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1/21
2011
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Sprouts Grower Says FDA Test Results Misleading
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/01/sprouts-grower-says-fda-test-results-misleading/
By News Desk (18, Jan, 2011)

It's misleading to say that water run-off from an Illinois sprouts farm links the farm to a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella, the grower told the online agriculture magazine, The Packer.
In the report published Monday, Tiny Greens Organic Farm owner Bill Bagby told The Packer the sample that tested positive for the outbreak strain was collected outside his indoor growing operation.
"They call it water runoff, but it was runoff from the compost pile outside the building," Bagby is quoted in The Packer report. "It's misleading to say it's environmental. There were 260 samples taken inside the building -- spent irrigation water, potable water, sprouts, seeds, floor and wall swabs, packing -- and they were all negative for salmonella."
Tiny Greens of Urbana, IL, recalled alfalfa sprouts Dec. 29 after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the sprouts were potentially contaminated and the possible source of a Salmonella outbreak involving Jimmy John's sandwich restaurants. On Jan. 14, the CDC reported that 125 illnesses in 22 states--with 65 in Illinois-- involved the same Salmonella type.
In its update on the investigation, the FDA said product samples it tested were negative for Salmonella but one environmental (water run-off) sample had tested positive: "Through genetic testing this positive sample is indistinguishable from the outbreak strain, using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis with one enzyme. Additional genetic testing is underway."
The CDC's update said that because this particular strain of Salmonella commonly occurs in the United States, some cases identified might not be related to the outbreak. It repeated its warning that consumers should not eat Tiny Greens alfalfa sprouts or spicy sprouts and restaurants should not serve them.
Bagby told The Packer: "The FDA Web page even mentions that since this is such a common form of salmonella, most of these (125) cases are probably not related to the Illinois outbreak."
"My epidemiologist said it's not probable that any of my product is contaminated," Bagby told The Packer reporter. "Possible, yes; but probable, no. I told the FDA and CDCP that if they have a remote feeling it's possible our products are contaminated, I don't want to make anybody sick. I told them I am willing to shut down and do a thorough cleaning of this building."

The Packer reported that after the recall Tiny Greens discarded products worth about $100,000, including 21,000 pounds of bean sprouts. It said that after a "precautionary deep cleaning" Bagby expects to resume distributing sprouts Jan. 20.

FDA seeks to halt production at US juice company
Source:http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/FDA-seeks-to-halt-production-at-US-juice-company
By Helen Glaberson (18, Jan, 2011)

The FDA is seeking the closure of US juice company Mystical One after it failed to implement an HACCP plan or comply with cGMP requirements and then did not respond to an FDA warning letter.
At the request of Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the US Department of Justice has filed a complaint for permanent injunction against the New York-based company to stop it producing and distributing its juice and other products.
Mystical One's owners are being charged under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act for failing to have a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for certain juice products, such as Fresh Carrot Juice.
Among the violations observed by FDA investigators were failures to adequately heat low-acid vegetable juices to destroy or prevent growth of dangerous microorganisms, properly clean food-contact surfaces, and maintain and monitor sanitation conditions at the New York manufacturing facility.
Major enforcement action
Marc Ullman, partner at US food and drug law firm Ullman, Shapiro & Ullman, told BeverageDaily.com that this is a major enforcement action in which the FDA is basically seeking to put the company out of business.
"It should send an important message that FDA takes food safety issues very seriously and that companies that are either unwilling or unable to implement even the most basic food safety programs (in this case a legally mandated HACCP plan) should not be selling anything that people ingest," he added.
According to Ullman, it is unusual but "certainly not unheard of" for FDA to take this kind of action where a company has indicated it has no intention of complying.
Failure to respond
The FDA's most recent inspection at the Mystical One facility in August 2010 found the same or similar violations observed during previous inspections.
Ullman said the agency issued a warning letter to the company in October 2009 noticing serious violations of the FD&C Act that could have warranted an injunction action in the first instance.
"The company promised to undertake corrective action and then apparently figured FDA would never follow up," said Ullman.
According to Ullman, it would have been surprising if the FDA did not seek an injunction under these circumstances.
"Companies that conduct themselves in this manner should expect to be brought into court by FDA every time they are caught behaving this way," he added.
Bacteria risk
The agency said it requires all juice processors to prepare and implement HACCP plans that identify and control food hazards associated with their juices, and it requires all food manufacturers to follow Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP).
Although the FDA is not aware of illnesses associated with Mystical One's juice products, the agency is concerned that failure to identify and control food hazards could lead to the formation of Clostridium botulinum bacteria that can germinate in carrot juice.
"The neurotoxin formed by these bacteria, when ingested in even very small amounts, could cause paralysis, difficulty breathing and death from asphyxiation," said the FDA.
In 2006, six cases of botulism in the US and Canada were linked to refrigerated carrot juice, according to the agency.
"Beverage products produced under conditions that do not comply with HACCP or GMP requirements are considered adulterated under the Act," the FDA said.
Mystical One purchases ingredients such as carrots that originate outside of New York and sells products to food service establishments primarily in New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

