College Park, Md. – The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have agreed to collaborate.
The two agencies announced in a press release that they “have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will facilitate the sharing of food safety information and data, and enable collaborative research projects.”
Paul Mayers, vice-president of the Science Branch of the CFIA, says in the statement that the two countries already share a strong tie, which “allows us to work together to find innovative and cooperative ways to share information and data in respect to food safety. This collaborative approach to information sharing builds on our individual strengths while expanding our combined knowledge.”
The purpose of the MOU, which was signed at the FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition campus, is to help both countries collaborate on food safety science.
The MOU is expected to give scientists on both sides of the border access to greater food safety information and data, which will bolster innovation and advance research.
Canadian Researchers Discover Genetic Clue to Peanut Allergy
Hamilton, Ont. – Canadian researchers, says the Allergy, Genes and Environment Network (AllerGen), have pinpointed a new gene associated with peanut allergy. In a press release (“New genetic clue to peanut allergy,” on Oct. 10, 2017), AllerGen says the discovery offers “further evidence that genes play a role in the development of food allergies and opening the door to future research, improved diagnostics and new treatment options.”
AllerGen is a national research network funded by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada through the Network of Centres of Excellence program. In the statement, AllerGen explains that “the gene, called c11orf30/EMSY (EMSY), is already known to play a role in other allergy-related conditions, such as eczema, asthma, and allergic rhinitis. This study is the first to associate the EMSY locus with food allergy, and these findings suggest that the gene plays an important role in the development of not just food allergy but also general allergic predisposition.”
The AllerGen researchers included Dr. Denise Daley, an associate professor at the University of B.C., Centre for Heart Lung Innovation at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver; and Dr. Ann Clarke, a professor at the University of Calgary, Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary, and adjunct professor at McGill University in Montreal. In the statement, Daley says that “the discovery of this genetic link gives us a fuller picture of the causes of food allergies and this could eventually help doctors identify children at risk.”
AllerGen says that an allergy to peanuts develops early in life “and is rarely outgrown.” Roughly one per cent of Canadian adults and between two and three per cent of Canadian children are affected. Symptoms can be severe to life-threatening. The co-first authors of the study included Dr. Yuka Asai, an AllerGen investigator and assistant professor at Queen’s University, and AllerGen trainee Dr. Aida Eslami, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of B.C.
In the statement, Eslami says the results of the study “suggest that EMSY could be a useful target for predicting and managing food allergy treatments in the future.”
FDA Proposes To Extend Compliance Dates For Nutrition Facts Label Final Rules
(FDA release; September 29, 2017) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing to extend the compliance dates for the Nutrition Facts and Supplement Facts label final rule and the Serving Size final rule from July 26, 2018, to Jan. 1, 2020, for manufacturers with $10 million or more in annual food sales. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales would receive an extra year to comply—until Jan. 1, 2021.
The FDA is committed to making sure that consumers have the facts they need to make informed decisions about their diet and the foods they feed their families. The proposed rule only addresses the compliance dates. The FDA is not proposing any other changes to the Nutrition Facts Label and Serving Size final rules.
The agency is proposing to extend the compliance dates in response to the continued concern that companies and trade associations have shared with us regarding the time needed for implementation of the final rules. These stakeholders expressed concerns about their ability to update all products by the original compliance dates and the importance of obtaining clarification from the FDA on a number of technical issues relating to the final rules.
Pending completion of this rulemaking, we intend to exercise enforcement discretion with respect to the current July 26, 2018, and July 26, 2019, compliance dates.
Written or electronic comments on the extension of the compliance dates are being accepted for 30 days, beginning on October 2, 2017. The FDA is only accepting comments on the extension of the compliance dates.
The FDA is Making Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label
The Food and Drug Administration said a new nutrition-facts panel on the back of packaged food and beverages will list how many grams of sugar have been added by manufacturers, and what percentage of the recommended daily maximum that represents.
The FDA’s decision to break out added sugar from the total sugar count already on packaging comes amid a yearslong campaign by the Obama administration to curb obesity, diabetes and other ailments. The new sugar rules have faced opposition from food and beverage companies, which say there is no difference between naturally present sugars and added sugars.
