Money appears to be so tight with the FDA, that food safety inspections are not what they should be these days, and with fewer food safety inspections, consumers are at a higher risk of eating contaminated or spoiled food. The blame in today's news is being put on the lack of a new 2013 budget from Congress and the upcoming across-the-board spending cuts, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told the media on February 28, 2013. The problem is budget cuts, according to the March 1, 2013 CBS Associated Press news article, "Sequester may lead to less safe food, FDA Commissioner says." Sequester cuts loom when it comes to needed inspections for food safety.
Who's responsible for food safety -- FDA or the Department of Agriculture? It's the FDA for all foods except the inspection of meat and meat-packing plants, which is the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture. Check out the site, "Federal Meat Inspection Act."
Sacramento's food protection programs
Find out more about Sacramento's food protection programs at the website, Food Protection Program-Sacramento County Environmental. Or find an organization that focuses on green health goals such as Ubuntu Green — Where Sustainable, Equitable Communities Unite. Maybe you want to locate nearby Sacramento coops and "green-health minded" people. Then check out the site, Food Coops - Green People.
If you're looking for food safety software, check out the site, "Food Safety Software." Also see, "Food Safety Program - California Department of Public Health."
Food safety is a hot topic in Sacramento with a focus on new related software and locally, the new food safety genome project at the University of California, Davis
A new food safety genome project at the University of Davis in the Sacramento and Davis regional areas is taking top priority in helping the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quickly find the sources of salmonella outbreaks in foods. For example, the last tuna recall due to salmonella bacteria contamination had been traced to a packing plant in India.
Food safety is a hot topic in Sacramento because every few months there's another food recall. In the past few years there were recalls of eggs, spices, imported pine nuts, ground turkey, ground beef, pistachio nuts, peanut butter, spinach, tuna, baby formula, various salsa condiments, and frozen avocado pulp, vegetables, melons, and various fruits.
Is there a lack of money for enough food inspections from FDA?
The public is not amused with the lack of money available for the type of food safety programs most consumers want. And it's time for some bright student to come up with a solution if no one else is, perhaps some university research team or even a 15-year old science whiz kid who finds a better way to inspect food for safety. The question asked by the public is why are there cuts in areas that apply to food safety?
There's still hope for consumers concerned about how safe is the food if the White House and Congress can come to a budget agreement. If fewer food inspections due to budget cuts could delay a new food safety law, then consumers ask when will the FDA start to increase inspections and direct farms and food facilities to ensure safer food for the public?
The cuts are scheduled to take effect Friday unless there's a budget agreement
The FDA estimated figures for the Associated press that the "sequestration cuts" will mean 2,100 fewer food safety inspections this year. The good part is that if you work for the FDA, there won't be furloughs. The bad news for the consumer is how to handle the cuts referred to as sequestration.
One outcome for the public results in fewer oversight functions. With this scenario, the FDA won't have the resources, money, staff, or time to broaden its reach to new facilities. For the general consumer, you increase your risk every time you buy food. Check out the video, "Sequestration threatens medical research funding." Play Video.
The goal for the FDA is to save money at the same time the new law goes in place
What the new law emphasizes is how to do food safety inspections in shorter periods of time. Hamburg said the FDA is holding out hope that they can get the food industry to pay some user fees, an idea the industry has previously rejected and was left out of the final food safety law enacted two years ago.
The FDA and the food industry at least agree that enhanced resources will expand sometime, someday. The public is left hanging in the middle with the only recourse to look to the President. But the Obama administration had hoped for more dollars to carry out the law. The general consumer wants FDA's food inspections increased.
The FDA wants the food industry to pay user fees, but the industry doesn't want to and was left out of the final food safety law two years ago
The general public wants more training for inspectors. Too many foods are being missed or overlooked. The general consumer wants the FDA to require farms and food companies to create detailed food safety plans and create a new system for inspecting imported foods. Unfortunately, the hands of Congress appear to be tied by not having enough money because Congress didn't pass a new budget last year and funding has remained stagnant.
Besides food inspections, the sequester also means fewer parades due to less money, and dirty bathrooms in public parks. See, "For national parks, sequester could mean cancelled parades, dirty bathrooms." People can deal with bathrooms in parks, but you're not going to find the government asking for volunteers to inspect food because who has the money to train them? Check out the sites, "Sequestration looms - but when will the pain feel real?" and " possible silver linings in the sequester."
