B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘FDA’ tag

High-fructose corn syrup is the Devil

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Well, you know what I mean.

corn_porn.jpg

A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

“Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn’t true, at least under the conditions of our tests,” said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. “When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they’re becoming obese — every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don’t see this; they don’t all gain extra weight.”

[Click to continue reading Princeton University – A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain]

Curious as to why that is. Also, isn’t it nice that the federal government subsidizes high-fructose corn syrup, keeping its price artificially low? Low price means high fructose corn syrup is used as an ingredient more often than if was a specialty ingredient.

Corn

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2010 at 8:56 am

Posted in government

Tagged with , , , ,

Glaxo Drug Faces More Scrutiny

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Follow up on the NYT article on GSK and their drug, Avandia that we blogged about recently

18th Street El Stop

A Senate report that revives concerns about a GlaxoSmithKline PLC diabetes drug’s link to heart attacks is putting pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to make changes to its drug-safety program.

People familiar with the situation say agency leaders held calls over the weekend to discuss how to address complaints from Sens. Max Baucus (D., Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), who released a new report Saturday on the Glaxo drug, called Avandia.

The FDA is trying to assemble a timeline of what the FDA knew of risks associated with Avandia, these people say, and plans to call a meeting of an outside advisory committee in the next few months to look at recent information on the drug, which Glaxo reported as having global sales of £771 million ($1.2 billion) in 2009.

According to a two-year investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, Glaxo knew about data linking Avandia to elevated risk of cardiovascular events for several years, but played down the information and tried to suppress doctors who raised concerns. Starting in 1999, Glaxo executives complained to superiors about researchers who questioned Avandia’s safety, the report says.

[Click to continue reading Glaxo Drug Faces More Scrutiny – WSJ.com]

and the FDA is certainly not blameless in this mess

Some critics of the FDA cited the Avandia report in renewing calls for an independent safety unit at the agency to track problems with drugs after they go on the market. Currently the section that does “post-market surveillance” is subordinate to the division that approves new drugs. As a result, there is an inherent conflict of interest because the approval officers are judging their own previous decisions, critics say.

The question is: will public outrage be sufficiently heated to force some structural changes in the FDA? Jury is still out…

Written by Seth Anderson

February 22nd, 2010 at 8:27 am

Generic Drugs and the FDA

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In other corrupt-Washington-business-as-usual news, the pharmaceutical corporations have successfully protected their profits against generic drugs by convincing Washington to underfund the department of government regulators who approves generics. If they have no staff and no budget, generics can’t be brought to market, causing consumers and Medicare to spend more on non-generic drugs.

American consumers are waiting nearly a year longer for government regulators to approve new lower-priced generic drugs than they did in 2005.

The delays, caused by a growing backlog of applications at the Food and Drug Administration, may be costing consumers and the federal government hundreds of millions of dollars a year as they continue in some cases to pay for name-brand drugs even after their patents expire, industry analysts said.

[Click to continue reading New Generic Drugs Facing Longer Waits for Approval – NYTimes.com]

Currently, approvals are taking over 2 years to wade through. Obviously, this office of the FDA is not a priority.

With lawmakers preparing to meet at the White House next week to discuss ways to give more Americans access to health insurance, generic makers say that underfunding of the F.D.A.’s generics office is denying consumers access to more affordable drugs. The agency’s office of generic drugs has a budget of $51 million for fiscal year 2010, up from $41 million in fiscal 2009.

Executives at the generics meeting joked that government was spending less per year on reviewing applications for new generic drugs than the New York Yankees spend on the payroll of the left side of their infield. (Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter between them earned $54.6 million last year, according to ESPN).

but if Washington was serious about being cost-sensitive and fiscally responsible, they’d act already. Ultimately, delaying generic drugs ends up costing taxpayers more money

While accounting for the majority of drug prescriptions in the United States, generics represent just a fraction of the total cost of drugs. Generics accounted for 70.4 percent of the 2.9 billion prescriptions in the United States last year, according to IMS Health, a health information company. But they accounted for only about 15 percent of the $300 billion spent on prescription drugs in this country last year, IMS said.

The slowdown in new generic drug approvals ultimately hurts consumers — and government payers like Medicare — because prices stay higher when there are no or only a few generic alternatives to a branded drug, industry analysts said.