The FDA estimates that implementing the change will cost the food and beverage industry roughly $500 million a year, while providing approximately $2 billion annually in benefits such as reduced health costs, over 20 years. A study commissioned by several industry trade groups based on an earlier proposal found the label changes would result in a total net cost of at least $640 million. Economist John Dunham, who led the study, said the FDA accounted for far more benefits than are realistic.
Manufacturers have two years to comply with the new regulation, though they could still challenge the changes in court. Those with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have three years.
The new label regulations don’t apply to certain meat, poultry and processed-egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, not the FDA.
Among other changes, manufacturers also will be required to declare the amounts of potassium and vitamin D because the FDA says Americans aren’t getting enough of them. Manufacturers will no longer be required to list vitamin A and vitamin C because most people do. The new panels also will require some companies to change the serving sizes they list on the back of the package. Ice cream labels, which can now show half a cup as one serving, will list two-thirds of a cup as a serving, increasing the calorie count that appears on the label by a third.
Joseph Baumert, Ph.D at the Department of Food Science and Technology as well as the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in a talk at the 2015 Process Expo that bakers and other food manufacturers face risk of recall, loss of customers, and even possible lawsuits if even a tiny amount of allergen slip into a product.
Looking at where risk can occur in the baking process, Baumert said nothing can be overlooked. There can be cross-contamination, introduction of allergens into the process and other problems. His main suggestion is training and retraining every worker in the facility, as each manufacturer is “only as good as the weakest link”.
Gating and cleaning are essential steps
Other problems in the process include inadequate cleaning of shared equipment and packaging errors. For this, he said facilities could dedicate a single system or line to a food allergen, if they have the capacity. Otherwise, it may be good to use scheduling and regular cleaning audits to help ensure lines are properly cleaned and an allergen is not making its way into a free-from product. Baumert also believes there must be an allergen gating process, which means an in-depth review of potential new products before starting production.
Bakers must show special care to allergy increase
A special level of attention must be paid to food allergies in the baking and confectionery industries. Baumert said baked products, chocolate and confectionery treats were the majority food allergy recalls from the US Food and Drug Administration.
Awareness is especially important, as there has been an 18% increase in children under 18 affected by food allergies. Whether this is due to better diagnoses, better awareness or an unknown factor is not important; what is important is that food allergies is the most common form of anaphylaxis in US emergency rooms, making up 30% of these hospital visits. They also account for 100 to 500 deaths per year in the US.
To learn more about Tri-Mach Group’s Recall Recovery Program, click here.
The US Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday made good on its proposal to effectively ban artificial trans fats from a wide range of processed foods, from microwave popcorn to frozen pizza, saying they raise the risk of heart disease.
Under new FDA regulations, partially hydrogenated oils, which have been shown to raise “bad” LDL cholesterol, will be considered food additives that cannot be used unless authorized by the FDA.
A food processing plant (operated by a specialty food manufacturer, co-packer and private label resource company that produced organic, all-natural and gourmet foods) was closed in July 2014 after two food pathogen-related events resulting in voluntary product recalls. The plant and equipment had been previously cleaned and sanitized using traditional treatments prior to the initiation of the reconditioning plan — however two pieces of processing equipment and a drain were then found to still be positive for Listeria.
The decontamination treatment plan for the plant was developed in cooperation with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and included both PURE Hard Surface and PURE Hi-Foam and Multi-Purpose Cleaner. After completion of the remediation treatments which included multiple steps, including the application of the two PURE products, all 300 post treatment samples tested negative for Listeria. Post treatment sampling results (processed by independent third party Deibel Labs), showing all samples tested negative for Listeria, were provided to the FDA.
The FDA cleared both the equipment and the facility for food production. The building owner can now engage new food producers and return to online production. Citing the successful eradication of Listeria, the FDA issued a written release of the equipment and plant for manufacturing of FDA regulated products.
