How Sprout Growers Handled a Food Safety Crisis
Source : http://associationsnow.com/2012/10/how-sprout-growers-handled-a-food-safety-crisis/
By Rob Stott (Oct 25, 2012)
A PR crisis can arise anytime and in surprising ways (just ask the refs’ association). And sometimes, it goes beyond a specific event and threatens to engulf an entire industry.
“If you have a single producer that isn’t following the accepted standards and practices, then you need to find that producer and get them up to speed.That’s what sprout growers are facing this week following an announcement by the grocery retailer Kroger that it will no longer carry fresh sprouts at any of its stores because it has concluded that the stringy vegetables simply can’t be grown and processed safely.
“Sprouts present a unique challenge because pathogens may reside inside of the seeds where they cannot be reached by the currently available processing interventions,” Payton Pruett, Kroger’s vice president of food safety, told the Wall Street Journal.
Kroger, the largest grocery retailer in the United States, joins Walmart, which removed sprouts from its aisles in 2010 for similar reasons.
How are sprout growers countering these claims and reassuring consumers that the industry is following best food-safety practices?
The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA), in collaboration with the Institute for Food Safety and Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, recently launched a pilot program to address both issues.
A Sprout Safety Task Force, formed as part of the program, will focus on food-safety guidance and research required for the safe production of sprouts, according to an ISGA statement.
Also, a sprout safety audit checklist will “serve as a tool for sprout growers in reviewing their operations and for sprout-specific third-party audits,” ISGA said.
“If a major retailer decides not to grow sprouts, that’s a decision that is based on how they want to run their business,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of communications for the United Fresh Produce Association. “The sprout industry can follow the rules and take a lot of steps to ensure that contamination never happens. [Associations are] doing everything they know, in cooperation with the FDA and with the scientific authorities out there, to make sure that all the growers are educated and understand how they need to grow sprouts.”
To successfully weather the crisis, ISGA needs to ensure 100 percent compliance from its members, Gilmer said.
“The problem that any of us face in this business is that you’re only as good as your weakest link,” he said. “And if you have a single producer that isn’t following the accepted standards and practices, then you need to find that producer and get them up to speed.”
U.S. food safety not getting better
Source : http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/blog/bal-food-recall-study,0,4191119.story
By The Baltimore Sun (Oct 25, 2012)
The United States is not making progress in improving the safety of food as hundreds of people continue to be sickened by unsafe food linked to recalls each year, according to a new report.
The report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund found that from January 2011 through September 2012 more than 1,750 people got sick by tainted food that was eventually recalled and pulled from store shelves. Thirty-seven people died.
The food recalls during that time period included cantaloupe, ground turkey, papaya, mangoes, raw tuna and peanut butter linked to salmonella outbreaks.
The country this year is on pace to double the number of foodborne illnesses from last year.
U.S. PIRG said the country's food safety practices are "falling short."
The Food Safety and Modernization Act passed in 2011 was meant to improve safety by focusing on prevention. It called for strengthening inspections of food manufacturing sites, among other things.
But U.S. PIRG said lack of funding and bureaucracy in the rulemaking process has stalled efforts.
The group is calling for lawmakers to properly fund the Food and Drug Administration so that the agency can implement the new laws. It also wants to see food safety improved at the local and international level, and see more unannouced inspections of food facilities.
Food inspection agency too ‘nice’ with XL Foods over beef recall: agriculture minister
Source : http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/25/food-inspection-agency-too-nice-with-xl-foods-over-beef-recall-agriculture-minister/
By Sarah Schmidt, Postmedia News (Oct 25, 2012)
OTTAWA — Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz said Thursday that government inspectors could have been “more hard-nosed” when dealing with the plant responsible for Canada’s largest beef recall.
Speaking to parliamentarians probing the government’s bill to modernize Canada’s food safety law, Ritz also hinted the Canadian Food Inspection Agency was a little too nice in dealing with managers of the XL Foods Inc. facility in Brooks, Alberta.
“Looking back, what would we have done different?,” Ritz asked in response to the question from NDP MP John Rafferty.
“I think CFIA would have been a lot harder-nosed on getting the material from XL rather than being nice, and going the format with the letter and so on. You stand banging at the door until you got it. But we weren’t seeing any illness spikes to drive us to decertification. That wasn’t happening,” Ritz told members of the House of Commons agriculture committee, characterizing license decertification as a “nuclear strike.”
Ottawa gives XL Foods OK to reopen slaughtering plant in Alberta after E. coli recall
XL Foods trashes tonnes of recalled beef even though food experts say it’s safe to eat
Meat from XL Foods tested negative for E. coli during inspection: CFIA
‘I need to work’: Small Alberta city feels pain from layoffs at meat plant behind beef recall
CFIA eventually opted to yank the plant’s license on Sept. 27 after determining the facility failed to manage E. coli risks. The agency reinstated it on Oct. 23 after being satisfied new E. coli controls were working well.
“CFIA is loathed to do that simply because of the recertification process that is required,” Ritz said of suspending a plant’s license.
Tainted meat from the plant was distributed across the country and sold under the store brands of some of Canada’s largest retailers and grocers, including Costco, Sobeys and Loblaws. Sixteen people in four provinces became sick from the E. coli outbreak.
Throughout CFIA’s investigation at the plant, the opposition criticized the government for its handling of the case. Ritz, meanwhile, has used the incident to trumpet the government’s new food safety bill.
In addition to requiring plants to provide food-safety records to inspectors in a timely manner, the act stipulates regulations will be drafted requiring documents to be formatted in a way that CFIA can readily interpret. The current law compels companies to hand over documents when CFIA asks for them, but does not include a provision about timeliness.
