- Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy or “mad cow” disease in a beef cow from Alberta, Canada. No part of the animal’s carcass entered the human food or animal feed systems. February 27, 2015
FDA-iRISK® Named a Central Component of EFSA's Risk-Ranking Toolbox
U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s innovative risk-assessment tool known as FDA-iRISK has been identified by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) as “the most appropriate tool for risk ranking of microbiological hazards.” The statement comes as EFSA is developing a risk-ranking toolbox, for which FDA-iRISK is to serve as one of two central components (the other being the Burden of Communicable Diseases in Europe – BcoDE – toolkit). EFSA states that these two tools “in combination with a network of available predictive microbiology tools, databases, and information sources, can form a risk-ranking toolbox and be applied based on a “fit for purpose” approach.” Click here.
In a related development, a webinar hosted by the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the University of Maryland will take place on March 11, 2015, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. EDT.
The webinar will highlight key features of FDA-iRISK® 2.0, an enhanced version of the free, Web-based system made available by the U.S. FDA. Click here to register. February 19, 2015
China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment and the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) to Cooperate on Food Safety
CFSA and ANSES signed a cooperation agreement on January 30, 2015, that will involve the training of experts and technicians in food analysis and monitoring methods, both in the area of microbiology and chemistry; the comparison of the standards in force in Europe and in China, in the context of their current revision by the CFSA; and risk assessment methodologies.
The agreement, which was signed in Beijing between Jinfeng Liu, Director General of the CFSA, and Marc Mortureux, Director General of ANSES, aims to develop cooperation in the following areas:
- Microbiological food safety (including food virology, emerging risks and new detection technologies),
- Chemical food safety (including chemical additives, food contact materials and chemical contaminants),
- Food monitoring and control, conducting studies on consumer exposure to contaminants,
- Novel foods, food allergies and intolerances.
This cooperation initiative will involve exchanging scientific information, conducting joint research projects and studies, training personnel, and the cross-participation of experts in scientific seminars organised by each of the parties. Click here.
February 19, 2015
- EFSA has released the 2nd edition of its risk communications guidelines, which are intended to provide a common framework for health authorities in different countries when assessing and communicating on risks related to food safety in Europe. This second edition, titled “When Food Is Cooking Up a Storm – Proven Recipes for Risk Communications” includes case studies on Food Supplementation; Sodium Reduction and Dioxins levels in fish, as well as new topical issues in Europe including lead exposure and Norwegian hunting.
According to EFSA, Risk Communication needs to address how to:
- Provide information to the public on hazards and risk (emphasizing the difference between hazards and risks);
- Provide information to the public about the process for conducting risk assessments and making risk management decisions, including a description of the various actors and procedures involved in both tasks.
- Organize effective two-way communications;
- Enhance trust and credibility of all actors in the risk assessment and management process;
- Involve stakeholders in the process and resolve conflicts.
The guidelines are available in EFSA’s four working languages: English, French, German and Italian,. Click here for the press release. February 12, 2015
- European Food Safety Authority Comprehensive Evaluation Finds that Bisphenol A Poses No Risk to Consumers of Any Age Group
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that BPA poses no health risk to consumers of any age group (including unborn children, infants and adolescents) at current, dietary and non-dietary exposure levels.
BPA is a chemical used in the manufacturing of polycarbonate plastic food contact materials such as plastic bottles, reusable plastic tableware and can coatings (mainly as protective linings). Another widespread application of BPA is in thermal paper commonly used for till/cash register receipts. EFSA found that exposure from the diet or from a combination of sources (diet, dust, cosmetics and thermal paper) is considerably under the newly-reduced safe level (the "tolerable daily intake" or TDI) depending on the age group.
Although new data and refined methodologies led EFSA's experts to considerably reduce the safe level of BPA from 50 micrograms per kilogram of body weight per day (µg/kg of bw/day) to 4 µg/kg of bw/day, the highest estimates for dietary exposure and for exposure from a combination of sources (called "aggregated exposure" in EFSA's Opinion) are three to five times lower than the new TDI depending on the group. Dietary exposure for bottle-fed infants aged 0-6 months is 50-fold below the t-TDI for the highest estimates.
EFSA will again reconsider the new temporary TDI when the results of long-term research by the US National Toxicology Program are available for evaluation in two to three years.
See EFSA's Scientific Opinion and Fact Sheet on the Safety of BPA.
