California Farm Tied to E. coli Outbreak Expands Recall of Leaf Lettuce and Cauliflower

E.J. Mundell wrote . . . . . . . . .

The California farm where romaine lettuce was implicated in the recent nationwide E. coli outbreak said it is expanding its recall to include other forms of produce.

According to a company statement, Adam Bros. Farming Inc., in Santa Barbara County, said it is also recalling red and green leaf lettuce as well as cauliflower.

The company said it did so, “after it was discovered that sediment from a reservoir near where the produce was grown tested positive for E. coli O157:H7,” the strain implicated in the outbreak.

As well, “the Adam Bros. recall has prompted a sub-recall by Spokane Produce Inc., of Spokane, Wash.,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in its own news release issued late Monday.

Spokane Produce “recalled sandwiches and other products under the Northwest Cuisine Creations and Fresh&Local labels,” the FDA said.

Federal health investigators announced on Dec. 13 that they had pinpointed Adam Bros. as at least one California farm implicated in the recent outbreak of E. coli illness tied to romaine lettuce. They said that more farms in the same area are probably connected to the outbreak.

So far, 59 people across 15 states have come down with the often severe gastrointestinal illness. Health concerns were so high that just before Thanksgiving, the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asked Americans to temporarily stop consuming all romaine lettuce while they investigated the source of the outbreak.

That investigation has now pinpointed Adam Bros. as a source, experts at the FDA and CDC have said.

“One of the samples tested by the CDC was positive for the outbreak strain by genetic fingerprinting, and was found in the sediment of an agricultural water reservoir at one ranch that is owned and operated by Adam Brothers Farming in Santa Barbara County, Calif.,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, senior advisor to the FDA Commissioner.

He said the farm was cooperating with the investigation. The farm hasn’t shipped romaine lettuce since Nov. 20, and Ostroff said the farm is “committed to recalling products that may have come into contact with water from the agricultural water reservoir.”

That said, other farms in the area might still be implicated, so “people should still pay close attention to where their lettuce is from,” he added.

Because of this and other recent outbreaks, romaine lettuce now sold in the United States has labeling indicating the place and date of harvest. If heads of romaine are sold loose, without affixed labels, retailers are being asked to post a notice showing place and date of harvest near the store register.

Most romaine sold in the United States is safe to eat. Right now, precautions are limited to romaine lettuce from just a few California counties, the FDA said.

“We continue to advise avoiding romaine lettuce from Monterey, San Benito and Santa Barbara counties in California,” Ostroff said.

Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak.

Illnesses from the E. coli O157:H7 strain implicated in this outbreak have sometimes been severe. Although no deaths have been reported, there have 23 hospitalizations and 2 cases of kidney failure, health officials said.

“The E. coli strain isolated from ill people in the current romaine lettuce outbreak is also closely related to the E. coli strain isolated from people in a 2017 outbreak linked to leafy green in the United States and romaine lettuce in Canada,” noted FDA Deputy Commissioner Frank Yiannas.

So who’s most at risk from E. coli?

Dr. Robert Glatter is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who’s seen the effects of infection with the gastrointestinal bug firsthand. It’s not a minor ailment, he said.

“In general, symptoms of E. coli infection generally begin about three to four days after consuming the bacteria, and may include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea, along with fever,” Glatter said.

And while healthy people who battle a bout of E. coli typically recover within five to seven days, the illness can be more protracted — and even deadly — for people already made vulnerable by chronic disease or advanced age.

“People with diabetes, kidney disease or those with cancer or autoimmune disease run the risk of a more severe illness,” Glatter explained.

The particular strain of E. coli detected in the current lettuce outbreak — E. coli O157:H7 — is particularly nasty, he noted.

“Most strains of E. coli do not actually cause diarrhea, but E. coli O157 produces a powerful toxin that injures the inner lining of the small intestine, leading to bloody diarrhea,” Glatter said. Even a tiny amount of ingested bacteria could spur this type of illness.

“It can make people much more ill, and may lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, in some cases,” he said.

In many cases, antibiotics are used to help beat back an E. coli infection, but these drugs can affect the kidneys, Glatter noted.

“Antibiotics may be necessary in certain cases, so it’s important to see your doctor if you have continued and severe symptoms such as fever, bloody diarrhea, and you are not able to eat or drink,” he said.

However, in the case of E. coli O157:H7, “taking antibiotics may actually increase your risk of developing kidney failure, so it’s important to speak with your health care provider if you should develop severe symptoms,” Glatter advised.