Sad state of affairs: almost as if pharmaceutical corporations like GlaxoSmithKline set national policy. Hmmm, maybe they do?

Written by Seth Anderson

February 20th, 2010 at 1:47 pm

Diabetes Drug Avandia Harms the Heart

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Speaking of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, GlaxoSmithKline wants to protect its drug profits at the expense of hundreds of deaths a year.

Hundreds of people taking Avandia, a controversial diabetes medicine, needlessly suffer heart attacks and heart failure each month, according to confidential government reports that recommend the drug be removed from the market.

The reports, obtained by The New York Times, say that if every diabetic now taking Avandia were instead given a similar pill named Actos, about 500 heart attacks and 300 cases of heart failure would be averted every month because Avandia can hurt the heart. Avandia, intended to treat Type 2 diabetes, is known as rosiglitazone and was linked to 304 deaths during the third quarter of 2009.

“Rosiglitazone should be removed from the market,” one report, by Dr. David Graham and Dr. Kate Gelperin of the Food and Drug Administration, concludes. Both authors recommended that Avandia be withdrawn.

The internal F.D.A. reports are part of a fierce debate within the agency over what to do about Avandia, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline. Some agency officials want the drug withdrawn because they believe there is a safer alternative; others insist that studies of the drug provide contradictory information and that Avandia should continue to be an option for doctors and patients. GlaxoSmithKline said that it had studied Avandia extensively and that “scientific evidence simply does not establish that Avandia increases” the risk of heart attacks.

[Click to continue reading Diabetes Drug Avandia Harms the Heart, Studies Find – NYTimes.com]

Nancy Reagan - Just Say Yo

GSK is more interested in resurrecting their cash cow:

Driven in part by a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign, sales [of Avandia] were $3.2 billion in 2006

despite the US Senate suggesting the process itself was/is flawed:

Just Say No Drugs

In a letter sent Thursday to Dr. Hamburg, the Food and Drug Administration commissioner, Mr. Baucus and Mr. Grassley asked “what steps the F.D.A. has taken to protect patients in the TIDE trial” and said the trial’s patients had never been told about the concerns raised by the agency’s own safety officers.

Mr. Grassley said the internal agency battle showed that the agency needed to be restructured to give more power to safety officials like Dr. Graham and Dr. Gelperin over their counterparts who approve medicines and deal more directly with drug makers.

“It doesn’t make any sense to have these experts who study drugs after they have been on the market for several years under the thumb of the officials who approved the drug in the first place and have a natural interest in defending that decision,” Mr. Grassley said. “The Avandia case may be the most alarming example of the problem with this setup.”

The question of when and how to communicate possible drug risks has long bedeviled drug makers and regulators. Hints are common that drugs may cause injuries; thousands of drug injury reports pour into the Food and Drug Administration every week. For example, Avandia ranked first among all prescribed drugs in the number of serious, disabling and fatal problems — including 304 deaths — reported to the agency in the third quarter of 2009, according to an analysis done by the Institute for Safe Medication Practice, a drug safety oversight group.

The Senate investigation — the result of years of digging through more than 250,000 internal company documents — concludes that GlaxoSmithKline and by extension the F.D.A. delayed far too long in this process.

Don’t forget that the FDA’s coziness with the pharmaceutical corporations is part of the problem too. Unless there are some drastic structural changes in the FDA, these sorts of issues are going to come up repeatedly.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 20th, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Conflicts of Interest Inherent in the System

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No wonder the US model of pharmaceutical research is so fracked up.

The Hunt Club

In a report expected to be made public on Thursday, Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, said 90 percent of universities relied solely on the researchers themselves to decide whether the money they made in consulting and other relationships with drug and device makers was relevant to their government-financed research.

And half of universities do not ask their faculty members to disclose the amount of money or stock they make from drug and device makers, so the potential for extensive conflicts with their government-financed research is often known only to the researchers themselves, the report concluded.

[Click to continue reading Researchers’ Financial Interests Often Not Reported to U.S. – NYTimes.com]

Don’t ask, don’t tell, right? You keep your money, and we keep you on staff so that our university can use your name in our PR materials.

