U.S. Food & Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said his agency is taking a “fresh look” at how to address the mislabeling of imitation dairy products, with misbranded plant products using terms such as “milk,” “yogurt,” “cheese” and “ice cream.” Gottlieb recently said FDA announced a request seeking additional information on the agency’s overall approach. In response to questions from Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing Tuesday, Gottlieb confirmed that FDA statutes state that “milk is defined as coming from a lactating animal.” He added that he could agree with Baldwin that the term is being used on products "derived from things that are not from a lactating animal.” However, because FDA has not stepped in to prevent the mislabeling, there is now a lot of commercial activity occurring. Baldwin argued that this could be addressed right away if FDA issued guidance to the industry and declared its intent to enforce existing regulations.Gottlieb said the agency has decided that it would be more prudent to develop a careful administrative record since FDA has exercised enforcement discretion up to this point. “For us to reverse our current posture might take more than just issuing guidance,” Gottlieb said, adding that the intent of the recent request for additional insight from stakeholders is to inform a substantial administrative record that could sustain a review.
Dairy farmers use antibiotics to keep their herds healthy and production high. At the same time, these treatments threaten to harm public health through the creation of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. While the quantitative impact of such antibiotics on humans is not completely understood, a new Cornell study has pinpointed the financial toll that eliminating antibiotic use would have on dairy farms, a finding that could help guide regulatory policy. “The Farm Cost of Decreasing Antimicrobial Use in Dairy Production,” published in PLOS One in March, shows the cost of forgoing antibiotics on dairy farms would average out to $61 per cow annually. “If consumers or policymakers wanted to implement antibiotic-free dairy production, it wouldn’t be a high cost for farmers, but it is feasible the farmers would ask to be compensated,” said Guillaume Lhermie, lead author and postdoctoral associate in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “We wanted to see what we would win and what we would lose with this kind of regulation.” Gröhn stressed that, in addition to such financial impacts, the team was also taking animal welfare into consideration.“You simply cannot decide not to treat animals for disease,” he said. “That is unethical.”
Federal health officials said that they had identified one of the sources of tainted romaine lettuce that has so far left 98 people sick, in what is the largest multistate food-borne E. coli outbreak since 2006. The whole-head romaine lettuce that sickened eight people at a correctional facility in Nome, Alaska, came from Harrison Farms of Yuma, Ariz., the Food and Drug Administration said. The remaining illnesses were caused by bagged, chopped romaine lettuce, though health officials continue to urge consumers to avoid all types of romaine from the Yuma area.The outbreak now spans 22 states and involves a particularly aggressive strain of the bacteria
Disease hunters are using genetic sequencing in their investigation of the ongoing food poisoning outbreak linked to romaine lettuce, a technique that is revolutionizing the detection of germs in food. The genetic analysis is being used to bolster investigations and -- in some cases -- connect the dots between what were once seemingly unrelated illnesses. It also is uncovering previously unfathomed sources of food poisoning, including one outbreak from apples dipped in caramel.So far, most of the work has largely focused on one germ, listeria. But it is expanding. By the end of this year, labs in all 50 states are expected to also be using genetic sequencing for much more common causes of food poisoning outbreaks, including salmonella and the E. coli bacteria linked to recent lettuce outbreak.That means the number of identifiable outbreaks are likely to explode even if the number of illnesses don't."There are a lot of outbreaks where they don't connect the dots. Now they're going to be connected," said Michael Doyle, a retired University of Georgia professor who is an expert on foodborne illness.
Cow-lovers can take heart in this report from TheWeek.com about the Bill Gates Super Cow, which begins:BBC reported Friday that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will invest millions of dollars to promote “the health and productivity of livestock” through research by Global Alliance for Livestock Veterinary Medicines. “For over a billion people living in the world’s poorest countries, agriculture and livestock are a lifeline out of poverty,” Gates said Friday. “You can sell the output, and that’s money for school fees. You can keep the output, and that’s diet diversification.” But here’s the flip side: a whole bunch of investments in cow replacement. Earlier this year Memphis Meats announced an investment from the venture capital arm of food industry leader Tyson Foods. Memphis Meats is a leader in the growing ‘clean meat’ or ‘cultured meat’ field, which focuses on producing real meat directly from animal cells, without the need to raise or process animals. The terms of the investment were not disclosed. Tyson Foods joins a diverse group of investors in Memphis Meats, which includes Bill Gates, Richard Branson and Cargill to continue developing delicious products, to accelerate its work in scaling up clean meat production, and to reduce production costs to levels comparable to – and ultimately below – conventional meat costs.The point of Memphis Meats is to, uh, replace the cow.
Clostridium perfringens, a cause of necrotic enteritis, can survive processing and pose a threat of foodborne illness in people, according to research conducted by the University of Montreal. C. perfringens can be more prevalent in birds raised without antibiotics, and over the past few years, especially in Canada, there appear to be more reports of human illness attributed to C. perfringens, said Marie-Lou Gaucher, a professor at the University of Montreal.
Tyson Foods Inc., the largest meatpacker in the U.S., is co-leading a $2.2 million seed investment in an Israeli startup that aims to affordably produce meat from animal cells, without the need to raise or harvest livestock.
With the stroke of a pen, hemp could be treated like any other food ingredient under Colorado law. A bill is on its way to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk to apply existing food manufacturing guidelines to products such as hemp oil-infused coffee and CBD-rich extracts made from the non-psychoactive cannabis plant variety. At its simplest form, House Bill 1295 — which unanimously passed the Colorado Senate on Wednesday — merely codifies a state policy and program in place since July. In a broader context, Colorado’s buttoning up of regulations is a novel move to protect the state’s emerging industrial hemp industry as the plant’s legality is debated federally. The regulatory red tape wasn’t seen as a burden by a few Colorado businesses that make products from industrial hemp.
AquaBounty Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq:AQB) (“AquaBounty” or the “Company”), a biotechnology company focused on enhancing productivity in the aquaculture market and a majority-owned subsidiary of Intrexon Corporation (NYSE:XON), today announces that it has received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to raise AquAdvantage® Salmon at its land-based contained facility near Albany, Indiana. The FDA previously approved AquaBounty’s New Animal Drug Application (NADA) on November 19, 2015, for the production, sale, and consumption of AquAdvantage Salmon in the United States. That approval specified that all production facilities for the product would require separate site-specific approvals. To conform with this requirement, the Company submitted a supplementary NADA to the FDA requesting approval to grow AquAdvantage Salmon at its farm site near Albany, Indiana. The Indiana facility as currently configured has a production capacity of 1200 tons per year and was designed to allow significant expansion. With the facility now approved, commercial production of AquAdvantage Salmon awaits only official labeling guidelines by the FDA.
French legislators are warning food companies that describe their vegetarian or vegan foods using terms usually associated with meat to find new ways to label such products to prevent consumer confusion. The French parliament has banned the use of such terms as “steak,” sausage,” “burger,” “fillet,” “ham slices” and “chicken” when marketing foods that have no animal protein in them, such as “vegetarian sausages” and "vegan bacon.” The new provisions — which also include dairy alternatives like soy and tofu products marketed as “milk” or “butter” — were sparked by a European Court of Justice ruling last year specifically barring the dairy alternative names