NewsLetter Issue 4
FoodHACCP.com NewsLetter

Editor: D.H. Kang
Dept. FSHN
Washington State Univ.

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Useful Column

Understanding Norwalk Virus
From DMA Food Protection Education Center
What does the flu have in common with foodborne illness? According to CDC officials, more than you might guess. If you define "flu" as one of those viral gastrointestinal illnesses everyone dreads, you may be talking about Norwalk virus. About one-third of gastrointestinal virus cases in adults and children over age two are caused by the Norwalk virus. The symptoms follow one or two days after exposure and are probably familiar: nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes fever and headache as well. As illnesses go, Norwalk gastroenteritis is mild and self-limiting; it goes away on its own within a few days. It's uncommon for a person to require hospitalization or develop complications. We hear a lot about Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, Listeria, and other pathogens. All are serious concerns. But in sheer numbers, Norwalk is surprising. Today, CDC officials estimate that Norwalk virus is the number-one cause of foodborne illness in the U.S. Because Norwalk is so common, about half of adults actually have some immunity to the virus. The immunity does not last a lifetime, though, and re-infection can occur. The fact that immunity takes time to develop reinforces another idea ? that the very young and those with compromised immune systems (among others) are at heightened risk of developing foodborne illness. In developing countries where sanitation is less advanced, a majority of people have immunity to Norwalk, and immunity takes hold at a young age. Exactly where does Norwalk virus come from? As foodservice operators, we tend to focus on problem foods. Norwalk virus does have its own list, which includes: contaminated shellfish (oysters and clams), salad ingredients washed or handled in contaminated water, impure water itself, and ice made from impure water. Many of the largest outbreaks have been traced to undercooked oysters. Impure water has caused outbreaks on cruise ships, at cocktail parties, and in entire communities. Norwalk virus is passed through the feces of someone who is ill with the virus. Shellfish become infected as harvesters or recreational boaters dump raw sewage into the coastal waters where shellfish are later harvested.
People Pass It
Also critical, though, is the role of foodservice workers in transmitting the virus. In 1999, the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) reviewed the role of people in passing illness through food, in order to develop sound guidelines for control. They found that people do contribute a great deal to the transmission of foodborne illness, especially Hepatitis A and Norwalk virus.
Generally, a foodservice worker is infected, fails to practice good hygiene, and sheds viruses onto food. Next, a customer consumes the food and becomes ill. Norwalk is a fecal-oral pathogen. This means it passes to feces and later, through poor hygiene, reaches the mouth of someone else. According to the NACMCF, three practices can bring the problem under control. These are:
Excluding or restricting employees as recommended by the FDA Food Code Washing hands
Avoiding bare-hand contact with ready-to-eat foods.
Interestingly, the evaluation says that one of these three alone is not quite enough to control the hazard of foodborne viruses. The NACMCF says that it actually takes all three to control food safety reliably. Consider this example: An employee who is ill with Norwalk virus comes to work anyway and starts preparing salads. The employee conscientiously washes hands thoroughly before starting work, and after each use of the restroom. Of course, handwashing does not sterilize hands (destroy all germs). So the employee still has a few viruses left on the skin. With Norwalk, a few may be enough to make someone ill. Scientists say the virus has a very low infective dose. So here is an example where handwashing alone may not be adequate. However, if you also control the hazard by asking this employee to use tongs or gloves during salad prep, you may be getting closer. In this example, it's easy to see why excluding the ill employee in the first place would be the ideal protection.
With Norwalk virus, there's a good chance that ill employees will know they have "a bug." If you enforce a policy of excluding ill employees from work (e.g. if they are experiencing diarrhea), you are already doing much to control Norwalk virus. Unfortunately, Hepatitis A is more challenging. Employees may be infected and carry the virus for weeks before experiencing symptoms. Thus, you can't always know an employee presents a risk to customers. In this scenario, you count on the second two NACMCF recommendations (together) to control the hazard.
Basis for No Bare Hands
The FDA cites the NACMCF as one of its reasons for discouraging contact between bare hands and ready-to-eat foods. As a concerned dietary manager, you can help carry out this practice. Remember that ready-to-eat foods do not ordinarily carry the virus at all. When Norwalk shows up in salads, it generally got there through the hands of a foodservice worker. In addition, ready-to-eat foods will not undergo cooking that could destroy the virus. This is why ready-to-eat foods require special protection from the germs a foodservice worker may carry.
A few simple tips can help:
Enforce handwashing guidelines.
Insist that staff use tongs, utensils, deli paper, or other sanitary tools for handling food.
If employees wear gloves, make sure they wash hands first, and change gloves as often as they would wash hands. Enforce your policy of excluding or restricting ill employees, and encourage employees to report important symptoms. Follow shellfish identification rules, and be sure to cook all shellfish to recommended time and temperature standards. Use only potable water in your operation.Train your staff about the "people factor" in foodborne illness, and ask for their commitment in helping to control it. With some special attention, you and your work team may be among the first to defy statistics and make Norwalk virus a rare occurrence.

