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Journal of Food Saety
on History, Tangles with Food-Safety Politics
By Paul Kita - In recent years, supermarkets beefed up their organic food
sections, farmers markets trumpeted free-range poultry and restaurants
championed local produce on their menus. Americans dumped Betty Crocker
for Rachel Ray and began tossing a bounty of new ingredients into their
traditional meat-and-potatoes recipes. To appease their cravings for something
different, the United States is importing more foreign food products than
Washington, D.C. - Scripps Howard Foundation Wire - infoZine - But as
the taste of the average American consumer evolves, who is ensuring the
safety of all those adventurous cooks and hungry consumers?
Since last year, it has been difficult to look at a bag of fresh spinach
or a Taco Bell without remembering headlines from grizzly news reports.
"3 Children In Md. Sick With E. Coli From Spinach: Hagerstown Woman's
Death Is Investigated," read the headline of a Sept. 23, 2006, article
in the Washington Post. The outbreak, eventually traced to a farm in Central
California, killed three people and caused 204 more to become ill.
"100 years later, the Food Industry Is Still 'The Jungle,'"
read the headline of a Jan. 2 New York Times editorial, after 71 people
were seized with a similar E. coli-related illness after eating iceberg
lettuce at Taco Bell restaurants.
As these events unfolded, the Food and Drug Administration, the primary
protector of the U.S. food supply, tried to stamp out further illness
as well as criticism it was not doing its job. "Often the agency
is stuck reacting to a problem that has already occurred," said Caroline
Smith-DeWaal, director of food safety at the Center for Science in the
Public Interest, and author of "Is Our Food Safe?" "They
don't have the inspectors that allow them to go into the processors in
advance, identify problems and prevent problems."
How the system works, or doesn't
The FDA supervises 80 percent of all foods consumed in the United States.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture presides over the remaining 20 percent
- meat, poultry and certain egg products - under the Meat Inspection Act
and the Poultry Products Inspection Act of 1957.
In addition to working with USDA, the FDA also works with 13 other regulatory
agencies: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; the Food Safety
and Inspection Service; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service;
the Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration; the Agricultural
Marketing Service; the Agricultural Research Service; the National Marine
Fisheries Service; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Federal Trade
Commission; the Department of Homeland Security; the National Agricultural
Statistics Service; the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension
Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Furthermore,
a host of congressional and advisory committees supervise the agency's
The FDA - operating on a $1.5 billion 2007 budget - argues it can navigate
efficiently through this alphabet soup, continuously cross-checking with
other agencies and sharing the burden of monitoring an entire nation's
Critics of the FDA, however, say the agency that began with a single chemist
has burgeoned into a regulatory monolith so large it has grown overly
bureaucratic and inefficient.
On average, Americans spend 25 percent of their budgets on products regulated
by the FDA. In addition to most food products, the agency also watches
over human and animal drugs, medical devices, microwave ovens, cell phones,
lasers, magnetic resonance imaging machines, cosmetics and animal feed.
But the FDA's broad oversight results in a see-sawing of resources, said
Joseph Mendelson, legal director for the Center for Food Safety, a non-profit
public interest and environmental organization.
"The FDA is overwhelmed with pharmaceuticals and biologics to the
extent that it ends up giving the agency an institutional bias to those
issues as opposed to the food issues," Mendelson said.
From ports to farms, inspection rules vary
The division of responsibilities among agencies has resulted in spotty
inspections of American food establishments and a porous defense at U.S.
ports, critics say.
"The FDA is lacking inspectors domestically, it's lacking on-farm
controls, its lacking at imports. You name it, it's not there," DeWaal
said. "The agency is really a shell that has the responsibility but
not the wherewithal to actually improve food safety."
DeWaal provided an example of a frozen pizza factory.
"The USDA will inspect the pepperoni pizza line every day. The FDA
will inspect the cheese pizza line every five to 10 years. It would be
very easy for the pepperoni pizza inspector to walk over and check the
cheese pizza line, but today they're not allowed to," DeWaal said.