Problems for XL Foods began on Sept. 4 when beef trimmings from the plant tested positive for E. coli during routine CFIA testing, triggering an in-depth review of plant practices. On the same day, U.S. authorities informed CFIA of a positive E. coli test on beef trimmings from the XL Foods plant at the Montana border.
On Sept. 6, CFIA verbally requested distribution information and testing results for all products produced on Aug. 24 and Aug. 28, the days when the affected products were made. The agency followed up a day later with a written request to provide the documents by Sept. 8.
I don’t think they were intentionally trying to hide anything
.The documents were provided over a two-day period, Sept. 10 and Sept. 11, and Ritz testified Thursday the company “was not that forthcoming.” And when the records rolled in, there were “boxes of paper work that then had to be analyzed.”
Ritz added: “I don’t think they were intentionally trying to hide anything,” but rather “giving voluminous paperwork to cover off the bases.”
Frank Valeriote, the Liberal agriculture critic, pressed CFIA president George Da Pont, who testified along Ritz, about the minister’s comments.
“You heard the minister say that CFIA could have been harder nosed rather than being nice. That tells me they had the authority. It might be a matter of culture in a particular plant where the authority wasn’t exercised, where it is exercised in other plants. So I’m still troubled with this seeking refuge behind some lack of authority under the existing legislation,” said Valeriote.
Da Pont highlighted that CFIA currently has the power to compel documents, but the new food-safety bill stipulates that companies must do so in a timely way.
“We did take very quick and progressive action to set a deadline, but at the end of the day, we don’t have an enforcement mechanism” other than to shut down the plant, Da Pont testified.
Such a drastic step is a “theoretical option,” but is also needs to be reasonable. At that early stage of the XL Foods investigation and based on the information at the time, “it would have been very difficult in a practical sense to pass that test,” said Da Pont.
Investigation reveals food safety concerns; ISP working to crack down
Source : http://www.whas11.com/news/crimetracker/Invesitgation-reveals-food-safety-concerns-police-working-to-crack-down-175849511.html
By Andy Treinen (Oct 25, 2012)
How much do you know about the food you're ordering at local restaurants? Indiana State Police say some of that food is contaminated before it ever gets to the restaurant. The WHAS I-Team went on a food enforcement operation with the ISP, the State Department of Health and the FDA to find out the facts.
The State of Indiana has a problem, a problem that's having an impact on its police force. "There's restaurants I don't eat at because of doing this," said State Trooper Kelly Lazzell. It's a problem with no borders. But troopers like Lazzell are in search of solutions and those solutions are getting results.
In the last 5 years Indiana State Police, in partnership with the State Department of Health, confiscated more than 25,000 pounds of spoiled food that was headed to restaurants in both Kentucky and Indiana. "This food is being shipped to restaurants and stores for human consumption and certainly we want to make sure that the food that people are eating is safe to eat," says Sgt. Noel Houze.
It's food gone bad because it was in trucks that the driver either couldn't or wouldn't turn on the refrigeration unit. "There’s nothing more dangerous than chicken that's allowed to be transported at 82 degrees," says Captain Wayne Andrews. But before a recent law change in the Hoosier State, Indiana troopers couldn't do anything about it. "We could see food in there rotting and not do anything about it," said Andrews. "No authority could do anything other than call board of health."
But today, it's an all a new ball game as evidenced by this operation earlier this month. The WHAS I-Team went along as ISP, the FDA, and Indiana State Department of Health as vehicle enforcement tracked down, pulled over and inspected every truck on Interstate 64 with a refrigeration unit.
"What I'm listening to is if that [refrigerator] is on and it will tell you the temperature of the [refrigerator] outside," explained Lazzell as we rode along with him doing food enforcement.
One driver's refrigeration unit wasn't on because he was hauling ceramic tiles and not food. Trooper Lazzell checked his load, checked his record and sent him on the way. Lazzell says he's seen some nasty stuff on these food enforcement stops. "You open the back and the stink just drove you out of there," explained Lazzell.
This year alone, police stopped 118 trucks and 506 trucks in the last 5 years. They’ve tossed about 25,510 away. And now, thanks partially to Captain Wayne Andrews testimony before the house and senate, it's the haulers, and not the Department of Health (or the taxpayer), who pay for the disposal.
"We changed the law, created a whole new law that specifically addresses this problem," explains Andrews. Before Indiana legislators unanimously passed the new law, police couldn't even cite the drivers: and the food couldn't be confiscated and dumped.
The new law lets officers write tickets if food is more than 2 degrees above 41 or 43 degrees. "This food's going to all of our families, you're favorite Chinese restaurant, your favorite Mexican restaurant- all of these local restaurants that all of us eat at- troopers included," says Andrews.
If you're wondering about the State of Kentucky - so were we. As it turns out, Indiana is really taking the lead. Several other states are following suit, but not Kentucky. We requested an interview with the Kentucky Department for Public Health, and a spokesperson sent us this statement: “While there is no dedicated surveillance program in place for these vehicles, if one is discovered during routine surveillance activities those agencies would notify the appropriate public health staff.”
Food Policy Action Publishes Scorecard on Food Votes in Congress
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2012/10/food-policy-action-publishes-scorecard-on-food-vo.aspx
By FOODPRODUCTDESIGN (Oct 24, 2012)
WASHINGTON — A group has published a scorecard to rate Capitol Hill lawmakers on crucial votes that relate to food, reflecting 18 votes in the Senate and 14 in the House on issues ranging from food labeling and farm subsidies to hunger and food safety.
Food Policy Action (FPA), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., believes its National Food Policy Scorecard will provide more transparency as to how lawmakers are voting on food-related issues.
"Greater transparency is the right recipe for food policies that improve Americans' diets, feed hungry kids and protect family farmers and the nation's food supply," said Tom Colicchio, a founding board member of the group and owner of Craft Restaurants.