Most of the reported conflicts involved equity ownership in companies that could be affected by the results of government-financed research. In only a third of the cases did the universities specify to the government the size of the financial conflict and, among those, six had equity stakes valued at greater than $100,000. But in only 29 of the cases did the universities require researchers to reduce or eliminate their stakes. In most cases, the universities deemed that some sort of the disclosure of the conflict was enough to manage it.

Can you imagine this sort of arrangement for any other industry? Well, besides maybe defense contractors and Congress, but they at least have a couple of years of cushion between action and reward.

Written by Seth Anderson

November 19th, 2009 at 9:26 am

Posted in News-esque

Tagged with , , ,

Reading Around on October 4th

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Some additional reading October 4th from 10:05 to 12:48:

Written by swanksalot

October 4th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Sugary Cereal is Not Smart

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There’s a new nutritional label starting to appear called Smart Choice, and it seems to be just a marketing gimmick, not anything that’s actually good for your health or your families health. I assume Michael Pollan is rolling his eyes right now.

Dance of the Devil Corn

A new food-labeling campaign called Smart Choices, backed by most of the nation’s largest food manufacturers, is “designed to help shoppers easily identify smarter food and beverage choices.”

The green checkmark label that is starting to show up on store shelves will appear on hundreds of packages, including — to the surprise of many nutritionists — sugar-laden cereals like Cocoa Krispies and Froot Loops.

[Click to continue reading Industry-Backed Label Calls Sugary Cereal a ‘Smart Choice’ – NYTimes.com]

The Smart Choices people have a ridiculous example as to why eating Froot Loops is good for you:

Eileen T. Kennedy, president of the Smart Choices board and the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, said the program’s criteria were based on government dietary guidelines and widely accepted nutritional standards.

Dr. Kennedy…defended the products endorsed by the program, including sweet cereals. She said Froot Loops was better than other things parents could choose for their children.

“You’re rushing around, you’re trying to think about healthy eating for your kids and you have a choice between a doughnut and a cereal,” Dr. Kennedy said, evoking a hypothetical parent in the supermarket. “So Froot Loops is a better choice.”

Yeah, think about that for a second. Why are a donut and a bowl of sugar sprayed with nutrients your only choices as a parent? Where’s the protein for your child’s brain? Where is the fresh fruit? I was lucky enough as a child that my mom made me a breakfast every day: oatmeal, eggs, whatever. Is it really that hard to spend an extra 20 minutes in the morning to feed your child?

Wonder Bread Factory

I wonder how these corporations underwriting the Smart Choices program will spin this damning article?

Ten companies have signed up for the Smart Choices program so far, including Kellogg’s, Kraft Foods, ConAgra Foods, Unilever, General Mills, PepsiCo and Tyson Foods. Companies that participate pay up to $100,000 a year to the program, with the fee based on total sales of its products that bear the seal.

The Smart Choices organization fired one nutritionist who wanted the program to stand for something other than marketing:

Michael Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, an advocacy group, was part of a panel that helped devise the Smart Choices nutritional criteria, until he quit last September. He said the panel was dominated by members of the food industry, which skewed its decisions. “It was paid for by industry and when industry put down its foot and said this is what we’re doing, that was it, end of story,” he said

Mr. Jacobson objected to some of the panel’s nutritional decisions. The criteria allow foods to carry the Smart Choices seal if they contain added nutrients, which he said could mask shortcomings in the food.

Despite federal guidelines favoring whole grains, the criteria allow breads made with no whole grains to get the seal if they have added nutrients.

“You could start out with some sawdust, add calcium or Vitamin A and meet the criteria,” Mr. Jacobson said.

Yummy, sawdust, it’s better than a donut!

Written by Seth Anderson

September 5th, 2009 at 10:32 am

Drug Chief at the FDA Is Accused

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Allegations of corruption and conflict of interest at the FDA? Really? How novel

Neon - NH Ballin Drugs Prescriptions

The inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating a conflict-of-interest allegation involving the official in charge of drug approvals at the Food and Drug Administration, the FDA said.

The investigation of Janet Woodcock, the director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, stems from an ethics complaint filed by Amphastar Pharmaceuticals Inc., a California company that says it has been delayed in its six-year effort to win approval for a generic version of Lovenox, a multi-billion-dollar blood thinner.

