FDA claims progress on food protection plan

first_imgJul 2, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today released a 6-month status report on its progress in implementing a food safety plan launched in November in response to high-profile contamination incidents involving domestic and imported foods over the past few years. The agency has conducted “incident command system” training courses and has developed a farm investigation course, which was held in February, for federal, state, and international investigators. FDA food protection plan 6-month summary See also: “Implementing the strategic approaches outlined in the plan is essential if we are to enhance our ability to respond and intervene in foodborne outbreaks,” said FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD, in a press release today. “But there is much more that needs to be done. We are hopeful that Congress will support these efforts by providing the proposed new authorities that we requested in the Food Protection Plan.” Also, the FDA is seeking feedback on a variety of food safety proposals, including outreach activities and pet-food labeling and safety standards. Other prevention areas the FDA plans to address include modifying food safety guidelines for leafy greens and melons, updating Good Agricultural Practices, issuing a final rule on Salmonella enteritidis contamination of shell eggs, and modernizing Good Manufacturing Practices for human food. In 2007, the FDA launched a Tomato Safety Initiative to explore problems associated with Salmonella contamination in tomatoes. The agency said it has completed its review of growing areas in Virginia and central Florida and is now analyzing the information so that it can report its findings. The agency plans to hire and train at least 161 new full-time food inspectors. Also, it is seeking feedback on a plan to allow third-party certification programs to ensure that imported food meets FDA requirements. Nov 6, 2007, CIDRAP News story “US food safety plan calls for mandatory recall power” The agency said it has made progress with China and Vietnam on food and import safety issues and has also reached out to India and Jordan. It has also met with a host of other countries on rapid response and other food safety issues. Among technical accomplishments, the FDA said it has developed an assay to gauge the stability of two bioterrorism agents in high-risk foods and has published a study on the microbiological load of bagged, ready-to-eat produce. Intervention initiativesThe FDA said it has beefed up inspections at a facility that produces low-acid canned foods (LACF), because of concerns about botulism. The measure resulted in a recall after inspectors found viable Clostridium botulinum spores. In view of the findings, the agency said it is considering targeting more LACF facilities.. Also, the FDA has asked states to apply for funding to establish rapid response teams. Six states will receive cooperative agreements for this purpose in 2008, and three more will receive them in the 2009 fiscal year.center_img The 8-page report, available on the FDA’s Web site, covers a wide range of action items, from efforts to solicit stakeholder comments to research on how to assess produce contamination risks. Progress assessments are grouped under prevention, intervention, and response sections. In each category the FDA also lists steps it plans in the future. Jul 2 FDA press release Yesterday during the FDA’s update on the Salmonella outbreak investigation, David Acheson, MD, associate commissioner for foods, said many producers and distributors still use paper records, which have slowed the trace-back investigation. He told reporters that electronic records would enhance traceability. Some lawmakers have charged that the FDA has been too slow in implementing the food safety plan. For their part, FDA officials have said Congress has failed to grant the FDA authorities it has requested in the plan, such as the ability to require food recalls. Based on President Bush’s proposed 2009 budget, the FDA said it would conduct 327 more state contract food inspections than were completed this year and that its regulatory affairs office will conduct an additional 20,000 food import field exams. The status report comes as the FDA is fielding criticism over its handling of the investigation of a massive Salmonella outbreak thought to be linked to fresh tomatoes or some other ingredient commonly served in combination with tomatoes. When the FDA released its food protection plan in November, it emphasized that the strategy reflects a risk-based approach to improving safety. The new report says the FDA has established a risk-based steering committee to ensure that the plan adheres to that approach. Ramping up response capacityAcknowledging that better trace-back capabilities are needed to speed responses to foodborne illness outbreaks, the FDA said it has initiated discussions with industry and other stakeholders on current traceability models and how to identify beset practices for the process. “There have been changes in both the food industry and in the science of food safety that indicate a need for modernization,” the report says. Prevention plans move forwardThe FDA said it is working with state and local partners to develop a strategy for implementing the food safety plan and that a 50-state meeting will be held in St Louis from Aug 12 to 14 to collaborate and plan future food safety initiatives. On the technical front, the FDA said it has developed a rapid detection system, using flow cytometry, to identify Escherichia coli and Salmonella in food and that the system is already being used in poultry processing facilities. FDA microbiologists trained at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Salmonella reference laboratory on a new molecular method, purchased for many of the FDA’s labs, for rapidly identifying Salmonella strains. Jul 1 CIDRAP News story “FDA requests backup in hunt for Salmonella source”last_img read more

