Statement from the FDA On Testing Shrimp Shipments

Testing of seafood is one example of how the FDA’s data-based PREDICT (which stands for Predictive Risk-based Evaluation for Dynamic Import Compliance Targeting) system works. In fiscal year 2014, for example, the FDA tested a greater percentage of imported seafood than any other type of food. If other testing rates were around 2%, for seafood we tested 3.7% last fiscal year. That doesn’t sound like a big difference but it shows how we are able to target resources based on risk.

The FDA’s goal is to use physical examinations, records examinations, and laboratory tests in the most efficient way possible. Because the PREDICT system screens 100 percent of food entries, it helps FDA investigators identify foods coming in that may pose a concern. Laboratory tests are an important tool used by the agency, but not the only way to measure how the FDA is working to ensure food safety. For example, that 2% figure does not factor in record and label inspections, and physical examinations, all of which would occur prior to a sample being taken to a lab.

In fact, laboratory tests can even be seen as an ‘after the fact’ measure. The FDA seeks to prevent food that does not meet our standards from even reaching our ports of entry. When necessary, we place companies on Import Alert, a condition under which the exporter or importer must pay to test 100% of their product and prove to the FDA that it meets U.S. standards. This week the agency put shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia on Import Alert, and shrimp, dace and eel are currently under a different Import Alert as well. The FDA also works with companies in the U.S. and abroad, as well as food safety officials in other countries to help them understand and meet applicable rules and regulations. 

Your Parent Has Dementia: What to Talk to Their Doctor About

Make sure all their doctors are aware of all the medications she is taking.

Q: My mom is 94 and has dementia. She is taking a whole medicine cabinet-full of medications and I think they actually make her fuzzier. How should I talk to her various doctors about what she is taking and if she can get off some of the meds? — Gary R., Denver, Colorado

A: Many dementia patients are taking what docs call a "polypharmacy" — three or more medications that affect their central nervous system. And we really don't know how that mixture truly affects each individual person.

A new study in JAMA Network that looked at more than 1 million Medicare patients found almost 14% of them were taking a potentially harmful mix of antidepressants, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, benzodiazepines such as Valium and Ativan, nonbenzodiazepine benzodiazepine receptor agonist hypnotics such as Ambien or Sonata, and opioids. And almost a third of those folks were taking five or more such medications. The most common medication combination included an antidepressant, an antiepileptic, and an antipsychotic. Gabapentin was the most common medication — often for off-label uses, such as to ease chronic pain or treat psychiatric disorders, according to the researchers from the University of Michigan.

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