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FDA Notifies Consumers
that Tomatoes in Restaurants Linked to Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak
Source from: FDA
Suggests Outbreak is Not Ongoing
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced the results
of an investigation by state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) investigators, which found consuming tomatoes in restaurants as
the cause of illnesses in the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. To date,
21 states have reported 183 cases of illnesses to the CDC.
Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children,
frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy
persons often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea,
vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection can result
in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe
Based on information currently available from the CDC, the investigation
shows a peak in cases of illness in late September. This suggests that
the outbreak is not ongoing. The agency believes that the tomatoes that
caused the illnesses have at this point been consumed, destroyed or thrown
out because they are perishable. Therefore, FDA does not believe a consumer
warning about tomatoes on store shelves is warranted at this time.
FDA has initiated a traceback of these tomatoes and continues its close
collaboration with the CDC and state and local authorities to identify
the source of contamination on tomatoes in this outbreak. In particular,
FDA is working closely with the states of Minnesota, Massachusetts, and
Connecticut, since groups of illnesses were specifically reported in these
Investigations of foodborne illness usually begin at the local health
department level. A variety of scientific and technological methods to
trace the source of reported illnesses are used. Modern technologies,
such as PulseNet (the network of public health laboratories that performs
"DNA fingerprinting"), have greatly improved the speed and precision
of these types of investigations.
In light of recent outbreaks, FDA continues to emphasize consumer advice
to reduce the risk of foodborne illness, including Salmonella-related
illness, from fresh produce:
Buying Tips for Fresh Produce
Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.
When selecting fresh cut produce - such as a half a watermelon or bagged
mixed salad greens - choose only those items that are refrigerated or
surrounded by ice.
Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood
products when packing them to take home from the market.
Storage Tips for Fresh Produce
Certain perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce,
herbs, and mushrooms) can be best maintained by storing in a clean refrigerator
at a temperature of 40¡Æ F or below. If you're not sure whether an item
should be refrigerated to maintain quality, ask your grocer.
All produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled should be refrigerated
within two hours to maintain both quality and safety.
Keep your refrigerator set at 40¡Æ F or below. Use a refrigerator thermometer
Preparation Tips for Fresh Produce
Many pre-cut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If so,
it will be stated on the packaging. This pre-washed, bagged produce can
be used without further washing.
As an extra measure of caution, you can wash the produce again just before
you use it. Precut or prewashed produce in open bags should be washed
Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water
and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.
Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables before
preparing and/or eating. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.
All unpackaged fruits and vegetables, as well as those packaged and not
marked pre-washed, should be thoroughly washed before eating. This includes
produce grown conventionally or organically at home, or produce that is
purchased from a grocery store or farmer's market. Wash fruits and vegetables
under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.
Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important
to wash it first.
Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial
produce washes is not recommended.
Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce
Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce
bacteria that may be present.
Separate for Safety
Keep fruits and vegetables that will be eaten raw separate from other
foods, such as raw meat, poultry or seafood - and from kitchen utensils
used for those products.
In addition, be sure to:Wash
cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot water and soap
between the preparation of raw meat, poultry and seafood products and
the preparation of produce that will not be cooked.
For added protection, kitchen sanitizers can be used on cutting boards
and counter tops periodically. Try a solution of one teaspoon of chlorine
bleach to one quart of water.
If you use plastic or other non-porous cutting boards, run them through
the dishwasher after use.
source of Salmonella in tomatoes continues
The Produce News
-- Health investigators are focusing on tomatoes delivered to restaurants
as the source of the Salmonella outbreak that has sickened more than 180
people in 21 states.
Kathy Means of the Produce Marketing Association was cited as saying a
traceback of a bulk product will take time, especially if it is a product
distributed to restaurants, because restaurants often order tomatoes by
color or size to assure consistency, and this means the items are repacked
into boxes without their original labeling information, adding, "We've
always known leafy greens were not the only issue and that tomatoes were
The story notes that FDA had warned the tomato industry in 2004 that the
industry needed to review its microbial food-safety hazard programs in
light of continuing outbreaks associated with fresh lettuce and fresh
tomatoes. The industry responded with new commodity-specific guidelines
to improve Good Agricultural Practices in the field, greenhouse, packingshed
and throughout the supply chain.
An FDA spokesperson was quoted as saying, "We have some preliminary
indications at this point on type and origin, but not enough data"
to release to the public.
Past outbreaks have shown that when restaurants across several states
are involved, it points to contamination at the farm or during packing.
Research has shown that Salmonellae can grow on tomato skin surfaces and
infiltrate core tissues during tomato harvest, packing and transportation.
