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4/01
2011
ISSUE:441

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Illnesses, hospitalizations increase in DeFusco's Salmonella outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/illnesses-hospitalizations-increase-in-defuscos-salmonella-outbreak/
By Drew Falkenstein (28, March, 2011)

Felice Freyer at the Providence Journal, who is no stranger to investigative journalism in food poisoning outbreaks, reports that the number of Salmonella illnesses in the DeFusco's Salmonella outbreak has increased to 33 (11 confirmed by stool sample). Unfortunately, 17 of those 33 have had to be hospitalized. According to Annemarie Beardsworth, health department spokesperson, "this unusually high rate of hospitalization results from the fact that many people who ate the pastry were elderly and less able to fight off the infection."
Representing the elderly is something we frequently do in E. coli and Salmonella outbreaks because, as Ms Beardsworth indicates, they are more susceptible to infection, and also more prone to suffering severe illnesses once they become infected. They have a 15 times greater mortality rate than otherwise healthy, younger adults, after being infected by foodborne pathgoens like Salmonella.
For more on the significance of age in infectious disease, see "Risks to the elderly in the middle of bologna e. coli, salmonella cantaloupe, and salmonella bakery outbreaks."

E. coli Lawyer Bill Marler Explains Bologna E. coli Outbreak and Recall
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/attorney-videos/video---e-coli-lawyer-bill-marler-explains-bologna-e-coli-outbreak-and-recall/
By Bill Marler (March, 29, 2011)

Palmyra Bologna Company, of Palmyra, PA, is recalling approximately 23,000 pounds of Lebanon bologna products that may be contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7. 14 persons infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli serotype O157:H7 have been reported from Maryland (3 cases), New Jersey (2 cases), North Carolina (1 case), Ohio (2 cases) and Pennsylvania (6 cases). Reported dates of illness onset range from January 10, 2011 to February 15, 2011. Ill persons range in age from 1 to 70 years, with a median age of 13.5 years. Seventy-nine percent are male. Among 13 ill persons for whom information is known, 3 or 23%, reported being hospitalized, and none have reported hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure that is associated with E. coli O157:H7 infections. No deaths have been reported.
This is the second time Palmyra Bologna has been linked to a bacterial outbreak - Salmonella in 1995.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=M1oJFwCGFpY


Outbreak in Rhode Island Linked to Pastries
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2011/03/outbreak-in-rhode-island-linked-to-pastries/
By News Desk (27, Mar, 2011)

A foodborne illness investigation in Rhode Island has prompted a recall of cream-filled baked goods suspected as the cause of a Salmonella outbreak that may involve at least 19 people, the state's Department of Health reported Saturday.
In a news release, the Rhode Island Department of Health said nine of the 19 people have tested positive for Salmonella and 13 people have been hospitalized. Many of those who are ill told public health investigators they had eaten zeppole from DeFusco's Bakeries.
Zeppole, sugared pastry popular in Italian-American communities, is traditionally eaten on March 19, St. Joseph's Day.
On Friday, the health department announced a recall of all baked goods sold by DeFusco's. During an inspection of the company's production facility in Johnston, RI, investigators said they found pastry cream used in zeppole and ?clairs stored at unsafe temperatures, as well as unsanitary conditions. Defusco's owner agreed to close the bakery until further notice.
The health department said zeppole from DeFusco's Johnston store are sold at all DeFusco's locations. Crugnale Bakery locations in Providence, East Providence, North Providence, Cranston, and Cumberland also sold DeFusco's zeppole from March 16 through March 20. State food inspectors also believe that zeppole from DeFusco's are sold at Calvitto's in Narragansett and Sal's Bakery in Providence, based on information from DeFusco's owner.
Consumers who purchased pastries from any DeFusco's Bakery or zeppole from any of the above locations should immediately discard any uneaten product. Anyone who has eaten baked goods purchased from DeFusco's Bakery or zeppoles purchased from any of the above locations and has gotten sick (especially with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) should contact their healthcare provider immediately for evaluation and treatment.
The average incubation period for Salmonella is one to three days after eating contaminated food. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and fever and usually last for four to seven days. People who are at higher risk for developing more serious symptoms are young children, the elderly and anyone who is immunocompromised.


