Friday, February 7, 2014

Food Safety Update 
As far as food safety goes, things aren't getting much better in China.
So says a report in Forbes magazine. The article warns that a new strain of avian flu, H10N8, has turned up in chickens in China, forcing the slaughter of 20,000 birds in Hong Kong alone. More alarming: The strain has jumped to humans, who can become infected if they eat infected birds or are around them. 
A 73-year old Chinese woman died in December from the strain and a 55-year-old woman was recently hospitalized, Forbes said.
A virologist from the Chinese Center for Disease Control in Beijing, who was quoted in the Chinese medical journal, The Lancet, warned this week about the potential for a pandemic.
This is China’s fifth avian influenza strain to emerge in the last 17 years and the latest of its food safety woes. In 2008, melamime-tainted milk killed six children in China and hospitalized tens of thousands. Melamine, which is used in plastics and pesticides, can cause kidney failure. Pet food, which contained melamine-laced wheat gluten from China, killed scores of dogs and some cats in North America in 2007.
Dial to the present and a new threat is on the horizon, critics say. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to allow poultry raised in the U.S. to be shipped to China, turned into chicken nuggets or some other processed food, and then shipped back to the U.S. for consumption. The product labeling would not alert consumers either.
If that's not enough to worry about -- and we do worry here in food safety central -- the Center for Food Safety has just launched a campaign to stop Dow Chemical from putting so-called "Agent Orange" GMO crops on the market, according to a story in Food Poisoning Bulletin.
The center is worried that the USDA will approve genetically engineered crops doused in 2,4-D, a powerful herbicide that formed one half of Agent Orange. The compound was used by the U.S. government during the Vietnam War to defoliate forested and rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover. It had devastating effects on the locals and U.S. troops.
Finally, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a campaign of its own -- against a dough conditioner called azodicarbonamide, according to a story on Food Navigator. The additive is used to make dough smoother, but critics worry it could cause health problems. In its industrial form, which is chemically identical to the food-grade form, it's used in the production of foam plastics like shoe soles and exercise mats, the report says.
Apparently, Subway is phasing it out.
That's it for today. Keep your appetite and safe eating.
-- Lynne Terry

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