Number of norovirus cases at Saskatoon hospital continue to rise
Source:http://www.calgaryherald.com/health
By StarPhoenix (17, Jan, 2011)

The norovirus outbreak at St. Paul's Hospital continued to grow during the weekend, the Saskatoon Health Region said on Monday.
Since Friday afternoon, the total number of cases grew by 15 to a total of 68 - 30 patients and 38 staff members. The increase is a combination of new cases along with others that have now been confirmed to be norovirus.
Three units of the hospital remain closed to visitors and the health region again asked members of the public to use the hospital emergency departments for true emergencies only, such as sudden chest pain, difficulty breathing, sudden shortness of breath or sudden and severe headache.
Norovirus is a contagious gastrointestinal illness that is transmitted fecally-orally through contamination of food, water or surfaces. It usually results in diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps and discomfort.

Washington State gets "A" for food safety
Source : http://www.heraldnet.com/article/20110119/BLOG44/110119815
By Jackson Holtz (20, Jan, 2011)

Washington state received an "A" grade from the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
The report graded each of the 50 states on how well they detect, investigate, and report outbreaks of food-borne illness. Thankfully, Washington got an "A."
Be careful if you're going to Arizona, Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and West Virginia. All these states received a "F."
CSPI used Oregon and Minnesota as benchmarks because they are widely recognized for having strong investigating and reporting systems. Those states have excellent laboratory facilities and public health departments that are quick to interview individuals who are suspected to have been outbreak "cases."
They report nine and eight outbreaks per million people per year, respectively.
Those two states, and five states that reported equally high reporting rates for outbreaks, received 'A's, including Washington.
The other states had lower reporting rates and, therefore, lower grades.
Lesson learned? Wash your fruits and vegetables and talk to your doctor if you believe you have a food-borne illness.

Nano-coated 'killer paper' developed to extend food shelf life
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Packaging/Nano-coated-killer-paper-developed-to-extend-food-shelf-life
By Rory Harrington (20, Jan, 2011)

Israeli scientists have said their new nano-coated "killer paper" could be used in food packaging to combat bacteria such as E.coli to extend product shelf life.
Silver nanoparticles
The team from Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, Bar-Ilan University, claim to have developed a "simple one-stop process" of coating paper with antimicrobial colloidal silver nanoparticles using ultrasonic radiation.
The study - Sonochemical Coating of Paper by Microbiocidal Silver Nanoparticles by Aharon Gedanken et al - notes that the antimicrobial properties of silver are well-established. Using silver nanoparticles, each one-50,000 the width of a human hair, lengthens their bacteria-fighting properties, said the paper published in the American Chemical Society's journal Langmuir.
Method
The process developed at the Kanbar Laboratory of Nanomaterials involves the in-situ generation of nanoparticles and their simultaneous application onto the paper substrate.
The group said it was able to control both the thickness of the silver coating and particle size through varying precursor concentrations and reaction times.
The nanomaterials were attached to the paper by a process of ultrasonication - which the group said is "one of the most attractive methods for coating applications involving nanomaterials".
The silver nanoparticles are anchored strongly to the surface either by physically embedding them in the surface or by forming chemical bonds or other interactions with the substrate to form a "remarkably study coating".
The coatings are also highly stable with loss of silver from the surface described as "minimal" - a key factor in making them suitable for long-life applications, added the researchers.
Gedanken said the coated paper showed potent antibacterial activity against foodborne disease-causing organisms such as E. coli and S. aureus, killing all of the bacteria in just three hours.
"We believe that such coated paper has potential application in the food industry as a packing material with long shelf life and antifouling properties", said the study authors.
Scaling up
The simplicity of the process means it would be easy to scaled up to meet industry needs, said the research. It also noted that its technology could be use as another option to preservation processes.
"Developing coated paper with antimicrobial properties of silver nanoparticles could be an alternative to other food preservation methods employing radiation, heat treatment, low temperature storage, or the introduction of antimicrobial additives," said the researchers.