FPA analysts identified 50 lawmakers with a perfect score of 100 percent. Nearly all of the "good food champions" listed in a press release were Democrats except for Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, an Independent and former Democrat.
Some Republicans, including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., received the lowest scores.
Senators received an average score of 58 while lawmakers in the House fared nearly the same with an average score of 57 percent.
Some of the votes included in the score calculations included proposals to cut nutrition assistance, boost food-safety funding and permit states to label genetically engineered food.
"While many of us have begun voting with our forks, too few of us have been voting with our votes," said Ray Offenheiser, a member of FPA's board and president of Oxfam America. "That's about to change. Now legislators will think twice about casting votes in Congress to protect the narrow interests of well-heeled lobbyists above the will of people in their districts and hungry people around the world. The FPA will be keeping an eye on our elected leaders on behalf of the voters who sent them to Washington."
U.S. PIRG: American Lives at Risk from Unsafe Foods
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/u-s-pirg-american-lives-at-risk-from-unsafe-foods/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 24, 2012)
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, which is the federation of state PIRGs, has released a new report stating that food recalls are on the rise and our food safety systems are broken. Contaminated food makes 48,000,000 Americans sick every year, hospitalizes 128,000 and kills 3,000. Those illnesses rack up more than $77,000,000,000 in economic costs. We are deliberately using numbers rather than writing “million” and “billion” to accentuate the seriousness of this situation.
Nasima Hossain, Public Health Advocate for U.S. PIRG said, “every year we see hundreds of food products recalled, because they have caused sickness and in some cases death. 2012 has already seen nearly twice as many illnesses due to recalls as 2011, with high-profile recalls of cantaloupes and hundreds of thousands of jars of peanut butter. More needs to be done to identify the contaminants that are making us sick and to protect Americans from the risk of unsafe food.”
The report states that no progress has been made in reducing foodborne illness in the last year. From January 2011 to September 2012, there were 1753 foodborne illnesses linked to recalls of food products, which caused 464 hospitalizations and 37 deaths. And it states that more needs to be done to protect the consumer against unsafe food. But “important rules, standards, and inspections that could significantly improve food safety have been blocked, underfunded, or delayed, allowing the drumbeat of recalls to continue.”
In short, the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) has not been fully implemented. Critical parts of the Act have been delayed by the White House Office of Management and Budget, and funding has been threatened and cut by Congress. FSMA was designed to give the FDA new power and new tools to protect consumers.
Report: Unsafe food putting lives at risk
Source : http://edition.cnn.com/2012/10/24/health/unsafe-food-report/index.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:%20rss/cnn_health%20%28RSS:%20Health%29
By Todd Sperry, CNN (Oct 24, 2012)
Despite sweeping reform of food safety laws intended to make what we eat less dangerous, the number of Americans falling ill or dying from contaminated food has increased 44% in the past two years, according to a report released Wednesday.
Tainted cantaloupe, unsafe mangoes, meat and the recent peanut butter recall -- which so far has infected 25 people, mostly children, in 19 states -- has left consumers struggling to keep up with the dizzying list of ever-changing toxic edibles.
Approximately 48 million people get sick from eating tainted food each year, the report's authors, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group said, arguing more must be done to protect Americans from unsafe food.
Multistate beef recall tied to potential E. coli contamination
Two years ago, President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act, a vast piece of legislation giving the Food and Drug Administration, among other things, more power to be proactive holding food suppliers responsible for foodborne illness outbreaks.
But while some parts of the law have been enacted, the vast majority of the law's regulatory framework remains in limbo, sitting in the White House Office of Management and Budget, with no clear timetable for implementation.
When asked about the delays, OMB spokeswoman Moira Mack told CNN, "We have taken key steps, including putting out a food safety rule cracking down on salmonella in eggs and expanding E. coli testing for beef. We are working as expeditiously as possible to implement the food safety legislation we fought so hard for. When it comes to rules with this degree of importance and complexity, it is critical that we get it right."
The report also takes issue with the delayed response and plans in Congress to cut FDA funding.
"In February, the president's budget requested $4.5 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. But budget proposals in both the Senate and the House fall below this target, coming in $600 (million) to $700 million below full funding, which the Office of Management and Budget has called 'harmful' to food safety regulations," the Public Interest Research Group says.
Kellog's recalls Mini-Wheats
The group's report also says the FDA hasn't been able to keep up with increased demands for inspection of imported foods. Nearly 15% of food consumed in the United States is imported, and the FDA's own data indicates two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables on American's dinner plates are from foreign food suppliers.
Yet in 2008 the FDA inspected only 153 of roughly 189,000 registered foreign food facilities.
Peanut, nut butter recall expanded
Instead of improving, the problem of foodborne outbreaks is getting worse, the report says.
"When comparing 2010 infection incidences with national health objective targets ... the only incidence rate that meets the target goal was the incidence of infection with E. coli O157," the report says. "The incidence of salmonella was three times the 2010 national health objective target, which is especially alarming, as salmonella causes the majority of hospitalizations and deaths from foodborne disease."
The report argues the FDA needs to be provided with funding, develop concrete and specific standards for inspection at all facilities, perform more unannounced inspections, coordinate with other agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and put more resources toward monitoring the causes of foodborne illness.
Popcorn recalled due to possible Listeria contamination
For its part, the FDA told CNN, "The rule-making process can take time, and we are working diligently to get this right. We are confident the end result will be a solid framework to strengthen and modernize our nation's food safety system."
The Public Interest Research Group's report joins a growing chorus of food safety advocates demanding increased scrutiny of the U.S. food supply and those calling for complete implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The group helped design the framework for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the federal agency created to regulate the banking industry's consumer marketing tactics. Whether Wednesday's scathing report will lead to similar results remains to be seen.
