8/19/2002
Issue 14

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Interesting Food Safety News

USDA Changes Its Policy On Inspecting Meat Plants
(Wall Street Journal) By JILL CARROLL
WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department, barred by a court order from shutting down meat plants when it detects salmonella in their products, said it would use high salmonella levels as a guide to identify problem facilities and take action against them in other ways.A federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled in December that the USDA lacked legal authority to shut down plants where its tests showed high levels of salmonella, a potentially dangerous bacterium causing food poisoning. Rather than appeal the ruling, the USDA developed a new policy for responding when its inspectors find high salmonella levels in a particular plant's meat. The detailed procedures were released this week.The USDA said while it can't shut the plant down for high salmonella levels, the various reviews triggered by the salmonella tests could lead them to other problems at the plant, allowing them to close it.Consumer advocates said the plan -- which involves a lot of letter writing -- doesn't have the teeth to force companies to improve. "There is no certainty of an action to be taken by a set time," said Carol Tucker Foreman, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Consumer Federation of America. Ms. Foreman said testing can take months to complete and "during this time the company is going to turn out meat stamped 'USDA Approved.' "The American Meat Institute, an industry trade group based in Washington, D.C., said the plan makes only some procedural changes. "We agree with the way the department has characterized its current view of positive test results under the Salmonella performance standard. They are like a noise under the hood that suggests a need to take a closer look," said Janet Riley, an AMI spokeswoman.Salmonella bacteria are found in feces and can contaminate meat during processing. Infection can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, and the bacteria infects about 1.4 million people a year. The USDA's plan comes after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report in June found that 47 people in five states were sickened this spring by a strain of salmonella that had become resistant to some antibiotics.Under its new policy, the USDA said inspectors should immediately report high salmonella test results to their supervisor, who will write a letter to the plant about the problems. Inspectors would also check the plant's inspection system, called a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, or HACCP, to see if part of it isn't working.Every plant has a different HACCP plan and plants can change their HACCP plans. If a second round of tests again finds salmonella, the supervisor will send another letter to the plant asking them to fix the problem. After the plant has tried to fix the problem a team of USDA inspectors will again check the plant's system in a so-called in-depth verification review, which is more intensive than a normal evaluation, and decide if more tests are needed.If a third set of tests still find high levels of salmonella, the supervisor will write another letter and again check the plant's HACCP system to see where it isn't working and see if more tests are again necessary and if other action can be taken. 8/15/02

THE DANGERS OF MYSTERY MEAT
August 17, 2002;
Washington Post
A17
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28799-2002Aug16.html
George B. Pyle, a director of the Prairie Writers Circle, a project of the Land Institute, an agriculture research organization in Salina, Kan., writes in this op-ed that last month one of the largest food processors in the world, ConAgra, recalled nearly 19 million pounds of ground beef that had been processed at a single plant in Greeley, Colo. It did so at the suggestion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which could only suggest because it doesn't have the power to order such a recall and won't until Congress gets the guts to face down the meat-packing industry. Pyle was cited as saying this particular outbreak of E. coli has stricken at least 47 people in 14 states, and one death in Ohio is listed by the Centers for Disease Control as possibly linked to the ConAgra contamination. E. coli
kills an average of 61 Americans every year and poisons 73,000. "Poisons" is a better word than the common euphemism "sickens." Even folks who survive E. coli have been a lot more than just "sick."
Yes, as the food giants and the USDA tell us, E. coli can be wiped out of any batch of hamburger if the meat is only cooked properly.
But a system that prides itself on speed and convenience is not one that can expect cooks, in the home or at the fast-food joint, to do it right every time. And even when meat is cooked enough to kill E. coli, its uncooked juices and leavings can still contaminate other foods prepared in the same area, such as chopped vegetables that won't be cooked at all. Pyle says that factory cattle are fed so much corn -- a departure from their evolutionary preference for grass -- that their guts become much more acidic. The variety of E. coli that is bred in that Darwinian environment is much more tolerant of both the cow's stomach acid and the human's, and thus much more likely to attack a person who would easily fend off the weaker cousins of the acid-hardened variety. The USDA, which some of us naively thought was there to protect consumers, really exists to promote the sale of U.S. farm products, at home and abroad. A recent General Accounting Office report faults the meat inspection systemfor relying too much on voluntary industry compliance and employing scientific methods that members of the understaffed inspection force don't even understand.
The myth that bigger is better has crushed most smaller meat ackers,
leaving many carnivorous families with no choice but modern mystery meat. So far we've been lucky: We haven't yet suffered the greatest threat -- a human terrorist who infects the meat supply.
The best solution is to know exactly where your beef is from. Buy locally whenever possible. Don't trust a system so flawed that it can be so easily hijacked by a microscopic terrorist.