Hundreds sick in food poisoning outbreak in labour camp
Source : http://www.arabianbusiness.com/hundreds-sick-in-food-poisoning-outbreak-in-labour-camp-390687.html
By Gavin Davids (29, March, 2011)

An Abu Dhabi labour camp run by the UAE's Al Jaber Group has been charged with food safety violations after more than 200 labourers fell ill with suspected food poisoning.
More than 40 labourers were hospitalised after consuming rice from an on-site catering unit described by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority as "functioning in utterly squalid conditions, violating all norms of hygiene and disregarding the health consequences for the labourers."

Inspectors found cockroach-infested drinking water, the mixing of raw meat, fish and vegetables and cooked food housed next to open dustbins, ADFCA said in a statement.
The catering unit, which was unlicensed, was supplying food to around 2,200 workers.


EU boosts food import controls after Japanese nuclear disaster
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/EU-boosts-food-import-controls-after-Japanese-nuclear-disaster
By Rory Harrington (25, Mar, 2011)

The European Union is to step up controls on food imports from Japan in the wake of the nuclear accident at Fukushima - but stressed there was no evidence that consumers in the region were at risk from radiation-contaminated food.
Under the move, expected to be adopted today, Japanese food and feed shipments will have to come with safety certificates and be subject to random testing at EU borders. An early warning system will also require importers to give competent authorities in the bloc two days notice of a consignment's arrival.
The European Commission told FoodProductionDaily.com the measure was "a precautionary one" and that "currently, there is no evidence of risk for the EU consumer by increased radiation levels in food and feed products imported from Japan".
The food safety threat was likely to be small as Japan is allowed to export just four products of animal origin into the region, added the Commission. These are fishery products; bivalve molluscs; casings and petfood. Europe also imports 9,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables from Japan. The total value of food and feed imports from Japan in 2010 amounted to ¢ę205m.
Regulation
In the regulation, due to be published tomorrow, the EU said it had noted the contamination of foods like milk and spinach following the nuclear accident at the Daiichi plant on March 11.
"Such contamination may constitute a threat to public and animal health within the Union and it is therefore appropriate as a precautionary measure to urgently take measures at Union level to ensure the safety of the feed and food, including fish and fishery products, originating in or consigned from Japan," said the ruling.
Member states yesterday backed the emergency proposal from the European Commission to reinforce checks on all food and animal feed originating in, or sent from, 12 prefectures of the stricken South East Asian country - including the four hardest hit by the catastrophic earthquake and subsequent tsunami earlier this month.
The regions covered by the regulation are Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Yamagata, Niigata, Nagano, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo and Chiba.
The EU ruling insists that all products from these prefectures are tested before leaving Japan and said they will be subject to random testing in the bloc. Japanese authorities will have to provide a declaration confirming products do not contain radioactive elements - called radionuclides - that exceed EU maximum levels. The Commission highlighted radionuclides iodine-131, caesium-134 and caesium-137.
Food and feed products from the other 35 Japanese regions will also have to be accompanied by a declaration stating the prefecture of origin and will be randomly tested at EU borders.
Importers will be required to alert national competent authorities two days before the arrival of each consignment.
While food and feed products harvested or processed before March 11 are not affected by the ruling, they will still need to have a declaration stating they were harvested/ processed before the devastating natural disasters two weeks ago.
The measures will be reviewed every month, confirmed Brussels.
What will happen at EU border control?
When Japanese food products arrive at European inspection posts or designated points of entry, national officials will carry out document checks.
Physical checks, including laboratory analysis, will be carried out on at least 10 per cent shipments from the 12 target prefectures. Physical checks will be done on at least 20 per cent of those from the remaining 35 prefectures.
The EU said products would be quarantined for up to five working days and only be released when customs received the favourable results of tests from the importer. Products found to exceed the maximum permitted levels will b e refused market entry and either destroyed or returned to Japan.
Industry response
The Confederation of the Food and Drink Industries in the EU (CIAA) said it welcomed the move as "a measure to reassure EU citizens".
It added: "The Commission makes clear that measures are related to Japan only and not to neighbouring countries at this stage. Japan accounts for a small percentage of EU food and drink imports, mainly of fruit and vegetables and fisheries products. There is confidence that appropriate testing is being carried out on Japanese food exports from the affected region and the legislation in place to deal with this."


