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Spoiled Airline Carrots Cause Food Poisoning
Friday, May 20, 2005
Source of Article:
HONOLULU ? Contaminated carrots served on several flights out of Honolulu likely caused 45 people to suffer food poisoning across 22 states, Japan, Australia and American Samoa, a state epidemiologist said ThursContaminated carrots served on several flights out of Honolulu likely caused 45 people to suffer food poisoning across 22 states, Japan, Australia and American Samoa, a state epidemiologist said Thursday.

The outbreak has sparked one lawsuit, filed Thursday, against airline caterer Gate Gourmet Inc., which included the carrots in meals served last Aug. 22-24.

The company, based in Virginia and Switzerland, was sent a warning letter by the federal Food and Drug Administration on April 21 citing violations found in a February inspection of its Honolulu facility ? such as "pink slimy substance" dripping onto the conveyor of the pot washing machine, live cockroaches and flies, and mold growing on the windows of a refrigerator.

Gate Gourmet provides meals for Northwest, Delta, United, Hawaiian and Aloha airlines.
more information

U.S. FDA warns airline food supplier over filth
May 17, 2005
WASHINGTON - Gate Gourmet, Inc., an airline catering company which provides food and beverages to a number of airlines at Honolulu Airport, must, according to a letter from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released Tuesday and cited in this story, take major steps to clean its Honolulu location or risk the unit's closure after U.S. health inspectors found live cockroaches, dirty utensils and an oozing, pink slime earlier this year.
The letter was further cited as saying the firm also kept "dirty uncovered" trash cans near food, let workers handle ice cubes with bare hands, and did not keep food at proper temperatures, adding, "Specifically, in the pot wash area, salad area and hallways were dirty uncovered trash cans and trash carts with fruit flies and cockroaches in and near them."
The story notes that FDA officials also found a greasy stirring paddle and a "dirty oily" utensil rack at the Hawaiian facility during a February inspection. All refrigerator handles "were dirty and sticky with old food residue" and one unit "had mold growing on the windows," the agency said.
The story explains that Memphis, Tennessee-based Gate Gourmet, Inc. is one of the largest airline food suppliers and operates 115 flight kitchens in 30 countries, according to the company. It serves 200 airlines worldwide.
A spokesman for the privately held company could not be reached for comment on the letter.
The agency gave company officials 15 days to respond after it received the letter, which is on the FDA's Web site at An FDA spokeswoman could not immediately confirm if the company had done so.

E. coli hits day-care center
May 19/05
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Byline: By Jennifer L. Boen, The News-Sentinel, Fort Wayne, Ind.
Allen County Commissioner of Health Dr. Deborah McMahan was cited as confirming Wednesday that Escherichia coli O157:H7 has struck at least nine children in a Fort Wayne day-care center, and that one child was taken to Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, adding, "It looks like this was spread person-to-person."
The story notes that the bacterium can be found in undercooked meat, sewage-contaminated lakes
and streams, and contaminated drinking water. Babies can spread it to adults during diaper changes if proper hand-washing doesn't occur.

Marion man files suit against local eatery
Times Leader Staff Report

Source of Article:

Monday, May 16, 2005
A lawsuit filed Wednesday against Jewell Open Pit Barb-Q alleges a Marion man became ill with a Salmonella infection after eating at the restaurant about three weeks ago. Attorneys for Robert Ballard of Marion claim he became ill with symptoms of infection with the Salmonella bacteria hours after eating at the U.S. 62 West restaurant Wednesday, April 20.

The claim, filed in Caldwell County Circuit Court, states that Ballard suffered fever, nausea, abdominal cramping and diarrhea. He became dehydrated, sought medical attention April 21 and was hospitalized for five days, according to the claim. The claim goes on to state that Ballard continues to feel fatigued and tires easily as he resumes his horse-shoeing business. The restaurant, the claim states, owed its customers a duty to not serve food that was unsafe but failed in that duty. Ballard is represented by Marler Clark, a Seattle firm that specializes in foodborne illness cases. The firm managing partner, William Marler, helped win a $15.6 million settlement in an E. coli suit against the Jack in the Box restaurant in 1993. The firm has also litigated against Chili, Golden Corral and other restaurants and chains. They are being assisted in Ballard case by Jill Brady, a Henderson attorney with prior experience litigating similar Salmonella claims. The complaint does not request a specific amount of damages. Ballard wife, Paula, is listed as a co-plaintiff, claiming a loss of consortium with her husband as a result of his illness. Investigation by the Pennyrile District Health Department found no evidence of Salmonella contamination in Jewell, though cases of the infection were confirmed in some of those complaining of illness.