Do Fish Cooking Techniques Really Make a Difference? A Report Recommends This Way
Source : http://www.foodhaccp.com/indexcopynews.html
By Pamela Robinette (21, Jan, 2011)

Do Fish Cooking Techniques Really Make a Difference? A Report Recommends This Way
Eating fish full of omega-3 fats continues to be related to a reduced risk of stroke. New information suggests it's not just how much fish you take in that matters, but exactly how it's prepared.
Dr. Fadi Nahab of Emory University led a team that studied the role of race and geography in stroke incidence, with a particular focus on the "Stroke Belt'' inside southeastern Usa, where stroke death rates are higher than the remaining country.
For the study, over 21,000 people answered a telephone survey about their fish consumption. African-Americans ate more fish each week than whites, nonetheless they were also 3 1/2 times more prone to eat at least two servings of fried fish a week than whites.
Fried fish consumption was 30 % higher inside the Stroke Belt compared to the remaining country.
Consuming fried fish may decrease health benefits in 2 ways, the study said. First, lean fishes for instance cod or haddock are more likely to be deep-fried than omega-3-rich salmon, herring, or mackerel.
Second, frying fish is considered to reduce natural omega-3s and replace all of them with cooking oils.
Finally, the research declare that consuming more fried fish could possibly be in connection with higher incidence of stroke.
CAUTIONS:
The food surveys were a snapshot, so that they didn't take into account dietary changes with time that could be crucial in stroke risk. More studies are necessary to establish whether folks who eat fried fish are generally very likely to have strokes.
And also you? How would you cook fish? Here's my top secret fish recipe: "Mediterranean Fish Fillets"
Makes 6 servings.
Prep Time: Ten minutes
Cook Time: Twenty minutes
Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds firm white fish fillets, such halibut, striped bass or orange roughy
1 tablespoon essential olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 mug pitted Kalamata, green or black olives, cut by 50 % lengthwise
2 tbsps . white wine
1 teaspoon Basil Leaves
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 teaspoon Thyme Leaves
Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375F. Coat baking dish without stick cooking spray. Place fish in single layer in baking dish. Gently salt and pepper the fish. Bake 12 minutes. If fish is over 1-inch thick, increase cooking to 15 minutes.
2. At the same time, heat oil in medium saucepan on medium heat. Put onion; cook and stir 5 minutes or until softened. Put tomatoes, olives, wine, basil, garlic and thyme. Simmer, uncovered, 3 minutes.
3. Remove fish from oven. Spoon sauce over fish. Come back to oven; bake 5 minutes longer or until fish flakes easily using a fork. Serve quickly.
Nutrition Data per portion:
Calories: 201
Fats: 9 g Carbs: 5 g
Cholesterol: 37 mg
Sodium: 477 mg
Fiber: 1 g
Protein: 25 g
About me: Pamela Teresa Robinette is writing for the "http://www.mediterraneanrecipes.org/"Mediterranean recipes menu, her personal hobby blog about tips to help people eat healthy following the Mediterranean style diet.

FDA Lowers the Net on Portland Shellfish Due to Listeria
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/
By Bill Marler (20,Jan, 2011)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today that the Portland Shellfish Co., Inc.; Jeffrey D. Holden, company president; Satyavan Singh, quality manager; and John A. Maloney, general manager, have signed a consent decree prohibiting them from distributing seafood in interstate commerce until the FDA has approved in writing the company's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans, sanitation program and Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) testing program.

The seafood processor, based in Portland, Maine, sells ready-to-eat lobster, shrimp and crab products to retailers in Massachusetts, California, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, Washington, New Jersey and Louisiana.
The consent decree, entered by Judge John A. Woodcock in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, on Jan. 20, 2011, stems from evidence that Portland Shellfish violated the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by introducing into interstate commerce food that was prepared, packed or held under insanitary conditions.