The same problem exists at U.S. ports, DeWaal said. In 2006, the FDA inspected
only 1.06 percent of all imported foreign foods. Although the partnerships
between the FDA and other agencies are intended to smother food-borne
illness like a blanket, they instead create gaps in the structure, DeWaal
said. While inspectors may be at the scene of a suspect food shipment
or facility, because their jurisdiction is limited, they cannot conduct
a full inspection.
In addition, the FDA has limited power over food safety at farms, where
the recent E. coli outbreaks originated. The FDA can pressure farmers
to follow a list of guidelines, but the safety of produce ultimately rests
in farmers' hands.
A January 2007 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office - the
investigative arm of Congress - listed the status of food safety as part
of its High Risk Series report for the first time.
The annual report lists things the government needs to do better. Transforming
the way the FDA manages food joins critical U.S. government issues such
as Medicaid, NASA's budget and improvements to homeland security. The
language in the report mirrors much of the recent criticism aimed at the
"Any food contamination could undermine consumer confidence in the
government's ability to ensure the safety of the U.S. food supply, as
well as cause severe economic consequences," the report states. "The
current fragmented federal system has caused inconsistent oversight, ineffective
coordination, and the inefficient use of resources."
Two U.S. politicians are pushing for legislation this year that will consolidate
and streamline the FDA's food regulation power, eliminating what they
consider to be unnecessary overlap. "Last fall, our country experienced
a staggering number of recalls and food-borne illness outbreaks,"
said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who introduced the Safe Food Act in February.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
"Clearly, the system is broken, and Congress needs to act to protect
the public health." On Feb. 8, for the first time in six years, the
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA
and Related Agencies met to confront food safety.
"Food safety threats have evolved since our original food safety
laws were enacted," said DeLauro, the new subcommittee chair, at
the meeting. "Then, our protections focused on contamination, in
sanitation and diseased animals. Today's threats are constantly changing.
They are microbial hazards, bacteria, viruses, and it is incumbent upon
this subcommittee to ensure our food safety system, and the manner in
which it is funded, evolves with those threats."
Manufacturers' representatives endorsed changes, but they and Rep. Jessie
Jackson Jr., D-Ill., urged a cautious approach.
"A federal model for oversight of food safety should be addressed
as a 21st century challenge," Jackson said, quoting the GAO study.
"I only added it should not lead us to an 18th century solution."
Each year, 76 million people become sick, more than 325,000 people are
hospitalized and 5,000 people die from food-borne illness, according to
the CDC. Harmful food products account for between $10 billion and $83
billion annually in medical expenses.
In conjunction with similar legislation drafted by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.,
DeLauro's proposal attempts to peel away the FDA's multi-layered bureaucracy,
consolidate its power and reduce the number of food-borne illnesses.
The Safe Food Act would combine the powers of 15 governmental agencies
into one Food Safety Administration, eliminating what DeLauro considers
conflicts of interest.
"One branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspects meat on
behalf of consumers while another helps market it on behalf of producers,"
her legislation states. "The Center for Veterinary Medicine within
the FDA receives fees from the animal drug industry to review and approve
animal drugs that can enter the human food supply via meat and poultry."
In addition to consolidating responsibilities, the Safe Food Act would
divide food production into categories and assign a set frequency for
Slaughterhouses, considered Category 1 establishments, would be the most
frequently inspected, facing almost continuous observation. Food Safety
Administration representatives would visit Category 2 firms, such as a
poultry processing plant, daily. At Category 5 firms - food trucks or
storage sites - inspectors would check for food safety standards at least
annually. Critics of the FDA say the agency also has less muscle to conduct
inspections of foreign food suppliers and distributors at their source.
DeLauro's legislation calls for an amplification of resources at U.S.
The bill also calls for the Food Safety Administration to have the authority
to seize products suspected of bearing food-borne illness and find those
responsible for the outbreak through a "traceback" system.