Illness outbreak at Blimpie restaurant caused by Norovirus
Source of Article:
(Update, Grand Rapids, May 19, 2005, 11:43 a.m.) The Kent County Health Department has completed its investigation into a food-borne illness outbreak at a Blimpie restaurant in Grand Rapids.

More than 100 people got sick earlier this month after eating sandwiches from the restaurant located at 1040 Leonard Street NW.
On May 5, 18 teachers, including the principal, at Sibley Elementary School in Grand Rapids got sick after eating Blimpie sandwiches purchased for Teacher Appreciation Day.The next day, officials with School Specialty Publishing in Walker contacted the health department after 80 of 140 employees that ate meals from the same restaurant got sick.Health department officials inspected the restaurant that day but could not find an immediate cause. Then employees of Bethany Christian Services became ill, also after eating food from the restaurant. Two days later, members of the community called the health department to report similar illnesses associated with the restaurant. At least 126 people are known to have become sick. The restaurant voluntarily closed on May 10. Six days later when test results were returned, the health department determined the cause of the illness to be one of the Noroviruses. Health officials say the virus was contracted through an employee who carried the highly contagious bug. a food handler could have been sick or even a customer could have brought the virus into the restaurant. But no one is sure how it got there.The restaurant reopened on Tuesday after a thorough cleaning.Health department officials tell 24 Hour News 8 that they think this is an isolated incident. They do not think other Blimpie restaurants have this problem.Jeff Endervelt, President and CEO of Blimpie International released a statement that said, "The restaurant staff followed cleaning recommendations provided by the Health Department and an outside firm…They thoroughly cleaned this restaurant…The infected individual has been given a clean bill of health."Norovirus is highly contagious and is considered the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States. Some of the common symptoms associated with the illness include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramping.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you can contact this illness by eating food or drinking liquids that are contaminated with Norovirus; touching surfaces or objects contaminated with Norovirus, and then placing their hand in their mouth; having direct contact with another person who is infected and showing symptoms (for example, when caring for someone with illness, or sharing foods or eating utensils with someone who is ill).The virus has made headlines in recent years after many passengers on cruise ships contacted it.Health officials say proper hand washing can reduce the risk of the illness.

Ecolab Offers New Solid Sanitizer for Foodservice Floor Drains
Thursday May 19, 4:53 pm ET
Source of Article:
ST. PAUL, Minn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 19, 2005--Ecolab Inc.'s new Pathways(TM) Solid Drain Sanitizer is a water-activated, time-released product that provides continuous sanitizing in floor drains.
The free-flowing design of the patented Pathways(TM) Solid Drain Sanitizer does not obstruct water drainage, and it has been proven to be effective against a broad spectrum of gram negative and gram positive organisms found on environmental surfaces, such as Staphylococcus aureus, Enterobacter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogenes, and Salmonella typhimurium. "Besides working against a number of common bacteria, this sanitizer also helps reduce build-up between cleanings by emulsifying soil deposits 24 hours a day," explained Denise Chandler, product line manager for the Ecolab Institutional Division. "Plus it's simple to install - all you have to do is place the ring onto the drain, and it slowly dissolves as the water passes over it."

The Pathways(TM) Solid Drain Sanitizer has broad applications throughout various foodservice facilities, including restaurants, hotels and casinos. "This product is an additional element in Ecolab's wide array of offerings in the foodservice industry, and it further strengthens our 360 Degrees of Protection(TM) program," said John Tengwall, vice president of Foodservice Marketing for the company's Institutional Division. "With that program, our essential product solutions are designed to work together to both clean and enhance foodservice operations."

The Ecolab Pathways(TM) Solid Drain Sanitizer is available in 4-inch or 8-inch rings, and no dispenser is necessary. The Institutional Division of Ecolab Inc. provides a full line of products, programs and services for the foodservice and hospitality industries, including warewashing, on-premise laundry, housekeeping, water filtration and conditioning, specialty kitchen, food safety and laundry products, and pool and spa management. For more information about Pathways(TM) Solid Drain Sanitizer, contact Ecolab Inc. at 1-800-35-CLEAN. With 2004 sales of $4.2 billion, Ecolab is the leading global developer and marketer of premium cleaning, sanitizing, pest elimination, maintenance and repair products for the hospitality, foodservice, institutional and industrial markets. Ecolab shares are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol ECL.

