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FDA Names New Zealand First Food Safety System
Comparable to US
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/12/fda-names-new-zealand-first-food-safety-system-comparable-to-us/
By Helena Bottemiller (Dec 13, 2012)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday signed a “systems
recognition” agreement with New Zealand – the agency’s
first formal acknowledgement that a foreign country has a food safety
system comparable to the U.S.
In an interview with Food Safety News, Deputy Commissioner for Foods
Michael Taylor touted the agreement—which is the culmination of
more than two years of work—as the first step in what will soon
be a key part of the agency’s import safety system as it rolls
out the Food Safety Modernization Act.
“FSMA is looking for higher levels of assurance, in a very comprehensive
way, about the safety of food coming into [the US],” said Taylor.
“Looking to the future, the more that we can formally recognize
what’s happening in other countries and incorporate that into
our targeting of resources…the more we can target our efforts,
the more the private sector can target its efforts, the more we build
on what we’re doing and avoid duplication of efforts.”
Avoiding duplication and stretching scare resources is key as the agency
has failed to keep up with the flood of imported food.
According to FDA, food imports to the U.S. have increased by 300 percent
over the last decade, now accounting for 15 percent of the food Americans
consume each year. The products come from more than a quarter of a million
food facilities in over 200 countries and territories and enter
the U.S. through more than 300 ports.
Assuring all of this food is safe for consumers is an enormous task
for an agency trying to rebuild a new, preventive food safety system
both at home and abroad.
FDA currently has 48 staff posted in 10 countries. According to the
agency’s most recent annual report to Congress, in 2011, it spent
about $33 million to inspect 995 foreign food facilities out of the
254,088 that are registered. FDA said it physically examined around
2.3 percent, or 243,400 import lines out of 10,439,236.
In 2010, New Zealand accounted for about 2 percent of U.S. food imports
(by value), including meat products, according to USDA.
The agency believes that establishing which countries are comparable
to the U.S. when it comes to food safety will help stretch scarce resources
as the agency implements FSMA.
Recognizing that a trading partner is essentially equivalent to the
U.S., for example, would almost certainly mean that FDA inspections
of food facilities in that country will be less frequent than they will
be elsewhere. FDA officials say they will also be more likely to trust
the follow-up work performed by local officials if there is a food safety
“We’re not saying there will never be problems with New
Zealand products,” said Camille Brewer, the Director of International
Affairs at FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. “We
are saying that we’ll look to New Zealand to take a stronger and
very active role in follow up.”
To determine that the two countries’ systems are comparable, FDA
is using what it calls the International Comparability Assessment Tool
(ICAT). The system, which includes an extensive in-country audit, looks
at several elements, including regulatory foundation, inspection and
enforcement capabilities, training, verification and audit programs,
illness outbreak response capability, program and laboratory resources,
industry and consumer outreach programs and international engagement.
“We’ve been developing the concept of systems recognition
as a way to formalize our understanding that there are countries around
the world who have very developed food safety systems and who are, generally
speaking, aligned with us in terms of the movement toward a focus on
prevention and using science to ensure the safety of food,” said
The new scheme sounds a lot like establishing equivalency, which the
U.S. Department of Agriculture has long required before foreign countries
can send meat or poultry to the U.S.
“It’s analogous, but it is quite different,” said
Taylor. “The FSIS system is based upon demonstrating, at a very
detailed level, equivalence with very specific inspection mandates and
requirements that FSIS administers for meat and poultry plants for this
country and it focuses on meat and poultry, specific commodities. Our
systems recognition is at a broader and more general level and doesn’t
require the same degree of [detailed] verification that equivalence
Taylor also noted that the agreement does not have legally binding consequences,
like equivalency does, and that it will just be one part of the FDA’s
import safety system.
“It’s a harbinger of what’s to come over the long
term in terms of building partnerships, collaboration, and mutual reliance
with other countries’ food safety systems,” he said.
Another key element is the Foreign Supplier Verification Program, which
is one of the key rules that has been stuck under review at the White
House Office of Management and Budget for a year.
When asked when the rules will be released from their lengthy review,
Taylor said: “I hope soon. The process is active – we hope
we’ll be able to get our proposals out very soon.”