Listeria Found Inside Brooklyn Cheese Facility
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/01/listeria-found-inside-azteca-cheese-facility/
By Dan Flynn (19, Jan, 2011)
Last summer Brooklyn's Azteca Linda Corp. was busy recalling cheese for Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Now a new Jan. 7 warning letter from the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Azteca Linda Corp. tells the rest of the story.
Azteca's Queso Fresco (Fresh White Cheese) and Queso Hebra (Fresh White String Cheese) were subject to a July 1 recall after FDA, during an inspection, found that the products were contaminated with Listeria. But the warning letter released Tuesday says FDA also found Listeria inside the plant.
"Once established in a production area, humans or machinery can facilitate the pathogen's movement to and contamination of food contact surfaces and finished product," FDA said in the warning letter.
In releasing its findings, FDA was especially critical of Azteca's cleaning and sanitizing operations for utensils and equipment and for its inadequate hand sanitizing.
Here is what FDA told Azteca about what it found inside the plant:
"Nine environmental swabs collected on June 7, 2010 from your facility tested positive for L. monocytogenes, These swabs were collected from: a cracked and pitted floor with standing water directly beneath the stainless steel Queso Fresco table #1, which is located along the west wall of processing room; the stainless steel wall on the right side above the stainless steel Queso Fresco table #2, which is located along the west wall of the processing room; standing water in the cracked and missing floor tile on the floor next to Queso Fresco table # 2; standing water in the cracked and pitted floors beneath the pasteurizer near the northwest corner of the processing room; broomstick bristles of the black broom in the northeast corner of the processing room; inside and underneath the black dust pan stored in the northeast corner of the processing room; standing water in front of the exit door on the north wall of the processing room, the area between and underneath the right side of Queso Fresco table #1, and the area between and underneath the left side of Queso Fresco table #1.
"In addition, three environmental swabs collected on August 25, 2010 from your facility tested positive for L. monocytogenes. These swabs were collected from: the surface of the front edge of the stainless steel Queso Fresco production table #1 located along the west wall of the processing room; the surface of the front edge of the stainless steel Queso Fresco production table #2 located along the west wall of the processing room; and the area between and underneath the stainless steel Queso Fresco production table #2 after the table top was removed for cleaning (left side). L. monocytogenes found in the environment of your facility increases the risk of your finished product becoming contaminated."
Analysis using Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) showed that L. monocytogenes isolates obtained from the FDA environmental samples collected on June 7, 2010, and August 25, 2010, at Azteca were indistinguishable by both a primary and secondary enzyme. When a PFGE pattern of an isolate is indistinguishable from the pattern of another isolate from a common source, it is highly likely that two isolates are the same strain of L. monocytogenes.
"These PFGE results suggest that L. monocytogenes may have been transported throughout your facility and established niche areas. The presence of a persistent strain of L. monocytogenes in your facility over time is significant in that it demonstrates that sanitation efforts were inadequate to remove this pathogenic organism."
Since the July recall, FDA also took notice of another Azteca recall prompted by a state.
"We also note that the Rhode Island Department of Health reported the following finished product samples as positive for L. monocytogenes: Queso El Azteca brand of 'Queso Fresco (Fresh White Cheese)' with the expiration dates of 9/11/10 and 9/12/10; and Queso El Azteca brand of 'Requeson (Ricotta Cheese)' with the expiration date of 9/19/10," the FDA warning letter says.
FDA's New York district office gave Azteca 15 days to respond listing the corrective actions it will take to come into compliance with federal food safety regulations.

New Law in US Aims to Increase Food Safety
Source from: http://www.voanews.com/learningenglish/
This is the VOA Special English Agriculture Report.
The United States is making the first major changes in its food safety rules since the nineteen thirties. A new law called the Food Safety Modernization Act will govern all foods except meat, poultry and some egg products.
It calls for increased government inspections of food processors. And it lets the Food and Drug Administration order the recall of unsafe foods. That agency has only been able to negotiate with manufacturers to remove products from the market.
The new law also increases requirements for imported foods.
But the law excludes small farmers and processors from the same rules as large producers. And it does not require sellers at farmers markets and food stands to meet the highest requirements. That pleases Susan Prolman, director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.
SUSAN PROLMAN: "A one-size-fits-all approach would have put small farmers and ranchers out of business or prevented them from providing locally produced, healthy fresh food to consumers who want it."
The Consumer Federation of America says it is generally pleased with the new law. So is much of the food industry.
But Republican Representative Jack Kingston of Georgia questioned whether enough people get sick from food to justify the spending. The legislation could cost the government almost one and a half billion dollars over five years. That includes the cost of more inspectors.
Last month, federal officials lowered their estimates of how many Americans each year get sick from food. The new estimates are forty-eight million, or one in six people. One hundred twenty-eight thousand are hospitalized. And three thousand die.
The old estimates included seventy-six million illnesses and five thousand deaths. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made their last estimates in nineteen ninety-nine. Officials say the difference is largely the result of improvements in data and research methods.
They say the two estimates cannot be compared to measure trends. Yet one thing has not changed.
About eighty percents of illnesses spread by food are still listed as having been caused by "unspecified agents." In other words, no one really knows which bacteria, viruses or other organisms were responsible.
But in cases with a known cause the experts say salmonella is responsible for more than one-third of hospitalizations. And it causes more than one-fourth of deaths.
The findings appear in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
And thats the VOA Special English Agriculture Report, written by Jerilyn Watson and Steve Baragona. Im Jim Tedder.