And if you do think you might be sick with E. coli, or any other foodborne illness, make sure you don’t spread it to those near you.

The bacterium “can be transmitted person-to-person, so it’s vital that anyone who is potentially infected wash their hands thoroughly and not share utensils, cups or glasses,” Glatter said. “This also goes for bath towels. Linens also need to be washed in hot water and treated with bleach.”

He noted that “ground beef, unpasteurized milk, fresh produce and contaminated water are common sources of E. coli bacteria.”

Source: HealthDay

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The Power of Advanced NGS Technology in Routine Pathogen Testing of Food

Stephanie Pollard wrote . . . . . . . . .

The food industry is beginning to transition into an era of big data and analytics unlike anything the industry has ever experienced. However, while the evolution of big data brings excitement and the buzz of new possibilities, it also comes coupled with an element of confusion due to the lack of tools for interpretation and lack of practical applications of the newly available information.

As we step into this new era and begin to embrace these changes, we need to invest time to educate ourselves on the possibilities before us, then make informed and action-oriented decisions on how to best use big data to move food safety and quality into the next generation.

Stephanie Pollard will be presenting “The Power of Advanced NGS Technology in Routine Pathogen Testing” at the 2018 Food Safety Consortium | November 13–15One of the big questions for big data and analytics in the food safety industry is the exact origins of this new data. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is one new and disruptive technology that will contribute significantly to a data explosion in our industry.

NGS-based platforms offer the ability to see what was previously impossible with PCR and other technologies. These technologies generate millions of sequences simultaneously, enabling greater resolution into the microbial ecology of food and environmental surfaces.

This represents a seismic shift in the food safety world. It changes the age-old food microbiology question from: “Is this specific microbe in my sample?” to “what is the microbial makeup of my sample?”

Traditionally, microbiologists have relied on culture-based technologies to measure the microbial composition of foods and inform risk management decisions. While these techniques have been well studied and are standard practices in food safety and quality measures, they only address a small piece of a much bigger microbial puzzle. NGS-based systems allow more complete visibility into this puzzle, enabling more informed risk management decisions.

With these advances, one practical application of NGS in existing food safety management systems is in routine pathogen testing. Routine pathogen testing is a form of risk assessment that typically gives a binary presence/absence result for a target pathogen.

NGS-based platforms can enhance this output by generating more than the standard binary result through a tunable resolution approach. NGS-based platforms can be designed to be as broad, or as specific, as desired to best fit the needs of the end user.

Imagine using an NGS-based platform for your routine pathogen testing needs, but instead of limiting the information you gather to yes/no answers for a target pathogen, you also obtain additional pertinent information, including: Serotype and/or strain identification, resident/transient designation, predictive shelf-life analysis, microbiome analysis, or predictive risk assessment.

By integrating an NGS-based platform into routine pathogen testing, one can begin to build a microbial database of the production facility, which can be used to distinguish resident pathogens and/or spoilage microbes from transient ones. This information can be used to monitor and improve existing or new sanitation practices as well as provide valuable information on ingredient quality and safety.

This data can also feed directly into supplier quality assurance programs and enable more informed decisions regarding building partnerships with suppliers who offer superior products.

Similarly, by analyzing the microbiome of a food matrix, food producers can identify the presence of food spoilage microbes to inform more accurate shelf-life predictions as well as evaluate the efficacy of interventions designed to reduce those microbes from proliferating in your product (e.g. modified packaging strategies, storage conditions, or processing parameters).

Envision a technology that enables all of the aforementioned possibilities while requiring minimal disruption to integrate into existing food safety management systems. NGS-based platforms offer answers to traditional pathogen testing needs for presence/absence information, all the while providing a vast amount of additional information. Envision a future in which we step outside of our age-old approach of assessing the safety of the food that we eat via testing for the presence of a specific pathogen. Envision a future in which we raise our standards for safety and focus on finding whatever is there, without having to know in advance what to look for.

Every year we learn of new advancements that challenge the previously limited view on the different pathogens that survive and proliferate on certain food products and have been overlooked (e.g., Listeria in melons). Advanced NGS technologies allow us to break free of those associations and focus more on truly assessing the safety and quality of our products by providing a deeper understanding of the molecular makeup of our food.

Source: Food Safety Tech

FDA: It’s Safe to Eat Romaine Lettuce Again, But Check Labels

E.J. Mundell wrote . . . . . . . . .