Once tomatoes are contaminated, elimination of Salmonellae can be difficult,
so preventing contamination is important.
The University of Georgia's Mike Doyle was cited as saying that he fears
the latest outbreak will push consumers away from eating fruits and vegetables,
adding, "It's important that the produce industry steps up to the
plate and invests in its future before the consumer decides it is not
worth the risk of eating produce."
Dr. Doyle was further cited as calling on the industry to agree to a mix
of mandatory regulations and institute validated interventions through
all stages of the produce industry, stating, "This will necessitate
the development of additional effective interventions that presently do
From a retailer's perspective, the tomato issue is likely to result in
"some serious repercussions, perhaps even ultimatums," he added.
While retailers have banded together to ask for tougher standards in the
wake of the spinach contamination, the National Restaurant Association
has decided to do the same.
The story notes that the University of Florida and the Florida Tomato
Exchange are sponsoring a meeting later this month in Orlando, FL, to
discuss the latest Salmonella outbreak.
Stanton Sheetz shuddered a few weeks ago when he heard news reports of
how contaminated spinach had made 200 people sick, causing a nationwide
food panic that would have utterly depressed Popeye.
Stanton, 51, is chief executive of the privately held chain of 330 convenience
stores his father founded in 1952. The spinach news rattled him because
his Sheetz stores were still recovering from a food crisis of their own
two years ago. This one involved Salmonella in the sliced Roma tomatoes
that grace Sheetz's trademark made-to-order sandwiches--giant, fat-laden,
juicy creations that won legions of adoring fans. Seven hundred people
in four states said they got sick, and Sheetz's food sales--which typically
provide two-thirds of gross profit, while gasoline provides the rest--instantly
The story says that tort lawyers lined up 139 plaintiffs and waged a legal
onslaught that only now is abating, racking up several million dollars
in settlements. Stanton was cited as saying that some of the same lawyers
are lining up clients to sue over tainted spinach, adding, "I never
had a flashback in my life until I heard about it and got a sinking feeling
in my stomach."
The story says that Stanton learned all too well what--and how long--it
takes to win back wary diners after a food scandal. His effort began with
a soul-baring press conference, included $200,000 in local print ads apologizing
to customers in the chain's five mid-Atlantic states and Ohio and led
to major changes in his company's processes, inspections and supplier
All of that was in pursuit of a return to focusing on what Sheetz knows
best: surprisingly fresh and tasty food at a gas-station-cum-convenience
store--a type of outlet often known for stale and distinctly unappetizing
The story goes on to say that although the Salmonella was linked through
farms and a now bankrupt vendor, Coronet Foods (the two companies' insurers
continue to fight over which side should take the bigger financial hit),
Sheetz stores suffered instantly. Stanton went looking for help--and turned
to fast-food chain Jack in the Box.
David Theno, a senior vice president at Jack in the Box and a food-safety
czar who was recruited during that chain's E. coli outbreak in 1993, was
quoted as saying, "They called and said they might be implicated.
I told them how to find the problem out for themselves." Stanton
says federal investigators traced the contamination to a Florida tomato
farm, which is no longer a supplier.
After Theno coached Stanton on how to field inquiries from microbiologists,
the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Public Health, Stanton
inserted a new clause into every vendor contract, establishing the right
of inspection at any time. He had every store and delivery truck sanitized,
and he set up a department to make unannounced health inspections of stores,
vowing to temporarily shut down any slackers for cleanup. Stores now get
a surprise visit from the Sheetz "germ team," as Stanton calls
it, six times annually.
Sheetz has not had to perform any shutdowns in the past year. Newcomers
to Stanton's 11,000-employee chain spend 6 of their 80 hours of on-the-job
training learning about food safety and cleanliness.
Now Sheetz's fans are returning for made-to-order food. Revenues for fiscal
2006, ended Sept. 30, were up 22% over last year to $3.3 billion, excluding
gasoline excise taxes collected by the company. Customers like the food--and
also the speedy convenience. Sheetz was the world's first retailer to
install self-ordering food kiosks at gas pumps and in stores--for customer
convenience and to draw traffic inside stores.
to Address Agenda Items for the 38th Session of the Codex Committee on
Congressional and Public Affairs
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2006 - The Office of the Under Secretary for Food
Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services today announced
a public meeting to provide information and receive public comments on
agenda items and draft U.S. positions for the 38th Session of the Codex
Committee on Food Hygiene (CCFH), to be held Dec. 4 - 9, in Houston, Texas.