HEPATITIS A VACCINATIONS DRAW CROWDS TO MALL CLINIC
August 19, 2002
Globe and Mail/National Post
Under a blazing sun, thousands lined up for a hepatitis A vaccination
Sunday, worried the produce they ate from a west-end grocery store may have been tainted with the liver disease. Some used umbrellas to shield themselves from the heat; others drank bottled water. All of them waited in a line that began deep inside a shopping mall,
spilled out onto the sidewalk, then snaked around the block. Helen MacPhee, who faced up to a three-hour wait for the vaccination with her daughter, Diane Francis, was quoted as saying, "We're really shocked this could have happened. We shopped there every week."
The lineup was so long that the Toronto public health department extended its hours of operation at the Crossways mall on Dundas Street West, opening at 7:30 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. yesterday, today and tomorrow. Though the chances of a customer becoming ill are low, Barbara Yaffe, Toronto's acting medical officer of health, was cited as saying that anyone who still had fruit and vegetables purchased at the Loblaws Humbercrest Market on Dundas near Jane Street after July 19 should throw them out, adding, "We had
to take the prudent approach."" Mark Laberge and his one-year-old son, Ethan, cut short the weekend at their cottage in Huntsville to get the vaccination yesterday. After waiting an hour-and-a-half, the pair had made it out of the sun and into the building, but still faced a long queue to the clinic. Despite the scare, customers continued to shop at the Loblaws yesterday, which boasted fresh, new produce on its shelves. The only suggestion that business was not progressing as usual came when customers who had any questions were handed a Toronto Public Health news release.
The Post story reports that about 1,200 people were vaccinated against hepatitis-A yesterday and hundreds more were turned away from a clinic in the city's west end.
Mary Margaret Crapper, a Toronto Public Health spokeswoman, said of the hepatitis-A vaccination clinic set up after it was confirmed a food worker at a Loblaws grocery store at 3671 Dundas St. West had the disease, wasquoted as saying, "We vaccinated 1,200 people today. It was a busy day."

Recall Summary
08/19. IMAGINE FOODS issues allergy alert on undeclared milk protein in RICE DREAM brand
08/19. Geiers Sausage Kitchen Has Recalled Sausage
08/18. D&V Trading Has Recalled "D&V" Brand and "JoJomo" Brand Assorted Konnyaku
08/17. Calder Brothers Dairy Has Recalled Strawberry Cheesecake ice cream Aug 16
08/16. HAMBURGER PURCHASED AT ONE METRO AREA AND THREE OUTLYING
08/16. ALLERGY ALERT - Undeclared sulphites in DOUBLE HAPPINESS brand
08/16. Statement from FDA Deputy Commissioner Crawford Regarding Metabolife
08/16. D&V Trading Inc. Recalls "D&V" Brand and "JoJomo" Brand Assorted Konnyaku Jelly
08/16. Calder Brothers Dairy Inc. Issues an Allergy Alert on Egg Yolks and Food Coloring
08/16. Vogel's International Bakery Has Recalled Several Products Aug 15
08/16. Florida Firm Recalls Sausage Products For Possible Listeria Contamination

