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News Article | November 20, 2015
Site: news.yahoo.com

CHICAGO (Reuters) - A battle over whether the U.S. government should require special labels for genetically modified foods is set to heat up after a type of salmon on Thursday became the first biotech animal approved for human consumption. Activists who argue that the farm-raised salmon poses risks to the environment and public health say its clearance by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will galvanize opponents to press for the fish to be labeled as genetically engineered. Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups plan to send letters to the FDA and members of Congress calling for a law that requires labels. The groups have already successfully lobbied major companies like and Kroger Co and Safeway Ltd [MRWAY.UL] to say they will ban GMO salmon from their stores. "The labeling battle is a particularly big deal," said Dana Perls, food and technology campaigner for Friends of the Earth. "People have a right to know what they're eating." Companies that produce food with genetically modified (GMO) ingredients worry that mandated labels could reduce consumer demand and increase costs. The first supplies of GMO salmon, which will be engineered by AquaBounty Technologies Inc to grow faster than conventional fish, will likely arrive in U.S. supermarkets in two years or more, after being raised in facilities in Canada and Panama, Chief Executive Ronald Stotish told Reuters. He said the company will follow the FDA's rules, which do not require special labeling because the agency says the salmon is nutritionally equivalent to conventional, farm-raised Atlantic salmon. If a company opts to label GMO salmon, the agency suggested wording such as, "This salmon patty was made from Atlantic salmon produced using modern biotechnology." Sellers of other salmon may want to label products as being not genetically engineered (GE) if they "want to assist consumers in avoiding confusion about the limited scope of fish products on the market that are genetically engineered," the FDA said. The agency is accepting public comments on its voluntary labeling guidelines for 60 days starting on Nov. 23. "We recognize that some consumers are interested in knowing whether food ingredients are derived from GE sources," said Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. The FDA's clearance of GMO salmon "will energize people to fight and demand more labeling," said Michael Hansen, senior staff scientist for the Consumers Union, who opposed the approval. In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a hotly debated measure that blocks any mandatory labeling of foods made with genetically engineered crops, including pre-empting a state law set to take effect next year in Vermont. The vote was a victory for food and agricultural companies that say mandatory labeling would burden them with unwieldy costs and requirements. Since 2005, a state law in Alaska has required GMO fish to be "conspicuously labeled," although the measure never needed to be used. Fishermen would like to see a similar federal law so that consumers know what they are eating, said Tyson Fick, communications director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. More grocery store bans on GMO salmon would help ensure that customers do not unknowingly eat the fish, said Patty Lovera, assistant director for Food & Water Watch. "It's an imperfect way, but it's what they leave us with when they don't require labeling," she said about the government.

Trumbo P.R.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition | Rivers C.R.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Nutrition Reviews | Year: 2014

A systematic review of the evidence for an association between sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of obesity was conducted. This review focused specifically on the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in obesity risk, taking into account energy balance. For the purpose of this review, scientific conclusions could not be drawn from the intervention studies that evaluated the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and obesity risk. Results of observational studies that examined the relationship between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and obesity risk that were adjusted for energy intake and physical activity were inconsistent for each of the three age groups evaluated (children, adolescents, and adults). From this review, evidence for an association between sugar-sweetened beverage intake and obesity risk is inconsistent when adjustment for energy balance is made. © 2014 International Life Sciences Institute.

Hildebrandt S.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition | Hildebrandt S.,College Park
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry | Year: 2010

Fish are a common cause of allergic reactions associated with food consumption, with parvalbumin being the major allergenic protein. Some fish-hypersensitive patients tolerate some fish species while being allergic to others. Reliable detection methods for allergenic fish species in foods are necessary to ensure compliance with food allergen labeling guidelines to protect fish-allergic consumers. The objective of this project was to develop a multi-analyte detection method for the presence of fish in food. Therefore, conserved parvalbumin exon sequences were utilized for the design of universal PCR primers amplifying intron DNA and small regions of exons flanking the enclosed intron from even very distantly related fish species. An assay for the identification of eight fish species was developed using xMAP™ technology with probes targeting species-specific parvalbumin intron regions. Additionally, a universal fish probe was designed targeting a highly conserved exon region located between the intron and the reverse primer region. The universal fish assay showed no cross-reactivity with other species, such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and shrimp. Importantly, with the exception of one notable case with fish in the same subfamily, species-specific detection showed no cross-reactivity with other fish species. Limits of detection for these eight species were experimentally estimated to range from 0.01% to 0.04%, with potential to increase the detection sensitivity. This report introduces a newly developed method for the multiplex identification of at least eight allergenic fish species in food, which could conceivably be extended to detect up to 100 species simultaneously in one sample. © 2010 US Government.