The public meeting is scheduled on Thursday, Nov. 9, from 1 - 4 p.m.,
in the conference room at the south end of the USDA cafeteria located
in the USDA South Agriculture Building, 1400 Independence Ave, SW, Washington,
D.C. Pre-registration is not required for this meeting; however, attendees
must present a photo ID for identification to gain admittance to this
Agenda items and documents related to the 38th Session of the CCFH will
be available prior to the public meeting at http://www.codexalimentarius.net/current.asp.
Codex was created in 1963 by two United Nations organizations: the Food
and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. Codex
develops food standards, guidelines and codes of practice in order to
protect the health of consumers, ensure fair food trade practices and
promote coordination of food standards undertaken by international governmental
and non-governmental organizations. The CCFH was established to elaborate
codes, standards and related texts for food hygiene.
The U.S. Delegate to the CCFH, Dr. Robert Buchanan of FDA, invites interested
parties to submit their comments on the notice electronically to the following
e-mail address: Rebecca.Buckner@fda.hhs.gov.
For further information concerning the 38th Session of the CCFH, contact
Rebecca Buckner, FDA, at (301) 436-1486, by fax at (301) 436-2668 or by
e-mail at Rebecca.Buckner@fda.hhs.gov.
For additional information about the public meeting or to request a sign
language interpreter or any other special accommodations, contact Amjad
Ali, international issues analyst, U.S. Codex Office, at (202) 720-7760
or by fax at (202) 720-3157.
Probe continues into source of salmonella contamination
at Hershey plant
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published: Monday, November 13, 2006 Article tools
Hershey plant in Smiths Falls is closed due to a salmonnella scare.
Photograph by : Kristen Goff, The Ottawa Citizen/CanWest News Service
TORONTO -- The Hershey chocolate
factory in Smiths Falls, Ont., remained shut down Monday because of a
salmonella scare affecting two dozen of the company¡¯s popular chocolates
and candy bars.
While the company reported no illnesses, a recall issued on Sunday was
still in effect and hundreds of workers were on temporary layoff.
¡°The plant is still in shutdown mode and the investigation is still continuing,¡±
said Garfield Balsom, a spokesman for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
¡°The main focus was to make sure that any product that was identified
out there was brought back.¡±
The food agency said it was monitoring the effectiveness of the recall
of 25 different Hershey products but saw no reason to make it mandatory.
Salmonella bacteria can cause severe stomach ailments, fever and nausea
and can be dangerous to those with weaker immune systems.
Balsom said it was likely the first time a chocolate plant in Canada had
recalled its products.In June, some Cadbury chocolate imported into Canada
from Great Britain were recalled because of possible salmonella contamination.
It was not known when the plant, which laid off most of its 500 employees
when the contamination was discovered last Thursday night, could re-open.
¡°The focus would be to concentrate internally at the facility and ensure
that once they do get back up in operation that product remains safe,¡±
Balsom said. In a statement, the company said it wanted customers to be
aware of the health concern.
The food agency was unable to say how much of the suspect product had
been returned, but the company said most never made it to retailers in
the first place.
The company offered refunds to customers who mailed product wrappers to
the Hershey main office in Pennsylvania.
¡°Product quality and safety are top priorities at Hershey,¡± Eric Lent,
general manager for the company¡¯s Canadian operations said in a statement.
¡°We are working in close co-operation with the Canadian Food Inspection
Agency to quickly retrieve the product in question from our customers.¡±
The 25 varieties of chocolate recalled include Oh Henry!, Reese¡¯s Peanut
Butter Cups and Glossettes.
The products included in the recall have date codes ranging from 6417
to 6455 and were manufactured between Oct. 15 and Nov. 10.
Consumers wanting further information can call 1-800-468-1714.
Although there was no mention of the recall on the company¡¯s website on
Monday, a complete list of affected products was listed at the food inspection
agency¡¯s website at www.inspection.gc.ca/english/corpaffr/recarapp/2006/20061112e.shtml
Halloween and Christmas candy was not affected by the recall, the company
FDA Seeks Injunction
of Seafood Processor
source from: FDA
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced that it is seeking
a permanent injunction against Worldwide Fish & Seafood, Inc. (Worldwide
Fish), Suzanne Weinstein, its president and owner, and Timothy A. Lauer,
its general manager. Worldwide Fish does business as Coastal Seafood,
a seafood processor located at 2330 Minnehaha Avenue, in Minneapolis,
Minnesota. The firm distributes seafood products to restaurants in Wisconsin,
Minnesota, Iowa, and North and South Dakota.
The government's complaint, filed today by the United States Department
of Justice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota after
settlement talks failed, charges the defendants with violating the Federal
Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act by processing seafood products under conditions
that may cause the food to become injurious to health.
