FDA Defines “Gluten-free” for Food Labeling

gluten-free-foodsMost supermarkets now carry a line of products labelled “gluten-free.” Many of us are choosing to buy and eat these new cookies, breads and other products we believe to be made without  flour. For most of us, it is a choice to avoid white flour, which we may consider not healthy for us.

For the three million Americans who have Celiac disease, a gluten free diet is there only choice  in managing their autoimmune digestive condition.

The FDA recently issued a new rule that provides standard definition to protect the health of Americans with Celiac disease. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published a new regulation defining the term “gluten-free” for voluntary food labeling.

The press release issued by the FDA reads,“Adherence to a gluten-free diet is the key to treating Celiac disease, which can be very disruptive to everyday life,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s new ‘gluten-free’ definition will help people with this condition make food choices with confidence and allow them to better manage their health. This new federal definition standardizes the meaning of “gluten-free” claims across the food industry. It requires that, in order to use the term “gluten-free” on its label, a food must meet all of the requirements of the definition, including that the food must contain less than 20 parts per million of gluten. The rule also requires foods with the claims “no gluten,” “free of gluten,” and “without gluten” to meet the definition for “gluten-free.”

The FDA recognizes that many foods currently labeled as “gluten-free” may be able to meet the new federal definition already. Food manufacturers will have a year after the rule is published to bring their labels into compliance with the new requirements.

“We encourage the food industry to come into compliance with the new definition as soon as possible and help us make it as easy as possible for people with Celiac disease to identify foods that meet the federal definition of ‘gluten-free,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine.

“The term “gluten” refers to proteins that occur naturally in wheat, rye, barley and cross-bred hybrids of these grains.  In people with Celiac disease, foods that contain gluten trigger production of antibodies that attack and damage the lining of the small intestine. Such damage limits the ability of Celiac disease patients to absorb nutrients and puts them at risk of other very serious health problems, including nutritional deficiencies, osteoporosis, growth retardation, infertility, miscarriages, short stature, and intestinal cancers.”

The FDA was directed to issue the new regulation by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), which directed FDA to set guidelines for the use of the term “gluten-free” to help people with Celiac disease maintain a gluten-free diet.

The regulation was published in the Federal Register.

For more information:

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SanitizingToys and Things Kids Touch

In a fact sheet put out by the Partnership for Food Safety Education, www.fightbac.org, they talk about sanitizing surfaces that children frequently touch such as tables, chairs, high chairs and toys.

The Partnership message states that dangerous germs such as, hepatitis and rotavirus  can live on surfaces for several weeks. If someone touches these surfaces, germs can get on the person’s hands and then be transferred into the mouth, to other people, or to food. That’s why it’s so important to clean and sanitize frequently-touched surfaces.

Cleaning and sanitizing aren’t the same. Cleaning, removing dirt and debris, comes before sanitizing. A sanitizing solution is then used to kill germs. Here’s a “recipe” for a safe and effective sanitizing solution: combine 1 tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach with 1 gallon of water in a clean bucket.

According to the Partnership for Food Safety Education the best way of cleaning and santizing is as follows:

  • Clean surfaces and  high chair trays, sinks, kitchen counters, and large plastic or rubber toys, cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops with hot water and soap and thoroughly rinse.
  • Apply the sanitizing solution and allow to air dry.

  • Wash high chair trays with hot water and soap after every use and dry thoroughly with a single use paper towel.
  • Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and small plastic  toys can also be run through a dishwasher at 170 °F to disinfect them.

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School Bus Safety

It’s almost that time again; time to think all things school.

The following tips come from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, www.nhtsa.gov, reminding us that young children need frequent reviews about bus safety and bus behavior. Children need to know the Danger Zone, which is the area on all sides of the bus where children are in the most danger of being hit. Officials from nhtsa suggest:

REVIEWING HOW TO GET ON AND OFF THE BUS SAFELY:

  • When getting on the bus, stay away from the danger zone and wait for the driver’s signal
  • Board the bus one at a time
  • When getting off the bus, look before stepping off the bus to be sure no cars are passing on the shoulder (side of the road) and move away from the bus
  • Stay ten feet away from the bus and never go behind the behind the bus
  • Before crossing the street, take five “giant steps” out from the front of the bus, or until you can see the driver’s face, then  wait for the driver to signal that it’s safe to cross
  • Look left-right-left when coming to the edge of the bus to make sure traffic is stopped and keep watching traffic when crossing

TAKE THE FOLLOWING BUS SAFETY STEPS:

  • Supervise children to make sure they get to the stop on time, wait far away from the road, and avoid rough play
  • Teach your child to ask the driver for help if he/she drops something near the bus
  • If a child bends down to pick up something, the driver cannot see him/her and the child may be hit by the bus
  • Have your child use a backpack or book bag to keep loose items together
  • Make sure clothing and backpacks have no loose drawstrings or long straps, to get caught in the handrail or bus door
  • Encourage safe school bus loading and unloading
  • If you think a bus stop is in a dangerous place, talk with your school office or transportation director about changing the location

REVIEWING BUS RULES:

  • Always stay seated when on the bus
  • Fasten your seat belt, if there are seat belts
  • Don’t put any part of you out the window: arms, head, etc
  • Always talk quietly because loud noises could make driving difficult for the driver
  • There is no eating or drinking on the bus
  • Keep backpacks, books, instruments off the floor. The aisles need to be clear for kids to walk and in case of an emergency
  • Never play with the emergency exits
  • Never throw anything at one another or out the windows when in the bus
  • Be ready to get off the bus when you reach your stop so you don’t keep everyone waiting

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How Safe is….