Caesar salad fans, rest easy: It’s safe to eat romaine lettuce again.

Just be sure to check the label, to avoid any chance of E. coli, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration now says.

In a statement released late Monday, FDA commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced that the agency was lifting its advisory against eating romaine lettuce, first put in place last Tuesday.

At that point, the agency hadn’t been able to narrow down the source of the tainted lettuce, Gottlieb explained. But now the source seems to be “end of season” lettuce, harvested somewhere in the Central Coast regions of central and northern California.

And, “harvesting of romaine lettuce from this region has [already] ended for the year,” Gottlieb noted.

So, starting as early as this week, romaine lettuce sold in stores will carry labels listing the region where the produce was grown, along with its harvest date, the FDA said. By checking these labels, consumers can quickly determine that the produce is safe to eat.

“Romaine lettuce that was harvested outside of the Central Coast growing regions of northern and central California does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,” Gottlieb stressed.

That would include romaine farmed in Arizona, Florida and Mexico, as well as California’s Imperial Valley — lettuce harvested from these areas is OK to eat.

“Hydroponically- and greenhouse-grown romaine also does not appear to be related to the current outbreak,” Gottlieb added. “There is no recommendation for consumers or retailers to avoid using romaine harvested from these sources.”

If heads of romaine are sold loose, without affixed labels, retailers are being asked to post a notice showing place and date of harvest near the store register.

Such labeling may become standard going forward, according to an agreement between the FDA and the leafy greens industry, the agency said.

So far, 43 people across 12 states have been sickened in this latest outbreak of E. coli, with onset in the last case occurring on Oct. 31.

Twenty-two more cases have been reported in Canada. No deaths have yet been reported in the outbreak.

“Through laboratory studies we have identified that theE. coliO157:H7 strain causing the outbreak is similar to one that produced an outbreak ofE. coliO157:H7 in thefall of 2017 that also occurred in the U.S. and Canada, which was associated with consumption of leafy greens in the U.S. and specifically romaine lettuce in Canada,” Gottlieb said.

So who’s most at risk from E. coli?

Dr. Robert Glatter is an emergency physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who’s seen the effects of infection with the gastrointestinal bug firsthand. It’s not a minor ailment, he said.

“In general, symptoms of E. coli infection generally begin about three to four days after consuming the bacteria, and may include abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and watery or bloody diarrhea, along with fever,” Glatter said.

And while healthy people who battle a bout of E. coli typically recover within five to seven days, the illness can be more protracted — and even deadly — for people already made vulnerable by chronic disease or advanced age.

“People with diabetes, kidney disease or those with cancer or autoimmune disease run the risk of a more severe illness,” Glatter explained.

The particular strain of E. coli detected in the current lettuce outbreak — E. coli O157:H7 — is particularly nasty, he noted.

“Most strains of E. coli do not actually cause diarrhea, but E. coli O157 produces a powerful toxin that injures the inner lining of the small intestine, leading to bloody diarrhea,” Glatter said. Even a tiny amount of ingested bacteria could spur this type of illness.

“It can make people much more ill, and may lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure, in some cases,” he said.

Indeed, the CDC has reported one such case already in the latest outbreak.

In many cases, antibiotics are used to help beat back an E. coli infection, but these drugs can affect the kidneys, Glatter noted.

“Antibiotics may be necessary in certain cases, so it’s important to see your doctor if you have continued and severe symptoms such as fever, bloody diarrhea, and you are not able to eat or drink,” he said.

However, in the case of E. coli O157:H7, “taking antibiotics may actually increase your risk of developing kidney failure, so it’s important to speak with your health care provider if you should develop severe symptoms,” Glatter advised.

And if you do think you might be sick with E. coli, or any other foodborne illness, make sure you don’t spread it to those near you.

The bacterium “can be transmitted person-to-person, so it’s vital that anyone who is potentially infected wash their hands thoroughly and not share utensils, cups or glasses,” Glatter said. “This also goes for bath towels. Linens also need to be washed in hot water and treated with bleach.”

He noted that “ground beef, unpasteurized milk, fresh produce and contaminated water are common sources of E. coli bacteria.”

Source: HealthDay

Food Trend: 2050 China Food Tech Summit

Chen May Yee wrote . . . . . . . . .

China turns to tech for better and safer food.

With its huge population and history of famines, China’s food challenges in the past were centred on with how to feed a multitude of people. The future will be more about feeding them well.