In its complaint, Amphastar alleges that its competitor had special access to Dr. Woodcock at critical times in the prolonged approval process, which is ongoing. Amphastar points out that Dr. Woodcock co-authored a scientific paper with scientists at Momenta Pharmaceuticals Inc. while both companies were battling to win FDA approval of their generic blood thinners.

[Click to continue reading Drug Chief at the FDA Is Accused Of Conflict – WSJ.com]

Big Pharma owns the regulating process, makes sense they own the regulators themselves as well.

Written by Seth Anderson

August 12th, 2009 at 9:47 am

Food Safety Enhancement Bill finally passes the House

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Update: H.R. 2749 – Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009 passed the House. [Full Text / Summary ]

The House of Representatives on Thursday approved a wide-ranging food-safety bill by a 283-142 margin.

The 159-page Food Safety Enhancement Act could affect every facet of the nation’s food supply chain, from farm to grocery store.

The Senate is working to pass its own version, but extended debate could delay the process. House and Senate negotiators would then have to work out their differences.

[Click to continue reading Food safety: House passes bill that would affect most facets of supply chain — chicagotribune.com]

Clown Coco

Who backs the bill? Well, for starters:

“We commend the House for passing legislation that will strengthen food safety in America. Most important, it focuses on systems to prevent breaches in food safety to protect consumers,” said Leslie G. Sarasin, president and chief executive officer, Food Marketing Institute. “We urge the Senate to approve companion legislation quickly so the industry and government can take the actions required to enhance our nation’s food safety system.”

Pamela G. Bailey, president and CEO, Grocery Manufacturers Assocaition, said GMA supports many aspects of H.R. 2749. “This legislation will strengthen our nation’s food safety net by placing prevention as the cornerstone of our nation’s food safety strategy and providing FDA with the resources and authorities it needs to adequately fulfill its food safety mission,” she said. “Combined with increased industry resources and vigilance, this legislation represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to modernize our food safety system and restore t

[Click to continue reading House Passes Food Safety Bill on Second Vote]

and

The United Fresh Produce Association supports the bill. The American Farm Bureau Federation, the USA Rice Federation and the National Pork Producers Council likewise have either dropped their previous opposition or now support the bill outright.

And what exactly does the bill attempt to do?

It raises money, boosts inspections and empowers the federal Food and Drug Administration.

The legislation assesses new $500-a-year fees on food processors and other facilities that must register every year; the fee would increase annually with inflation. These levies will raise about $1.5 billion over five years and combine with an estimated $2 billion provided by Congress.

The money, in part, will pay for inspections and monitoring of about 360,000 domestic and foreign food facilities. The FDA also gains new clout, including subpoena power, mandatory food recall authority and the ability to impose a regional quarantine if officials have a “reasonable belief” that there’s a risk of death or serious illness.

yesterday’s post:

The Food Safety Enhancement Act we mentioned yesterday failed, but isn’t quite dead yet.

Waste Not Want Not

The U.S. House rejected a bill to overhaul the nation’s food-safety laws amid complaints from Republicans that they weren’t given enough time to read the measure.

The legislation, which would give regulators more power to enforce tougher safety standards, fell seven votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. The vote was 280 in favor of the bill, 150 against it.

The measure needed two-thirds support because it was considered under expedited procedures that bar amendments and limit debate to 40 minutes.

Democrats will bring up the bill again tomorrow under regular procedures requiring a simple majority for passage, said Katie Grant, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.

[Click to continue reading Measure to Overhaul Food-Safety Laws Fails in House (Update1) – Bloomberg.com]

I’m not sure why it was introduced under the expedited procedure, why not treat it as normal legislation?

You know conservatives like Frank Lucas are never going to support any such bill, why not just ignore them?

Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, said the measure would add hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and taxes and burdensome regulations that “will increase the cost of food for consumers” and drive producers overseas.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 31st, 2009 at 10:25 am

Food Safety Enhancement Act fails

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The Food Safety Enhancement Act we mentioned yesterday failed, but isn’t quite dead yet.

Waste Not Want Not

The U.S. House rejected a bill to overhaul the nation’s food-safety laws amid complaints from Republicans that they weren’t given enough time to read the measure.

