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of 'More Serious' Food Safety Problem in Japan?
By Lisa Flam (21, Mar, 2011)
With elevated amounts of
radiation detected in some produce and milk in Japan, the World Health
Organization said today that the food safety situation there "quite
clearly" is more serious than it first believed.
The Japanese government halted shipments of milk from one area of the
country and spinach from another on Sunday, according to The Associated
Press, and two other crops -- canola and chrysanthemum greens -- were
also found to be tainted.
While the World Health Organization was initially concerned about produce
originating from within 18 miles of Japan's crippled nuclear plant,
which has leaked radiation, milk from cows farther away and spinach
from about 75 miles away was affected, Peter Cordingley, the Manila-based
spokesman for the organization's office for the Western Pacific, told
"Quite clearly, it is not what we thought in the early stages.
It is more serious," he said. "We have seen Japanese people
in grocery stores paying close attention to where their produce is coming
from, and we think this is a wise practice."
Tsunami Relief: Network for Good
The organization thought any food contamination problems would be limited.
"It's safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of
the contamination zone," Cordingley told Reuters.
The radiation has left food shoppers wary.
"It doesn't look like a short-term issue," Phil Knall, who
lives in Tokyo, told CNN. "I'm definitely concerned about the food
that is going to be shipped out from now. I'm definitely thinking about
Fears about the food and drinking supply have grown in the days after
the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan,
which damaged multiple reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and
caused some radiation to leak.
There's no sign that tainted Japanese food has reached other countries,
Cordingley told Reuters, though China and South Korea have toughened
inspections of imported foods from Japan, and some companies were dropping
Japanese food from certain areas.
China will monitor imported food for radiation, Reuters reported, citing
the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua.
"Japan's nuclear leak has sounded an alarm bell for the international
community about the safety of nuclear energy," Chinese Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi said in a speech today, Reuters reported.
And South Korea, which had been inspecting fresh produce from Japan,
said it would expand monitoring to include processed and dried foods
from the country, the news agency said.
Japanese authorities were handing out bottled water to people in a village
about 20 miles from the nuclear plant, because the tap water was found
to have radioactive iodine-131, The Wall Street Journal reported. The
level would be harmful over time but was not high enough to cause an
immediate health risk, authorities said.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the water was OK to
use for bathing and other non-consumption purposes, CNN reported. "This
level is reportedly going down now," he said.
Edano also reiterated his belief that the amount of radiation found
in food, though higher than legal limits, does not pose an immediate
health threat, but would be more worrisome if eaten repeatedly over
a lifetime, CNN reported.
The concern was great enough for some Asian stores and restaurants to
drop food from Japan from their offerings.
FDA Will Monitor Japanese-Made Drugs as Well as Food
Source : http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2011/03/21/fda-will-monitor-japanese-made-drugs-as-well-as-food-for-radiation/
By Katherine Hobson (21, Mar, 2011)
The FDA is going to monitor
pharmaceuticals made in Japan - as well as food products - for any signs
of elevated radiation levels, a spokeswoman for the agency tells us.
On Thursday we reported that the FDA would monitor future imports of
fish, other food products and raw materials that originate or pass through
Japan in transit to the U.S. Pharmaceutical products will also be monitored,
the spokeswoman says.
Imports from Japan make up only a small fraction of the roughly $300
billion the U.S. spends on prescription drugs every year.
Internally, Japan is halting some food shipments after detecting higher-than-normal
levels of radiation in spinach, rapeseed and milk. The government also
found abnormally high radiation in tap water in certain areas. Levels
aren't enough to immediately threaten health, but the water could be
harmful if it were consumed over a long period of time, a health ministry
official told the WSJ.
Seafood, snack foods and processed fruits and veggies are the most common
food imports from Japan, which make up less than 4% of food imported
to the U.S. from all sources.
Despite the hullabaloo over radiation, the primary public-health threat
in Japan stems from the devastation wrought by the earthquake and tsunami
- not the nuclear-plant disaster, Forbes's The Medicine Show blog reports.