Current food safety measures
Although the Food and Drug Administration does not comment on pending
legislation, an agency spokesman said many of the bill's proposals are
already in place. The spokesman said it was agency policy that he not
The FDA focuses its inspections on high-risk threats to the food supply,
hoping to stop food-borne illness before it spreads. Because the agency
does not inspect every food establishment on a set timetable, it has created
the Prior Notice Center as a safety net. The center, which operates 24
hours a day, seven days a week, works with the U.S. Custom Service and
Border Protection to contain dangerous foods as well as block them from
entering the country. In addition, the CDC recently began a traceback
system under the Food Emergency Response Network. After authorities discover
the source of an infected food product, the FDA can take action, ranging
from a strongly worded letter to prison sentences for those responsible.
DeLauro has introduced her Safe Food Act several times since the late
1990s. With a Democratic majority and the recent outbreaks of food-borne
illnesses, DeLauro said she is hoping for action. Although she does not
have an exact estimate on how long a consolidation of food safety agencies
would take, she said it could be accomplished for a "minimal cost."
But one former FDA commissioner argues that a consolidated agency is not
the answer. "I know that several very good people in Congress keep
thinking that the solution is an organizational or structural issue. I
don't think that that's the issue at all," said Dr. Jane E. Henney,
who was FDA commissioner from January 1999 to January 2001.
Instead, Henney said she recommended untangling agricultural committees
from the FDA.
"The congressional appropriations people sit there, and they're given
an allocation of money. So the Department of Agriculture gets funded first,
and what's left over, it seems to me, goes to the FDA. So the FDA gets
the short shrift of the resource allocation, even though it's got about
80 percent of the food supply to regulate," Henney said.
The history of food regulation
The modern regulatory agency began in 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln
appointed Charles M. Wetherill to head the Bureau of Chemistry in the
U.S. Department of Agriculture. Spurred by the slaughterhouse horrors
of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," President Theodore Roosevelt
augmented the responsibilities of the bureau in June 1906 with the simultaneous
passage of the Food and Drugs Act and the Meat Inspection Act.
After the deadly "wonder drug" Sulfanilamide killed 107 people
in 1937, Congress further strengthened the FDA's role by passing the Federal
Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act. The law required companies to prove the safety
of new drugs before placing them on the market - a primary FDA responsibility
today. Over the last 20 years, the FDA has evolved rapidly due to political
and consumer pressures.
Congress passed the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act in 1990, requiring
lists of ingredients and nutritional content directly on product packaging.
Words like "low-fat" and "light" were soon visible
on supermarket shelves. In 1997, President Clinton signed the Food Safety
Initiative, laying the groundwork for the Food Outbreak Response Coordinating
Group. The multi-agency group aims to improve food safety standards and
fight food-borne illnesses. Most recently, after the events of Sept. 11,
the Bush administration clamped down on food safety and defense with the
Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Response Act of 2002. The threat
of terrorists attacking the food supply has caused the FDA to tighten
temperature requirements and strengthen security of food storage. In addition,
the bioterrorism act now requires food manufacturers and distributors
- foreign and domestic - to register with the FDA. Companies must also
notify the FDA before each individual shipment of a product. Today, the
FDA employs more the 9,000 experts - chemists, physicians, microbiologists,
veterinarians, pharmacists and lawyers. A third of its workforce is in
the Washington area at the FDA's policy-making headquarters.
The agency's remaining arms extend across the nation through more than
150 field offices and laboratories. The FDA does not develop products
on its own, instead sending inspectors to investigate more than 16,000
laboratories a year while FDA scientists research new medical devices,
food additives, infant formulas and animal drugs submitted by industry.
Fighting recent budget cuts, FDA critics argue that these inspectors are
stretched too far. From 2003 to 2006 the budget for the FDA's Center for
Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in the FDA fell 37 percent. FDA inspectors
conducted 4,573 inspections of domestic food processing plants in 2005.