Recall round-up: MoonPies, cookies and imported cheese
As Foodborne Illnesses Skyrocket, GOP Slashes Funds For Food Safety
Source : http://thinkprogress.org/health/2012/10/24/1081201/number-of-foodborne-illnesses-have-increased-by-44-percent/
By Amanda Peterson Beadle (Oct 24, 2012)
Even though President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act — giving the Food and Drug Administration wider power to stop foodborne illness outbreaks before they start — the number of Americans who become sick or die because of contaminated food has increased 44 percent over the last two years, according to a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
This adds up to about 48 million people getting sick. But Republicans have threatened to defund the law that helps curb salmonella outbreaks. Meanwhile, the FDA remains unable to implement the reforms because of underfunding:
But while some parts of the law have been enacted, the vast majority of the law’s regulatory framework remains in limbo, sitting in the White House Office of Management and Budget, with no clear timetable for implementation.
“In February, the president’s budget requested $4.5 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. But budget proposals in both the Senate and the House fall below this target, coming in $600 (million)-$700 million below full funding, which the Office of Management and Budget has called ‘harmful’ to food safety regulations,” the Public Interest Research Group says. [...]
Instead of improving, the problem of foodborne outbreaks is getting worse, the report says.
“When comparing 2010 infection incidences with national health objective targets … the only incidence rate that meets the target goal was the incidence of infection with E. coli O157,” the report says. “The incidence of salmonella was three times the 2010 national health objective target, which is especially alarming, as salmonella causes the majority of hospitalizations and deaths from foodborne disease.”
The problem is not limited to U.S. food suppliers, and in its report, the Public Interest Research Group adds that the FDA can’t keep up with demand. About two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables that Americans eat come from foreign food suppliers, but the FDA only inspected 153 of the 189,000 registered foreign food facilities.
As the regulations to inspect food suppliers remain underfunded, the federal government has outsourced much of its food inspection to responsibilities to third-party companies that aren’t transparent, have no oversight, and have approved food that sickened thousands of people. Consequently, more Americans will continue to get sick from tainted foods like peanut butter, meat, and cantaloupe.
Jimmy John’s Putting Sprouts Back on the Menu
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/jimmy-johns-putting-sprouts-back-on-the-menu/
By Kathy Will (Oct 24, 2012)
According to a post on his Facebook page, the owner of Jimmy John’s restaurant chain is putting sprouts back on the menu. He said, “I am rolling out a new sprout. Costs more for me, it’s tougher to manage, but we think we hit a homerun on this one.”
Jimmy John’s sandwiches have been the source of many foodborne illness outbreaks over the past several years. The CDC has investigations into four outbreaks caused by sprouts on Jimmy John’s sandwiches in the last four years. The February 2012 E. coli 026 outbreak sickened 29 people, the December 2010 Salmonella outbreak sickened 94 people, the November 2010 Salmonella outbreak sickened 112 people, and the 2009 outbreak sickened 254 people. The chain was identified as “Restaurant A” in the 2009 outbreak. In February, the chain pulled sprouts from its menu.
In fact, recalls of contaminated sprouts and food poisoning outbreaks linked to sprouts have become so common that they have been nicknamed “sproutbreaks”. There have been nine major sprout recalls in the last 10 months in the United States.
Food safety experts say that sprouts are inherently dangerous because the pathogenic bacteria become encapsulated in the seeds as they are formed, which means cleaning the seeds before sprouting them is ineffective. The warm, moist environment in which seeds sprouts is the perfect culture for bacterial growth.
In March, Lieutenant Commander Rajal Mody, the doctor who works in the Enteric Diseases Epidemiology Branch at the CDC, made a video about why people should not consume raw sprouts. He states that “no available method [to decontaminate seeds] has proved completely effective.” He added, “sprouts can make even young and healthy people ill.” The CDC recommends that children, older adults, pregnant women, and persons with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind. They also say that raw sprouts should be thoroughly cooked before consuming.
It will be interesting to see if Jimmy John has managed to produce a safe sprout. We’ll be watching.
Salmonella Bredeney Outbreak Linked to Sunland Trader Joe Peanut Butter Grows
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/salmonella-bredeney-outbreak-linked-to-sunland-trader-joe-peanut-butter-grows/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 24, 2012)
The CDC has updated its investigation into the Salmonella Bredeney outbreak that is linked to Trader Joe’s Valencia peanut butter produced by Sunland Inc. Now 38 people have been sickened with the outbreak strain of the bacteria. Ten people have been hospitalized. There are no deaths.
The case count by state is: Arizona (1), California (5), Connecticut (3), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), Texas (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (2). Sixty-six percent of the ill persons are children under the age of 10.
Sunland has been recalling products for weeks, and derivative product recalls have reached into the hundreds of products. Attorney Fred Pritzker has called on Sunland and Trader Joe’s to reimburse people who have been sickened in this outbreak. He said, “these people have suffered severe pain because of a collapse of food safety measures, and the companies responsible need to take responsibility.”
Among persons who have been interviewed, illness onset dates range from June 14, 2012 to September 21, 2012. The patient age range is from less than 1 year to 79 years, with a median age of 7 years. Sixty-two percent of patients are male.
The FDA has confirmed that Salmonella was found in the Sunland nut butter facility, and that strain is a DNA match to the bacteria that is causing these illnesses. Food Poisoning Bulletin broke the story that the peanut butter was also used to make Smuckers Uncrustables sandwiches that were provided to school children through the National School Lunch Program. Smuckers did not announce this recall on the FDA site, but only told participants in the Program who received the affected products. If your child ate those sandwiches and became ill with the symptoms of Salmonella, including nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, headache, and muscle pains, take her to the doctor immediately. The doctor can perform tests to see if the illness is Salmonella and if it is linked to this outbreak.