Fukushima's Radiation Round-Up: How Bad Is It?
Source : http://ecocentric.blogs.time.com/2011/03/29/fukushimas-radiation-round-up-how-bad-is-it/
By
The world is finely attuned to nuclear disaster. In the past two weeks, global monitoring stations designed to detect the detonation of atomic bombs began alerting the world to what it already knew: a disaster was unfolding at Fukushima nuclear power plant, and radioactive particles had escaped. Radioactivity is a devilish thing to track: it's easier to determine trace levels of radiation thousands of miles away in Massachusetts or Scotland than it is to determine the precise danger posed by contamination in the area surrounding Fukushima's six stricken reactors. The threat must be assessed piecemeal, often by mobile measuring units navigating through a disaster zone. Even without any further leaks, it may take weeks before the full extent of radioactive release from Fukushima--and the implications for human health--are known. Health officials will be focusing on several different types of radiation.
* Environmental Radiation In the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima crisis, radiation escaped into the atmosphere through hydrogen explosions and steam deliberately vented from the reactor buildings. This is the only known source of radiation since the incident-reports of contaminated crops, sea and tap water are likely to have been caused when radioactive airborne particles from these early leaks fell to earth or water.
Environmental or background radiation remains high outside the 20 km (12.5 mile) "exclusion zone" surrounding the Fukushima plant. However, these "high" levels are not considered highly dangerous to human health. On March 28, the highest reading occurred approximately 20 km from the Fukushima plant at 78 microsieverts per hour. At that level, an individual would have to stand outdoors, unshielded, for 27 consecutive days in order to reach the maximum annual limit allowed for workers at a U.S. nuclear power plant.©ö It would require double that amount of time before that individual would face a (very slightly) elevated risk of cancer. Even so, high levels may be unacceptable to full-time inhabitants of the area, so eventually clean up crews will need to scrub streets and buildings to remove longer-lived radioactive particles. A decision will also need to be made about whether the area inside the exclusion zone can ever be inhabited again.
If no further radiation is released, public health will almost certainly not be threatened by radiation beyond the immediate vicinity of Fukushima, and certainly not as far away as the United States-that includes potential risks from contaminated water, milk and crops in the U.S. and elsewhere. On Tuesday, Massachusetts became the latest U.S. state to detect trace levels of radiation in collected rain water. But experts say that even in a worst-case scenario at Fukushima, radioactivity would be so diluted by the time it arrived on U.S. soil as to be rendered harmless.
However, a local health disaster could still occur in Japan. Greenpeace says that simulations of radioactive dispersion effects for a reactor similar to those found at Fukushima- the Biblis pressurized water reactor in Germany- found that following a total, "worst-case" release form a reactor core, even people staying indoors at a distance of 25 km (15.5 miles) could die of acute radiation sickness. Emergency workers continue to try to prevent such a scenario, but the Japanese Prime Minister said on March 28 that the the country remains on "maximum alert."
*Contamination of the Ocean: In the latest challenge at Fukushima, emergency workers scrambled on March 28 to stop highly contaminated water from reaching the ocean. A series of underground tunnels containing radioactive water open only a few hundred yards from the sea, and workers brought in sand bags to try to prevent a leakage. Already, however, marine monitoring stations have picked up contamination as far off as 30 km (19 miles) from shore, probably after particles deposited in the sea following the explosions and venting in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. Radioactive elements in the ocean can enter the human food chain via fish and shellfish, but the IAEA website states "It is still too early to draw conclusions for expected concentrations in marine food." Further testing is ongoing.
* Ground Contamination: So far, high levels of iodine-131 and cesium-137 have been detected in the ground around Fukushima. Iodine-131 decays quickly, so is of less concern than cesium, which can stay in the soil for hundreds of years. The IAEA reports that the highest level of "daily deposition" for cesium-137 was recorded at the Yamagata prefecture on March 26 at 1,200 becquerels per square meter. At that rate, it would take more than a year before Cesium-137 levels rose to the threshold of 555,000 bacquerels per square meter that triggered strict land-use controls after the Chernobyl incident. Even so, it's difficult to ascertain the danger posed by ground contamination due to the way the IAEA records deposition levels. The Union of Concerned Scientists has complained that the IAEA has "failed to establish a consistent reporting framework so the public can assess whether radionuclide release rates are changing"--i.e. it's difficult to know if the problem of ground contamination is getting worse, and why.
* Tap Water Contamination: Tokyo suffered a public health scare last week when officials reported that tap water contained more iodine-131 than was safe for infants. Most of the iodine-131 quickly decayed or was diluted, however, and the tap water in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan is now safe. The highest levels of iodine-131 was recorded at 90 becquerel per litre, according to the IAEA. The Japanese limits for the ingestion of drinking water by infants-who are most sensitive to radiation exposure-is 100 becquerel per litre.
* Food Contamination: According to the IAEA, samples of fruits and vegetables in six prefectures around Fukushima reported abnormal levels of radioactive contamination. One sample of wasabi flower from Fukushima prefecture measured above the regulated values for iodine and cesium set by Japanese safety authorities. However in the remaining five prefectures, cesium-137 was not detected or the results were below regulation values. A delegation from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization met with local government authorities on March 27 to discuss a mitigation strategy to deal with contaminated foods.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration., all milk and milk products and vegetables and fruits produced or manufactured from four Japanese prefectures around Fukushima--and locally-sourced seafood, too-will be detained upon entry into the United State and tested for radionuclide contamination. However, the heavy damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami to the region means few products are currently being exported from that region of Japan anyway. Food and dairy production in the U.S. will not be effected, according to the FDA.
©ö 50 millisievert is annual limit for U.S. nuclear workers. That equals 50000 microsieverts. 50000/78=641 hours=27 days.