New EU figures
reveal big increase in listeriosis cases in 2009
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/New-EU-figures-reveal-big-increase-in-listeriosis-cases-in-2009
By Guy Montague-Jones (23, Mar, 2011)
Listeria infections in the
EU were up 19 per cent in 2009, resulting in 270 deaths from listeriosis,
according to a new report.
The annual figures on food borne pathogens from European Food Safety
Authority (EFSA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
(ECDC) gave a mixed picture of food safety progress in Europe.
Listeria infections increased
the most in 2009, rising to 1645 confirmed cases. EFSA said 270 people
died as a result from listeriosis, representing a 17 per cent fatality
ECDC told FoodProductionDaily.com that work is planned to review existing
Listeria controls and assess risk factors.
"At present, the risk of exposure to Listeria is controlled by
EU-wide microbiological criteria for restricted levels of Listeria bacteria
in ready-to-eat food products.
"However, these criteria are to be reviewed while more studies
are needed to assess other factors (like consumption habits of elderly)
that may influence on the risk of infection."
Campylobacteriosis cases in humans were also up in 2009, increasing
4 per cent to 190,566. The pathogen Campylobacter, which is most commonly
found in raw poultry meat, can cause diarrhea and fever. It is the most
reported disease that is transmitted from animals to humans.
Salmonella success story
More encouragingly, the number of Salmonella infections in humans fell
for the fifth year in a row. Salmonellosis cases, which usually involve
fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps, fell 17 per cent in 2009 to 108,614.
John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health and Consumer Policy said:
"The EU has made great strides in its battle against Salmonella
and the consistent fall in the number of cases is testament to the strong,
comprehensive measures put in place by the Member States to tackle this
The joint EFSA and ECDC report said the European Commission reduction
targets for Salmonella are most likely to be the main reason for the
reduced number of cases.
The 2003 Regulation (EC) No 2160/2003 paved the way for control programmes
and targets that made Salmonella a priority.
The figures in the report relate to 2009. EFSA said the figures are
released now because they are first collected by member states are then
compiled and sent to EFSA before being analysed and collected into a
agency gets additional $100 million
By Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News (23, Mar, 2011)
The Conservative government
pledged Tuesday to boost spending on Canada's food inspection system
by $100 million over the next five years.
The additional money for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is needed
to fix problems flagged in 2009 after a deadly listeriosis outbreak,
the government said.
Independent investigator Sheila Weatherill identified a series of food-safety
gaps in Canada -including a void in leadership within the federal government
-that helped contribute to a listeriosis outbreak in 2008 that left
22 Canadians dead.
They had all consumed tainted deli meats produced at a federally inspected
plant in Toronto, operated by Maple Leaf Foods.
"This initiative will enable the government to complete its response
to all of the recommendations of the Weatherill Report through targeted
investments in inspector training, additional science capacity, and
electronic tools to support the work of front-line inspectors,"
the budget states.
Before Tuesday's announcement, the CFIA expected a decrease in its budget
for work on food safety and nutrition risks for the upcoming fiscal
year compared to two years ago.
In 2009-10, the agency spent $270.5 million on food safety and nutrition
The CFIA's main estimates for 2011-12, published in February, estimated
$258 million for food safety and nutrition risks.
Tuesday's $100-million pledge over five years to improve food inspection
capacity comes after the government allocated another $75 million in
2009 to help implement Weatherill's recommendations.
That was shared among CFIA, Health Canada and the Public Health Agency
of Canada. Following this initial investment in 2009, meat inspectors
complained there still weren't enough front-line inspectors at processing
in E. coli Outbreak Tied to Beef Bologna
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/03/e-coli-o157h7-outbreak-tied-to-beef-bologna/
By Mary Rothschild (23, Mar, 2011)
Fourteen people in three
states have been sickened with E. coli O157:H7 in an outbreak linked
to beef bologna.
As a result, the Pennsylvania-based Palmyra Bologna Co. is recalling
approximately 23,000 pounds of Lebanon bologna that may be contaminated
with E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection
Service (FSIS) announced Tuesday.
Lebanon bologna is named after a county in Pennsylvania. It is a fermented,
semi-dry sausage similar in appearance to salami.