Choudhuri S.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Bioinformatics for Beginners: Genes, Genomes, Molecular Evolution, Databases and Analytical Tools | Year: 2014

Bioinformatics for Beginners provides a coherent and friendly treatment of bioinformatics for any student or scientist within biology who has not routinely performed bioinformatic analysis. The book discusses relevant principles needed to understand the theoretical underpinnings of bioinformatic analysis, and demonstrates with examples targeted analysis using freely available web-based software and publicly available databases. Eschewing non-essential information, the work focuses on principles and hands-on analysis and points to many further study options. • Avoids non-essential coverage yet fully describes the field for beginners - in approximately 200 pages of text • Explains the molecular basis of evolution to place bioinformatic analysis in biological context • Provides useful links to the vast resource of publicly available bioinformatic databases and analysis tools • Over 100 figures aid in concept discovery and illustration. © 2014 Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Etheridge S.M.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Toxicon | Year: 2010

Paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) is the foodborne illness associated with the consumption of seafood products contaminated with the neurotoxins known collectively as saxitoxins (STXs). This family of neurotoxins binds to voltage-gated sodium channels, thereby attenuating action potentials by preventing the passage of sodium ions across the membrane. Symptoms include tingling, numbness, headaches, weakness and difficulty breathing. Medical treatment is to provide respiratory support, without which the prognosis can be fatal. To protect human health, seafood harvesting bans are in effect when toxins exceed a safe action level (typically 80 μg STX eq 100 g-1 tissue). Though worldwide fatalities have occurred, successful management and monitoring programs have minimized PSP cases and associated deaths. Much is known about the toxin sources, primarily certain dinoflagellate species, and there is extensive information on toxin transfer to traditional vectors - filter-feeding molluscan bivalves. Non-traditional vectors, such as puffer fish and lobster, may also pose a risk. Rapid and reliable detection methods are critical for toxin monitoring in a wide range of matrices, and these methods must be appropriately validated for regulatory purposes. This paper highlights PSP seafood safety concerns, documented human cases, applied detection methods as well as monitoring and management strategies for preventing PSP-contaminated seafood products from entering the food supply. © 2010.

DeGrasse S.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition | Vanegas C.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition | Conrad S.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Deep-Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography | Year: 2014

To protect public health from the potential risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in sea scallops, Placopecten magellanicus, from the Atlantic offshore U.S. waters of Georges Bank, harvesting of roe-on or whole scallops is banned. Only adductor muscles may be sold if harvested from Georges Bank, Gulf of Maine, or the PSP closure areas as far west as 71° West Longitude. Given the limited toxicity data available for sea scallops from this region both prior to and subsequent to implementation of this management strategy, this study sought a more extensive spatial and temporal evaluation of sea scallop gonad and viscera toxicities that would inform management decisions related to the roe-on and whole scallop fishery. Both overall toxicity and toxin composition were measured for sea scallop gonads and viscera collected from 232 stations in 2007 and 23 in 2010. Overall toxicity was assessed using two screening methods: field-deployable Jellett Rapid Tests (JRT) and quantitative, laboratory-based receptor binding assays (in 2007). Additionally, a quantitative liquid chromatography with fluorescence detection (LC-FD) method was used to determine toxin composition and overall toxicity (in 2010). The at-sea qualitative JRT screening tool results, whereby a positive indicated the sample contained at least 40μg saxitoxin (STX) equivalents 100g-1, were often inconsistent with results obtained using the quantitative methods. Sea scallop viscera toxicity represented the majority of toxin load in the organism and was often in excess of the regulatory guidance level. Sea scallop gonads accounted for a small percentage of total toxicity, but at times reached unsafe levels. Toxin composition in both the gonads and viscera was dominated by STX and gonyautoxin 2/3, as has been reported in previous studies. No predictive indices of gonad toxicity were found. Results at this time do not support a roe-on or whole scallop fishery on Georges Bank. While access restrictions to whole scallops on Georges Bank are unlikely to change based on these results, it seems plausible that a management strategy requiring at-sea testing of scallop gonads for PSP may be necessary in order for a safe roe-on scallop fishery from this region to be feasible. © 2013.

Komolprasert V.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Radiation Physics and Chemistry | Year: 2016

Irradiation can play an important role in reducing pathogens that cause food borne illness. Food processors and food safety experts prefer that food be irradiated after packaging to prevent post-irradiation contamination. Food irradiation has been studied for the last century. However, the implementation of irradiation on prepackaged food still faces challenges on how to assess the suitability and safety of these packaging materials used during irradiation. Irradiation is known to induce chemical changes to the food packaging materials resulting in the formation of breakdown products, so called radiolysis products (RP), which may migrate into foods and affect the safety of the irradiated foods. Therefore, the safety of the food packaging material (both polymers and adjuvants) must be determined to ensure safety of irradiated packaged food. Evaluating the safety of food packaging materials presents technical challenges because of the range of possible chemicals generated by ionizing radiation. These challenges and the U.S. regulations on food irradiation are discussed in this article. © 2016

Kukreja R.V.,University of Massachusetts Dartmouth | Sharma S.K.,Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition | Singh B.R.,University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
Biochemistry | Year: 2010