Publisher's Platform: FDA and the 'Mosaic Theory'
source: http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/01/publishers-platform-fda-and-the-mosaic-theory/
by Bill Marler | Jan 17, 2011
In the quiet between Christmas and New Years, the FDA released an environmental assessment conducted in response to a multi-state foodborne disease outbreak involving 33 cases of E. coli O145 infections in five states in the spring of 2010. The CDC's epidemiologic investigation found that the illnesses were associated with the consumption of shredded romaine lettuce processed at one firm (Freshway) in Ohio. FDA's investigation at the processor did not identify a likely source of contamination at the firm (Freshway). However, the FDA conducted a traceback investigation from the processor (Freshway) that led to the farm (FDA does not name).
This Environmental Assessment by the FDA identified the mystery farm upon which the lettuce was grown as the most likely source of the contamination. The FDA did confirm that the suspect romaine lettuce was grown in four fields on a farm in Wellton, Arizona. The environmental assessment identified six potential sources of STEC in the Wellton, Arizona area; three Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), one housing development with a co-located sewage treatment facility, one recreational vehicle (R.V.) park with multiple septic leach systems, and the seasonal grazing of sheep on harvested wheat and alfalfa fields.
Yet, the FDA refuses to name the farm. Why? It is not like the FDA has not named farms in past outbreaks. Here are links to three CDC, FDA and the state of California investigations and tracebacks on past E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks:
2006 Dole Spinach - The CDC confirmed 205 persons with illness associated with Dole Spinach E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in California, Arizona, New York, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Washington, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Idaho, New Mexico, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, Tennessee and Wyoming.
2006 Taco Bell Lettuce - The CDC confirmed 71 persons with illness associated with the Taco Bell restaurant E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and South Carolina.
2007 Taco John's Lettuce - The CDC confirmed 81 persons with illness associated with the Taco John's restaurant E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in Iowa and Minnesota.
Interesting thing about those investigations is that the FDA, et. al, named all names - including the farms that grew the offending lettuce or spinach. Why not now?
Here is the FDA's rationale for not disclosing the name of the farm:
"FDA has concluded that the supplier/customer relationship between the farm and the distributor is confidential commercial information (CCI). Utilizing the "mosaic effect" approach recognized by the courts, FDA must consider that the distributor has already been publicly identified in the lettuce recall. As a result, if FDA were to disclose the name of the source farm, it would necessarily reveal the supplier/customer business relationship between the farm and the distributor. CCI is exempt from FOIA's disclosure obligations under 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(4); and the Trade Secrets Act, 18 U.S.C. 1905, prohibits individual government employees from disclosing CCI "to any extent not authorized by law."
To be blunt, I do not fully understand this argument in the context of the disclosure of the farm in the Freshway outbreak. The FDA's explanation for non-disclosure of the farm is basically non-existent. In the general legal context, the "mosaic" theory is most often invoked in national security or defense type matters. This article explains it very well: "The Mosaic Theory."
"The theory is straightforward: seemingly insignificant information may become significant when combined with other information. Thousands of bits and pieces of seemingly innocuous information can be analyzed and fitted into place to reveal with startling clarity how the unseen whole must operate (Halkin v. Helms, 598 F.2d 1, 8, D.C. Cir. 1978)."
As I understand it, the distributor in the lettuce outbreak has been identified (Freshway), and if FDA named the farm, it would reveal that there is a business relationship between Freshway and the farm. FDA considers their business relationship to be "confidential commercial information" protected from disclosure under FOIA. I think this is because either the information Freshway provided to FDA to identify the source farm was designated confidential or FDA otherwise has reason to believe that disclosure of the farm could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm to the parties.
In other words, it appears FDA is more concerned with harming the farm and Freshway's bottom line, and less with transparency. Well, so much for transparency.




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