Major Food Safety News

FOOD SAFETY SURVEYED
July 10, 2002
Meat News - Volume 4, Issue 28
http://www.meatnews.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Article&artNum=3521
Dutch consumers say food safety standards have improved and food is safe.
Nearly 40 per cent of Dutch consumers believe that food safety standards
have improved over the past 20 years, while fewer than 30 per cent disagree.
For the Dutch, smoking, drinking, stress and environmental pollution all
pose far greater threats to health than modern food safety standards.
Their French, German, British and Italian counterparts are far more
concerned about food safety as a potential threat to health.
The findings come from a survey conducted by the Canadian public opinion
research bureau Environics International. One thousand consumers in France,
Germany, the UK, Italy and the Netherlands were interviewed by telephone:
they were asked which factor had the greatest adverse effect on health.
Most respondents (38 per cent) identified smoking and drinking as the major
factor.
In France 56 per cent of the consumers named smoking and drinking as the
major factor, compared with only 16 per cent in Italy.
Food safety plays a limited part in health for the majority of EU
respondents: only 11 per cent of those interviewed rated it as the major
factor. Here, too, there were significant differences from one country to
another: in Italy, 17 per cent identified food safety as the major health
factor, compared to just five per cent in Holland.
The Dutch Meat Board said that the figures demonstrate that Dutch consumers
have great confidence in food safety standards.
"This is partly due to the quality assurance procedures in place in the
Dutch food industry. These are embodied in the IKB system, which has been
implemented in the meat and livestock industry since 1992. The findings are
also indicative of consumer recognition of the openness with which food
safety is discussed in the Netherlands," said a spokesman.

DEADLY SUPERBUG FOUND IN SUPERMARKET CHICKENS
June 11 2002
Sydney Morning Herald
Lyall Johnson
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/10/1022982820124.html
Australian people have, according to this story, been warned to thoroughly cook poultry
after more than one in 10 supermarket chickens was found to contain a bacteria resistant
to one of medicine's strongest antibiotics. Choice magazine reports that 13 per cent of chickens
bought in Sydney and Brisbane supermarkets contained traces of vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE). The potentially life-threatening "superbug" is not killed by one of the last-defence hospital antibiotics, vancomycin. The bacteria, often found in humans, can develop in animals and be transferred to people if the meat is cooked incorrectly or if poor food preparation contaminates uncooked ingredients. The association blames the routine use of antibiotics used as "growth promoters" for intensively reared poultry for the high level of VRE found in chickens. Pigs and feedlot cattle can also be contaminated.

Food inspection system criticized
By Eliot Jaspin, Palm Beach Post Washington Bureau
Wednesday, July 10, 2002
http://www.gopbi.com/partners/pbpost/epaper/editions/today/news_d3b23b5b262581c900dc.html
WASHINGTON -- The federal government's new science-based system of food inspections is in disarray, according to a draft report prepared for Congress.The report by the General Accounting Office, obtained by Cox Newspapers, concluded that inadequately trained food inspectors are unable to spot problems at a majority of the nation's thousands of meat and poultry plants. GAO investigators also found that nearly all of the 47 plants that it sampled had food safety programs that "failed to meet regulatory requirements."Despite these shortcomings, the report said the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees food safety, continued to allow plants to ship meat and poultry for consumption by the public, even though tests repeatedly found some were laced with either hazardous bacteria or feces.Despite the findings, it is unclear what impact these problems are having on the safety of America's food supply.In April the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta announced that the incidence of food borne illness had declined 23 percent since 1966. The Bush administration cited the new inspection system as one of the reasons for the decline.Specific plants were not mentioned in the GAO report.Steven Cohen, an Agriculture Department spokesman, said his agency is still formulating a response to the GAO. But he said the report does not accurately reflect the current state of the government's food inspection program."Many of the things that the GAO cite in their report were things that (the Agriculture Department) had identified prior to the beginning of their investigation," Cohen said. "And what we are going to be reporting to the GAO are systems and programs that have been designed but not fully implemented to address many of the things that the GAO cited."A GAO spokesman declined to comment, citing the agency's policy of not talking about reports until they are made public.Beginning in 1997, the Agriculture Department started phasing in a new system of inspecting meat and poultry plants. Under the old program, food safety inspectors stationed in slaughterhouses oversaw the killing and processing of animals. Derided as the "poke and sniff" method, it was replaced by a program called Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, or HACCP.Under HACCP, such things as the presence of bacteria are continuously monitored by company inspectors at key points in the production process. If a problem is detected, the plant knows it needs to stop production to make corrections.HACCP has dramatically changed the role of government inspectors. Instead of inspecting each carcass as it moves down the production line, they are now supposed to monitor how well the company is implementing its HACCP program.The GAO probe found that the government "has not trained and does not expect in-plant inspectors to be able to identify deficiencies in the scientific basis of HACCP plans."Two years ago, the Agriculture Department asked Congress for money to create a force of 588 specially trained inspectors capable of reviewing HACCP plans. However, that request was turned down.