In a news release, FSIS said the four case patients are from New Jersey,
North Carolina and Pennsylvania. The onset of their illnesses ranged
from Jan. 28 to Feb. 2. FSIS was notified of the outbreak cluster on
March 10 and has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and state public health partners in investigating the outbreak.
This is not the first foodborne illness outbreak associated with the
Palmyra company's sausage.
In 1995, 26 people became ill with Salmonella Typhimurium in south central
Pennsylvania in an outbreak traced to the consumption of Lebanon bologna.
Because the product is not heat treated to temperatures that would kill
dangerous bacteria in the raw meat, a combination of process controls
must be followed to ensure that the product is safe to eat. Regulators
investigating the 1995 outbreak said poor record keeping prevented them
from evaluating the manufacturer's processes.
In the current recall, the product packaging for consumers involves
--6-ounce packages of "SELTZER'S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA" with
lot code "01351" and best-by date of "Apr. 20 2011"
printed on the package.
--12-ounce packages of "SELTZER'S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA" with
lot code "01351" and best-by dates of "Apr. 20 2011"
or "Apr. 21 2011" printed on the package.
--16-ounce packages of "SELTZER'S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA" with
lot code "01351" and best-by date of "Apr. 22 2011"
printed on the package.
Each package bears a label with establishment number "EST. 474"
inside the USDA mark of inspection, in addition to lot code "01351"
and the best-by date as noted above. The recalled products were produced
in December 2010 and shipped to distribution centers in California,
Colorado, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania for further distribution
to retail stores.
The product packaging for retailers includes:
--Whole chub packages of "SELTZER'S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA"
with lot codes "01351" or "06337" and best-by date
of "Feb. 14 2011," "Feb. 15 2011," "Feb. 16
2011," or "Feb. 28 2011" printed on the package.
--Half chub packages of "SELTZER'S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA" with
lot codes "01351" or "06337" and best-by date of
"Apr. 6 2011," "Apr. 7 2011," "Apr. 16 2011,"
or "Apr. 19 2011," printed on the package.
--12-pound bulk boxes of sliced "SELTZER'S BEEF LEBANON BOLOGNA"
with lot code "01351" and best-by date of "Apr. 21 2011"
printed on the package.
Each package bears a label with establishment number "EST. 474"
inside the USDA mark of inspection, in addition to either lot code "06337"
or "01351." They were sold to retailers and may have been
further sliced and repackaged at retail. The products being recalled
were produced in December 2010 and sent to distribution centers in California,
Colorado, Maryland, New York and Pennsylvania for further distribution
to retail stores.
When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on FSIS'
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody
diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure.
Packing hazelnuts suspected in E. coli outbreak
By Amanda Newman (12, Mar, 2011)
Hazelnuts packed by Newberg-based
George Packing Co. were recalled last week after being linked to several
cases of E. coli in the Midwest, but so far it's unclear where and when
the nuts became contaminated.
In fact, it wasn't until Wednesday that the nuts were positively identified
as containing the bacteria and George Packing officials say that while
they have cooperated with the investigation from the start, they are
still not convinced all the E. coli cases were caused by hazelnuts.
Los Angeles-based repacking company DeFranco & Sons issued the voluntary
recall March 5 after their products were linked to seven cases of E.
coli that surfaced over December and January in Michigan, Minnesota
and Wisconsin. The company recalled bulk and consumer-packaged in-shell
hazelnuts and mixed-nut products containing in-shell hazelnuts.
All the hazelnuts subject to the recall came from George Packing and
bore the Sunripe brand name, said Richard DeFranco, an owner of the
repacking company. But as of Thursday, none of the recalled nuts had
been located and the scope of the recall could not be identified.
"We're one of the smallest players on the totem pole and we don't
sell too much," DeFranco said. "So far, nothing's come back
... it's pretty vague right now."
He said the company is scarcely even receiving calls about the recall.
Siobhan DeLancey, spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA),
which is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) and public health and agricultural agencies in the affected states
to investigate the E. coli outbreak, said in an e-mail that the investigation
is ongoing and there is currently little information available.
The nuts subject to the recall were primarily distributed in Minnesota,
Iowa, Michigan, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, she
said. According to the FDA, ,they may also have been distributed elsewhere
in the United States and in Canada.