During 2007, the agency plans to conduct 3,400 inspections - a more than
25 percent decrease. The FDA is working with state and local food safety
agencies to keep inspections frequent, an agency spokesman said. Combining
federal, state and local inspections raised the total for 2005 to 17,730.
The FDA expects the 2007 total to rise to 19,137, despite cutting the
estimate for its own inspections. Some critics believe consolidation is
already beginning, citing reduced federal funding and job cuts within
CFSAN. The government needs to issue a final push of legislation to update
and further protect food safety, DeWaal said. "Some of the work is
already being done in the lower levels of the [FDA], but Congress needs
to come in and pass a law that modernizes the food laws and bring them
together," DeWaal said. "What we don't want is to just have
the boxes moved around without a new mission."
04/19. Water tampering, gastro link
04/19. 34 more hospitalized in latest
Chinese food scare
04/18. UPDATE: Chicken not source
of salmonella at Broughton
04/18. Milk Supply To Schools In Four States Shelved
04/18. 34 more hospitalized in latest
Chinese food scare
04/18. Infant botulism diagnosed
04/18. Another case of suspected
04/17. Salmonella confirmed as death
04/17. Woman sues Souplantation over E. coli exposure in Orange Cou
04/17. Food poisoning case: Father
discharged, child still critical
04/17. Fifth death in food poisoning
04/17. 19 Chinese students hospitalized
with suspected food poisoni
04/16. Badminton norovirus caused by worker
04/16. Caribbean cruise ship carries
04/16. Widespread Illness Strikes
04/16. Nursing home denies food
04/15. Rattlesnake Capsules Linked
to Salmonella Poisoning
04/15. Salmonella outbreak kills
04/14. Minister in dark over food
Pressing for Better Food Safety
Peanut Butter, Pet Food Poisonings Leave Tempers Short at House Hearing
By Joseph S. Enoch
ConsumerAffairs.Com Congressional Correspondent
April 19, 2007
Source of Article: http://www.consumeraffairs.com/
Hundreds of humans and pets have died this year as a result of a fractured
food safety network. But Congress took a step closer to mending that system
at a heated hearing with food safety regulators today.
The House Agriculture Subcommittee hearing focused on the U.S. Department
of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) which is responsible
for inspecting meat, poultry and processed egg products.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) highlighted a Centers for Disease Control
report that revealed that over the past five years, instances of food-borne
illnesses have either increased or stayed the same. Many of those pathogens
are found in meat products.
However, over that same period of time, the FSIS found decreases or unchanging
figures in instances of those illnesses at the meat plants, slaughterhouses
and samples it inspected, according to Richard Raymond, M.D., the USDA's
Under Secretary for Food Safety.
But according to a February Government Accountability Office (GAO) report,
many plants are not inspected frequently and about one-third were not
inspected at all in the past year.
In response to the CDC's figures and the GAO report, Raymond said the
USDA is implementing a risk-based inspection (RBI) process which will
focus inspection efforts on suspect plants and slaughterhouses based on
past data. He said he hopes to implement RBI by June.
DeLauro asked Raymond many pointed questions about how the FSIS will determine
which plants to inspect. Raymond was unable to answer many of those questions.
At that point, DeLauro, chairman of the subcommittee, lost her temper.
"For the past several years, the GAO has pointed its finger at food
safety as high-risk yet the food safety agencies have ignored those claims!"
DeLauro shouted. "I am going to do everything I can to delay RBI
until we're standing on solid facts."
Today's hearing highlighted the frequently-heard complaint that the U.S.
food safety network is a patchwork of agencies not efficiently protecting
consumers. The GAO report noted that 15 agencies comprise the U.S. food
safety network. Even within the USDA, there are various departments in
charge of one type of food or another.