Food Safety Concerns Remain Constant
Source : http://supermarketnews.com/food-safety/food-safety-concerns-remain-constant
By Roseanne Harper (Oct 23, 2012)
Concern over the safety of our country’s food supply has remained constant even with frequent recalls and other food safety issues this year, according to the NPD Group.
NPD’s Food Safety Monitor published figures last week that show from January through August 2012, 60% of U.S. consumers were somewhat or slightly concerned about the safety of the U.S. food supply, with 25% extremely or very concerned, showing little change from last year.
“Those figures don’t surprise me,” Harry Balzer, vice president, The NPD Group, told SN. “Over the last three years, the numbers are constant on average. When there’s an outbreak, people get concerned about that particular food, not the whole food supply. The numbers spike, but drop again.”
Read more: Kroger Stops Selling Sprouts
But some concern is consistently recorded, Balzer said.
“In fact, if you add the numbers up for the different levels of concern this year, you see that 80% or more show a degree of concern.”
Only 15% said they have no concern at all, indicating no change in three years. Just 9% are extremely concerned; 16%, very concerned; 29%, somewhat concerned; and 30%, slightly concerned.
“People show confidence in the food supply as a whole, and they feel the food they buy in supermarkets is safe,” Balzer said.
Monster Energy Drink Maker Sued Over Child’s Death
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/monster-energy-drink-maker-sued-over-childs-death/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 23, 2012)
Monster Beverages is being sued by the family of a 14-year-old girl from Maryland who died in December 11, 2011. She developed a heart arrhythmia after drinking cans of Monster Energy drink that is very high in caffeine. The lawsuit alleges that Monster did not warn about the health risks of its drinks.
The drinks, and their caffeine content, are not regulated by the FDA since they are considered a “dietary supplement” and are not required to establish safety of their products or adhere to caffeine limits. Caffeine levels in soft drinks are limited to 0.02% or less of the product, which is about 71 mg in a 12 ounce soda. Teenagers should limit caffeine consumption to no more than 100 mg daily, according to pediatricians.
FDA spokesperson Shelly Burgess said the government has, in the last three years, received reports of five deaths and a heart attack linked to the drink. There have been other incident reports linking the beverage to vomiting, abdominal pain, tremors, and abnormal heart rates. The journal Pediatrics has stated that “energy drinks have no therapeutic benefit, and many ingredients are understudied and not regulated. The known and unknown pharmacology of agents included in such drinks, combined with reports of toxicity, raises concern for potentially serious adverse effects.”
FDA regulations do not require companies to disclose caffeine levels in their products. They can be marketed as drinks or as dietary supplements, which have different labeling laws. Caffeine is a stimulant drug. A 24-ounce can of Monster energy contains 240 milligrams of caffeine. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) called for an investigation into the drinks last April.
Senator Durbin said in a press release, “consuming large quantities of caffeine can have serious health consequences, including caffeine toxicity, stroke, anxiety, arrhythmia, and in some cases death. Young people are especially susceptible to suffering adverse effects because energy drinks market to youth, their bodies are not accustomed to caffeine, and energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine and stimulating additives that may interact when used in combination.” He also references a report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that shows energy drinks pose serious health risks. That agency’s report states that the number of emergency room visits due to energy drinks increased from 1,128 to 13,114 in the period from 2005 to 2009.
Durbin is also introducing legislation called the Dietary Supplement Labeling Act that would require dietary supplement manufacturers to disclose the known risks of the ingredients in their products. The Act would also require mandatory warning label if the product contains an ingredient that could cause health problems.
Holiday Food Safety Tips
Source : http://techetoday.com/bookmark/20583030-Holiday-Food-Safety-Tips
By Techetoday(Oct 18, 2012)
Great food is the centerpiece of any holiday celebration, and practicing safe food handling in the kitchen is an important part of holiday meal preparation. There are certain steps you can take to keep friends and family safe from food poisoning.
“The kitchen can be chaotic and it can be challenging to keep food safety top of mind when dealing with a whole holiday meal, from turkey to trimmings,” cautions Shelley Feist, Executive Director of the non-profit Partnership for Food Safety Education.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six Americans will get sick from dangerous foodborne bacteria this year. But these crucial safety tips can help you create a safe and tasty holiday celebration:
Prevent the spread of bacteria by keeping a clean kitchen and washing hands.
Cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops should be washed with hot water and soap after preparing each food item, and before going on to the next. Keep plenty of clean cloth towels or paper towels handy for cleaning surfaces and drying hands.
Enforce a strict hand washing policy for all holiday kitchen helpers. Use warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
Rinse fresh fruits and vegetables under running tap water just before eating or preparing. Rub firm-skinned produce under running tap water or scrub with a clean vegetable brush while rinsing with running tap water.
Cross-contamination is how bacteria spread. Keep raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods, like salad ingredients. Using separate cutting boards is one way to reduce opportunities for cross-contamination.
Temperature matters! Bacteria can survive if foods aren’t cooked to a safe internal temperature. Even an experienced cook can`t tell if food is cooked safely by how it looks, so use a food thermometer to ensure you’re cooking turkeys, ham, egg dishes and other foods to a safe internal temperature. Download a temperature chart at www.holidayfoodsafety.org.
The holiday celebration is great -- and even better if you have delicious leftovers. Just remember to enjoy them within four days.
Bacteria spread fastest at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so chill food promptly -- within two hours -- at a refrigerator temperature of 40 degrees or below. Appliance thermometers are inexpensive and can help you monitor your refrigerator’s temperature.