Cuts are across-the-board regarding meat inspection
It's not the FDA by the Agriculture Department's. USDA inspecting meat. The promise of no furloughs at the FDA doesn't transfer over the the FDA because meat inspectors could be furloughed for up to 15 days. This gives meatpacking plants the chance to close for two weeks or so. But the meatpacking plants don't know when the inspectors might be furloughed. So they don't have a time-table of when they're going to shut down.
That means consumers may be waiting for meat hanging in freezers for more than two weeks somewhere in a meatpacking plant without being inspected. The law says that FDA or other government inspectors have to be on the premises to do an inspection before any given meatpacking plant legally can operate.
For the general public, this wait-and-see attitude due to not having enough money to run the way the public would like food safety practices to operate can result in higher meat prices and fewer choices of meats in supermarkets, according to what the White House conveyed to the Associated Press media.
Food safety is top priority at the new U.C. Davis genetics laboratory project
The project will provide a road map for developing tests to identify pathogens and help trace their origins more quickly. The new genome database also will enable scientists to make discoveries that can be used to develop new methods for controlling disease-causing bacteria in the food chain.
Check out the latest news from the July 13, 2012 U.C. Davis news release, "Taking aim at foodborne diseases through genome sequencing." Food-borne bacteria is a hot issue locally and throughout the world, with the main problem to solve focused on finding the source of contamination each time a new salmonella or E-coli bacteria outbreak in food happens.
You may want to view a brief video explaining what's happening with the FDA and UC Davis in the effort to sequence the genome of bacteria responsible for various food-borne diseases. See the video by videographer, Pat Bailey/UC Davis "Microbiologist describes food disease genome effort." If you need to download Adobe flash, see this site, "Download Adobe Flash (free)."
The University of California, Davis, the FDA, and Agilent Technologies will sequence the genes of infectious microorganisms
An ambitious effort to sequence the genomes of 100,000 infectious microorganisms and speed diagnosis of food-borne illnesses has been launched by the University of California, Davis, Agilent Technologies and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Also check out the current news release from the FDA, "FDA, UC Davis, Agilent Technologies and CDC to create publicly available food pathogen genome database," at the FDA news site.
Professor Bart Weimer of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine serves as director of the 100K Genome Project and co-director of the recently established BGI@UC Davis facility, where the sequencing will be done. Other collaborators include the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The new five-year microbial pathogen project focuses on making the food supply safer for consumers. The group will build a free, public database including sequence information for each pathogen’s genome -- the complete collection of its hereditary information. The database will contain the genomes of important foodborne pathogens including Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli, as well as the most common foodborne and waterborne viruses that sicken people and animals.
“This landmark project harnesses UC Davis’ partnership with BGI, a world leader in genomics, to mine information about the most deadly foodborne pathogens,” Harris Lewin, vice chancellor for research at UC Davis explained in the July 13, 2012 U.C. Davis news release, Taking aim at foodborne diseases through genome sequencing. “It will revolutionize our basic understanding of these disease-causing microorganisms.”
Quick analysis is important for tackling continuing outbreaks of bacteria, toxins, and various pathogens in contaminated foods
The sequencing project is critically important for tackling the continuing outbreaks of often-deadly food-borne diseases around the world. In the United States alone, food-borne diseases annually sicken 48 million people and kill 3,000, according to the CDC.
“It’s becoming more and more apparent that the persistence and pervasiveness of these organisms in the food supply stem from their genetic flexibility, which enables specific strains of bacteria to adapt in food, the environment and animals,” Weimer said in the news release, "Taking aim at foodborne diseases through genome sequencing."
“The lack of information about food-related bacterial genomes is hindering the research community’s ability to improve the safety and security of the world food supply,” he explained in the U.C. Davis July 13, 2012 news release. “The data provided by the 100K Genome Project will make diagnostic tests quicker, more reliable, more accurate and more cost-effective.”
The FDA is providing more than 500 already completed Salmonella whole-genome draft sequences to U.C. Davis
You can see how important it is to sequence the entire genome of salmonella so that whenever there's a new food outbreak of salmonella, the specific strain can be identified and traced, and the patients treated. The FDA also is providing U.C. Davis laboratories with thousands of additional important food pathogen strains for sequencing, and bioinformatic support. FDA scientists also will participate in guiding the project and providing technical assistance when needed.
The CDC also will provide its foodborne disease expertise, strains to be sequenced and other information for use in the project. CDC experts will also serve on the steering committee for the project. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will also collaborate on the project and intends to submit important bacterial strains to UC Davis for sequencing.