Food Safety Act
DeLauro and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) have responded with the Safe Food
Act, legislation which would put all the powers of those 15 agencies under
one roof, potentially eliminating the overlaps and holes that the GAO
At today's hearing, representatives pressed Raymond on the deadly delays
in recalls of peanut butter and pet foods. "That's not our jurisdiction,"
was his frequent response.
"If everyone is pointing their finger at someone else, I don't see
how we're accomplishing much," Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) said.
Despite the lapses in concrete data Raymond was able to provide, he told
ConsumerAffairs.Com that he believes RBI is the best route to safe food
and that the Safe Food Act will create too much bureaucracy.
The next step for the Safe Food Act is that it will go before the Agriculture
and Commerce Committees for a joint vote in the House. In the Senate,
it has been referred to the Agriculture Committee. If it passes those
votes, it will go before the entire House and Senate floors for a vote
and then to the President.
There are no scheduled committee votes for either the Senate or House
versions of this bill said DeLauro spokeswoman Adriana Surfas.
"I know she is working hard to get this bill before those committees,"
Worldwide Fish & Seafood, Inc. Enters Consent
Decree with FDA
Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly
Named to National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods
FDA Urgently Warns Consumers about Health Risks of Potentially Contaminated
Comment Request; Adoption of the Food and Drug
Administration Food Code by Local, State, and Tribal Governments
FDA Warns Consumers That Retailers May Still
Have Recalled Pet Food on Shelves
Irradiation in the Production, Processing and
Handling of Food
FDA Re-Emphasizes Warnings to Consumers on Risks
of Pet Turtles
Irradiation in the Production, Processing and
Handling of Food
Public Meeting To Address Codex Committee On
of "Minimal" and "Limited" Inspection
FSIS To Hold Series Of Meetings On Risk-Based
Exemption for Retail Store Operations
Exposure Scoring for Feed Contaminants; Public
requires cloned food labels
Staff and agencies
18 April, 2007
By AARON C. DAVIS, Associated Press Writer Tue Apr 17, 5:59 PM ET
Source of Article: http://www.localnewsleader.com/
SACRAMENTO - Steaks, pork chops, milk and other products from cloned livestock
would have to be clearly labeled on grocers¡® shelves under a bill pending
in the California Legislature. If passed, the requirement could be more
stringent than federal rules. The Food and Drug Administration is poised
to give final approval for manufacturers to sell meat and milk from cloned
cows, pigs and goats without any special labeling, although a bill introduced
in Congress would require it. "Wouldn¡®t you like to know if you¡®re
drinking milk from a cloned cow, or feeding your children pork chops from
a somatic cell nuclear transfer event?" Migden said during a news
conference last week before the Senate Health Committee voted 6-4 along
party lines to support her bill.
Migden said her bill isn¡®t designed to undermine the Food and Drug Administration
but noted the agency¡®s problems in approving and regulating painkillers.
"They¡®re an overburdened agency and not always 100 percent correct.
They¡®ve been duped before on ... Celebrex and Vioxx ," she said.
A recent Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology survey, for example,
found that 64 percent of consumers were leery of animal cloning. But a
University of Maryland poll found that a nearly equal percentage said
they would buy, or consider buying, such food if the government said it
was safe. "Whether it¡®s ¡®cloned,¡® ¡®artificially created¡® or whatever,
it won¡®t be encumbering," she said. A bill introduced in Congress
by Sen. B, , ), D-Maryland, would require cloned meat or milk products
to carry a straightforward label: "This product is from a cloned
animal or its progeny." "We¡®re sort of a little ahead of ourselves,"
said Matt Byrne, the association¡®s executive vice president. "There¡®s
no meat or milk from cloned animals on the market, and there¡®s no expectation
that this will be an issue any time soon."