USFDA says New Zealand seafood safety system
Source : http://www.fis.com/fis/worldnews/worldnews.asp?l=e&country=0&special=&monthyear=&day=&id=57595&ndb=1&df=0
By www.fis.com (Dec 17, 2012)
The New Zealand seafood industry has welcomed a new agreement between
the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Ministry
for Primary Industries (MPI). The agreement, which is the first of its
kind, ensures that the entities recognise each other’s food safety
systems as comparable to each other.
The FDA believes that establishing which countries are comparable to
the US when it comes to food safety will help stretch scarce resources
as the agency implements the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), reports
Food Safety News.
Lesley Campbell, Acting Chief Executive of Seafood New Zealand said
that “the agreement is a vote of confidence in New Zealand’s
food safety system and in the high quality of New Zealand’s seafood
The organization said in a press release that the agreement will mean
greater commercial certainty for the seafood industry, as well as providing
US consumers with greater confidence in New Zealand seafood.
“At a practical level it will reduce compliance costs, for example,
with less inspection and oversight of our products at the border we
can expect those products to move more quickly into the United States,”
Campbell says that the country exports some 10 per cent of its seafood
to the United States directly, totalling NZD 147 million (USD 124 million)
for the year ended 31 October 2012.
“United States is our number one market for greenshell mussels
with exports valued at NZD 59 million (USD 49.7 million) for the year,”
Meanwhile, recognising that a trading partner is essentially equivalent
to the US would mean that FDA inspections of food facilities will be
less frequent than they will be elsewhere. FDA officials also say that
they will be more likely to trust the follow-up work performed by local
officials if there is a food safety problem.
“We’re not saying there will never be problems with New
Zealand products,” said Camille Brewer, the Director of International
Affairs at FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. “We
are saying that we’ll look to New Zealand to take a stronger and
very active role in follow up.”
In order to determine comparability, the FDA is using the International
Comparability Assessment Tool (ICAT). The system examines several elements
which include regulatory foundation, inspection and enforcement capabilities,
training, verification and audit programmes, illness outbreak response
capability, programme and laboratory resources, industry and consumer
outreach programmes and international engagement.
Give a gift of food safety
Source : http://www.thewesterlysun.com/mysticriverpress/news/give-a-gift-of-food-safety/article_beba6482-43a5-11e2-894f-001a4bcf887a.html
By Diane Wright Hirsch, Special to the Press (Dec 16, 2012)
I have seen holiday ads this year that are beyond imaginative. They
include caffeine supplements, lottery tickets, ammunition and $100,000
diamonds. So, why not consider the gift of food safety. It would be
so much more practical and healthful.
We have written often of the need to think about food safety when growing
food in a backyard or community garden. When you are making compost,
watering your tomatoes or picking the cucumbers, sanitation is as important
as it is in the kitchen.
If you have a fruit and/or veggie gardener on your gift list, why not
consider a compost thermometer. You never heard of such a thing, you
say. Well, a first encounter with one of these thermometers can be a
bit scary. The stem is about three feet long and the dial about 3 inches
in diameter. It is something you might imagine the jolly green giant
using as he checks the temperature of a kettle of green beans. But,
a compost thermometer can be essential to the safety of the compost
you spread on your garden.
Just as you need to cook raw chicken to eliminate the bacteria or pathogens
that cause foodborne illness, it is important for compost to be “cooked”
sufficiently to kill pathogens (as well as undesirable weed seeds).
To do this job, compost must reach a temperature of 130-160° F.
Eggs of flies and parasites should be subjected to a temperature of
150° F. And, you can’t tell the temperature by looking at
or even feeling the compost. Anything can feel “hot enough”
if the air temperature is in the 30s or look “hot enough”
if the pile is steaming away.
Use your computer search engine to find compost thermometers for sale.
You want one long enough to reach to the middle of your compost pile,
and they do come in various lengths. You can also check with your favorite
home garden center.
If your gardener doesn’t compost, how about a tool for safer harvest?
Find some food-grade plastic bins to use for harvesting crops. While
baskets or wooden crates may add a certain caché to the job,
a cleanable (and, maybe even ‘sanitizable’) plastic would
be better. When that forgotten onion or potato rots away in your harvest
container, you really want to be able to clean it thoroughly before
It would also be good if the kitchen gardener would store these brand-new
harvest bins indoors, away from critters seeking either shelter or a
Truly washable and reusable shopping bags would also be nice. I am not
talking about most of the bags you can purchase at the grocery store
with the grocery store label on them. While useful, they are difficult
to wash thoroughly. Believe me, I have tried. One trip in the washing
machine and they are just not the same.