An unusual collection of players—from vegan evangelists to cultured-meat scientists, chickpea proponents, blockchain startups and venture funds—converged last week on the PwC Shanghai Innovation Centre, for what was billed as the country’s first food tech investment conference. The 2050 China Food Tech Summit—2050 is the year that the world population is expected to exceed 9.6 billion—was organized by Bits x Bites, a food-focused accelerator and venture fund.

“In the last five years, we have seen a shift from thinking about quantity to quality, with new technologies,” said Vincent Martin, China representative of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, and a panelist at the meeting. “Whatever is done here in China will have repercussions for the rest of the world.”

Attendees came from across China and as far away as Germany, Switzerland, Israel, the United States, Australia and Singapore. Many were looking at China as a market and production base as well as a real-life test site for new ideas at significant scale.

But scale isn’t the only challenge. Food safety scandals in recent years have prompted new regulations in China as well as a wider rethinking of which food supply systems are sustainable. Consumers—especially those in top-tier cities—are increasingly health conscious and demanding more nutritious food with traceable origins.

“Millennials and flexitarians will be the driving force of the market in the future,” said Hazel Zhang, founder and CEO of VegPlanet, a vegan and sustainable living media platform in China with 330,000 followers on WeChat. “We already see this happening in the West. In China, it will be the same—they care not only about the environment, they care about their health, they care about their body. If we have plant-based protein that tastes really great and is hopefully cheap, I see this trend is really coming. The tipping point may come in 10 years.”

Others saw a more diversified market. “I see a place for cell-based, a place for plant-based,” said Rom Kshuk, CEO of Future Meat Technologies, a cultured meat startup. “It doesn’t have to be around ideology—vegetarian, flexitarian—people will just move from one to the other.”

Key trends in the day-long conference included:

Future protein

While meat consumption has plateaued in the United States, it continues to soar in China. But raising livestock uses a lot of land and water—resources that China can ill afford.

Scientists have been experimenting with growing meat cells in labs for several years, but at very high cost. Future Meat Technologies has developed a way of dramatically cutting the cost of culturing meat cells in a lab—by combining a bioreactor with an artificial liver and kidney. Unlike earlier iterations of lab-grown meat, this version includes the all-important streaks of fat, the bits that sizzle on the grill with an aroma that can trigger the mouth-watering reflex in even long-time vegetarians, said Yaakov Nahmias, founder of the Jerusalem-based startup.

Future Meat Technologies received early funding from Bits x Bites and, in May, attracted $2.2. million in seed investment, co-led by Tyson Ventures, part of Tyson Foods, a Fortune 100 company.

Israeli startup InnovoPro has developed chickpeas as a protein-rich ingredient for food products and is targeting consumers who are looking for cleaner food labels, said CEO Taly Nechushtan. Chickpeas also act as an emulsifier and can take the place of modified starches and other additives. InnovoPro has developed a range of chickpea puddings, yogurts, egg-free mayonnaise, protein bars and savory snacks, and is looking for food companies as partners.

San Diego-based Triton is promoting green algae—Chlamydomonas reinhardtii—in powdered form as a protein-rich food ingredient. In May this year, Triton invited celebrity chef Brian Malarkey to cook a five-course meal for 120 diners, using the algae. The menu included nori algae butter, algae bucatini, algae pesto, algae lime cookies and a Chlamy Cocktail.

Whether any of these ingredients will take off in China depends on whether they can be adapted to Chinese cooking styles. “At the end of the day, food is more about culture than anything else,” said Kshuk.

Fresh is best

Chinese consumers buy more than 20% of their food online, the highest proportion in the world, said Thierry Garnier, President and CEO of Carrefour China. In Europe and the United States, the food e-commerce market is in the low single digits.

Carrefour recently openedits first Le Marche “smart store” in Shanghai, with digital innovations supported by Chinese tech giant Tencent, parent company of WeChat. Tencent also has a stake in Carrefour China. Shoppers have the option of scanning and paying online or at self check-outs. Tencent rival Alibaba has a chain of similar grocery stores in China under the Hema banner.

“You don’t go to a store only to buy, you have to go to a place and enjoy it,” said Garnier. “In France, I take pleasure in choosing cheese—maybe for you, it is crabs, or fish. Fresh is still a pleasure.” Stores are also places for shoppers to discover new products that they might not be actively looking for.