Farmers and food safety experts who testified in support of Migden¡®s bill
said they feel a sense of urgency to make sure products from cloned animals
are labeled. Without them, cloned DNA could quickly infiltrate the nation¡®s
According to research by Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports,
the FDA has based its preliminary findings on limited samples, said Jean
Halloran, the group¡®s director of food policy initiatives. Findings that
cloned pork could be safe, for example, were based on tests of just five
pigs, while the findings about cows¡® milk were from 43 cows. "Considering
that 90 percent of cloned animals die because there¡®s something wrong
with them, we don¡®t consider that to be an adequate safety assessment
of what millions of people would be eating and drinking from millions
of different animals," Halloran said.
"If cloning is such a wonderful thing, they should be proud to put
a cloned label on their product." Another consumer group, the Center
for Food Safety, has challenged the FDA¡®s findings. The center said they
were based on scant data from peer-reviewed studies and failed to consider
possible side effects of cloning. With or without labels, consumers have
at least one clue they¡®re not eating cloned meat: The U.S. Department
of Agriculture ¡®s green organic seal, given to food produced without pesticides
or antibiotics, also means clone-free, according to the agency.
FSA food safety
guidance for independents
Source of Article:
Thu 19 Apr 07
New FSA guidance on preventing and responding to food scares will help
smaller, independent retailers match the robust food safety practices
of the major players in the grocery sector. The Food Standards Agency
(FSA) yesterday released the guidance, which is designed specifically
for small businesses. It draws heavily on the experience of the British
Retail Consortium (BRC) and its membership and has been developed by the
FSA¡¯s Food Incidents Taskforce, which includes the BRC, food industry,
consumer groups and enforcement authorities. It offers practical advice
on how to prevent food scares by improving traceability and identifying
and eliminating potential hazards. It also describes how to respond in
the event of an incident. Welcoming the document, BRC director general
Kevin Hawkins said: ¡°This guidance gives small retailers practical and
simple-to-follow advice on how to avoid food scares. The big players in
the grocery sector all have robust traceability systems in place and have
dedicated resources to ensure they know where the food they are selling
is coming from. This allows them to avoid food scares and respond effectively
if any safety questions do arise. However, it can be difficult for small
retailers, who can¡¯t dedicate the same resources to the issue. This guidance
will help by outlining in very simple terms the measures they should adopt.
¡°Retailers of all sizes need to take food safety extremely seriously.
Any slip-ups damage the entire sector.¡±
The FSA¡¯s Guidance ¡°Principles for preventing and responding to food incidents¡±
? is available on the FSA website at www.food.gov.uk
for Better Food Safety
Nitrites in cured
meat could increase lung disease risk
SRM breaches in imported
Proper handling and
preparation key to avoiding foodborne il
Timing everything with expiration date
No food safety norms
in railway kitchens: panel to HC
peanut project completed
Winemakers, feds in tiff
over allergen warnings
Produce-related E. coli outbreaks
a growing problem, CDC fin
FDA warns about potentially
Fresh Express funds
produce safety research
How to keep your
kitchen as clean as a restaurant
New members on food
Now, this is progress
on E. coli
Taco Bell may pay
millions to settle
Food contamination: sorry
just isn't good enough
New food safety standards
Researchers aim to prevent
tainted food at source
Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence
of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly Through Food --- 10 States,
source from CDC
Foodborne illnesses are a substantial health burden in the United
States (1). The Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet)
of CDC's Emerging Infections Program collects data from 10 U.S. states*
regarding diseases caused by enteric pathogens transmitted commonly through
food. FoodNet quantifies and monitors the incidence of these infections
by conducting active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed
illnesses (1). This report describes preliminary surveillance data for
2006 and compares them with baseline data from the period 1996--1998.
Incidence of infections caused by Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, and
Yersinia has declined since the baseline period. Incidence of infections
caused by Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O157 (STEC O157) and
Salmonella, however, did not decrease significantly, and Vibrio infections
have increased, indicating that further measures are needed to prevent
foodborne illness and achieve national health objectives.