USDA Expands Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Schools Across the Nation
Source : http://gardennews.biz/?id=4837
By GardenNews.biz (28, Mar, 2011,USDA)

USDA Expands Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables for Schools Across the Nation
Investment Aims to Improve Nutrition and Provide Economic Opportunities to Producers
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2010 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that, as authorized by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (2008 Farm Bill), USDA will expand assistance to state agencies for schools operating USDA's Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) in the 2011/2012 school year. The investment is part of the Obama administration's efforts to improve the health of our children by providing access to nutritious meals in schools and also serves as a valuable resource to schools that continue working to improve the health and nutrition of the foods they serve. The assistance will provide free fresh fruit and vegetables to children throughout the school day.
"Improving the health and nutrition of our kids is a national imperative and by providing schools with fresh fruits and vegetables that expand their healthy options, we are helping our kids to have a brighter, healthier future," said Vilsack. "Every time our kids eat a piece of fruit or a vegetable, they are learning healthy eating habits that can last a lifetime."
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, authorized and funded under Section 19 of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act and expanded in recent years as a result of the 2008 Farm Bill, operates in selected low-income elementary schools in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. This year, USDA plans to provide $158 million in assistance to state agencies. States then select schools to participate based on criteria in the law, including the requirement that each student receives between $50 and $75 worth of fresh produce over the school year.
"The program is highly successful in introducing schoolchildren to a variety of produce they otherwise might not have the opportunity to try," said Kevin Concannon, USDA Under Secretary for Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services. "I am pleasantly surprised when children tell me it was their first time trying a particular fruit or vegetable. Fortunately children are learning fruits and vegetables are healthy choices and tasty alternatives to snacks high in fat, sugar, or salt."
In January, USDA published a proposed rule to update the nutrition standards for meals served through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, signed into law by President Barack Obama. The proposed rule, based on the latest science, will make the first major improvement to the nutritional quality of school meals in 15 years, and is an important component of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative to solve the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation. The standards will significantly increase fruit and vegetables provided at lunch and for the first time, both fruits and vegetables will be served daily.
Depending on enrollment and the allotment spent on each child, USDA estimates the expanded assistance could help schools serve additional 600,000 to 950,000 students in school year 2011-2012.
Based on funding levels provided by the 2008 Farm Bill, subject to Congressional action, the school year 2011/2012 FFVP planned allocations by State are:
Alabama - $2,763,159
Alaska - $1,755,808
Arizona - $3,162,258
Arkansas - $2,301,796
California - $10,801,714
Colorado - $2,824,910
Connecticut - $2,464,720
Delaware - $1,802,271
District of Columbia - $1,728,948
Florida - $6,234,011
Georgia - $3,978,048
Hawaii - $1,916,724
Idaho - $1,968,034
Illinois - $4,756,050
Indiana - $3,184,978
Iowa - $2,334,084
Kansas - $2,286,251
Kentucky - $2,654,152
Louisiana - $2,702,175
Maine - $1,908,818
Maryland - $3,009,165
Massachusetts - $3,200,777
Michigan - $4,026,562
Minnesota - $2,892,915
Mississippi - $2,314,514
Missouri - $3,062,478
Montana - $1,824,916
Nebraska - $2,032,086
Nevada - $2,248,485
New Hampshire - $1,905,874
New Jersey - $3,756,315
New Mexico - $2,089,722
New York - $6,376,788
North Carolina - $3,940,380
North Dakota - $1,746,491
Ohio - $4,435,706
Oklahoma - $2,508,596
Oregon - 2,528,331
Pennsylvania - $4,724,303
Rhode Island - $1,840,549
South Carolina - $2,724,946
South Dakota - $1,781,539
Tennessee - $3,150,893
Texas - $7,804,444
Utah - $2,264,162
Vermont - $1,734,894
Virginia - $3,560,546
Washington - $3,244,569
West Virginia - $2,038,684
Wisconsin - $2,987,737
Wyoming - $1,719,518
Puerto Rico - $922,269
Guam - $44,771
Virgin Islands - $27,167
Improving child nutrition is the focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act signed by President Obama in December 2010. The legislation authorizes USDA's child nutrition programs, including the National School Lunch, School Breakfast, Summer Food Service Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. The Act allows USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children, and help a new generation win the future by having healthier lives. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Initiative to end childhood obesity in a generation.
USDA's Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) oversees the administration of 15 nutrition assistance programs, including the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, that touch the lives of one in four Americans over the course of a year. These programs work in concert to form a national safety net against hunger. Visit www.fns.usda.gov for information about FNS and nutrition assistance programs.