Bring on the Bird
Learning how to cook a turkey safely may be one of the biggest holiday meal challenges. Never thaw your turkey on the counter. Turkeys are best thawed in the fridge. So allot plenty of real estate to your turkey before your celebration. If you’re going to stuff your turkey, stuff safely. Cook stuffing to a minimum temperature of 165 degrees, whether inside or outside of the bird. Visit www.Holidayfoodsafety.org, for a complete guide to the safe handling, preparation, serving, and leftover storage of your holiday turkey. You’ll also find guidelines on turkey size, how to thaw a turkey and cooking times.
By taking precautions to prepare food safely, you can ensure that bacteria won’t be guests at your holiday celebration.
Read more: TecheToday.com - Holiday Food Safety Tips
Food safety watchdog restores licence for XL Foods
Source : http://www.therecord.com/news/canada/article/822807--food-safety-watchdog-restores-licence-for-xl-foods
By Jennifer Ditchburn (Oct 23, 2012)
OTTAWA — Canada’s food-safety watchdog restored the operating licence Tuesday for a southern Alberta meat-packing plant at the centre of a massive recall of tainted beef, and also launched a review of the E. coli crisis that sickened at least 16 people.
But the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) acknowledged that its control over food safety inside the nation’s slaughterhouses has its limits: it is still up to companies such as XL Foods to honour its own safety plans.
Forty-six federal inspectors didn’t detect sanitation, hygiene and reporting deficiencies in the Brooks, Alta.-based facility until the outbreak of E. coli bacteria last month touched off one of the largest food recalls in Canadian history.
“They had a series of problems which we required corrective action on, and which we’re seeking confidence that they’ve now addressed, and the same would hold if we uncovered a problem in other facilities,” said Paul Mayers, vice-president of programs at the CFIA.
“Our daily inspection activities in other meat slaughter facilities across the country have not pointed to similar problems; our process of regular inspection and oversight continues to be diligently applied in every federally registered meat slaughter establishment across the country.”
Officials emphasized the fact that E. coli outbreaks have decreased over the past decade, suggesting the food safety regime in Canada is continually improving.
Martine Dubuc, the vice-president of science at the agency, said it came down to XL Foods not communicating as regularly or as transparently as it was supposed to with the inspectors inside the plant.
The reporting issue is likely to come up as the CFIA convenes an expert advisory committee of the XL Foods incident, Dubuc said.
At XL Foods, production will ramp up gradually as inspectors scrutinize the work on the facility floor.
The agency says two additional inspectors will stay at the plant to monitor procedures and ensure strengthened food safety controls are being integrated into daily plant practices.
But Liberal MP Frank Valeriote criticized the Conservative government Tuesday over the qualifications of the XL Foods inspectors. Not all are fully trained in the “compliance verification system,” which allows them to undertake in-depth assessments.
“Will the minister finally admit that the CFIA needs a third party comprehensive resource audit to properly allocate and develop training for its inspectors so this does not happen again, or is the minister waiting for a third crisis?” Valeriote said during question period.
It wasn’t immediately clear how long it would take for the plant to get back up to full speed, but union officials say employees are being summoned for training and suggest production could resume on Monday.
The XL Foods plant has been closed since Sept. 27, the epicentre of an extensive beef recall fuelled by E. coli contamination that sickened 16 people, rocked the industry and rattled confidence in the agency, which is overseen by the federal government.
Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, who has been bombarded with opposition questions on a daily basis during question period since the plant was shut down, reiterated Tuesday that consumers are the government’s first priority.
“There is a full complement of CFIA inspectors on the floor in that plant, some 20 per cent more than there was a few years ago,” Ritz said.
“We will put a couple more people on the ground, extra eyes and ears, during the enhanced oversight that will be taking place in the short term.”
Millions of kilograms of meat have been returned to the plant from dozens of retailers across Canada and the United States, and the recalled beef is being dumped at a landfill.
What’s more, the plant’s operations are being taken over by JBS USA, an American subsidiary of a Brazilian-owned enterprise. The agreement provides the company an exclusive option to buy the Canadian and U.S. operations of XL Foods.
Cleveland County Fair E. coli Outbreak – 61 sickened with 11 hospitalized and 1 dead
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/cleveland-county-fair-e-coli-outbreak-61-sickened-with-11-hospitalized-and-1-dead/
By Bill Marler (Oct 17, 2012)
According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections now includes 61 (38 children and 23 adults) who attended the Cleveland County Fair.
One child has died as a result of the infection; eleven individuals have been or are currently hospitalized.
Illnesses were reported in residents of Cleveland County (33), Gaston County (11, including the fatality), Lincoln County (10), Catawba County (1), Mecklenburg County (1) and Union County (2) in North Carolina, as well as York County (2) and Cherokee County (1) in South Carolina.
E. coli Test and Hold Needs to be the Rule
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/e-coli-test-and-hold-needs-to-be-the-rule/
By Bill Marler (Oct 22, 2012)
Higa Meat & Pork Market, a Honolulu, HI establishment, is recalling approximately 4,100 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The following products are subject to recall:
• 10-lb. bags of “HIGA MARKET-GROUND BEEF BULK” – 1 to 6 bags per carton/case.
Each case bears the establishment number “EST. 12457M” inside the USDA mark of inspection, as well as the identifying case code number: “291.” The products were produced on Oct. 17, 2012 and were distributed to restaurants in the Oahu, HI area.
The problem was discovered by FSIS and occurred as a result of the products testing positive for E. coli O157:H7 and being shipped prior to the company receiving test results.