In 1996, FoodNet began active,
population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed cases of infection
caused by Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157, Shigella, Vibrio,
and Yersinia. FoodNet personnel ascertain cases through contact with all
clinical laboratories serving their surveillance areas. FoodNet added
surveillance for cases of Cryptosporidium and Cyclospora infection in
1997 and STEC non-O157 infection in 2000. In 2004, FoodNet began collecting
data on which laboratory-confirmed infections were associated with outbreaks.
Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS)
surveillance, which began in 2000, is conducted in nine states through
a network of pediatric nephrologists and infection-control practitioners
and is validated with a review of hospital discharge data. Because of
the length of time required for review of hospital records, this report
contains preliminary HUS data for 2005.
During 1996--2006, the FoodNet
surveillance population increased from 14.2 million persons (5% of the
U.S. population) in five states to 44.9 million persons (15% of the U.S.
population) in 10 states. Preliminary incidence for 2006 was calculated
by dividing the number of laboratory-confirmed infections by 2005 population
estimates. Final incidence for 2006 will be reported when 2006 population
estimates are available from the U.S. Census Bureau. In previous reports,
the final incidence has been similar to the preliminary incidence. more
Safety and Quality Job Information
Food Safety and Quality Job Information
is your favorite restaurant?
Thousands cited in S. Florida for serious violations
By Mc Nelly Torres
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Posted April 15 2007
Source of Article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/
South Floridians are dining at restaurants more than ever, with the average
adult eating out three times a week, according to marketing surveys. But
do you know how your favorite restaurant rated during its last health
Every week, state food inspectors find hundreds of violations of public
health, sanitation and safety regulations in South Florida restaurants.
While some are minor, such as not having the proper ventilation for appliances,
others are more serious and could result in conditions that can make you
sick. Between July 2006 and January 2007, state inspectors cited 2,478
South Florida restaurants for "critical" -- more serious --
violations after finding evidence of rodents and insects, an analysis
by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel found. In addition, the analysis shows
that state inspectors have issued at least 2,450 violations to 2,388 restaurants
for failing to follow hand-washing requirements and other good hygienic
practices -- violations that can contribute to a food-borne illness. And
from 2003 to 2006, emergency closures were ordered for 457 South Florida
restaurants, mostly for rodent and insect problems. Health experts say
the role of the food inspector has become more important than ever. Food
inspectors protect the public health, experts said, but they also protect
the food industry because restaurants could be held liable if consumers
In South Florida, cases of confirmed food-borne illness tied to restaurants
have risen 66 percent -- from 429 people in 1997 to 713 in 2005, according
to the latest figures from the Florida Department of Health. But experts
say the confirmed cases are probably a small percentage of actual illnesses
because most consumers don't report them.
Roy Costa, a national expert and consultant to the food industry, said
a single inspection provides a snapshot of a restaurant's operations but
doesn't always indicate whether an establishment has serious problems
that might contribute to a food-borne illness outbreak.
"Food becomes unsafe in a number of ways," said Costa, who is
also a professor at the Hospitality and Tourism Institute at Valencia
College in Orlando. "You have to look at the history of preparation
of food. Even good restaurants could have problems."
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Code suggests that restaurants
be inspected three times annually, but every state handles inspections
differently. In California and New York, local health departments are
responsible for routine inspections. Los Angeles health officials conduct
inspections at least twice a year while inspections are done annually
in New York City, depending on the size of the restaurant, the complexity
of the menu and how well the restaurant has complied with inspections
in the past.
In Florida, the Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversees
the Division of Hotels and Restaurants, which regulates 43,216 licensed
food retailers in the state. A team of 168 inspectors conducts unannounced
inspections twice a year and follow-up visits to restaurants, mobile food
carts and vending machines.
Health inspections record what is taking place in a restaurant when an
inspector walks in. Inspection reports are complex, and they don't tell
the whole story. But they provide some general information about a restaurant's
cleanliness, food-handling and overall operation. They also can spotlight
deficiencies and sanitation problems, such as the presence of insects
or rodents, and when food isn't properly maintained at appropriate temperatures.