According to the government's complaint, seven FDA inspections over the
past six years, including an inspection conducted on November 1-3, and
November 6, revealed that the defendants had failed to establish and implement
adequate Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans to prevent
and control food safety hazards associated with each type of potentially
hazardous seafood product that they process, as required by FDA regulations.
The seafood HACCP regulations require that all seafood processors develop
and implement adequate HACCP plans that (1) include all food safety hazards
that are likely to occur for each kind of seafood product, and (2) contain
preventative measures that the food processor can implement to control
FDA inspections also showed that the defendants did not ensure that their
equipment was actually recording refrigerator temperatures and that the
defendants did not monitor their temperature recording devices. Despite
repeated warnings from FDA, including a Warning Letter following one of
the inspections, Worldwide Fish has consistently failed to have and implement
adequate seafood HACCP plans for each of its potentially hazardous products.
The defendants' lack of appropriate
seafood HACCP plans poses a public health risk, because some of the seafood
products handled by Worldwide Fish, e.g., clams, oysters, and smoked salmon
can be sources of pathogenic bacteria, including Escherichia coli ("E.
coli"), Staphylococcus aureus, Listeria monocytogenes, and Clostridium
botulinum. In addition, Worldwide Fish handles fish species such as tuna,
mahi-mahi, and mackerel that when handled inappropriately are known to
develop histamine, which can cause adverse reactions, such as severe rash,
nausea, vomiting and diarrhea of varying degrees of severity. The fish
and fishery products handled by Worldwide Fish are susceptible to pathogen
growth and histamine formation when exposed to abusive conditions. HACCP
programs rely on strict temperature control to prevent the growth of harmful
bacteria and to prevent excessive histamine accumulation.
The FDA has initiated this
action to promote and protect the public health by enforcing federal food
and drug laws. FDA's mission includes ensuring the safety or safety and
effectiveness of food, human and animal drugs, vaccines, blood products,
medical devices, electronic products that emit radiation, and cosmetics.
to fight disease, U.N. study finds
New York Times
Celia W. Dugger
A United Nations report released yesterday was cited as saying that the
toilet and the latrine, which helped revolutionize public health in New
York, London and Paris more than a century ago, are among the most underused
tools to combat poverty and disease in the developing world.
Kevin Watkins, the main author of the report, was quoted as saying, "Issues
dealing with human excrement tend not to figure prominently in the programs
of political parties contesting elections or the agendas of governments.
They¡¯re the unwanted guests at the table."
Watkins was further cited as saying the human cost of that taboo, however,
is more unspeakable than the topic itself, and that every year, more than
two million children die of diarrhea and other sicknesses caused by dirty
water and a lack of "access to sanitation."
That is the common euphemism for the reality that more than a third of
the world¡¯s people ? 2.6 billion ? have no decent place to go to the bathroom,
while more than a billion get water for drinking, washing and cooking
from sources polluted by human and animal feces.
At any time, almost half the people in developing countries have one or
more of the main illnesses associated with inadequate water and sanitation
and fill half the hospital beds, the report said. They are plagued by
diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, trachoma and parasitic worms.
The United Nations Development Program¡¯s annual attempt to measure human
well-being focuses this year on the dearth of clean water and adequate
sanitation for the world¡¯s poor. The report, ¡°Beyond Poverty: Power, Poverty
and the Global Water Crisis,¡± lays out the grim facts.
In Kibera, the sprawling slum in Nairobi, Kenya, people defecate in plastic
bags that they dump in ditches or toss into the street a practice known
as ¡°the flying toilet.¡± In Dharavi, the vast slum in Mumbai, India, there
is only one toilet per 1,440 people ? and during the monsoon rains, flooded
lanes run with human excrement.
Across the countryside in Asia and Africa, people are forced to squat
in streams, backyards and fields, befouling the water they drink, the
places where their children play and the plots where their food grows.
The report¡¯s authors estimate that it would cost $10 billion a year to
halve the percentage of people without access to safe drinking water and
to provide them with simple pit latrines. But that is less than half what
rich countries spend annually on bottled water.
The report blames the governments of poor and rich countries for paying
too little attention to this fundamental problem.