Botulinum neurotoxins (BoNTs) are a group of large proteins that are responsible for the clinical syndrome of botulism. The seven immunologically distinct serotypes of BoNTs (A-G), each produced by various strains of Clostridium botulinum, act on the neuromuscular junction by blocking the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, thereby resulting in flaccid muscle paralysis. BoNTs are synthesized as single inactive polypeptide chains that are cleaved by endogenous or exogenous proteases to generate the active dichain form of the toxin. Nicking of the single chain BoNT/E to the dichain form is associated with 100-fold increase in toxicity. Here we investigated the activation mechanism of botulinum neurotoxin type E upon nicking and subsequent reduction of disulfide bond. It was observed that nicking of BoNT/E significantly enhances its endopeptidase activity and that at the physiological temperature of 37 °C the reduced form of nicked BoNT/E adopts a dynamically flexible conformation resulting from the exposure of hydrophobic segments and facilitating optimal cleavage of its substrate SNAP-25. Such reduction-induced increase in the flexibility of the polypeptide folding provides a rationale for the mechanism of BoNT/E endopeptidase against its intracellular substrate, SNAP-25, and complements current understanding of the mechanistics of interaction between the substrate and BoNT endopeptidase. © 2010 American Chemical Society.

News Article | September 29, 2016
Site: www.techtimes.com

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking for comments from the public to redefine "healthy," a term that commonly appears on many food product labels in the country. The FDA said on Sept. 28, that redefining "healthy" will help people a great deal in making their food choices according to public health recommendations, which could encourage food industries to produce quality products. Nutrition experts and many food companies claim that the current guidelines enacted decades ago are no longer in accordance with present dietary advice. The agency noted that manufacturers can list products as "healthy" on food labels, in accordance with the existing regulatory definition, while new guidelines are being prepared. The issue started after Kind Snacks, the fruit-and-nut snack bars maker, petitioned FDA for the first time in relation to the federal limitations on fat content. People look at product labels to get nutritional facts while making the decision to buy. Therefore, terms like "healthy," "good source" and "low in fat" matter a lot because they guide people in making choices accordingly. To be deemed healthy, food products must follow appropriate and up-to-date guidelines. For example, recent public health recommendations are more concerned about the type of fat present in the food products than the amount of fat. As such, manufacturers can only claim their food products are healthy if they contain fat within the allowable limits. When label guidelines are updated, they will have information on added sugars, the topic of one of the most recent health recommendations. The guidelines will also focus on nutrient content, particularly those that people don't get in sufficient amounts like potassium and vitamin D. The FDA is organizing various public forums to give people an avenue for their comments, with the comment period starting on Sept. 28 and ending on Jan. 26, 2017. Additionally, comments may be left online at Regulations.gov. Those who wish to mail in their comments may also do so, but written comments have to be identified with the docket number FDA-2016-D-2335. "While we are working on the 'healthy' claim, we also will begin evaluating other label claims to determine how they might be modernized," wrote Douglas Balentine, director of the Office of Nutrition and Food Labeling at FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "We want to give consumers the best tools and information about the foods they choose, with the goal of improving public health," he added. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | April 2, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

The Food and Drug Administration today proposed a new limit for the level of arsenic allowed in infant rice cereal. After an extensive study of arsenic levels in food, the FDA proposed a limit of 100 parts per billion (ppb) for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. The agency's testing has shown that most infant rice cereals now on the market (around 80 percent) already meet, or are close to meeting, this requirement, the FDA said. The agency has already set limits for levels of inorganic arsenic in drinking water and apple juice, but the new proposal, if finalized, would be the first limit for arsenic in food. Arsenic is an element found naturally in soil and water, but rice plants tend to absorb more arsenic than do other crops. What's more, infants consume much more rice than adults relative to their weight, mostly because babies eat infant rice cereal, the FDA said. "Our actions are driven by our duty to protect the public health and our careful analysis of the data and the emerging science," Susan Mayne, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a statement. "The proposed limit is a prudent and achievable step to reduce exposure to arsenic among infants." Inorganic arsenic is a known carcinogen, and higher levels of exposure over a lifetime may increase the risk of bladder and lung cancer. The FDA estimates that exposure to inorganic arsenic in rice products causes an extra four cases of lung and bladder cancer over a lifetime, for every 100,000 people in the United States (which is less than 1 percent of the nation's lung and bladder cancer cases). [Why Is Arsenic Bad for You?] Studies have also linked exposure to inorganic arsenic in infants to decreased performance on certain developmental tests. The FDA recommends that people eat a well-balanced diet to minimize the potential health effects of consuming too much of any one food. The agency recommends that parents feed their infants iron-fortified cereals, including rice, oat, barley and multigrain cereals. Rice cereal should not be the only source of nutrients for a baby, the agency said. Copyright 2016 LiveScience, a Purch company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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