"Food inspectors and restaurant owners must cooperate, communicate
and educate themselves to develop risk-based sanitation inspections,"
said David Weidner, a former food inspector who is now vice president
for EHA Consulting Group, an environmental health consulting company based
in Baltimore. Weidner said inspectors should place more emphasis on hand
washing, temperature control, sanitation conditions and cooking food the
Florida's health division follows a model of food safety codes developed
nationally by the Conference for Food Protection, a multidisciplinary
independent group of industry, regulatory and academic food safety professionals
that works closely with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to make
changes in the FDA Food Code.
Inspectors use a 60-point list to evaluate food temperatures and handling,
hand washing, equipment and utensils, water, fire safety and sewage, among
Violations are categorized as critical and non-critical. Critical violations
-- such as failing to keep food at proper temperatures, possible cross-contamination
and staff failure to wash hands -- could lead to food contamination. Restaurants
must correct infractions within hours or days, depending on the severity.
"Most people don't know that 60 to 70 percent of food-borne illness
outbreaks are caused by someone who didn't wash his hands," said
Peter Snyder, president of the Hospitality Institute of Technology and
Management, a food safety teaching-consulting firm based in St. Paul,
Non-critical violations, such as failing to keep a dumpster lid closed,
are less severe, but if left uncorrected could lead to critical violations,
Costa said when an inspector issues a warning, that's an indication that
a follow-up visit will take place to be sure an infraction is corrected.
A disciplinary action is taken against a restaurant when violations are
not corrected after inspectors have given oral and written warnings. Restaurants
could be fined or face sanctions if infractions are not corrected as expected.
In December, the state issued disciplinary actions against 276 restaurants
in the state -- 94 of them in South Florida -- and collected a total of
$253,550 in fines, the Sun-Sentinel's analysis shows. South Florida's
restaurants paid a total of $101,950 in fines.
State officials said an emergency closure is issued when the conditions
pose an immediate risk to the public's health, including lack of approved
utilities or hot water, sewage backup or overflows, fire damage, pest
infestation or inadequate refrigeration. A daily fine usually is imposed.
But Costa noted some violations, such as infestation of rodents and insects,
show a pattern of neglect by the restaurant owner.
"This doesn't happen overnight," Costa said. "Why did it
get to the point where they [restaurants] had to be closed?"
system wins honors
Source of Article: http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=14669
UNITED STATES: Pathogen detection system is highly specific and minimizes
The 2006 Frost & Sullivan North American Excellence in Technology
Award in the field of pathogen detection goes to U.S.-based DuPont Qualicon
for the development of its patented, automated DNA-based BAX Detection
System, specifically designed for food safety and quality testing.
The BAX System is a rapid, microbiological method that uses PCR (polymerase
chain reaction) to detect foodborne pathogens such as Listeria spp, Listeria
monocytogenes, Salmonella, E.coli O157:H7, Enterobacteria sakazakii, and
Campylobacter jejuni/coli in concentrations as low as 104cfu/ml. This
makes the genetic-based BAX System about 100 times more sensitive vis-a-vis
phenotypic-based immunoassays, according to the company.
The BAX System is highly specific. By identifying a genetic sequence that
is unique to the target organism, the system amplifies and detects only
that fragment, thus minimizing false results.
DuPont Qualicon has demonstrated its technology expertise not only by
commercializing the system, but also by consistently upgrading it to meet
the challenges faced by its users, the company relays. By demonstrating
strong research and development initiatives in its technology platform
and its ability to deliver more information-rich analysis, the company
has truly spearheaded the approach in the area of PCR technology.
For more information on food
safety news, trends, and products, log onto WATT Publishing¡¯s new Meat
Safety Solutions newsletter.
for Food Safety and Quality (Nov.
6-7, 2007), South San Francisco Convention Center
1st International Conference for Food Safety and Quality
(Nov. 7-8, 2006)
Major Topic: Current Detection Methods for Microbiological/Chemical Hazards
for Food Safety/Quality
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