The raw milk
wars heat up in Ohio
David E. Gumpert
Which state is toughest on small dairy farmers seeking to meet the burgeoning
consumer demand for raw milk? It recently looked as if Michigan had the
title, after its October sting operation on a farmer delivering raw milk
and other products to members of a cooperative in Ann Arbor (see BusinessWeek.com,
10/19/06, "States Target Raw-Milk Farmers"). That one-upped
California, which the previous month had quarantined the state's largest
raw-milk producer (see BusinessWeek.com, 9/28/06, "Getting a Raw
But Ohio may be tougher than both these states when it comes to policing
distribution of raw (unpasteurized and unhomogenized) milk, moving aggressively
over the last year-and-a-half against farmers who might make it available
in any form?as pet food, via herd-share leasing programs, or even giving
David Cox, a Columbus lawyer with the firm Lane, Alton & Horst who
specializes in cases involving agriculture regulations, was quoted as
saying, "They're treating raw milk like heroin or crack," adding
that he now has six Ohio cases at various stages, and one common element
in all, he says, is a sense of "vindictiveness" by the state's
Agriculture Dept. (ODA).
Ohio's agriculture officials deny there's any vindictiveness behind their
actions, but do allow that going after raw milk producers has become a
high priority for the state and a hot topic among state agriculture officials.
The story goes on to say that so intense is ODA's campaign against raw
milk, the agency earlier this year even sent a written warning to Organic
Pastures Dairy, the Fresno, Calif., dairy that tangled with California
agriculture officials?against selling raw milk via mail order to Ohio
residents. ODA's spokesperson readily acknowledges that it has no jurisdiction
David Gumpert provides updates on this issue at his blog http://www.thecompletepatient.com.
Gumpert is author of Burn Your Business Plan! What Investors Really Want
from Entrepreneurs and How to Really Start Your Own Business. His Web
site is www.davidgumpert.com.
why they should have the right to drink raw milk
Dayton Daily News (OH)
Daniel L. Soutar, Huntsville, asks, how did our forefathers live without
the Ohio Department of Agriculture
Who could have possibly survived unpasteurized milk? None of us should
exist, because our forefathers would certainly have died consuming such
a "dangerous food" as raw milk, according to the ideology and
actions of the ODA.
I have been the owner of a small business for 26 years, and I know the
importance and legality of a business contract that doesn't contravene
existing law. This is exactly what we have here. I have the legal right
to enter into a private business contract with another businessman; to
have him board my animals and to receive their products to be consumed
by my family and me.
It is time for the court to make a decision. Five hundred years from now,
the ODA will be long gone. Raw milk and private agreements between private
parties will remain.
The court can make history by interpreting the existing laws in favor
of a family's right to choose its own food, or be relegated to the boneyard
of history for the tyranny of an unjust decision that would help lead
to the demise of a well-ordered society.
A. Crystal Elkins, Springboro,
says the ongoing situation between the Ohio Department of Agriculture
and individuals who would like to exercise their right to consume raw
milk obtained through a herd share:
We do realize that there is risk in choosing to drink raw milk, but we
have taken steps to ensure that the milk that we get is fresh and not
treated with any chemicals. We refrigerate it and use it before it spoils.
My family thrives on the goodness of raw milk.
In the case of raw milk obtained from a herd share, I know where the milk
is coming from. I know the cows are being well taken care of and fed a
mostly grass diet.
I feel much safer drinking raw milk from our herd than eating spinach
bought in the grocery store. There is no issue with farmers drinking raw
milk from the herds on their personal farms, so I don't think there should
be an issue with me drinking raw milk from a herd that I share ownership
The Department of Agriculture claims that raw milk is responsible for
the deaths and sickness of numerous individuals. Yet I see no attempts
to limit citizens' choices to eat spinach, oysters or even fast food.
Why is it that the ODA will take away my family's option to drink raw
milk, but then allow me to sit down to a meal of raw oysters and spinach
Mark Bensman, New Bremen says,
I am baffled and quite disgusted that I must fight for my right to drink
milk from my own herd.
All I want to do is drink raw milk from my own herd. Doesn't this sound
absurd to have to fight for this? It cannot be a matter of health, as
stated by the Ohio Department of Agriculture ? otherwise, why is it OK
for owners of small dairy herds across the state to drink their own milk?
Megafarms, including dairy megafarms, are not all individually owned.
As far as I know, the ODA supports all of the operations of those herds.
Why not ours?
It seems to me that this is all about money, or the loss of it from the
big companies' pockets. The ODA must know, and probably fears, that people
are figuring out that organic, raw milk is the way nature intended milk
to be consumed.
People have been drinking raw milk from small, family-owned herds for
generations, with no harm to their health. In fact, good health is the
very reason such a large group of people decided to start drinking raw
No one forced anyone, including myself, to enter into a legal and private
contract for ownership in a dairy herd. No one should have the right to
tell me that I cannot drink my own nutritious, healthy milk.