The legislation, which would give regulators more power to enforce tougher safety standards, fell seven votes short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. The vote was 280 in favor of the bill, 150 against it.

The measure needed two-thirds support because it was considered under expedited procedures that bar amendments and limit debate to 40 minutes.

Democrats will bring up the bill again tomorrow under regular procedures requiring a simple majority for passage, said Katie Grant, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.

[Click to continue reading Measure to Overhaul Food-Safety Laws Fails in House (Update1) – Bloomberg.com]

I’m not sure why it was introduced under the expedited procedure, why not treat it as normal legislation?

You know conservatives like Frank Lucas are never going to support any such bill, why not just ignore them?

Representative Frank Lucas of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Agriculture Committee, said the measure would add hundreds of millions of dollars in fees and taxes and burdensome regulations that “will increase the cost of food for consumers” and drive producers overseas.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 30th, 2009 at 7:54 am

House to Vote on Food-Safety Legislation

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Speaking of food safety and the FDA, The House is expected to vote on a new, long-awaited food safety bill giving more authority to the FDA.

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The House is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would significantly increase the Food and Drug Administration’s funding and authority to police food safety.

Democratic leaders will bring up the legislation under a procedure that allows limited debate and no amendments and requires a two-thirds supermajority vote to pass. The bill unanimously passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee in June.

The vote was scheduled after negotiations averted a prolonged turf battle between two powerful Democrats: House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin C. Peterson of Minnesota and Rep. John Dingell of Michigan, the Commerce Committee’s chairman emeritus. The committees were still working on the final language Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Peterson had threatened to stop the legislation if it didn’t explicitly exempt livestock or grain farmers and others that are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Mr. Dingell, the legislation’s main sponsor, has said the legislation wasn’t intended to overlay FDA rules on USDA regulations.

[Click to continue reading House to Vote on Food-Safety Legislation – WSJ.com]

sausage making

and since the FDA is toothless at the moment, consumer groups are becoming more impatient with the slow moving process of making legislation. There are problems with the US food safety, why can no changes be made?

Consumer groups, however, urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying Congress already has held more than 20 hearings on food safety in the aftermath of a string of widespread food-borne illnesses involving products such as hot peppers, spinach and lettuce. The outbreaks exposed gaps in the FDA’s ability to prevent large-scale outbreaks and trace the source once they begin.

Under the legislation, the FDA would be able to order food recalls. The bill would also require the agency to inspect food facilities more often and would give FDA authority to set production and record-keeping standards to prevent contamination and more easily trace outbreaks. Food facilities would be required to register and pay an annual $500 fee.

The Senate, on the other hand, is more concerned with going on vacation and avoiding bills like health-care reform, and food safety. The Senate also likes to ride the corn-porn pony of corporate lobbyist dollars.

corn_porn.jpg

Written by Seth Anderson

July 29th, 2009 at 11:17 am

Ginger and Garlic Blues

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Organic onions

Oh great, so every meal I eat out has been with contaminated garlic and/or ginger (seemingly a staple of my diet). Where’s the FDA been anyway? Wouldn’t you like to read a headline about how the FDA protected consumers before an event, not after? In fact, the FDA isn’t even mentioned in this story. What agency is taking the lead in protecting American food from poison?1

China Curbs Garlic, Ginger Exports to U.S. – WSJ.com:
China in recent weeks has sharply restricted the exportation of garlic and ginger to the U.S., a huge importer of the crops, amid continuing concerns about the safety of Chinese exports.

The Chinese government has ordered numerous facilities in Shandong province, a hub for the nation’s agricultural exports, to stop shipping the foods until they can abide by tougher safety standards, according to several U.S. companies that import the products from China. The move has curtailed the supply of garlic and ginger in the U.S., resulting in higher prices as buyers shift to alternative sources.

China’s action follows a host of import-safety incidents in the U.S., including a July recall of fresh ginger, tainted with an illegal insecticide, that was imported from China by a California company and sold in at least two dozen supermarkets.

