Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Health Canada's Consultation workbook on Precautionary Labelling of Priority Allergens in Prepackaged Foods

Health Canada's Consultation workbook on Precautionary Labelling of Priority Allergens in Prepackaged Foods is now available here and can be completed and submitted until February 10, 2010. 
Health Canada Consulting on Policy Options for Precautionary Labelling of Priority Allergens on Pre-Packaged Foods is available here.
Consultation on Precautionary Labelling of Food Allergens is available here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Obama in Asia: The First Pacific President Attends APEC Summit

From Obama Foodorama, a nice report on President Obama’s arrival last night in Singapore and attendance at the Gala Dinner at the APEC Summit. “Last night, President ending leaders were given traditional garb for the dinner, and had a choice between red shirts and blue. President Obama, of course, chose blue. APEC is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and has 21 member countries. One of the primary goals of this week's meeting is the development of a region-wide free trade area, which would account for half the world's imports and exports if it becomes a reality. During meetings over the past few days, leaders have been discussing ending all restrictions on food trade, which is a huge percentage of the economic pie. It's also something that is problematic, in part due to food safety problems . . .”

Above, at dinner: President Obama with, from left, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Japan's Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, China's President Hu Jintao, New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key, Mexico's President Felipe Calderon.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Counting the global burden of foodborne disease - more than 1 million deaths a year

Susan Jones, “Counting the global burden of foodborne disease,” Speaking of Medicine (Nov. 2, 2009) at: http://speakingofmedicine.plos.org/2009/11/02/counting-the-global-burden-of-foodborne-disease/

“[Y]ou may be surprised to find that the global burden of disease attributable to foodborne illness, which is perhaps the most basic information needed to push forward research and action on foodborne illness, is not known. Why is there such an apparent lack of interest in documenting the scope of illnesses that affect people from all countries? One reason may be a common misconception that foodborne diseases are mild and self-limiting. A second and very important reason is that it’s often incredibly difficult to attribute foodborne illnesses and deaths to a specific foodstuff. And a third reason is that there is no well-heeled funder providing the impetus and cash to tackle foodborne illness, unlike other global problems such as HIV, malaria and TB.

“In 2007, the WHO launched an international initiative to tackle foodborne disease. The WHO Initiative to Estimate the Global Burden of Foodborne Diseases aims to quantify how many people die from, or are affected by, all major foodborne causes each year. The FERG (Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group) initiative, led by Claudia Stein and Jorgen Schlundt from the WHO, aims to set the problem of foodborne illness in context. . . .

“FERG has commissioned research seeking to quantify burdens of different foodborne diseases. Early reports were presented at the meeting and revealed the shocking level of the problem. A systematic review by Christa Fischer-Walker and Robert Black from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the US revealed that there are a whopping 5 billion episodes of diarrhea in children aged > 5 annually, with 3.2 billion cases in South-East Asia. Specific inspection of papers reporting deaths revealed that there were more than 1.15 million estimated deaths from diarrhea in South East Asia and Africa each year in children >5 — this is almost a million more deaths than was previously estimated. The paucity of data was laid bare by these preliminary results, with no data for China, Latin America, the Middle East. Pathogens in the spotlight in these systematic reviews were the usual suspects, including E. coli, Shigella, Vibrio cholerae, Campylobacter and Salmonella. This is not a burden solely borne by those living in poverty — 455 million episodes of diarrhea each year in the Americas and 419 million episodes each year in Europe. The data are so limited that these global estimates are virtually bound to underreport the problem. . . .”

Friday, November 06, 2009

This is how Europe operates when it comes to food safety

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has published an EU Food Safety Almanac, which briefly describes the state structures of food and feed safety in 30 European states. "Smooth cooperation between the state players in Europe strengthens food safety. If the stakeholders and structures in the European countries are known to all those concerned, then we will be able to work together even more effectively and avoid the duplication of work", says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel.

The EU Food Safety Almanac (German and English) can be downloaded free-of-charge here on the BfR website.