Also see the International Food Information Council Foundation Q&A on BPA.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) today released a draft Scientific Opinion on Caffeine Safety.
The document addresses concerns raised by national and international bodies in relation to caffeine consumption in certain circumstances and age groups. Key findings are as follows:
- Single doses of caffeine up to 200mg and daily intakes of up to 400mg do not raise safety concerns for adults in Europe.
- Single doses of caffeine up to 200mg do not raise safety concerns for adults (18-65 years) also when consumed less than two hours before intense exercise.
- It is unlikely that caffeine interacts adversely with other constituents of “energy drinks” – such as taurine and D-glucurono-γ-lactone – or alcohol.
- For pregnant women, caffeine intakes of up to 200mg a day do not raise safety concerns for the fetus.
- For children (3-10 years) and adolescents (10-18 years), daily intakes of 3mg per kg of body weight are considered safe.
- Single doses of 100mg may increase sleep latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep) and shorten sleeping time in some adults.
The Draft Opinion is open for public consultation until March 15, 2015, and written comments can be submitted via an electronic template before or after the stakeholder meeting.
To access key IFIC Foundation communication resources related to caffeine and health Click here. January 15, 2015
- Given the prevalence of confusing or misleading information about food and nutrition - and the alarmist tactics that often define much of today’s food and nutrition dialogue - the International Food Information Council Foundation has announced the formation of the FACTS Network, Food Advocates Communicating through Science
As communications through social media are increasingly important to consumers and stakeholders, the FACTS Network is being developed as a reliable place to go for real-time food facts that can be readily shared with family, friends and acquaintances.
We are pleased to invite you to join the FACTS Network as a “FACTS Follower.” FACTS—Food Advocates Communicating Through Science—a grassroots network dedicated to bringing greater balance to today’s food and nutrition dialogue.
Benefitting from a global, interactive community of academic and other professional experts, FACTS exists to debunk pseudoscience and correct common misperceptions about modern food production, food safety, nutrition, and health and wellness. FACTS promotes the science, not deceptive advice.
We encourage you to sign up today to help spread trusted insight and advice on key food and health issues that enable informed decision and enhance food safety.
Join us as a FACTS Follower for access to a trusted community which will provide you with understandable, clear, concise food information you can share with family, friends and others. Then like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to join the conversation!
- A paper titled “Why low calories: count: The effective use of low calorie sweeteners (LCS) in today’s diet and lifestyle choices” (1-2 April 2014), Brussels, Belgium was published in Nutrition Bulletin on behalf of the British Nutrition Foundation Nutrition Bulletin, 39, 386-389. This consensus paper summarizes current evidence on the benefits of LCS, as reviewed by a panel of independent experts at the International Sweeteners Association Conference in Brussels, in April 2014.
Among Key Conclusions:
1) LCS do no increase appetite and have no discernible effect on satiety.
2) LCS help to reduce energy when used in place of higher energy ingredients
For a copy of the study, click here.
Paper’s Authors include S. Gibson*, A. Drewnowski†, J. Hill‡, A. B. Raben§, H. Tuorila¶, E. Widström** and on behalf of the International Sweeteners Association
*Sig-Nurture, Ltd., Guildford, Surrey, UK;
†University ofWashington Center for Obesity Research, Washington, DC, USA;
‡Anschutz Health andWellness Center, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO, USA;
§Department of Human Nutrition, University of Copenhagen, Denmark;
¶Department of Sensory Food Science, University of Helsinki, Finland;
**National Institute for Health andWelfare, Helsinki, Finland
- A Scientific Report published by EFSA concluded the risk of transmission of Ebola through bushmeat illegally imported into the EU is "low." The report states the probability of a virus surviving transportation to Europe is higher in fresh or frozen meat after a short transport time and lower in dried or smoked meat exposed to higher temperatures during transport. Thorough cooking (at 100°C) kills the virus. EFSA cautions that although the potential for introduction and transmission of Ebola through bushmeat is low, the public health consequences of its introduction would be serious given the high fatality rate and ease of human-to-human transmission. EFSA is working to identify consumption levels of bushmeat in the EU, or on how illegally imported bushmeat is handled, prepared and consumed in Europe. Scientists do not know for how long the virus survives in meat or animal products. November 5, 2014
- The International Food Information Council Foundation has contributed two recent case studies on Bisphenol A in baby bottles and Communicating about the use of ammonia in “Lean Finely Textured Beef”. October 3, 2014
- World Health Organization: Information note: Ebola and food safety -
Ebola: general information
Currently an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is ongoing in several African countries. Ebola virus disease is a severe illness. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected animals or people.