China is a major supplier of garlic and ginger to the U.S., which is finicky about the Chinese-grown produce it allows into its borders. China accounts for more than 80% of garlic imported into the U.S., according to the U.S. government. Hawaii is the only source of ginger farmed in the U.S., so the country depends heavily on exports from China. In the wake of China’s action, California garlic growers are enjoying increased demand, as are Brazilian ginger growers, according to U.S. buyers.

garlic

Apparently still a problem in 2009:

At Whole Foods, for example, labels that read “USDA inspected” are stuck to produce imported from abroad. According to “Behind the Bean,” a recent study by Wisconsin’s Cornucopia Institute, the USDA’s record with food imported from China is fraught with irregularities.

“(USDA) found multiple non-compliances of the federal organic standards, (including) the failure of one certifying agent to hire Chinese inspectors that are adequately familiar with the USDA organic standards, and the failure by another organic certifying agent to provide a written and translated copy of the USDA organic standards to all clients applying for certification.

This raises serious concerns about whether foods grown organically in China follow the same USDA organic standards with which we require American farmers to comply.”

A stand at my local farmers’ market has a sign that says “Boycott Chinese Garlic.” China currently supplies 75 percent of the garlic sold in the United States, for an average price of 50 cents a pound. Two years ago, it was 25 cents a pound.

Even with the price of garlic up from 25 to 50 cents a pound, garlic-growing regions like Gilroy, Calif., are hurting. Gilroy once was known as the nation’s garlic capital.

In addition to garlic cultivation, a retail empire was built on value-added products made with garlic. Now, Gilroy is just a garlic-processing capital, as most of its supply comes fromChina.

[From US: Organic goes down a slippery road]

When are there going to be some change in the US Food agribusiness/FDA? Can’t arrive soon enough

Footnotes:
  1. repost from my old blog circa 2007 []

Written by swanksalot

July 28th, 2009 at 6:28 pm

Honey Laundering

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The last eight years1 have not been good for regulatory consumer protection. The FDA is in need of some serious mission change – Obama’s new team has their work cut out for them. Case in point: honey laundering, as Andrew Schneider of the Seattle PI reports. The US imports a lot of honey from China, and it is often contaminated with chloramphenicol or some other antibiotic that is illegal in any food product. The FDA doesn’t seem too concerned, nor does Congress.

Two-thirds of the honey Americans consume is imported and almost half of that, regardless of what’s on the label, comes from China, the Seattle P-I reported last month.

The newspaper’s five-month investigation into honey laundering — the intentional mislabeling of the country of origin — found that tons of Chinese honey coming into the U.S. is tainted with banned antibiotics.

But when the contamination is discovered by the industry through internal testing, insiders say, federal health or customs officials are almost never notified, and the honey ends up being dumped back on the market.

[From Honey Laundering: Tainted product still slips easily into U.S.]

Honey Bucket

Even the tiny percentage of honey that is inspected is frequently tainted, but it doesn’t get destroyed on the spot.

“We don’t want to risk this tainted honey ever getting packed and distributed for human consumption,” said Haff [newly elected president of American Honey Producers], who believes the industry could solve the problem if companies simply alert the Food and Drug Administration each time they discover a tainted shipment.

Instead, some major packers simply return bad honey to the importer, naively trusting them to destroy the shipment and not seek another buyer.

Said Haff: “We run the risk of the importer trying to resell this same adulterated honey for a cheaper price somewhere else.”

That happens all too often. Court documents the P-I obtained after the arrests last year of two Chicago-based executives with Alfred L. Wolff, a German food distributor, reveal how rampant the sale and resale of bad honey is.

Testimony from federal investigators and informants offer a glimpse into a typical deal: Wolff sold Chinese honey to a U.S. honey producer. The packer tested the shipment and found traces of antibiotics. Wolff took the honey back and resold it to another packer who didn’t test for contaminants.

If convicted, the Wolff executives face up to five years in prison for conspiring to falsify country of origin on the Chinese shipments.

In its series, the P-I reported that it had received shipping papers showing that Chinese honey, falsely labeled as a product of India, was sold to several U.S. honey packers, including one of the nation’s largest — Sue Bee Honey Association.

About 2 years ago, we started using agave-based honey instead, lower glycemic index, dissolves easier, tastes as good as regular honey. There could be problems with it too, but since it is a more specialized food, perhaps not.

Anyway, the US food supply has been seriously corrupted by producers like Sue Bee Honey and their enablers at the FDA and other agencies. Disgusting, really.