Freshness is also a focus for e-commerce startup 321Cooking, which delivers fresh, pre-packaged, ready-to-cook ingredients to Chinese homes.

“We take away the complicated and boring parts. We buy all the raw ingredients and wash them, and consumers keep the most enjoyable part—the cooking,” said Xiayue Pan, cofounder of 321Cooking. The brand’s customers are 75% female, aged between 25 and 35 years, and live in the first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, she said.

Consumers want fresh ingredients, which means a shorter shelf life, Pan said. At the same time, they don’t want additives or preservatives. “It’s a double-edged sword,” she said. “An opportunity and a challenge as well.”

Food as medicine

Some food companies are tackling issues such as rising obesity and diabetes rates in Asia. Singaporean startup Alchemy Foodtech has created a technology that lowers the glycemic index of white rice to the level of brown rice, and has just received venture funding from Bits x Bites.

Selling a healthy option in China will require more than scientific facts and figures, said Loris Li, associate director of food and drink at Mintel. “You can’t just give stats. You need to provide an interesting story. Numbers are not enough to convince Chinese consumers, especially the elderly ones,” she said.

Finally, several panelists were asked to picture an ideal intersection of food, technology and health in the year 2050.

“In 2050, I’ll be in my 70s,” said Ryan Chaw, who leads technology acquisition for the APAC R&D team at Coca Cola. “I’ll be at home, wearing a belt that can measure my gut health. I’ll walk into my indoor vegetable garden, blend my own shake and consume it.”

Source: J. Walter Thompson Intelligence

Why ‘BPA Free’ May Not Mean a Plastic Product Is Safe

Maya Wei-hass wrote . . . . . . . . .

The study started as an accident. Geneticist Patricia Hunt of Washington State University and her team were investigating the reproductive effects of BPA in mice. Housed in BPA-free plastic cages, the test group got doses of BPA through a dropper; the control group didn’t.

Everything seemed rosy—until it wasn’t.

“Our control data just started to get really wonky,” Hunt says. The differences between it and the test group vanished, and many control mice started showing genetic issues. Though initially confused, the team discovered that some of the plastic caging was damaged and was leaching bisphenol S, or BPS—an alternative to the now infamous plastic component BPA.

It was like déjà vu, Hunt says. Twenty years ago, she’d had the same issue with BPA in polycarbonate mouse cages. Now her study of the effects of several BPA alternatives, prompted by the latest accidental findings, suggests that these replacements impact reproduction in mice in much the same way.

Of course, it’s hard to draw conclusions between the effects in these tiny furry critters and those in our comparatively massive fleshy forms, but the latest work adds to a growing body of evidence that suggests all is not safe in the world of BPA-free plastics. What’s more, the study underlines a broader issue in commercial compound development: When chemicals are removed from the market, they’re often replaced by others that not only look similar—but act similarly in our bodies.

“We have to play catch up as disease detectives,” says Leonardo Trasande, director of the division of environmental pediatrics at NYU Langone Health, who was not involved in the research. But this detective work is a losing proposition, he says likening it to a game of “chemical whack-a-mole.”

What Is BPA?

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is a common building block in resins and some types of plastic. It’s what’s known as an endocrine disrupting compound. In the body, these chemicals can act like hormones or disrupt normal hormone functions.

“What’s kind of disturbing about this is hormones regulate almost everything in our bodies,” says Johanna Rochester, senior scientist with the nonprofit The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, who was not involved in the work. In the case of BPA, concerns surround its estrogen-mimicking effects.

In the past couple decades, research on BPA has exploded. A slew of studies document negative reproductive, developmental, and metabolic effects in a menagerie of wildlife— rhesus monkeys, zebrafish, nematodes, and mice. Even human studies have linked BPA to a range of health issues.

In the 1950s, BPA was used in the first epoxy resins. Soon after, Bayer and General Electric discovered the molecules had a nifty trick: They could link together with a small connector compound to form a shiny, hard plastic known as polycarbonate.

Soon, BPA was everywhere: reusable water bottles, plastic plates, the liners in canned foods, sippy cups, grocery receipts, and even some dental sealants. But as people drank from their water bottles and ate their microwaved dinners, they were unknowingly dosing themselves with small amounts of BPA that leached from the plastic containers into their food and drink.

The compound has since become so ubiquitous that of the 2,517 people tested in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 93 percent had detectable levels of BPA in their urine.