How Safe is the Playground Sandbox?

It is that time of year…time to visit the playground with all of its climbing opportunities. Young children always gravitate to   the sandbox, but how safe is a box full of sand? What is in the box besides the sand?

Recently, microbiologists from NSF International (NSF) swabbed 26 different public places testing for the highest level of general bacteria to determine how safe these areas are for public use.

NSF’s team of microbiologists found that the location that harbored the highest level of bacteria and is the least safe place is a playground sandbox.

Sandboxes are actually an ideal setting for bacteria. Not only are they exposed to wildlife, such as cats and raccoons, but they can also hold on to the bacteria that is left from human contact, such as saliva, food items, and other bacteria from human hands.

Before you consider allowing your child to play in a public sandbox, you need to know that the sandbox is to be raked and sifter daily to remove debris. The sandbox also needs to be covered at night to prevent animals using it as a littler box.

NSF International is an independent, not-for-profit organization. Since 1944, NSF’s  main commitment continues to be making the world a safe place for consumers. To explore the NSF consumer website to learn more about NSF, its programs and services, go to www.nsf.org

How Safe Are Amusement Park Rides?

Government statistics demonstrated that fixed-site amusement rides constitute a safe, if not one of the safest forms of recreation available to the public. These statistics do not apply to portable rides that are set up in a community for a limited period of time.

On its website, The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) reports that their association worked together with the National Safety Council (NSC)  to establish a nationwide amusement ride injury reporting system for all facilities operating fixed-site amusement rides in the United States.  This system analyzes data from a statistically-valid sample to produce an annual amusement ride injury estimate for the overall fixed-site amusement ride sector in the U.S. Participation in this survey is mandatory for all IAAPA members operating fixed-site amusement rides in the U.S.

According to IAAPA, in 2009, approximately 280 million guests visited U.S. amusement facilities and safely enjoyed 1.7 billion rides. The most recent survey highlights that an estimated 1,086 ride related injuries occurred in 2009. Only 65 of the injuries in 2009 were reported as “serious,” meaning they required some form of overnight treatment at a hospital; this comprised roughly 6 percent of all ride injuries.

Information on the IAAPA site, from both government and independent data supports the fact that the number of patrons who experienced an incident while on a ride was miniscule – essentially one one-thousandth of one percent, or 0.00001.

Outside analysis of the NSC reporting data also found that the injury risk of fixed-site amusement rides (estimated at eight per million visitors) compares very favorably with those of other common recreational and sporting activities.  Using participation figures from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) and injury estimates from the CPSC database, fixed amusement ride injury risk was determined to be 10 to 100 times lower than for most common recreational and sporting activities including roller skating, basketball, football, soccer, fishing, and golf.

Examination of public documents and other relevant data consistently shows that only a small percentage of those mishaps that do occur are caused by factors subject to either ride operations, staff or mechanical error.

For more information, visit:

www.nsc.org

www.iaapa.org

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Make it a Happy and Healthy 4th of July!

4th

Here comes the 4th with its promise of fun. But we all need to take precautions to insure that it is a fun day.

Outdoor activities and fireworks are the biggest pastimes for 4th of July celebrations. Here are some tips on making it a safe, happy 4th.

  •  Never swim alone on the 4th or any other day, and make sure that any time kids are in the water someone is watching them closely.
  • Cover food and beverages outdoors to discourage uninvited guests such as bees and wasps. Wearing shoes, long sleeves, and long pants outdoors and avoiding perfumes and scented lotions, and sugary drinks can also help prevent bee stings.
  • Apply sunscreen both before and during your party on the 4th. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends using sunscreen with a minimum sun protection factor (SPF) of 15.

  • Check prescription medications you are taking to assure you will not have a reaction from being out in the sun or heat for an extended period of time
  • If you’ll be hiking or camping over the 4th,wear long-sleeved, light-colored shirts and long pants tucked into socks or boots to protect yourself from diseases caused by ticks.
  • Keep children away from campfires and grills. Gas leaks, blocked tubes, and overfilled propane tanks can be a cause of grill fires and explosions.
  • Don’t leave the picnic foods out all day. Allowing food to sit in outdoor temperatures can invite illness. The U.S. FDA suggests never leaving food out for more than one hour when the temperature is above 90 F and not more than two hours at other times.
  • If you live where fireworks are legal and they will be part of your 4th of July celebration be sure to store them where the kids can’t get into them. Keep the kids away from the fireworks at all times, and keep spectators at a safe distance. Professional fireworks displays are always a safer choice than putting on your own show.

A special note on using sparklers on the 4th;

  • Children under five are too young to safely hold a sparkler and don’t really understand why they might be dangerous. Avoid giving them one to hold.

  • Babies or children can wriggle in your arms and reach out unexpectedly. Avoid holding a baby or child when you have a sparkler in your hand.

  • Children over five will still need you to supervise them when they use sparklers. It’s safest if they wear gloves when they’re holding them. They might seem like ‘fireworks lite’ but sparklers can reach a temperature of 2000ºC. Have a bucket of water handy to put them in so that no-one can pick up a hot one off the ground. Teach them not to wave sparklers near anyone else or run with them.

4th

REFERENCES:

CPSC.gov. Fireworks Safety.

USDA

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