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Yahoo shares plunge 13%

first_imgSAN FRANCISCO – Yahoo Inc.’s fourth-quarter profit nearly doubled as advertisers continued to shift their spending to the Internet, but it wasn’t enough to live up to the lofty expectations for the Web’s most heavily trafficked destination. Yahoo’s shares plunged by more than 13 percent after the report’s release Tuesday. The Sunnyvale-based company said it earned $683.2 million, or 46 cents per share, during the three months ended in December. That represented an 83 percent increase from net income of $372.5 million, or 25 cents per share, at the same time in 2004. The 2005 results included a $310 million gain triggered by a complex deal that left Yahoo with a 40 percent stake in Alibaba.com, China’s largest e-commerce company. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card If not for that gain and other accounting items unrelated to its ongoing operations, Yahoo said it would have earned 16 cents per share. That figure fell a penny below the average estimate among analysts polled by Thomson Financial. Revenue for the quarter totaled $1.5 billion, a 39 percent increase from $1.08 billion in the comparable 2004 period. After subtracting the advertising commissions that Yahoo paid to other Web sites, the company’s fourth-quarter revenue stood at $1.07 billion, in line with analyst estimates. Yahoo shares gained 21 cents to close at $40.11 on the Nasdaq Stock Market, then plunged $5.40, or 13.5 percent, in extended trading. Because Yahoo is the first major Internet company to disclose how it fared during 2005’s final quarter, its fourth-quarter report has become a focal point for investors trying to gauge just how much more advertising migrated online during the busy holiday shopping season. Yahoo’s earnings shortfall appeared to have a ripple effect on another Internet bellwether, online search engine leader Google Inc., whose shares shed $16.11, or 3.5 percent, in extended trading. Google’s market value already had climbed 13 percent so far this year in anticipation that its profit will exceed analyst expectations when its fourth-quarter results come out Jan. 31. This marks the second consecutive quarter that Yahoo has reported robust financial growth only to have investors punish its stock. The pattern reflects the high hopes riding on Yahoo’s stock as investors bet on the company’s ability to cash in on the Internet advertising boom. Although Yahoo’s profits have been steadily rising in recent years, the company still hasn’t been able to come up with a formula that’s as effective at serving up moneymaking ads as Google, its biggest rival. “Frankly, Google has done a better job than us,” Yahoo Chairman Terry Semel acknowledged during a Tuesday interview. Both Yahoo and Google display text-based ads on hundreds of Web sites in addition to their own, but only get paid when the links are clicked on. Google’s knack for enticing clicks has generated a long stretch of stellar earnings growth that has eclipsed Yahoo’s. As a result, Google is currently worth twice as much as Yahoo, even though it is a younger company. A growing number of people also are relying on Google to process search requests, another factor depriving Yahoo of an opportunity to make more money. Through November, Google held 39.8 percent of the U.S. search market, up from 34.6 percent at the same juncture in 2004, according to comScore Media Metrix. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s share has dropped to 29.5 percent, down from 32 percent in November 2004. Semel has been promising to introduce improved advertising algorithms later this year, a pledge he reiterated Tuesday. But he stressed it will be a gradual process that’s unlikely to have a significant impact on Yahoo’s earnings until 2007. Drumming up more advertising will become even more important later this year when Yahoo will lose one of its biggest partners, Microsoft Corp.’s MSN.com, which plans to launch its own marketing network this summer. Yahoo said Tuesday that it expects to lose about $120 million in advertising revenue generated by its partners this year. Besides the Microsoft setback, the erosion also reflects an expectation that Yahoo will have to share more revenue with its other remaining partners. Despite those challenges, Yahoo management predicted the company will continue to thrive as advertisers ante up to reach its vast audience. Yahoo ended 2005 with 365 million users, a 21 percent increase from 2004. In an attempt to become less dependent on advertising, Yahoo has been selling more services, such as high-speed Internet access and matchmaking, to its visitors. The company ended the year with 12.6 million subscribers, an 11 percent increase from 11.4 million in September. The subscribers paid $186 million in fees during the fourth quarter, a 38 percent increase from the same time in 2004. Spurred by its steady growth, Yahoo added another 674 workers during the fourth quarter, expanding its payroll to 9,816 employees at the end of 2005. Excluding its ad commissions, Yahoo forecast its 2006 revenue will range from $4.6 billion to $4.85 billion – a 24 percent to 31 percent increase from 2005. The average 2006 revenue estimate among analysts is $4.77 billion, according to Thomson Financial. For all of 2005, Yahoo earned $1.9 billion, or $1.28 per share, on total revenue of $5.26 billion. Net income for 2004 totaled $839.6 million, or 58 cents per share, on total revenue of $3.57 billion. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

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