This is the kind of thing you hear about happening in other countries
ruled by evil tyrants.
Laura Flynn, Columbus, says
I am a mother, a registered/licensed dietitian and a consumer of raw milk.
Currently, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is threatening my right
to provide raw milk to my family. To be within the law, the only way I
can provide raw milk is to be a farmer.
I live in the city; it is impossible for me to have a dairy farm in my
backyard. So I am, by contract, a co-owner of a dairy farm, and, therefore,
a farmer. With the revised contract, I have a direct impact on the milk
production of the dairy farm.
Why does the ODA have any business threatening my right to contract? According
to the ODA, I do not have the right to purchase raw milk because it is
unsafe, and they are "protecting" me.
I am aware of the numerous unsafe food products that are readily available.
Science has said that fried foods are unsafe, and yet I still have the
freedom to choose to purchase and consume a french fry.
I do not understand why consuming raw milk has become more alarming than
eating fried foods.
Let's agree to disagree on the safety of raw milk and place a warning
label on it, just like so many other products on the market.
Just exactly whose safety and interest is the ODA protecting? If the ODA
were truly interested in protecting my safety, then it would be supporting
HB 534, which would set safety standards.
Marcie Stammen, North Star,
says my family and I have been drinking raw milk from grass-fed cows every
day for a very long time. More than 2,500 Ohio dairy producers drink raw
milk every day without the Ohio Department of Agriculture interference
or intervention, because they have ownership interest in their herd.
Why does the ODA continue to spend my tax dollars harassing the citizens
and the herd-share program? Herd-share contracts are legal because the
livestock boarding laws allow boarding an animal on another's property
and allow the owner to receive the benefits from those animals.
The government will let people poison themselves with cigarettes, sodas
and sugar-laden everything as long as they get their cut.
If I wanted to go to the store, I could freely and legally obtain many
products that would not benefit my health and might destroy it. Organic
raw milk from grass-fed cows is a nutrient-dense traditional food that
our ancestors have consumed for more than 6,000 years.
My family is very healthy and thrives on raw milk. I don't need the government
telling me what is best for my family.
The ODA needs to stop interfering in the lives and health choices of informed
Safety Job Information
Safety Job Information
could reduce food-borne illness
Hamburgers, apple cider, petting zoos and even spinach have been blamed
for E. coli outbreaks in recent years. It doesn't have to be that way,
says Dennis G. Maki, M.D., writing in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Irradiation of high-risk foods after processing could greatly reduce the
incidence of all bacterial foodborne disease and save hundreds of lives
each year, Maki argues.
"Irradiation kills or markedly reduces counts of food pathogens without
impairing the nutritional value of the food or making it toxic, carcinogenic,
or radioactive," according to Maki, a professor of medicine at the
University of Wisconsin.
In the latest major E. coli outbreak, 199 persons in 26 states were sickened
by fresh spinach or spinach-containing products from commercial brands
processed by Natural Selection Foods of San Juan Bautista, California.
At least 103 of them developed acute renal failure and three died.
It was, said Maki, at least the 26th reported outbreak of E. coli infection
traced to contaminated leafy green vegetables since 1993.
But the problem of food-borne illness extends beyond the widely publicized
mass outbreaks. Magi said that during each day of the spinach E. coli
outbreak, "there were at least 5 to 10 times as many cases of endemic
Shiga toxin producing E. coli infection throughout the country as there
were outbreak cases."
Agencies charged with food safety -- the Food and Drug Administration
(FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- have ratcheted up their surveillance
efforts. But after some initial success, the rate of decline in food-borne
illness has leveled off over the last decade, according to Maki.
The use of industrial farming techniques make it much harder to ensure
the safety of meat and produce, Maki said.
"During my childhood in 1950s rural Wisconsin, when I ate a hamburger
at home, the ground beef had been produced locally from cuts taken from
several sides of beef purchased by the neighborhood grocer from a local
farmer, who probably raised no more than 25 pasture-fed cows on a 150-acre
farm," he recalled.
"Today, virtually all beef consumed in North America is produced
on a vast industrial scale, starting with a herd of tens of thousands
of grain-fed cattle, raised in the final months before slaughter in the
constrained environment of a feedlot, with the beef cuts from hundreds
of cows to several thousand contributing to a single lot of more than
100,000 pounds of ground beef, shipped to many hundreds of supermarkets
in multiple states."
There has been a decline in E. coli contamination of ground beef but produce
is another matter.