 

ForFull Information, click on
http://www.FoodHACCP.com/indexcopynews.html

07/11. DEFENDING THE INTEGRITY OF GROUND WATER: UNDERSTANDING IMPAC
07/11. SWISS RELAX BSE SLAUGHTER RULES
07/11. ORGANIC BREAD TARGETED TO SHOW ABSURD HEALTH SCARES
07/11. PERSPECTIVE BY EDITOR CHRIS HARRIS
07/11. FOOD SAFETY SURVEYED
07/11. DENMARK TO GET TOUGH ON FOOD LABELLING
07/11. IMPORTERS DENY BEING WARNED OF RAISIN RISK: LEAD CONTAMINATI
07/11. STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN MEAT INSTITUTE ON LEAKED GAO REPOR
07/11. EU WANTS DUTCH ACTION IN HORMONE FEED SCARE
07/11. THE MYTH ABOUT CAUSES OF FOOD POISONING
07/11. DEADLY SUPERBUG FOUND IN SUPERMARKET CHICKENS
07/11. CHINA: Government denies its GM rules are blocking food impo
07/11. THAILAND: Government moves to defend Thai chicken from BSE r
07/11. THAILAND: Bangkok offers street food vendors mobile dishwash
07/11. Growth hormone that caused food scare is under control
07/11. Dairy Queen expands irradiated burger test to Twin Cities ar
07/11. Reasons behind the Russia-US poultry dispute
07/11. Warning given on doctored chicken fillets
07/11. Folk Science
07/11. Five restaurants cited for health or safety violations
07/11. FOOD LABELS ARE BAFFLING SHOPPERS
07/11. Cancer link drug found in chicken
07/11. European biotech group slams labelling rules
07/11. Heed water and food alerts after floods, health officials sa
07/11. Is it the doghouse for Dottie?
07/10. Texas Tech Researchers Find Marine Plant Reduces E. Coli in
07/10. Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for E.coli Research
07/10. Russia Threatens to Renew Poultry Ban August 1
07/10. IAFP 2002 SETS RECORD REGISTRATION
07/10. DAIRY QUEEN TO SELL IRRADIATED BURGERS IN THE TWIN CITIES
07/10. Russia-U.S. poultry talks fail to reach resolution
07/10. Irradiated ground beef still shut out from School Lunch Prog
07/10. Soy, sunflowers sub for peanut butter
07/10. Sask. wildlife officials fear new CWD source may exist
07/10. DAIRY QUEEN˘ç ANNOUNCES THE EXPANSION OF ITS IRRADIATED BEEF
07/10. THE SALAD THAT CLEANS ITSELF
07/10. AMERICANS INCREASINGLY AWARE OF FOODBORNE ILLNESS, USDA SURV
07/10. OPINION ON HONEY AND MICROBIOLOGICAL HAZARDS
07/10. Craving cheese during pregnancy
07/10. RICHMOND MEATS INC. FINED FOR RETAIL FOOD VIOLATIONS
07/10. FSIS DRAFT DIRECTIVES ON INTERNET
07/10. Federal Audit Faults Department's Meat and Poultry Inspectio
07/10. Hamburger with those fries? Buyers beware
07/10. DRAFT GAO REPORT ON FSIS HACCP
07/10. CONTINUED ADVANCES IN FOOD SAFETY
07/10. Food inspection system criticized
07/10. Are imported ingredients safe?
07/10. HEALTH CANADA WARNED OF LEAD IN RAISINS

USDA/FDA NEWS
For full information, click on
http://www.FoodHACCP.com/regulation.html
-OPPDE What's New Page: Updated July 9, 2002
-U.S. Codex Office "What's New" Page: Updated July 10, 2002
-Food Safety Officials Honored At Annual Awards Ceremony
-FDA Approves New Non-Nutritive Sugar Substitute Neotame
-Food Additives Permitted for Direct Addition to Food for Human Consumption; Neotame
-Food Security in the United States
-Positive E. coli Test Results: Updated July 3, 2002
-FDA Food Labeling and Allergen Declaration; Public Workshop - August 14-15 in Dallas, Texas
-Food Labeling; Notification Procedures for Statements on Dietary Supplements

Recommended Sites
Internet Journal of Food Safety
Click Here

New Product Info.
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Useful Food Safety Video
to view the video, click on http://www.foodhaccp.com/online.html

HACCP Video (from UNL) (NEW ADDED)
Introduction to the Principles of HACCP (English, 15:14)
Beginning: Introduction to HACCP (4:10)
Goal of HACCP and the Seven Principles (0:54)
Principles 1 & 2: Conducting a Hazard Analysis and Identifying Critical Control Points (0:47)
Principle 3: Establishing Critical Limits (0:19)
Principle 4: Establishing Monitoring Procedures (0:36)
Principle 5: Establishing Corrective Action (0:26)
Principle 6: Establishing Record Keeping (0:29)
Principle 7: Verification (0:53)
HACCP Example Plan (5:04)
Summary of HACCP (2:20)