Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Food poisoning can sometimes lead to chronic illness

The St. Petersburg Times Tampabay.com ran today’s article by Annys Shin’s (of the Washington Post) on the long-term health consequences of foodborne illnesses.

Campylobacter, a bacterium associated with raw chicken, a leading cause of Guillain-Barre syndrome. Certain strains of Salmonella can cause arthritis. And E. coli O157:H7 can release toxins that cause hemolytic uremic syndrome, or “HUS, a kidney disorder that in 25 to 50 percent of cases leads to kidney failure, high blood pressure and other problems as much as 10 years later, including the risk of birth defects.”

“Until recently, doctors were focused on the acute phase of food-borne infections, but since the 1990s, there has been "a more gradual recognition that some of the pathogens do have long-term (effects)," said Marguerite Neill, an infectious-disease specialist who teaches at Brown University.

“The impact of HUS, however, is great. .  . According to a long-term study of 157 HUS victims co-written in 1994 by Andrew Pavia, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Utah, more than half developed kidney problems seven or more years after the initial illness.

“These people face a lifetime of medical treatment. ‘Anyone with HUS will be monitored for the rest of their lives. If the acute course was severe enough, the risk of long-term kidney complications, including end-stage renal disease and kidney transplant, is quite high. The future medical cost alone can then be in the millions,’ said William Marler, a Seattle lawyer who sues retailers and food companies on behalf of food poisoning victims. . . .”

My wish for Santa is that everyone will focus more on food safety during the holidays and in the new year.

Hat tip to the Marler Blog by

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

FDA Commissioner Eschenbach to Resign

Alicia Mundy, Wall St. Journal (Dec. 15, 2008).

“Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach has told his staff that he plans to resign effective Jan. 20, 2009. “In an internal message sent Monday to FDA officials, Dr. von Eschenbach said he would work closely with President-elect Barack Obama's transition team "to ensure a seamless change in political leadership at the agency. As with any transition, there will likely be changes for other senior managers as well, although all current Deputy Commissioners and the Chief of Staff are career civil servants who have served me and FDA well." . . .

For “The Onion” style humor at the Pharma Marketing Blog: Eschenbach Announces Resignation, FDA Staffer Throws Shoes in "Farewell Kiss".

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Proposed Serving Facts Labeling for Alcoholic Beverages

TTB proposes to require Serving Facts labeling on alcoholic beverages which would be similar to this Nutrition Facts labeling. The new rules would requires a statement of alcohol content as well. You can read more at Bevlog, where you can also seen an image of what the new alcohol beverage labels might look like.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

US Mustard Tariffs in Retaliation for EU limits on hormones with US Beef

Barry Levenson, Curator of the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum, wrote Habeas Codfish: Reflections on Food and the Law, which is an entertaining and recommended book.

Barry wrote guest posting which follows:

For the last nine years European mustards have been subject to a 100 percent tariff. Not only has this meant higher prices for our mustards from Dijon, from Ireland, from Germany, from Holland, etc., it has also resulted in fewer European mustards coming into the U.S.

You can do something to help get rid of this terrible tax on imported mustards.

First, some brief background. In 1999, the U.S. imposed 100 percent duties on a variety of goods in retaliation for Europe’s unwillingness to buy American beef from cattle that had been treated with growth hormones. Some of these goods were European beef products and that made sense. However, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) went further and imposed duties on several randomly selected goods, including mustard.

Although the beef hormone dispute remains unsettled, we have a chance to get mustard off of the hit list. The USTR is soliciting public comments on the items on the current hit list with the possibility that some items will be removed. THAT’S WHERE YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.

Comments are due by Monday, December 8. You can fax them or send them electronically. I have already sent in my comments and you can see them by following the URL address at the end of this paragraph and then double-clicking the PDF icon after the word ‘VIEWS.’ http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocumentDetail&o=09000064807c1ecf

Now it’s your turn to participate in the process. You can fax your comments to Sandy McKinzy at (202)-395-3640 or by posting them electronically at the government web site, http://www.regulations.gov/.

When you open the site, you can get to the right docket by typing the following in the ‘SEARCH DOCUMENTS’ box: USTR-2008-0036 and then <<GO>>. This will take you to the page with all of the posted comments. On the left side of the page, you will see ‘DOCUMENT TYPE.’

Click on NOTICES. Then click on ‘Send a Comment or Submission’ (next to a yellow thought bubble).

Be sure to put at the top of your comment: “Re: Prepared Mustard, HTS21033040” Even something as simple as “Please, take mustard off the tariff list” will help.

I have met personally with representatives of the USTR. I do not advise trying to take sides in the beef-hormone dispute; they are firm in their position that hormone treated beef is safe.

Then voice your support for removing mustard from the tariff list.