Read more of the Seattle PIs exposé, including the revelation that the FDA turns a blind eye to the practice of unloading foreign honey of indeterminate origin and dubious quality across the border in Canada. The honey merchants wink at the FDA, and ship the honey through the lightly-regulated NAFTA loop-hole, claiming the honey is now magically “Canadian” because it sat in a Canadian warehouse for a couple of hours.

Footnotes:
  1. well, really last 16 years, plus the four years of Bush the Smarter and eight years of Reagan before []

Written by Seth Anderson

January 28th, 2009 at 8:26 am

FDA: Quality is job number 2

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Quality Meats

Bush’s servants in the FDA gave the public one last jab in the eye: ignoring the wishes of the citizens in regards to labeling food.

Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, today said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) blatantly ignored consumers’ right to choose what they eat after the FDA announced that it will not require labeling on meat or fish from genetically engineered animals.

The Bush administration, which is in charge of the FDA for just two more working days, today announced Final Guidance on Regulation of Genetically Engineered Animals. The FDA Guidance states that FDA will require such animals to go through a mandatory safety approval process, a decision Consumers Union supports. However FDA will not require any labeling.

A recent Consumers Union poll found that 95 percent of consumers favor labeling of meat and milk from genetically engineered animals.

Genetically engineered animals may contain genetic material from entirely different species, even humans. For example, last week an FDA advisory committee reviewed the safety of a goat engineered with human genes so that it would produce a human blood thinner in the goat’s milk. “This animal is intended for use in drug production, but what if FDA found that it is also safe for use as food? Without labeling, consumers would have no way to know this meat was in their butcher shop,” said Michael Hansen, PhD, a senior scientist at Consumers Union. Products under development for supermarket distribution include pork where mouse genes have been put into pigs to help them metabolize phosphorous more efficiently, and salmon that has been engineered with genes from other fish to make them grow twice as fast as normal.

Halloran said, “This one-minute-to-midnight regulation is a final favor to industry delivered as the current FDA Administrator goes out the door.” FDA Commissioner Von Eschenbach’s resignation is effective January 20. “We hope the new Obama administration will reverse this ill-considered guidance and require labeling of genetically engineered meat and milk products as soon as possible after it takes office next week.”

[From FDA: No labeling of genetically engineered food]

If genetic modification is so great, why not label the items proudly? Why hide the facts? The obvious reason is that forcing truth-in-packaging would be the death sentence to frankenfoods.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 16th, 2009 at 10:20 am

Posted in Business

Tagged with ,

A Pitch to Obama on Food and Farming

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Michael Pollan appeared on Bill Moyers recently, and said he most certainly did not want to be Agricultural Secretary. Can’t say that I blame him, but somebody needs to be appointed, and hopefully, not somebody who is closely aligned with the Monsantos and ADMs of the world.

Produce Center

The fact that a Secretary of Agriculture has yet to be named has some chefs, farmers and animal welfare advocates wondering whether food and farming have been shoved to the Obama D team.

To help move the process along, nearly 90 notable figures in the world of sustainable agriculture and food sent a letter [PDF] to the Obama transition team earlier this week offering their six top picks for what they called “the sustainable choice for the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.”

The hope is that the new secretary will be less aligned with industrial agribusiness and commodity farming than secretaries past. And if he or she embraces the connection between food, health and the environment, well, that’s all the better.

The letter lays out a tall order:

“From rising childhood and adult obesity to issues of food safety, global warming and air and water pollution, we believe our next Secretary of Agriculture must have a vision that calls for: recreating regional food systems, supporting the growth of humane, natural and organic farms, and protecting the environment, biodiversity and the health of our children while implementing policies that place conservation, soil health, animal welfare and worker’s rights as well as sustainable renewable energy near the top of their agenda.”

[From A Pitch to Obama on Food and Farming – Diner’s Journal Blog – NYTimes.com]

The Obamas do seem to enjoy quality eating, so maybe there is still a glimmer of hope for us who are fans of natural foods, local grown produce and the like.

Fridgedaire from the Future…

Written by Seth Anderson

December 6th, 2008 at 4:43 am

Posted in Food and Drink,government

Tagged with , ,