Question mark hangs over quality of BRC safety audits
Source : http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Quality-Safety/Question-mark-hangs-over-quality-of-BRC-safety-audits
By Guy Montague-Jones (25, Mar, 2011)

The number of food factories certified to the BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is up more than 20 per cent on last year to 13,923 but doubts remain over the quality of the audits.
Richard Dodd of the BRC (British Retail Consortium) said the higher numbers represent a "strong vote of confidence" in the standard.
But they have not stopped UK supermarkets from maintaining or reintroducing their own food safety standards and audits.
Sainsbury's, for example, said the BRC is "very important as an entry level standard" but that the supermarket has additional requirements in a variety of areas including quality and safety. It claims these allow Sainsbury's to differentiate itself from competitors.
However, the original purpose of the BRC standard had been to free supermarkets from the need to check up on their suppliers' safety systems and allow them to focus on brand and development issues.
One quality assurance manager told FoodProductionDaily.com that supermarket audits are on the rise because of concern that BRC audits are not robust enough.
"The supermarkets are concerned that too many suppliers are passing the audit with flying colours. They had a feeling that this was not a true reflection of the reality in the food industry."
Auditing consistency
Jo Head, a quality management consultant, said the source of concern is not with the BRC Standard itself but rather with the auditing.
She told FoodProductionDaily.com: "The toughness of BRC auditors is variable”¦ There needs to be some mechanism in place to ensure consistency. Having a BRC certificate should mean the same thing across the industry."
Head, who has advised the FSA (Food Standards Agency) on food safety issues related to meat, said the supermarkets have much more robust audits. She made two key recommendations to restore confidence in the BRC certificate:
1. More involved and detailed guidance for auditors and auditees on the audit process
2. The creation of an independent body that checks up on the quality of audits
Head added that a culture shift is needed in auditing so that the question asked is not "Have you got a system?" but rather "Is the system working".
The BRC defended the quality of its audits, saying: "All of our certification bodies are UK Accreditation Service approved - elsewhere by other national accreditation bodies. We have a rigorous certification body compliance monitoring process with six-monthly performance reporting to assess how auditing is being carried out.
"The assessment focuses on audit consistency and the training and competence of auditors. We will and do suspend certification bodies who are not auditing correctly.
"The BRC Directory now also allows audit/auditor trends to be analysed and ensures that all audit reports are visible to the BRC for assessment."
The BRC Global Standard for Food Safety is currently being reviewed ahead of the publication of version six this summer.
Jerry Houseago at Cert ID Europe, a third party certification company, said the review, which occurs every three years, gives the BRC the opportunity to make changes related to both manufacturer requirements and the audit process.
"The effectiveness of any standard is not just about its content but also the method of delivery of the audit process and Cert ID welcomes efforts to improve the audit process as well as requirements for manufacturers."





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