Last week, the FDA provided new details about the implementation of its Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). To capture the updates, the FDA has provided a document for readers to view. It outlines current and upcoming changes to policies and procedures that will help reduce foodborne outbreaks and increase the public’s confidence in food safety measures.
With these updates, rolling out from now until 2016, the FDA will move to create a more integrated national food safety system, so municipal, state, and federal departments can share information more easily and comprehensively. There will also be a stronger focus on “on-the-ground” data from farms and state agriculture departments. More updates, changes, and details can be found in the full announcement.
Improving food safety doesn’t just affect the consumer; it also affects food producers. With a more integrated, comprehensive prevention system, the FSMA can positively influence industry efficiency. Less down-time, fewer recalls, and a more confident consumer base are all potential rewards – and a lowered risk of foodborne illness is something that will only get sweeter over time.
Learn more about Tri-Mach Group’s commitment to food safety and sanitary food processing equipment.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed banning artificial trans fat in processed food, saying reducing such fat in the American diet could prevent 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year. (Lucy Nicholson/Reuters)
(The Globe and Mail) The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday proposed banning artificial trans fats in processed food ranging from cookies to frozen pizza, citing the risk of heart disease.
Partly hydrogenated oils, which are the primary dietary source of the fats, have been shown to raise “bad” cholesterol. Reducing the use of trans fats could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease a year, the FDA said.
“While consumption of potentially harmful artificial trans fat has declined over the last two decades in the United States, current intake remains a significant public health concern,” FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said.
Public-health advocates welcomed the move.
“Artificial trans fat is a uniquely powerful promoter of heart disease, and today’s announcement will hasten its eventual disappearance from the food supply,” Michael Jacobson, executive director of the non-profit Center for Science in the Public Interest said.
The FDA’s proposal is not the first public effort to ban trans fats. New York City banned the use of trans fats in restaurants, and many restaurants and fast food chains, including McDonald’s Corp., have eliminated them.
Trans fats are present in a wide range of processed foods including crackers and cookies, frozen pizza and refrigerated dough, coffee creamers and ready-to-use frosting.
Some products will be harder to reformulate than others, FDA officials said.
“We know that technically this is not an insoluble problem,” Hamburg told reporters on a conference call, adding that the use of trans fats has declined dramatically since 2006, when the agency required companies to disclose trans fat levels on package labels.
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association, food manufacturers have voluntarily lowered the amounts of trans fats in their food products by more than 73 percent.
Partially hydrogenated oils are derived from vegetable oils such as soybean. Hydrogenation, a chemical process, converts liquid vegetable oils into solid or semi-solid fats, which are preferred for baking and have a longer shelf life.
The FDA’s proposal is subject to a 60-day public comment period in which food companies are expected to outline how long they expect it to take them to reformulate products.
If the proposal becomes final, partially hydrogenated oils would be considered food additives and would not be allowed in food unless authorized by health regulators. The ruling would not affect naturally occurring trans fat that occurs in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products.
Companies wishing to include trans fats in their products would have to meet the safety standards applied to food additives and prove with reasonable certainty that they do not cause harm.
It has been more than half a century since U.S. regulations governing food additives were last revised. In that time, the number of chemicals in the food supply has risen from fewer than 2,000 to an estimated 10,000, many of which are never reviewed by the FDA because companies and their advisers have declared them to be safe.
Under loose regulations created more than 50 years ago to help companies avoid lengthy delays in getting food additives approved, the FDA created a list of products considered “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS).
Companies can either petition to get their ingredients affirmed safe by the FDA, or they can declare them safe based on their own research or that of hired consultants. The FDA has the option to challenge such declarations but has rarely done so.
The FDA’s Hamburg said in an interview on Thursday that while the GRAS system provides the current legal framework for regulating food additives, the system bears re-examining to see if it is adequate to ensure the safety of the food supply.
“We do need to be thinking about what is needed to update laws and processes,” she said.
The dominant vegetable oil used in the United States is soybean oil. The FDA’s announcement sparked a rapid sell-off in Chicago soyoil futures prices by creating uncertainty about the impact on vegetable oil demand.
Soyoil futures fell 1.75 percent to 40.42 cents per pound in midday trading.
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