Although most reported infections with Shiga toxin producing E. coli are
linked to undercooked ground beef, nearly 25% of outbreaks stem from contamination
of commercial produce that is eaten uncooked lettuce, spinach, cabbage,
sprouts, or tomatoes," Maki said.
Irradiation Already Approved
Irradiation of food is already approved in the United States for most
perishable foods and has been endorsed by the World Health Organization,
CDC, FDA, USDA, American Medical Association, and European Commission
Scientific Committee on Food.
But, says Maki, intense opposition from antinuclear activitists has blocked
widespread use of the technology.
"A number of food products are already commonly irradiated, with
no evidence of harmful effects, and for decades, we have sterilized hundreds
of millions of implanted medical devices through irradiation each year,"
The CDC has estimated that irradiation of high-risk foods could prevent
up to a million cases of bacterial foodborne disease that result in the
hospitalization of more than 50,000 persons and kill many hundreds each
year in North America.
"I believe it is time to overcome our irrational fears and act to
ensure the safety of our food," Maki concluded.
says U.S. consumers confident of food supply safety
Majority of American consumers are confident in the safety of the United
States food supply and express little to no concern about food and agricultural
biotechnology. This is a finding of a study published by the International
Food Information Council (IFIC).
IFIC commissioned Cogent Research to conduct quantitative assessments
of U.S. adult consumer attitudes toward food biotechnology to, among others,
track public awareness and perceptions of food biotechnology; and identify
food biotechnology concerns.
Other findings are:
Food biotechnology is not a consumer labeling demand.
Although many consumers have heard at least ¡°a little¡± about food biotechnology,
awareness has declined and knowledge is superficial.
Communicating specific benefits may enhance perception.
Although awareness is low, consumers remain open to the broad concept
of animal biotechnology, in general.
Consumers remain opposed to the notion of animal cloning, as well as the
use of cloned animals for breeding.
The majority of consumers continue to be unaware of plant-made pharmaceuticals,
but those who are aware tend to be favorable.
The study concludes that while there is no overwhelming consumer demand
for more information about food biotechnology, it will be important to
continue to make science-based information available to the public.
Food safety is
top priority for farm groups
Issue Date: November 8, 2006
By Kate Campbell
With plans for improving the safety of fresh leafy greens quickly evolving,
farmers say a number of significant actions in recent days are helping
clarify needed actions in the wake of an E. coli outbreak in September
that brought the fresh spinach industry to a halt.
A check of the San Francisco produce terminal indicates that spinach sales
are about 50 percent below the level before the outbreak in bagged spinach
occurred. Experts are estimating that farmers, wholesalers and retailers
have lost at least $100 million.
Now major food service and retail grocery organizations say they want
uniform safety standards put in place by Dec. 15. In addition, the group
is calling for more fresh vegetable crops being added to a mandatory certification
program by Feb. 15. Meanwhile, leading agricultural associations have
been aggressively working on a comprehensive food-safety plan for agriculture.
Now they're looking at creating a California marketing agreement and a
marketing order to be the vehicle for establishing mandatory practices
for all aspects of growing, packing, processing and shipping of spinach
and leafy greens.
In a letter to the Produce Marketing Association, the Washington, D.C.-based
United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers, the coalition of
produce buyers said they expect the fresh produce industry to respond
"collaboratively and expeditiously" to protect public health.
The group laid out a 10-point list of expectations.
"Like all of us, these businesses are committed to protecting public
health and restoring consumer confidence in fresh leafy vegetables in
the wake of the recent E. coli outbreak," said California Farm Bureau
Federation President Doug Mosebar.
"And I want to stress that California's farmers and ranchers continue
to emphasize the importance of food safety. We're working with agricultural
associations, leading scientists and government agencies to find the most
effective solutions for preventing food-borne illness.
"As these plans, which have been in development for some time, are
refined, it's important that everyone have all the information necessary
to assure the safety and wholesomeness of the nation's fresh food supply,"
Mosebar said. "Nothing could be more important than food safety to
California's farmers who have made growing fresh fruits and vegetables
their life's work."
The produce buyers coalition includes the owners of Safeway, Vons, Albertsons,
Ralphs and Kroger grocery store chains, as well as Sysco, Costco and Denny
Corp. Other major buying groupsincluding Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's
largest retailerare likely to join the effort, the group said.
The working group is asking the three produce associations to contact
other produce-industry groups in the United States and Mexico to join
in the effort of meeting their demands. The group wants standards that
are specific, measurable and verifiable, as opposed to the current system,
in which food-safety protocols and standards are established among individual
companies and their suppliers, often using inspections by third-party
"We want to pull all these people together and collaborate on new
standards," said Tom York, chief executive officer of Markon Crop.
in Salinas. "We want standards based on what we know today and translate
those requirements into standardized auditing criteria and have a certification
program in place."
