As the newly appointed deputy commissioner for food safety at the FDA, Michael Taylor has a lot on his plate.  Many different things to accomplish, not least of which a ramped up, more proactive approach to food safety within the agencies of government.  Perhaps the creation of a unified governmental body for all things

In a press release issued July 7, 2009, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it had filed a complaint seeking an injunction against Peregrina Cheese, Inc, of Brooklyn, NY, and two of its officers. If granted by the Court, the injunction would temporarily stop the company from manufacturing and distributing food.

According to the complaint, which was filed on behalf of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the company has a history of producing cheese contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a foodborne pathogen. A search of the FDA website revealed that FDA has cited insanitary conditions at the Peregrina Cheese factory several times over the last five years, and that Peregrina Cheese has recalled cheese products for Listeria contamination in the past. 

Listeria is the common name for the pathogenic or disease-causing bacterium known as Listeria monocytogenes. It is a foodborne illness that when ingested causes an infection known as listeriosis. Approximately 2,500 illnesses and 500 deaths are attributed to listeriosis in the United States annually.

In the DOJ press release, FDA acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs, Michael Chappell, stated:

This company has consistently failed to make corrections to improve the insanitary conditions under which it processes cheese products, despite frequent warnings to do so. The FDA will not tolerate food companies that fail to provide adequate safeguards.

According to the complaint, FDA and New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets (NYSDAM) inspections have revealed violations of current Good Manufacturing Practice requirements for foods. Inspectors have noted such food safety violations as standing water in food processing equipment and a dead rodent inside the plant. NYSDAM has also assessed fines against the company.
Continue Reading Department of Justice Closes Cheese Plant

For the third time this year, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is carefully orchestrating a “voluntary recall” of all products containing a certain ingredient. 

This time it is products with nonfat dry milk produced by the Minnesota-based Plainview Milk Products Cooperative that are the main targets of the recall. 

Plainview Milk also made

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is out with a discussion draft of “the Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.”

Given who’s signed on to this one, it’s probably the one to watch.  Sponsors include Chair Emeritus John D. Dingell, Chairs Henry A. Waxman, Frank Pallone, and Bart Stupak, and Reps. Diana DeGette and Betty Sutton.

The new draft is based on the food reforms contained in H.R. 759, the Food and Drug Administration Globalization Act of 2009, introduced in January by Reps. Dingell, Stupak and Pallone. Favored bills get heard quickly, and this one gets its first hearing next week, on Wednesday, June 3rd.

"As evidenced by the recent widespread contaminations in our food supply, including E.coli in spinach, salmonella in peppers and the most recent outbreak of salmonella in peanut butter, it is clear that we must act now," said Rep. Pallone, Chair of the Health Subcommittee. "This draft builds on legislation introduced earlier this year and will empower the FDA with the resources and authorities it needs to ensure that our food is safe to eat. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues and the administration to move this crucial piece of legislation forward

"Our 10 food safety hearings in the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations have highlighted the need for an overhaul of our food safety laws," said Rep. Stupak, Chair of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee. "The American people deserve a Food and Drug Administration that has both the funding and the regulatory authority needed to protect our food supply and hold the food industry accountable. President Obama and the new FDA leadership have expressed a commitment to food safety reform and I look forward to working with them to return FDA to the gold standard in protecting the public health."

A detailed summary of the draft follows below.

Continue Reading Bill Aims To Return FDA To “The Gold Standard” In Protecting Public Health