Ecolab news releases and other investor information are available on the Internet at
Ecolab Inc., St. Paul
Derek Malmquist, 651-293-4104

Highlighted Job Openings
Assistant Professor Food Chemistry - University of Georgia, Athens

Quality Services Technician - Los Angeles, CA Mars, Incorporated

Quality Assurance Specialist - Omaha, NE ? ConAgra Foods, Inc.

Food Safety Specialist - Albuquerque, NM - The Steritech Group

Bio-Rad has extended its range of products for the isolation, enumeration and identification of staphylococci to include RAPID¢¥Staph.

This selective agar medium has recently been approved by AFNOR, according to ISO 16140 protocol, for the 24 hr enumeration of coagulase-positive staphylococci at 37 ¡ÆC, including Staphylococcus aureus, in food and environmental samples.

Characteristic growth of coagulase-positive staphylococci on RAPID¢¥Staph is shown as grey-black colonies surrounded with a clear halo. Sulphamethazine prevents high levels of Proteus contamination; lithium chloride and potassium telllurite inhibit growth of other bacteria. The optimized peptone formula improves growth and suits nutritional demands of Staphylococcus.

Characteristic colonies of on RAPID¢¥Staph are confirmed by using a validated procedure using Bio-Rad¢¥s PASTOREX¢â Staph-Plus latex agglutination test for detection of Staphylococcus aureus, or by spot on Baird Parker R.P.F. agar plates, or by means of a rabbit plasma coagulase test.

- easy reading and enumeration of colonies
- a much lower cost, compared with Baird Parker R.P.F. agar
- easy confirmation, saving time and money, compared with ISO 888-1
- more selective than Baird Parker Egg Yolk Agar
- shorter time to result (24 hr) and rapid confirmation, when compared with Baird Parker Egg Yolk Agar (48-72 hr)

Water treatment process called potential risk
May 18, 2005
Knight-Ridder Tribune
Jerry Allegood, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.
GREENVILLE -- UNC-Asheville researchers were cited as saying that a combination of chemicals used in hundreds of water-treatment systems across the country could cause lead to leach into drinking water from plumbing.
Richard P. Maas, an environmental science professor, was cited as saying the chemical interaction could cause elevated lead levels like those that have plagued Greenville recently and that about 500 systems across the country have switched to the so-called chloramine treatment since 2001, to meet federal requirements, adding, "We suspect there are hundreds of other towns out there whose tap water lead contamination has gone up substantially but have not come to light yet."
The story notes that State agencies will review Maas' research and data from water systems, which could take two to three months.
Federal regulations require that large water systems test for lead in a sampling of homes every six months. If no problems are detected, the testing occurs every three years.