OUTBREAKS
08/19. E. COLI CASES LINKED TO UNIVERSITY IN SAN LUIS OBISPO, CALIF
08/19. NORWALK-LIKE VIRUS, GOLF TOURNAMENT - USA (ARIZONA)
08/19. AROUND 50 TAJIKS STRICKEN WITH ANTHRAX
08/19. DOZENS HIT BY SALMONELLA ON ANOTHER ILL-FATED CRUISE SHIP: O
08/19. SHOPPERS POTENTIALLY EXPOSED TO HEPATITIS A
08/19. HEPATITIS A CASE IDENTIFIED IN SUPERMARKET EMPLOYEE
08/19. Salmonella hits another ill-fated cruise
08/19. Eighth E. coli death linked to Tochigi medical complex
08/18. Crew member falls ill on Alaska cruise ship
08/17. E. coli outbreak in Tochigi claims seventh victim
08/17. Salmonella sickens local family
08/16. VIRUS HITS UNI FOOTBALL TEAM
08/16. MAN BECOMES 6TH FATALITY IN UTSUNOMIYA FOOD POISONING
08/16. E. coli linked to Cal Poly campus


Food Safety Daily News
08/19. Second Case of Mad Cow Disease Discovered in Poland, More Ex
08/19. FOOD SAFETY NETWORK GOLF TOURNAMENT AND DINNER SOCIAL
08/19. STORE REOPENS AFTER HEPATITIS SCARE
08/19. HEPATITIS A VACCINATIONS DRAW CROWDS TO MALL CLINIC
08/19. TORONTO PUBLIC HEALTH HEPATITIS A VACCINATION CLINICS START
08/19. CALMING FOOD SAFETY FEARS A CHALLENGE FOR ALL PRODUCERS
08/19. ONTARIO INVESTS IN IMPROVING LAND USE PRACTICES IN BRUCE AND
08/19. THE DANGERS OF MYSTERY MEAT
08/19. HEALTH PROFESSIONAL ADVISORY: ENTEROBACTER SAKAZAKII INFECTI
08/19. ROCKY MOUNTAIN MEATS LTD. FINED FOR ILLEGAL MEAT SHIPMENT TO
08/19. ANDRE LAVERGNE OF NAVAN, ONTARIO FINED $1,500
08/19. FINE OF $3,000 FOR SUPREME PIEROGIES INC OF MISSISSAUGA
08/19. ERNIE EVES GOVERNMENT PROTECTS CONSUMERS WITH STRONGER
08/19. China Ag Min: To Improve Food Quality, Safety Standards
08/18. FSIS institutes new procedures for plants that fail salmonella
08/18. Virginia officials scaling back AI task force as disease fades
08/18. Millions at risk from bad water
08/17. Irradiating meat would kill E. coli
08/17. Lunch course in safety
08/17. Some processors will pass on venison
08/17. Protectionism being paraded as 'food safety'
08/17. Seattle lawyer in talks over Brook-Lea salmonella poisonings
08/16. Statement from FDA Deputy Commissioner Crawford Regarding Metabolife
08/16. USDA Changes Its Policy On Inspecting Meat Plants
08/16. LAMMERDING ASSUMES PRESIDENCY OF THE INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATI
08/16. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR FOOD PROTECTION ANNOUNCES 2002
08/16. 'FILTHY' CONDITIONS IN RESTAURANT
08/16. NUMBER OF PEOPLE ILL FROM CONTAMINATED CONAGRA BEEF GROWS
08/16. Official warning over using kava products
08/16. GIRL DIES ONE HOUR AFTER EATING FISH DINNER
08/16. Ephedra seller targeted in probe
08/16. Criminal probe of Metabolife begins

USDA/FDA NEWS
Positive E. coli Test Results: Updated August 16, 2002

Statement from FDA Deputy Commissioner Crawford Regarding Metabolife

Responding to a Food Recall - Live and Interactive
Teleconference August 21

Thinking Globally - Working Locally: A Conference on Food Safety Education: Updated August 15, 2002

USDA Seeks Membership Nominations For National Advisory Committee On Meat And Poultry Inspection

Thinking Globally - Working Locally: A Conference on Food Safety Education: Updated Aug. 12

OPPDE What's New Page: Updated August 13, 2002
DRAFT FSIS Inspection-Related Issuances for Review


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