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first_img The FDA has extended the public comment period on the prior notice interim final rule through July 13, Dr. Lester M. Crawford, acting FDA commissioner, told the health subcommittee Jun 25. The final rule will be published in March 2005. Historically, the FDA inspected less than 1% of imports. That percentage has doubled. FDA inspectors conducted 78,659 examinations of imported food shipments in fiscal year 2003, according to Herndon. The number far exceeded the agency’s goal of 48,000 field inspections for the year and was more than six times the 12,000 inspections conducted in fiscal 2001. Food importers give the new rules mixed reviews. “What we initially thought was 450,000, we’re thinking is more likely 250,000,” Herndon said. It’s also likely that some companies aren’t aware they need to register or that they don’t believe the rules apply to them. The notices allow agency officials to judge which shipments need inspection. The food security rules are jointly enforced by the FDA and the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. Despite increased inspections, few shipments have been detained. Since the prior-notice law took effect in December 2003, FDA and customs inspectors have detained 12 shipments because of concerns about food contamination or filth. None of the shipments was found to be a threat to people or animals, Herndon said. Importers must register with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and provide 2 to 8 hours’ notice of food shipments. The FDA has been receiving advance notice of about 150,000 shipments each week, according to the agency’s compliance summary information. About 99.3% of those notices are completed on time, a marked improvement from earlier this year, Michael Herndon, a public affairs specialist with the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, told CIDRAP News yesterday. “We’re going back now and examining to make sure the prior-notice information is accurate,” Herndon added. Stout also asked that the FDA eliminate requirements that food and beverage companies track lot or production codes for each retail product. If the food supply is threatened, Stout said, companies and retailers remove all the suspect products from shelves. The new system has led to more targeted inspections and prompted some criticism from the food industry. But as with a student’s homework assignment, filling in the blanks doesn’t always mean giving a right answer. Although most notices are complete, the information isn’t always accurate. “While FDA made many improvements to the proposed regulations, there is still room for more, especially with concern to prior notice and record keeping,” said Susan Stout, vice president of federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, in congressional testimony Jun 25. Addressing the Health Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, she requested that the FDA provide feedback on incomplete notices. Registration remains a stumbling block. By Jun 24, only 208,277 foreign and domestic companies had registered with the FDA. By some FDA estimates, twice that many businesses need to register; others say the estimates have been adjusted. Herndon said Jun 29 that the FDA continues to work with importers to educate them about registration and completing the prior-notice forms. The FDA went gently into the new rules by emphasizing education. Now regulators are moving toward the enforcement end of the spectrum. Jun 30 (CIDRAP News) – As federal agencies near the Aug 12 deadline for full enforcement of the food security provisions of the 2002 Bioterrorism Act, authorities say the food industry is getting better at following the new rules. Inspectors also have more sophisticated tools to target suspect imports. When companies notify the FDA that a shipment is arriving, agency employees can run that information through up to 100 checks, looking for red flags such as easily contaminated foods, specific countries of origin, or a product that matches other intelligence information, an FDA spokesman said. “Even though the bigger picture is to protect Americans from bioterrorism, we’re still not in the business of impeding commerce,” he said. Amy Becker is a full-time reporter at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a freelance reporter for CIDRAP. She will enter the University of Minnesota’s graduate program in public health administration and policy in fall 2004.last_img read more

first_imgNEW YORK — The Los Angeles Dodgers have ended the New York Yankees’ 15-year streak as Major League Baseball’s biggest spenders and owe more than $26.6 million in luxury tax.The Dodgers finished with a record payroll of $257,283,410, according to final calculations made by Major League Baseball on Dec. 19 and obtained by The Associated Press. That is more than $20 million above the previous high, set by the Yankees last year.For the first time since the current luxury tax began in 2003, the Yankees won’t be paying the most. The luxury tax was put in place as a slowdown on spending by high-revenue teams, and teams pay based on the amount they are over the $189 million threshold.The Dodgers owe $26,621,125 based on a $277.7 million payroll for purposes of the tax, which calculates payroll based on the average annual value of contracts for players on the 40-man roster and includes benefits. That raises the team’s two-year total to $38 million.Los Angeles, which flopped out of this year’s playoffs in the division round and is seeking its first World Series title since 1988, pays the tax at a 30 percent rate because it has gone over the threshold for the second straight year. The Dodgers’ rate would increase to 40 percent if they go over in 2015, which is likely.The Yankees cut their payroll and owe $18.3 million in tax, down from $28.1 million for 2013. New York originally hoped to get under the threshold but wound up more than $36 million over. The Yankees have gone over every year, totaling