During an outbreak, those at higher risk of infection are health workers, family members and others in close contact with sick people and deceased patients.
Appropriate infection and prevention control measures can be implemented to stop transmission and supportive care to patients help to considerably reduce the mortality. Spread of the infection can be controlled through the use of recommended protective measures in clinics and hospitals, at community gatherings, during burial ceremonies or at home.
Current outbreak: a human to human transmission
Ebola viruses are known to cause epidemics of disease among wild animals, particularly non-human primates.
Potential hosts of Ebola viruses are non-human primates, duikers, bats, small rodents, and shrews.
The initial source of past EVD outbreaks was likely human contact with wild animals through hunting, butchering and preparing meat from infected wild animals (“bush meat”), with subsequent transmission from human to human.
However, in the current outbreak, the majority of cases are a result of human to human transmission.
Food, animals and Ebola
If food products are properly prepared and cooked, humans cannot become infected by consuming them: the Ebola virus is inactivated through cooking.
Basic hygiene measures can prevent infection in people in direct contact with infected animals or with raw meat and by-products.
Basic hygiene measures include regular hand washing and changing of clothes and boots before and after touching these animals and their products.
However, sick and diseased animal should never be consumed. August 24, 2014
- EFSA is launching a public consultation on its draft scientific opinion on acrylamide in food, developed by the Authority’s expert Panel on Contaminants in the Food Chain (CONTAM). Until 15 September, scientists and other interested parties can comment on the draft opinion through an online public consultation.
See EFSA information at:
See also US FDA publication Acrylamide Questions and Answers that encourages consumers to adopt a healthy eating plan consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, as well as IFIC Foundation video resource Dave Lineback explains Acrylamide July 2, 2014
- The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has announced that it will hold a workshop on their re-evaluation program for food additives, which will take place in Brussels, Belgium on April 28th 2014.
Business operators, scientific experts, representatives of the European Commission, EFSA scientific staff and other interested parties will discuss the Authority's work program covering the period 2014-2016 related to the re-evaluation of food additives; how and when to submit data for risk assessment and how to strengthen cooperation with stakeholders.
For details and draft agenda, see: Stakeholder workshop: Food additives re-evaluation programme according to Commission Regulation (EU) 257/2010
Please note that registration closes on 10 April 2014. Those interested in participating may register athttp://registerofquestions.efsa.europa.eu/roqFrontend/meetingsub/meetingid/15. March 31, 2014
- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today proposed to update the Nutrition Facts label for packaged foods to reflect the latest scientific information, including the link between diet and chronic diseases such as obesity and heart disease. Click here to read the FDA press release: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm387418.htm February 27, 2014
- The Alliance to Feed the Future has announced the availability of new, free curricula, "The Science of Feeding the World," will help students in grades K-8 learn about what it will take to feed the world as the earth's population reaches 9 billion by 2050. The curricula cite and assign the exact standard for the Common Core State Standards as well as the Next Generation Science Standards, a state-led process managed by Achieve in partnership with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).
All of the educational materials are available through the Alliance to Feed the Future website, www.alliancetofeedthefuture.org, which is home to an assortment of hundred of helpful resources and information regarding the modern food production system from farm to fork.
For additional questions about the Alliance to Feed the Future, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or USA 202-296-6540.
EFSA Completes Full Risk Assessment on Low-Calorie Sweetener Aspartame and Concludes it is Safe at Current Levels of Exposure
"This opinion represents one of the most comprehensive risk assessments of aspartame ever undertaken. It's a step forward in strengthening consumer confidence in the scientific underpinning of the EU food safety system and the regulation of food additives", said the Chair of EFSA's Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Foods (ANS Panel), Dr Alicja Mortensen. Experts of ANS Panel have considered all available information and, following a detailed analysis, have concluded that the current Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 40mg/kg bw/day is protective for the general population. However, in patients suffering from the medical condition phenylketonuria (PKU), the ADI is not applicable, as they require strict adherence to a diet low in phenylalanine (an amino acid found in proteins).
Following a thorough review of evidence provided both by animal and human studies, experts have ruled out a potential risk of aspartame causing damage to genes and inducing cancer. EFSA's experts also concluded that aspartame does not harm the brain, the nervous system or affect behaviour or cognitive function in children or adults. With respect to pregnancy, the Panel noted that there was no risk to the developing fetus from exposure to phenylalanine derived from aspartame at the current ADI (with the exception of women suffering from PKU). See EFSA News Release and full Opinion.