Meat Processing global editor Chris Harris says concerns are raised over effective use of HACCP in meat-processing plants
May 18, 2005
Meat News Volume 7, Issue 21
Changes in the European food-hygiene regulations that come into effect from the beginning of next year are already producing unwelcome repercussions in the food industry. In the United Kingdom the trade union that represents the meat inspectors is bluntly saying the new regulations will not work and that consumers will be put at risk as the HACCP principles will help to hide cases of meat contamination.
The union -- UNISON -- has warned the Food Standards Agency and the Meat Hygiene Service that Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point systems are failing to prevent contaminated meat being presented to inspectors throughout the United Kingdom. The union said that a survey it took of Meat Hygiene Inspectors shows that HACCP has had very little effect on the standard of meat being presented to the union¡¯s meat inspection members.
It said that if the Food Standards Agency can persuade consumers that they are being protected by HACCP, it will allow the Agency to move ahead with its plans to do away with independent meat inspection and hand over the task to the meat plants themselves. Here is the nub of the trade union¡¯s point: It is fighting for the jobs of its members. But, is there a true food-safety lesson to be learned from the trade union¡¯s warning? By the beginning of 2006, the food industry across Europe will be controlled by a new raft of hygiene regulations. The package of laws that was adopted by the European Union in the spring of 2004 aims to merge, harmonize, and simplify complex hygiene requirements that are at present scattered over 17 different EU Directives. The overall aim is to create a single, transparent hygiene policy applicable to all food and all food operators, together with effective instruments to manage food safety and potential future food crises, throughout the food chain.
In effect there are three main regulations that will now cover the entire European food industry ? Regulations 852/2004, 853/2004 and 854/2004. There is also one Directive - 2004/41 - which repeals existing legislation and amends certain other legislation that will remain in force after the new regulations are brought into force. How these new regulations are going to be implemented and enforced is currently a matter for consultation among industry bodies and representatives of the industry.
The first regulation 852/2004 for the first time covers the entire food industry and is a catch-all whether the factory is producing confectionery, ready meals or sausages. The other two regulations apply specifically to businesses that are producing food from meat, eggs and fish or in the European technical jargon food from products of animal origin.
The hygiene package introduces HACCP Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points principles in all sectors of the food business except for farms. It consists of seven principles:
Hazard analysis to identify potential food safety risks (hazards),
Identification of critical control points to prevent such hazards,
Establishment of critical limits,
Monitoring of the critical control points,
Corrective actions if something goes wrong,
Verification to assess whether monitoring occurs correctly, corrective actions are taken in time and effectively.
The food processor is responsible for ensuring that hygiene rules are respected, while the government has to verify the situation through regular inspections. However, the British trade union says that because of the reliance on HACCP systems to catch contaminated meat and to take action, meat inspectors in the UK are being told to abandon past practices of trimming meat. The HACCP system should have already spotted the contamination and the meat should have already been trimmed or rejected before it reaches the inspector.
If as UNISON says this is not happening, then it is a cause for concern. And if this is occurring in the United Kingdom, it can be a pretty safe bet that it will be occurring in other countries.
The fault, though, is not with the concept of HACCP and self inspection. The fault is with the implementation and policing of the system. Before the new hygiene regulations come into force next year across Europe, the entire European industry must ensure that effective monitoring and policing systems for the implementation of the new regulations will be in place.
The last thing the industry needs is another food scare because of slipshod implementation of rules.

Food Contaminants (Acrylamides update)
May 18, 2005
European Commission
Acrylamides update available

Two new cases of E. coli: Another girl in hospital after kidneys fail
May 18, 2005
The Calgary Herald
Sarah Chapman, with files from Sorcha McGinnis
Two new confirmed cases of E. coli have, according to this story, brought the total in Calgary to 18.
The newest case, reported to health officials Monday, is linked to marshmallow milkshakes from Peters' Drive-In, which have now made at least 16 people sick.
The other new case, reported last week, is from an unknown source.
Health officials are also investigating a third possible but unconfirmed case of E. coli in a patient being treated in a Calgary hospital.
Dr. Judy MacDonald, of the Calgary Health Region, was cited as saying Tuesday that the third person is suspected of acquiring the infection through bathing with someone who was ill with diarrhea.
Chad Presnail was cited as saying his two-year-old niece has been at Alberta Children's Hospital since Sunday after her kidneys failed as a result of E. coli, and that his fiancee, six-year-old son and three-year-old daughter became ill after the boy consumed two marshmallow milkshakes as a birthday treat last month. While the family experienced symptoms consistent with the illness, none of them has been confirmed as having E. coli.
Presnail was quoted as saying, "She's not doing so good. Her parents are devastated. They're having a hard time dealing with this."
The story adds that 15-year-old Sara Burgess remains in fair to serious condition in the Alberta Children's Hospital on dialysis after her kidneys failed. She drank one of the milkshakes.

USA/FDA News Updates

Food Advisory Committee; Notice of Meeting

Channels of Trade Policy for Commodities With Residues of Pesticide Chemicals

Docket No. 95-051P, Food Standards; General Principles and Food Standards Modernization

Food Standards; General Principles and Food Standards Modernization

Program Priorities in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition

Guidance for Industry: Channels of Trade Policy for Commodities With Pesticide Residues

Get the Lowdown on Chill for Food Safety: "Keep it Cool" - That's the Rule

FSIS Notice 31-05, Instructions for Completing a Non-routine Report
Guidance for Industry for Commodities With Residues of Pesticide Chemicals

USDA and HHS Propose to Modernize Principles for Food Standards of Identity

USDA and HHS Propose To Modernize Principles for Food Standards of Identity

USDA Announces BSE Roundtable Discussion

Audio of Webcast: Ag Secretary Mike Johanns Holds Teleconference Regarding BSE