capable for the job. Having someone leading in the position of Undersecretary who understands the importance and need for regulatory measures that promote food safety and prevent foodborne illness is encouraging.

It is unbelievable that this position of Undersecretary for Food Safety—which is the highest food safety position at USDA—has been vacant for so long. Every week at S.T.O.P. we send out E-alerts that have far more food meat and poultry recalls than we would like to see. We look forward to the Senate confirming Dr. Hagen’s appointment quickly, so she can help provide the much-needed leadership and oversight that is necessary to reduce the numerous product recalls.

S.T.O.P. is eager to work with Dr. Hagen to further food safety policies that will keep consumers safe from contaminated foods that lead to devastating foodborne illnesses. We look forward to seeing her take this new position.

As always, you can find more information about food safety and recalls by signing up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts which are delivered right to your e-mail inbox.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Help Us Pick A Topic For Our Next TeleSeminar!

I hope you all have had a great week.    At S.T.O.P.- Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.), we sponsor call-in TeleSeminars with food safety experts on interesting topics several times throughout the year.  We’re planning our Spring 2010 call now and want to know which food poisoning and food safety topics  you would like to hear about most….what interests you and what will benefit you the most?  Here are a few possibilities to choose from:

Option 1: School Lunch Safety
We’ve been seeing a lot of news articles and blog posts these past few weeks about the safety and quality of school lunches.  Considering many children rely on food provided by schools, it’s not hard to understand why contaminated lunches have become such an issue for the public.

Option 2: How to Protect Yourself from Risky Foods
While there often seems to be a lot of tips and information available on keeping yourself safe from risky foods and unsanitary cooking conditions, there are also many myths and just plain wrong information floating around.  There are many surprisingly easy ways to be conscientious about risky foods.

Option 3: Import Food Safety - Where is Our Food Coming From?
Many of us enjoy food from high-end supermarkets, organic sections of the grocery store and restaurants thinking that the foods we eat are coming from a safe and clean source.  This is not always the case, and you can be a lot smarter about choosing safe foods when you know where it’s coming from.

Option 4: BPA in Plastics - Problems in Baby Bottles, Water Bottles, etc.
There have also been recent articles about Bisphenol A in plastic bottles.  There is a lot of uncertainty about the health risks associated with consuming BPA and educating ourselves is the first step to understanding how best to guard ourselves from any possible harm it could cause.

Option 5: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Food Safety
Any questions you might have about food safety can be answered by our experts.  Sometimes we all need a refresher course on the basics, and there are always more complex questions about food safety that need answers.

We would love to hear from you and find out what you want to discuss the most.  You can either take the poll on our facebook page and tell us what topic you’d like for our next Teleseminar, or you email us at and let us know!  Of course, when you sign up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts you will be automatically invited to S.T.O.P. Teleseminars in addition to receiving timely news and alerts on food safety and recalls delivered right to your email inbox.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One Year Later and Still Waiting for a Solution…

This week is the one year anniversary of the PCA outbreak when Salmonella- contaminated peanut products caused a major, multi-state foodborne-illness outbreak -- an outbreak that occurred as a result of outdated and ineffective regulation and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Nine people died, over 700 were sickened, and close to 3900 products containing peanuts or peanut paste were recalled.  Many people lost mothers, fathers, and other close relatives; others had children or other family members who fell ill, or were sickened themselves.   Outraged Congressmen and Senators convened hearings, during which they promised to implement meaningful food safety reforms. Despite, the immediate action, concern and bustle of activity, we are still waiting for Congress to enact FDA food safety legislation containing the types of provisions that would have prevented the PCA outbreak.

While the tragedy of 9 deaths and hundreds of illnesses is devastating in and of itself, the massiveness of the PCA outbreak created a life of its own.  Contaminated peanut products
touched the lives of nearly every American a year ago. You couldn’t go to the gym and eat your favorite protein bar because it had peanut paste in it, you couldn’t make a simple peanut butter sandwich for yourself or your kids, you had to think twice about what snacks to buy at the grocery store because so many of them contain peanut products.  To still be waiting on a solution one year later is preposterous.
Safe Tables Our Priority (S.T.O.P.) along with our coalition partners is sending a letter to Congress today signed by almost 60 victims and family members who were directly affected by the PCA outbreak to urge movement by Senate leadership and ask that S. 510—the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act be scheduled for a floor vote, finalized by a conference
committee, and presented to President Obama for signature before Valentine’s Day, February 14th.  Even though many people were lucky enough to not become ill from the outbreak, it still affected all of us.
Contact your Senator to push the Senate to schedule S. 510 for a floor vote.  And remember, for to keep up to date on information about food recalls and outbreak, sign up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts, delivered right to your email inbox.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Weekly Round Up

It’s a New Year with New Updates in the world of food safety!  Here is a sampling of what to look out for and what to know as 2010 begins.  Remember, you can receive this information and more by signing up for our S.T.O.P. E-alerts!  Have a safe and happy 2010!!

The Nation’s Restaurant News gives us an update of which restaurant chains have been affected by a December recall of beef. 

This release discusses the FDA’s actions to prevent the distribution of food from a rodent infested facility.

The New York Times cafeteria was shut down last week due to possibly being the cause of food poisoning for at least 15 of its staffers. 

Soda Fountains Squirt Fecal Bacteria, Study Finds

This informative ABC News article details a small study showing 70% of beverages coming from soda fountains having SOME type of bacteria.

Let’s have a small round of applause for all the food safety reporters and bloggers who give us information on recalls and alerts when other organizations lag behind.