For related public information from the International Food Information Council, please see:
Aspartame Once Again Deemed Safe by European Food Safety Authority: Research on Aspartame Safety Spans Decades. December 10, 2013
FSANZ Issues Statement on Contaminated Dairy Products Imported from New Zealand
Following an announcement by a major multinational dairy company in New Zealand regarding a potentially contaminated whey protein concentrate, Food Standards Australia New Zealand is working together with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries to verify that there are only two affected infant formula products. The whey protein concentrate may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, which can cause botulism. It is used in a range of dairy products including baby formula and sports supplement drinks. At this time, no cases of illness associated with the products have been reported. As a precautionary measure, parents may wish to use alternative brands of infant formula until all information is available.
For a copy of the press release, click here. August 5, 2013
The IFIC Foundation has produced some public education pieces on foodborne illness at www.foodinsight.org, including a Consumers Guide to Food Safety Risks at and Background on Food Safety and Defense. August 5, 2013
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released a new set of interactive web tools aimed at providing Canadians with relevant, easy-to-understand information explaining the beef processing and inspection process, as well as the food safety investigation and recall process. Acknowledging that no food safety system can guarantee zero risk, the tools explain government and industry activities and roles to minimize consumer risk. July 31, 2013
Food Standards Australia New Zealand published a report on the risk assessment and regulation of ag biotech crops and foods developed using gene silencing. The report concluded the weight of scientific evidence “does not support the view that small double-stranded RNAs in foods are likely to have adverse consequences for humans.” May 21, 2013
As a related resource, The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation released “Food Biotechnology: A Communicator’s Guide to Improving Understanding, 3rd Edition,” revising a 2003 version to reflect new developments in food biotechnology research, regulation, and product availability from the last decade, as well as new consumer insights and changing communication methods, such as the advent of digital media.
The World Health Organization has issued a preliminary Risk Assessment on avian influenza A (H7N9) which states that the virus contains a group of avian influenza virus genes from three different avian influenza viruses. So far, this virus has not been associated with reports of severe disease in poultry. - Xinhua, China's news agency, reports 11 new H7N9 human infections, bringing the total number of such cases around the country to 60, with the death toll from H7N9 at 13. http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/influenza_h7n9/RiskAssessment_H7N9_13Apr13.pdf
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is following this situation closely and coordinating with domestic and international partners. In addition, CDC has issued guidance to U.S. clinicians and public health departments on how to test for this virus, and interim guidance on case definitions for possible H7N9 cases in the United States and interim infection control guidance for U.S. health care workers. CDC also has developed information for travelers to China. http://www.cdc.gov/flu/avianflu/h7n9-virus.htm CDC has also offered to assist China in developing a vaccine. April 16, 2013
The China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment has provided information for Chinese consumers and stakeholders regarding sporadic cases of Avian Influenza, N7H9, on the website at http://www.cfsa.net.cn/newslist/newslist.jsp?anniu=media&actType=News&id=1666. English translations options are available on the website. Key content includes information with virus characteristic virus survival capability, transmission mode, and prevention and control measures. The avian influenza can be inactivated by heating at 65°C for 30 minutes or boiling at 100°C for 2 minutes. Virus can also survive in feces for 1 week at low temperature and in water for 1 month at 4°C. Among additional information reported by China’s official news agency, Xinhua News:
*The source of infection is not clear, but most experts believe the N7H9 is from birds and N7H9 has been found in chickens, pigeons and quails in areas that human cases were reported.
*There is no restriction on travel (within China or coming into China) so far. But residents who have fever are required to go to hospital for checking. Hospitals were alerted for patients who have fever.
*As measures of prevention, the selling of live birds (chicken, etc.) are banned in the cities, including Beijing.
*Information on this issue is transparent and Beijing government announced that anyone who hides information will be heavily punished. Under reported cases are highly unlikely this time.
*Information compiled from the Xinhua News Agency (the official news agency of Chinese government) by Dr. Junshi Chen, head of the China Food Information Center on April 6, 2013.
The number of reported cases is changing every day, about 18 cases, with 6 deaths as of April 8. There is no indication of epidemic and evidence of human to human transmission. Now N7H9 could be identified within one day.