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USDA 37 articles

Cantaloupe growers on the rebound after 2011 listeria outbreak

Colorado’s prized cantaloupe growers have banded together to overhaul their food safety system ever since a listeria outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupes from one Colorado farm killed 30 people nearly a year ago. According to the USDA’s Farm Service Agency, of the total land used to grow cantaloupe last year, only one-third is being used this year to grow the melons, thanks to a steep drop off in demand after the listeria outbreak. But things are starting to look up, thanks to concerted efforts by cantaloupe farmers to improve safety measures and restore consumer confidence in their produce. The U.S. ... Read More

“Reluctant whistleblower” tells Reuters about pink slime in ground beef

The national outrage over chemically treated meat scraps dubbed “pink slime” and sold to unsuspecting consumers as ground beef started with a disapproving email written by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) microbiologist to a colleague. According to Reuters, in 2002 USDA food scientist Gerald Zimstein was assigned to a project analyzing ground beef products and what was being added to them. Mr. Zimstein was thus familiar with the Beef Industry’s efforts to get approval on a product it called “finely textured ground beef,” which is made by grinding connective tissue and other meat scrap products into a paste and ... Read More

Cargill recalls more turkey for possible Salmonella risk

Cargill Value Added Meats Retail, a business unit of Wichita-based Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation, over the weekend announced an immediate Class 1 voluntary recall of approximately 185,000 pounds of ground turkey products produced at its Springdale, Ark., facility on Aug. 23, 24, 30 and 31, 2011, due to possible contamination from Salmonella Heidelberg. This is the second recall of ground turkey products by Cargill, which issued a similar recall Aug. 3. Both recalls involve ground turkey products produced at the Arkansas facility. Cargill has initiated the latest recall as a result of confirmed test sample taken by the U.S. Department ... Read More

Agency names the germiest FDA-regulated foods

Despite the efforts of the federal government to keep America’s food supply clean, every year nearly 80 million people in the United States fall ill after eating food contaminated with dangerous bacteria such as salmonella, listeria, and E. coli. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that approximately 5,000 Americans inflicted with food poisoning die every year. Although there is no way to completely avoid the bacteria that lead to food borne illnesses, there are some ways to reduce your risk of becoming sick. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has issued a list of 10 ... Read More

Steering clear of potentially contaminated food

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced another massive recall of fresh produce last week, this time for 1,715 cartons of bunched spinach that tested positive for salmonella bacteria in a random test conducted by the USDA. Alarmed by the frequency of foods recalled over bacterial contamination fears, many consumer advocacy groups and legislators have indicted the federal government’s food inspection system, calling for an overhaul of the FDA and USDA systems currently in place. But in an age of mass production and processing that makes cross contamination ever more likely, it’s wise for the consumer to take certain measures ... Read More

Salmonella: the bacteria that changed Washington?

Neither the U.S. Food and Drug Administration nor state health agencies require food manufacturers to test the safety of their products before they enter the market. Inspectors periodically visit the factories where food is processed to make sure their operations are up to code, but as we have seen in the recent past, even those rules can be insufficient and lax. Obviously, large food manufacturers have a reputation to uphold, so it’s not surprising that many of them perform optional, randomized testing of their products. Kraft performed such tests on its Back to Nature trail mix, which is how it ... Read More

Case worsens against Peanut Corp. tied to salmonella outbreak

Federal officials have been reporting that that the Peanut Corporation of America had salmonella-contaminated peanut butter retested in an apparent effort to obtain negative results. however, this week the Food and Drug Administration corrected its report, saying that in some cases the peanut processing plant in Blakely, Georgia, didn’t wait for results of the second tests before sending shipments of peanut butter. In other cases, independent labs hired by the Peanut Corp. found salmonella in some peanut butter, but the company shipped it out anyway, without retesting. These latest findings indicate that the Peanut Corporation was either grossly negligent or, ... Read More