George Packing has come under fire this week based on media reports
that the company had refused to provide the FDA with a list of its farmer
suppliers, but company officials said that information is inaccurate
"The FDA, by law, has to give us written notice of what they were
looking for," said Shaun George of George Packing, explaining the
delay - which he said lasted maybe a day - in the company's releasing
the supplier information. The company complied with the investigation
and gave investigators full access to their plant from the start, he
said, but wouldn't involve their suppliers until the correct legal procedures
had been followed. The FDA has since sent the formal letter and the
information was released, George said.
DeLancey declined to comment on that situation. She said the FDA can
demand records if there is a threat of a "serious adverse health
consequence or death to humans or animals," but couldn't say whether
the FDA had made that request.
Confirmation of the nuts' contamination came Wednesday with a notice
from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) that its laboratory
had confirmed E. coli contamination of in-shell hazelnuts collected
from the home of an ill Minnesota resident.
The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed that the bacteria found
on the hazelnuts tested in the lab matched the DNA fingerprint of the
bacteria that caused the illnesses. MDA traced the product to a Dec.
9, 2010, shipment from DeFranco & Sons.
However, George said he has been told that the ill person whose nuts
were tested did not have the same strain of E. coli as the others and
he continues to hope Oregon hazelnuts will be cleared in the outbreak.
DeFranco & Sons has recalled nuts it distributed from Nov. 22 to
Dec. 22, but Richard DeFranco said it will be difficult to find the
nuts in question. As they are considered largely a holiday product,
many have already been sold to consumers. The remainder are mostly being
sold in bulk, loose-pack bins and may have been combined with other
nut products, which makes identification difficult.
He said he has no idea at what point of the harvesting, packing and
distributing process the nuts might have been contaminated. Nuts at
the DeFranco & Sons and George Packing facilities have been tested
for the bacteria, but the results in both cases were negative. DeFranco
& Sons and George Packing officials said neither company has had
issues with E. coli contamination in the past.
George said that although investigators were at his company's plant
all week, "it doesn't look like the FDA is very interested in George
Packing right now."
He explained that the bacteria was a bovine derivative E. coli usually
associated with feed lots primarily found in the Midwest. "We're
trying to find out in what point in the process there might have been
feed lot contamination," he said, later adding, "It does look
like more and more evidence is pointing away from hazelnuts altogether."
According to the FDA, young children, frail or elderly people and others
with weakened immune systems are most at risk for serious and possibly
fatal infections from E. coli. Symptoms include diarrhea and abdominal
cramps. The illness can result hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of
kidney failure, but according to the CDC no cases have been reported
in connection with the outbreak.
The FDA became aware of the outbreak in late February. They have shared
information about the situation with Canadian authorities, as two cases
of E. coli illnesses have been identified there; the Canadian illnesses
had not been linked to the Midwest cases as of Monday.
The Willamette Valley is home to 99 percent of the nation's hazelnut
industry. In 2010, the industry saw $34.2 million in gross sales, with
hazelnuts hitting a near-record price of $1.07 per pound, according
to an Oregon State University report.
Factory Halts Production Due to E. coli Risk
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/cheese-factory-halts-production-due-to-e-coli-risk/
By Bill Marler (19, Mar, 2011)
The Tillamook Cheese Factory
halted production and stopped serving food Friday and Saturday after
fecal coliform and E. coli bacteria were found in the local water supply.
The Kilchis Regional Water System, which includes the cheese factory,
Bay City, Northwood, Latimer and Juno, was under a boil water alert
after the contaminants were detected March 17.
"The presence of fecal coliforms and E. coli bacteria indicates
the water may be contaminated with human or animal wastes," the
Tillamook County Emergency Management statement read. "Microbes
in these wastes can cause diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other
Drinking the water without first boiling it could pose a special health
risk for infants, young children, and people with compromised immune
systems, according to the statement. The boil water alert ended Saturday
afternoon. TCEM released a statement assuring residents the water was
safe to drink. The Tillamook Cheese Factory was open throughout the
duration of the boil water alert, but did not serve food and retained
only limited staff on the premises.
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