Since April 2013, the Chicago Department of Public Health has been using an automated application, called Foodborne Chicago, to search Twitter for posts that include the words "food poisoning" by people who identify themselves as Chicagoans. The health department then contacts some of those people to obtain more information, which in some cases triggers restaurant inspections; in turn, some of those inspections have uncovered violations.
The U.S. Food and Drug (FDA) Administration published Federal Register notices on August 8 to extend the comment periods on the proposed rules for Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls for Human Food and Standards for the Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption by 60 days — until November 15, 2013. The extension of the comment period also applies to the information collection provisions associated with the proposed rules.
The international standards group Codex Alimentarius has established two new Electronic Working Groups — one to address Deoxyynivalenol (DON) Maximum Limits and another to develop a Code of Practice to prevent and reduce contamination in food and feed by Pyrrolizidine Alkaloid — both of which have issued Calls for Data.
A total of 307 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 37 states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on August 9.
NSF International's Applied Research Center (ARC) has released the 2013 NSF International Household Germ Study, revealing that many common kitchen items harbor unsafe levels of E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, yeast and mold.
The Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative Technical Working Group (TWG) has approved changes to the Field Operations and Harvesting Harmonized Food Safety Standards. The new version of the Harmonized Standards will become obligatory on November 1, 2013. The new version is now posted on the Produce GAPs Harmonization Initiative webpage.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on August 2 published a new regulation defining the term "gluten-free" for voluntary food labeling.
On August 5, the Watsonville, CA-based Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF) launched a shoppers’ guide that is part of the AFF’s continuing efforts to provide consumers with quick and accessible food safety information about produce.
More than 35% of the food additives deemed harmless between 1997 and 2012 were evaluated by employees of food manufacturers or by consultants the companies selected, researchers reported August 8 in JAMA Internal Medicine.
A team of scientists at the University of Hull has uncovered the crystal structure of melamine cyanurate, the substance thought to be responsible for the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, which caused around 300,000 babies to fall ill.
On August 2, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified Taylor Farms de Mexico, S. de R.L. de C.V. — a processor of foodservice salads — as the source of the cyclosporiasis outbreak in Iowa and Nebraska. The agency said its traceback investigation found that illness clusters at four restaurants were linked to a common supplier: Taylor Farms de Mexico.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on August 2 reported that it has identified a number of grocery stores in the Southeast as likely recipients of ground beef that has been recalled due to possible E. coli contamination. The beef was processed by Liberal, KS-based National Beef Packing Company and was sold in 10-pound chub packs under the National Beef, NatureSource, and NatureWell brands.
The number of people sickened in a multistate Cyclospora outbreak pushed past 400 on August 1, at least unofficially, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 397 cases, and Iowa and Texas added another 22 cases to that figure. In addition, on August 1 Louisiana reported its first cases, raising the number of affected states to 16, according to the CDC.