10/25. Sr Food Scientist – Microbiology – Wichita, KS
10/24. Account Representative Food Safety – Hartford, CT
10/23. Food Safety Coordinator – Boardman, OR
10/22. Quality Assurance Food Safety Officer - Portland, TN
10/22. Microbiology And Food Safety Manager - Tennessee
10/22. Food Safety Supervisor - 2nd shift – Guntersville, AL
Petco’s Turtle Turn-In Program A Response To Salmonella Outbreaks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/petcos-turtle-turn-in-program-a-response-to-salmonella-outbreaks/
By Carla Gillespie (Oct 28, 2012)
In response to a wave of Salmonella outbreaks linked to small, pet turtles that have sickened 219 people in 34 states, Petco has created a turtle turn-in program. The company, which does not sell the turtles in question, will collect them and send them to Concordia Turtle Farm, a turtle exporter based in Wildsville, La.
The sale and distribution of turtles with shells less than four inches in length has been banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since 1975 because of the Salmonella risk these animals pose. Under the new program, the turtles can be turned at Petco with no questions asked and be transferred to the farm where they can live in suitable conditions. Releasing these turtles into the wild is not recommended as they are not likely to survive and may introduce diseases to wild animals and their environments, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC.)
As the current wave of outbreaks illustrates, contact with these tiny animals can cause illness. The CDC advises that consumers should not purchase them from mail-order websites to keep as pets or in classrooms or child care centers where young children may have contact with them. Two thirds of those sickened in these outbreaks are children under 10.
The outbreak strains include Salmonella Sandiego, Salmonella Pomona, and Salmonella Poona. By state the case count is as follows: The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (2), Alaska (2), Arizona (6), Arkansas (2), California (49), Colorado (5), Delaware (3), Georgia (5), Illinois (4), Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (1), Maryland (6), Massachusetts (5), Michigan (3), Minnesota (1), Mississippi (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (9), New Jersey (10), New Mexico (6), New York (29), North Carolina (3), Ohio (2), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (18), South Carolina (6), Tennessee (5), Texas (22), Vermont (1), Virginia (5), Wisconsin (1), and West Virginia (2).
Cleveland County E. coli Outbreak Hits 101
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/cleveland-county-e-coli-outbreak-hits-101/
By Andy Weisbecker (Oct 27, 2012)
The Division of Public Health of the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services in collaboration with Local Health Departments is investigating an outbreak of E. coli infection in 101 people who attended the Cleveland County Fair. Preliminary findings suggest animal exposure may be the source of this outbreak.
As of 1 p.m. Friday, 62 children* and 39 adults are known to be/have been affected by this outbreak. Thirteen individuals* have been or are currently hospitalized.
The county case counts are as follows:
Cleveland County – 59
Gaston County – 14*
Lincoln County – 14
Catawba County – 2
Union County – 2
Rutherford – 6
York County, South Carolina – 2
Cherokee County, South Carolina – 2
*this number includes one death related to the outbreak
111 Sickened in California by Salmonella Mangoes
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/111-sickened-in-california-by-salmonella-mangoes/
By Patti Waller (Oct 27, 2012)
A total of 127 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Braenderup were reported from 15 states.
33 ill persons were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that mangoes were the source of this outbreak.
On September 13, FDA placed Agricola Daniella of Sinaloa, Mexico on Import Alert. This means that Agricola Daniella mangoes will be denied admission into the United States unless the importer shows they are not contaminated with Salmonella.
During August 2012, CDC investigated a multistate outbreak of 16 Salmonella Worthington infections reported from 3 states.
Ill persons were reported from similar states and during the same time period as seen in the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak.
89% of ill persons with Salmonella Worthington who were interviewed reported consuming mangoes in the week before their illness began.
One case in the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak was also infected with Salmonella Worthington, a finding that suggests a possible connection between the two outbreaks.
North Carolina Cleveland County Fair E. coli Outbreak Grows to 101 Patients
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/north-carolina-cleveland-county-fair-e-coli-outbreak-grows-to-101-patients/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 24, 2012)
The Division of Public Health of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is investigating the E. coli outbreak among people who visited the Cleveland County Fair in September and early October. As of 1 p.m. October 24, 2012, 62 children and 39 adults are ill with the outbreak strain of the bacteria. Thirteen people have been or are currently hospitalized. One child has died from the infection.
The case counts are as follows: Cleveland County (59), Gaston County (14, including 1 death), Lincoln County (14), Catawba County (2), Union County (2), Rutherford (6), York County South Carolina (2), and Cherokee County South Carolina (2). There is still no word on what caused the outbreak, although officials suspect animals at the fair may be the source.
Attorney Elliot Olsen, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of clients injured in this manner, said, “these outbreaks can cause serious illness. Anyone who has been sickened in this outbreak should get prompt and thorough medical attention because the consequences of an E. coli-HUS illness can be deadly.”
Public health officials state that the increase in case counts at this point is most likely due to person-to-person transmission. It’s very important that anyone who is ill not prepare food for others, and that they stay home until they are well. Always wash your hands well after using the bathroom and changing diapers and before preparing food.
FDA and ag antibiotics, nursing-home norovirus outbreaks, turtle turn-ins to stem Salmonella
Source : http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/fs/food-disease/news/oct2412foodscan.html
By CIDRAP(Oct 19, 2012)
FDA documents voice doubts about voluntary approach on animal antibiotics
Internal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) documents obtained by an advocacy group show that the agency has some doubts about its voluntary strategy for reducing the use of antibiotics in food animals, according to the group, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The voluntary approach, unveiled in April, encourages drug companies to change the labels of certain antibiotics to stop growth-promotion uses. PEER had asked the FDA for documentary evidence supporting its confidence in the voluntary strategy. The agency initially didn't respond, but recently provided documents under the threat of a lawsuit, according to PEER. The group, which posted some documents on its Web site, says they contradict rather than support the FDA's optimism about the voluntary strategy. One FDA memo says, "We recognize that the voluntary strategy has certain limitations in that (1) it lacks specifically defined/mandated timeframes, (2) its success is dependent on drug sponsors deciding it is in their best interest to work cooperatively with the agency, and (3) FDA collects insufficient data on drug use . . . to measure the effectiveness of the strategy." Another memo states that the FDA has "regulatory options" in case the voluntary approach doesn't work, but the agency blanked out the options in the document. PEER attorney Kathryn Douglass said in a press release, "In the foot-thick stack of materials FDA surrendered there is not a shred of evidence that industry is working to phase-out injudicious use of these drugs."