nearly $271 million. New York pays at a 50 percent rate, the highest called for in baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.Checks to the commissioner’s office are due by Jan. 21. Tax money is used to fund player benefits and MLB’s Industry Growth Fund.Four teams wound up less than $10 million under the threshold: Detroit ($187 million), Philadelphia and Boston ($186 million each), and the Los Angeles Angels and World Series champion San Francisco ($180 million apiece).Three of baseball’s five-biggest spenders missed the playoffs this year, with the Yankees joined by Philadelphia and Boston. Among the 10 playoff teams, three were in the bottom half by payroll: AL champion Kansas City was 19th, Oakland 23rd and Pittsburgh 27th.The Mets’ regular payroll of $92.9 million was the team’s lowest since $93.1 million in 2001 and $82.2 million in 2000.MLB calculated the average salary at $3,692,123, up 11 percent from 2013 for the steepest increase since 2001. The players’ association has not yet released its final 2014 average.(RONALD BLUM, AP Sports Writer)TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

first_imgAPTN National NewsThe federal government has been ordered to hand over millions of documents to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that is trying to determine the depth of the church-run Indian Residential schools that removed children from their families for more than a 100 years.Ontario Superior Court Justice Stephen Goudge ruled Wednesday the government is required to unearth the documents that the TRC has deemed relevant in order to fulfill its mandate.The TRC is trying to prepare a historical record of the schools and produce a report when finished.Goudge said the documents were needed to finish the report in a fixed timeframe and budget.But federal government lawyers fought it saying the TRC was welcome to search files housed in Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa.Lawyers for the TRC said it’d take too long, plus they didn’t have the budget do that.Now the government must make copies for them.“All are inconsistent with excluding documents archived at LAC from Canadas obligation to provide relevant documents to and for the use of the TRC, compiled in an organized manner,” said Goudge in his decision. “None suggest that the TRC would be left on its own with LAC documents. This simply adds weight to the plain meaning of the words used, that Canada’s obligation to provide all relevant documents includes those housed at LAC.”Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan said in December he saw no “issue” in his government’s handling of residential school documents and blamed the head of the TRC for creating the controversy and slowing things down.He made the comments at the Commons Aboriginal affairs committee and said the TRC would have all the documents by the summer.“I fail to see the issue with their documents,” Duncan said. “Federally, I think we are in pretty good shape.”Duncan placed the blame for the controversy at the feet of TRC Chair Murray Sinclair. Duncan said he’s received positive signals from Sinclair’s co-commissioners, Wilton Littlechild and Marie Wilson.“It is only in Justice Sinclair that we are getting this kind of response,” said Duncan. “I don’t know what he is doing. I would like to think we can move on with the process.”Sinclair said Wednesday the courts made the right decision.“The TRC asked the Ontario Superior Court of Justice for clarification of its mandate as laid out in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, and this is precisely what we have received today,” said Sinclair in a statement. “We’re grateful to be able to continue the Commission’s work of gathering and protecting for future generations documents that are relevant to the history of the Indian Residential Schools in Canada. We look forward to carrying out this work in cooperation with the Government of Canada. We especially acknowledge the clarity of Justice Goudge’s decision.”Aboriginal Affairs deputy minister Michael Wernick, who also appeared before the committee, said the TRC would get all residential school records, including RCMP files. Wernick said the TRC would also get documents ranging up to the last existing school which shut down in 1996 and some documents around the conclusion of the multi-billion dollar residential school settlement.Wernick said the TRC has already received over a million documents.Wernick said the government, however, is drawing a line around documents from the negotiations leading to the court settlement and the private files of residential school survivors seeking compensation.“We have a legitimate disagreement about the relevance of documents from the 2005 negotiations,” Wernick said. “We simply disagree they need to see all the applications and adjudications that are now under way.”APTN National News was told in December that the TRC was seeking cabinet documents from the Paul Martin government years on the eventual residential school settlement.The RCMP was involved in snatching children from their homes and forcing them to attend residential schools. The TRC believes the RCMP also has criminal complaints against residential schools and staff over abuse.Assembly of First Nations chief Shawn Atleo called the court decision a victory.“This decision is a significant victory, and we will continue to stand in support of former students of the Indian Residential Schools and First Nations as the historical record of the Indian Residential School system will now be more complete and available to future generations,” said Atleo in a statement. “Reconciliation is about achieving real change that must come from increased and improved understanding of our shared history. These documents are essential to the truth-telling and truth-sharing work of the TRC, and all of us.”It’s believed more than 150,000 First Nation children were removed from their homes and placed in the schools that operated for nearly 150 years.last_img read more