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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,
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
of norovirus cases at Saskatoon hospital continue to rise
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.
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
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
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
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.
'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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
Cooking Techniques Really Make a Difference? A Report Recommends This
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.
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
1 1/2 pounds firm white fish fillets, such halibut, striped bass or
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
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
Nutrition Data per portion:
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.
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)
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.
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
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
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
"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.
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 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
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.
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
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