Mounting public pressure pushed companies to move away from BPA, leading to an influx of products touting their “BPA-free” status. But the FDA only officially bans the compound from use in baby bottles, sippy cups, and infant formula packaging. According to the FDA website: “Studies pursued by FDA’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) have shown no effects of BPA from low-dose exposure.”

Different, But Not Necessarily Better

Since BPA-free became trendy, manufacturers went on a plastic-developing spree, creating more variations than scientists can keep track of: BPS, BPF, BPAF, BPZ, BPP, BHPF, and the list goes on. They all have “BP” in their names because they share the same basic chemical structure of a bisphenol. Each new version has only slight differences, as if swapping a blue Lego block for a red one.

The latest study adds to the mounting research that suggests consumers aren’t off the hook buying BPA-free plastic. The results show that common BPA replacements—BPS, BPF, BPAF and diphenyl sulphone—can interfere with what Hunt characterizes as “the very, very, very, very earliest part of making eggs and sperm.”

Mice—and humans—normally get one copy of genetic material from each parent and then splice together bits of each to form the chromosome they pass on to the next generation. Hunt and her team found that BPA and its alternatives disrupt this process in a way that could eventually cause a decrease in sperm counts in males and a reduction in egg quality in females. What’s more, the changes can be passed down to subsequent generations.

Though gaps remain in understanding how the range of BPA alternatives affect humans, researchers are concerned. “They look a lot like BPA,” says Hunt. “It stands to reason that they’re going to behave a lot like BPA.” Rochester agrees, saying that such a conclusion “is not a huge leap.” And this is hardly the only study suggesting negative effects from BPA alternatives. Dozens have been published in the past year alone.

“It speaks to the reality we need to regulate chemicals, not one by one, but in a class—in a way that allows us to tackle compounds that function with similar structure,” Trasande says.

How Did This Happen?

Scientists have a term to describe this analogous chemical swapping: regrettable substitutes. And the issue isn’t limited to BPA. Many groups of compounds are suffering from the problem of too-similar replacements, including flame retardants (used in furniture, vehicles, and electronics), phthalates (used in cosmetics, personal care products, adhesives, plastics, and pharmaceuticals), and polyfluoroalkyl substances (used in nonstick products like teflon).

There are startlingly few regulations to keep this from happening. And many of the tests to identify endocrine disruptors such as BPA are outdated. “The old standard toxicology testing methods were devised decades ago,” says Hunt. “And they’re pretty crude techniques.”

While many government studies only show effects of BPA at high doses, numerous independent academic researchers have demonstrated BPA’s low-dose negative effects as well. To reconcile these differences, three government bodies—the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the National Toxicology Program (NTP), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—recently teamed up with a group of independent researchers to undertake a massive multimillion-dollar study called CLARITY-BPA (Consortium Linking Academic and Regulatory Insights on BPA Toxicity). Each team looked at different effects, but all used the same basic experimental framework. Ultimately this type of work could lead to better toxicology testing, says Hunt.

The final results of their tests will be released Thursday, after this story is published. But scientists are already perturbed by the draft report released last February that details the regulatory side of the results. Overall, the results of the draft study again conclude BPA has “minimal effects” at low doses. The FDA did not reply to a request for comment.

“It’s a great idea; it was really what we need to improve toxicology testing,” says Hunt, but she adds, “there’s a lot of problems with the CLARITY.” From issues with controls to selection of study animals to contamination of the system—much like what inspired Hunt’s latest study—outside scientists argue that many factors futzed with the final result.

The Bright Side

There’s a small glimmer of hope at the end of the plastic rainbow. “The good news is, if you can eliminate all of these things from the face of the world, we could go back,” says Hunt. The latest study found that if the researchers stopped dosing the mice with BPA alternatives, the males returned to normal in just four generations.

Consumers can also take steps to avoid BPA alternatives entirely, notes Trasande. He suggests steering clear of plastics with the recycling numbers 3, 6, and 7, which all contain compounds of concern. Don’t put plastics in dishwashers or the microwave, which can damage them and cause them to leach more BPA or its alternatives. Throw away plastic when it looks aged or scratched. And opt for glass or steel containers rather than lined aluminum cans whenever possible.

For regulators, Rochester says there’s no time to waste in making moves away from BPA alternatives. “We don’t really want to wait another 20 years for all these human studies to show that there is a problem,” she says. “We can’t go down that road again.”

Source : National Geographic


Read also at The Conversation:

Study shows BPA substitutes may cause same health issues as the original . . . . .