He told the media that the recent E. coli outbreak was a blatant signal
that change in the food-safety system was needed.
Sacramento County farmer Ken Oneto, who is the chairman of CFBF's Specialty
Crops Advisory Committee, said, "We're at a place where we have to
decide if we want to govern ourselves on food safety issues or have it
come from the outside.
"If the commodity organizations can develop and gain member commitment
to uniform food-safety practices, that would be best," Oneto said.
"Farmers know best what cultural practices work for their specific
"Being in a packing shed or on a processing line is a different thing
than reading about it in a book," Oneto said. "And many farmers
have felt that the marketsupermarket chains and major buyerswould, through
their purchasing power, set the standards for food safety. So the demands
from these companies are not surprising."
He said he fully expects the future for vegetable growers will include
more auditing, closer tracking of farm commodities and improved traceability.
"My family eats the food that comes out of our fields and I'm not
going to do anything that wil endanger either my family or my customers,"
Oneto said. "The universal adoption of best farming practices is
in everyone's best interest.
"The recent E. coli outbreak in spinach underscores that food safety
begins with farmers, but it is a shared responsibility that extends all
along the food chain, and the costs of more regulation have got to be
shared as well."
Western Growers said it has asked for a California marketing agreement
and a marketing order that will set mandatory good agriculture practices
to strengthen spinach and leafy green food-safety procedures. The association
said the effect of these actions will be to impose enhanced and mandatory
food safety processes on all aspects of growing, packing, processing and
shipping of spinach and leafy greens.
Under the proposed agreement, enforcement and process verification will
be overseen by state and federal regulatory agencies.
"Our industry is at a crossroads," said Tom Nassif, president
and chief executive officer of Western Growers. "The consuming public,
lawmakers, state and federal government agencies, as well as our members,
want greater assurances that the healthy, fresh produce we provide is
Federal marketing orders are administered by the Agricultural Marketing
Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. State marketing agreements
and orders are administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture..Marketing
orders and marketing agreements can include mandatory inspections, process
verification, research, methods of growing, harvesting and handling and,
ultimately, sanctions for non-compliance. Before a marketing order is
established, it must first be approved by a referendum of growers of that
"In this case, the state
and federal marketing order will be used to put teeth into food safety
practices and guidelines by making them mandatory and by imposing sanctions
on those who do not follow those guidelines," said Nassif.
To hasten the process of establishing
the practices and setting into motion the creation of the marketing orders,
Western Growers has established a close working relationship with CFBF
and other association partners, including Produce Marketing Association,
United Fresh Produce Association and the Grower Shipper Association of
State marketing agreements
and orders are legal instruments authorized by the Agricultural Marketing
Agreement Act of 1937 and in subsequent amendments. The California Secretary
of Food and Agriculture is vested with the power to exercise the use of
these instruments to regulate the marketing of eligible commodities, including
fruits, vegetables, specialty crops, and milk, in specific ways.
Marketing orders help fruit
and vegetable growers work together to solve marketing problems that they
cannot solve individually. They help balance the availability of quality
farm products with the need for adequate returns to producers and the
demands of consumers.
There currently are about a
dozen federal orders operating in California and more than 50 state commodity
marketing programs, covering about half of California's total agricultural
In a prepared statement the
California Department of Food and Agriculture said it welcomed Western
Growers request to enter into a marketing order and marketing agreement
to ensure that best agricultural practices are being followed with leafy
greens and spinach.
The CDFA statement said: "We
look forward to seeing the detailed plans soon and will continue to work
closely with our partners at Department of Health, FDA, the Farm Bureau
and the industry to ensure that the standards are the strongest they can
Louie Brown, a government relations
consultant with Kahn, Soares & Conway in Sacramento, said that for
the California commodities currently working under a marketing order they
can be very effective in enforcing good food-safety practices. "For
one thing, through their statutory authority, they have the ability to
collect assessments and the opportunity to have access to an entire commodity
group," Brown said. "It's a very efficient way to use the industry
to provide input and funding for a program such as food safety."
Brown cautioned, however,
that for the best outcomes the roles of industry and government must be
very well defined.
"But, for a truly
credible program, enforcement has to come directly from CDFA or the Department
of Health and Safety," Brown said. "In that way you avoid the
perception of the fox guarding the hen house."
(Kate Campbell is a reporter
for Ag Alert. She may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Permission for use is
granted, however, credit must be made to the California Farm Bureau Federation
when reprinting this item. Top