UC Davis, in addition to coordinating the sequencing at its newly formed BGI@UC Davis sequencing facility, is providing access to the university’s collection of bacterial samples along with bioinformatic analysis capabilities.
Agilent Technologies also is contributing instrumentation and scientific expertise
Agilent Technologies is contributing scientific expertise, instrumentation and funding to support a portion of UC Davis activities. “A problem of this magnitude demands an equally large countermeasure,” said Mike McMullen, president of Agilent’s Chemical Analysis Group, according to the U.C. Davis news release.
He explained, “We see this project as a way to improve quality of life for a great many people, while minimizing a major business risk for food producers and distributors.” Improving the quality of life and food is what the general consumer is looking for from science and/or the government.
Next-generation genome sequencing at U.C. Davis examines targeted microorganisms
At the new BGI@UC Davis facility, high-throughput technologies -- also known as next-generation sequencing -- will be used to rapidly examine the genomes of the targeted microorganisms. A small number of entire genomes will be completely sequenced for use as reference genomes.
The vast majority of bacterial strains will be sequenced and assembled as draft genomes that will eventually be released to the public. This strategy is intended to help the researchers identify sets of biomarker genes that are associated with certain important pathogen traits.
Pathogens are identified by their biomarkers: Genomes will be released to the public
Scientists around the country will be able to see the biomarkers identified. As sequences are completed, they will be stored in the National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Biotechnology Information’s public database (NIH). The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service as well as the food safety and zoonotic disease unit of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also collaborate on the project.
As the information will be public knowledge, anyone can look at that information for research purposes or for medical communications and reporting, for example science writers interested in looking at the public database for biotechnology information. Check out National Center for Biotechnology Information - NIH. If you're interested in science writing and reporting, you have access to this public database from the government's National Institutes of Health.
UC Davis is forming a consortium including additional partners to support The 100K Genome Project.
For Sacramento and Davis residents, it's another way to bring more biotech business to this area because it's a collaborative effort. That means that businesses can partner with industry, government, and academia. Research institutes will be able to expand knowledge.
Sacramento and Davis can become a base for studying food-borne disease bacteria, and put the knowledge to practical use by finding faster ways to trace sources of outbreak and identifying which species or strain of bacteria is in which foods. The most important outcome of this collaborative project is food safety for the public.
California Certified Farmers' Markets (CCFM)
Would you like to set up your own certified farmer's market even if you don't sell produce during the cold season? Would you like to set up a seasonal farmer's market in your area? California Certified Farmers' Markets (CCFM) provides services that help farmers sell and market their produce directly to consumers. The organization also provide similar services to artisans, crafters and food vendors.
CCFM specializes in setting up Farmers' Markets, for the benefit of small Californian certified farmers, local government agencies and the neighborhoods where the markets are run. CCFM's data bank of farmers and growers exceeds over 3000 producers and over 45,000 consumers.
If you want to set up a seasonal farmer's market in Sacramento, you don't have to sell farm produce now that the autumn season is about to start at the end of September. Instead, you can provide services as a crafter, artisan, or food vendor. Or during the summer, you can add produce.
Check out the website of CCFM, California Certified Farmers Markets if you're interested in becoming a member. Or maybe you'd just like to find a farmer's market near you in Sacramento.
Where are the farmers' markets in Sacramento that are members of the California Federation of Certified Farmer's Markets?
Sundays Sacramento Central CFM 8th & W Streets under Highway 50/80
Tuesdays Sacramento Fremont Park CFM Fremont Park, 16th & P Streets
Sacramento Roosevelt Park Roosevelt Park - 9th & P Streets
Wednesdays Sacramento Chavez Plaza CFM Chavez Plaza - 10th & J Streets
Thursdays Capitol Mall CFM 6th Street and Capitol Mall along the street
East End State Capitol Park CFM 15th and L Streets
Sacramento Florin CFM Florin Sears - Florin Road and 65th Street
Fridays Sacramento Kaiser CFM Cottage Way & Morse Avenue
St. Rose of Lima Park CFM 7th and K Streets
Saturdays Del Paso Heights Farmers' Market
Norwood Avenue and San Juan Road
Natomas Certified Farmers' Market Inderkum High School parking lot in N. Natomas.
Oak Park Farmers Market McClatchy Park, 35th Street and 5th Ave
Sacramento Ctry Club Plaza CFM Country Club Plaza, Watt and El Camino Avenues
Green Food, Coops, Transportation, and Living Information
Farm tours (seasonal)