Oct 17 PEER press release
Apr 11 CIDRAP News story on FDA's voluntary strategy
Nursing-home hospitalization, death rates higher during norovirus outbreaks
A 2-year study of nursing homes in three states showed that hospitalization and death rates were significantly higher during norovirus outbreak periods than at other times, according to a report in the Oct 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). In a retrospective cohort study, a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments identified 308 Medicare-certified nursing homes in Oregon, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania that had at least one norovirus outbreak in 2008 or 2009. A total of 407 outbreaks were reported, of which 293 were lab-confirmed, with a median 26 cases per outbreak. Reported hospitalizations and deaths were 67,730 and 26,055, respectively. Hospitalization rates per nursing home–year were 124.0 during outbreak periods versus 109.5 at other times, yielding a seasonally adjusted rate ratio of 1.09 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05-1.14). Likewise, mortality rates per nursing home–year were 53.7 during outbreak periods, compared with 41.9 at other times, for a rate ratio of 1.11 (95% CI, 1.05-1.18). The researchers found that the level of registered nurse (RN) staffing made a difference in the mortality rate. Homes with lower daily RN hours per resident (less than 0.75) had higher mortality during outbreaks, whereas those with higher hours had no increase in mortality. RN staffing was not found to be a factor in hospitalization rates, however.
Oct 24 JAMA report
Turtle turn-in program addresses Salmonella risks
In a move designed to stem Salmonella outbreaks linked to small-shell pet turtles, Petco, a pet supply retail chain based in San Diego, yesterday launched a turtle relinquishment program that it is sponsoring along with Concordia Turtle Farm, according to a company press release yesterday. Turtles with shells smaller than 4 inches relinquished at Petco stores will be shipped to Concordia Turtle Farm, where they will live and be cared for in the firm's ponds. The FDA has banned the sale and distribution of small turtles since 1975, but they are illegally sold through street vendors and other outlets. Thomas Edling, DVM, Petco's vice president of veterinary medicine, said in Petco's newsletter this spring that most of the turtles implicated in the outbreaks come from substandard breeding farms that don't use the latest egg disinfection, hatching, and growth technologies that are designed to curb Salmonella. The CDC recently reported that 219 people so far this year have been sickened in six Salmonella outbreaks linked to pet turtles.
Oct 23 Petco press release
May 23 Petco newsletter story
Oct 19 CIDRAP News Scan "US salmonellosis cases tied to pet turtles reach 219"
Sunland Peanut Butter Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 38
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/sunland-peanut-butter-salmonella-outbreak-sickens-38/
By Bill Marler (Oct 24, 2012)
A total of 38 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bredeney have been reported from 20 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (7), Connecticut (3), Illinois (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (3), Maryland (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Pennsylvania (2), Rhode Island (1), Texas (5), Virginia (1), and Washington (2).
Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that Trader Joe’s Valencia Creamy Salted Peanut Butter made with Sea Salt, manufactured by Sunland, Inc. of Portales, New Mexico, is a likely source of this outbreak.
59 people hospitalized over suspected food poisoning in NW China
Source : http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-10/24/c_131925692.htm
By English.news.cn (Oct 24, 2012)
Fifty-nine people have been hospitalized for suspected food poisoning that occurred at a kindergarten in northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, local health officials said Tuesday.
The sickened, including 56 children and three teachers, showed symptoms of food poisoning after eating breakfast at the Jinxiu Kindergarten in the Jinfeng District of Yinchuan, capital of Ningxia, said Ma Rulin, director of the municipal health bureau.
The victims were taken to the regional People's Hospital for treatment. All are in stable condition, with the exception of two children.
Samples of the food that was served for breakfast are being examined.
Local authorities are still investigating the incident.
Cleveland County Fair E. coli Outbreak Numbers Change Again
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/cleveland-county-fair-e-coli-outbreak-numbers-change-again/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 23, 2012)
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services has updated the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak linked to the Cleveland County Fair again. They are updating the investigation and outbreak numbers every day at 2:00 pm. The outbreak has grown again, to include 100 patients, up two people from yesterday.
The case counts by county are as follows: Cleveland County (59), Gaston County (14, including one death), Lincoln County (14), Catawba County (1), Union County (2), Rutherford (6), York County in South Carolina (2), and Cherokee County in South Carolina (2). Now 62 children and 38 adults are part of the outbreak. Thirteen patients have been or currently are hospitalized. One child, a 2-year-old toddler, has died.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has filed lawsuits on behalf of clients in E. coli outbreaks, said, “E. coli and HUS patients are at risk for future kidney problems and may need transplants. Anyone who visited the fair and experienced the symptoms of E. coli food poisoning should see a doctor immediately.”
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea, which may be watery and bloody, severe stomach and abdominal cramps, nausea and vomiting, and sometimes a mild fever. To be diagnosed, a stool sample is examined to see if the bacteria is present. To be included in the outbreak numbers, public health officials conducted pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) tests on the bacteria to see if the DNA matches the outbreak strain.
While the initial outbreak has most likely ended because we have passed the time frame for incubation, person to person transmission of this deadly bacteria is still very possible. Follow food safety rules carefully, wash your hands after using the bathroom and before preparing food and eating, and stay home if you are sick.