Sure, you can wipe them down, but the effectiveness of cleaning a porous,
cloth-like surface that way is questionable. I want to be able to throw
the bags into the hot cycle of my washing machine. Good old canvas is
great for that.
How about buying a vegetable brush? There have been quite a few outbreaks
traced to fruits and vegetables in recent years. You can clean a cantaloupe
with a vegetable brush before slicing it. There is no special magic
to cleaning fruits and vegetables. You do not have to use bleach or
veggie wash. Basically you simply need to scrub off dirt and micro-bugs
(with the potential of serving up some foodborne illness) under running
Keep the water temperature fairly equal to the produce you are washing
so that as the produce cools it will not absorb dirty water from the
surface of the produce. These brushes are cheap so buy two.
Color-coded cutting boards are great for preventing cross-contamination
of foods. Wise cooks dedicate some colors for cutting raw meat or chicken
and different colors for cutting ready-to-eat foods such as fruit, veggies
and salad ingredients. Polyethylene plastic boards can be put into the
dishwasher for sanitizing. They are easier to clean than wood. Besides,
the colors can add a bit of pizzazz to any kitchen.
Finally, we can carry the thermometer theme into the kitchen as well.
Aside from well-scrubbed hands, a food thermometer is a food safety
tool that every kitchen should have. A food thermometer is perfect for
a stocking stuffer. Monitoring the internal temperature of cooked foods
can be a learning experience for cooks of all ages to ensure that their
food is safe and not undercooked.
Responding to the food safety culture, manufacturers now make quite
a variety of user-friendly thermometer options. All of these are available
at department, hardware, home and grocery stores.
Instant-read thermometers come in dial and digital. These are used after
removing your food from the oven and give the temperature in a matter
Large dial thermometers, like a lot of people use with turkeys, are
oven safe and remain in the meat while it’s cooking so you can
monitor its progress.
Digital thermometers are a great gift for people fond of electronic
devices. One type is a digital probe that is inserted into the meat
and attached to a long wire that connects to a base unit outside the
oven. It allows you to monitor the temperature while the meat is cooking.
You set the desired temperature and the unit beeps when it reaches that
Refrigerator and freezer thermometers are useful when stocking your
homegrown and home-preserved produce. Dawn Pettinelli, who writes for
this column, lost power during last week’s ice storm. She had
to throw out much of her frozen homegrown fruits and vegetables.
A freezer thermometer would likely not have saved her frozen green beans,
but if you experience a shorter outage, knowing the temperature in your
freezer or refrigerator can help you to figure out if food is still
worth saving after several hours.
While these gifts might not elicit the squeals of delight you hope for
when your kitchen gardener rips the wrapping off, they might actually
save a life – or, at least, save someone from several days of
For more information on these last minute gifts, contact the Home and
Garden Education Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-486-6271 for more
Promise of food safety law largely unfulfilled
Source : http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2012/12/15/promise-of-food-safety-law-largely-unfulfilled/1772261/
By Christopher Doering, Gannett Washington Bureau (Dec 16, 2012)
Implementation of the sweeping law, signed two years ago, has been bogged
down by the its complexity and cost.
WASHINGTON -- With thousands of Americans falling ill and public confidence
shaken after a series of high-profile foodborne outbreaks several years
ago involving consumer staples such as lettuce, peppers, peanuts and
eggs, Congress and the White House moved aggressively to bring food
safety into the 21st century.
But two years after President Obama signed a sweeping food safety bill
into law, the rules at the heart of the largest food safety overhaul
in more than 70 years have yet to be put in place, blocked by their
sheer length, growing complexity and a White House that critics contend
has delayed their implementation for political gain.
At the same time, the Food and Drug Administration, the government agency
charged with implementing the new law, has been the victim of a push
in Washington to rein in spending and some Republicans in Congress who
have questioned the necessity and cost of the regulations.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in October that unless the agency's
food safety budget is increased by millions of dollars from its current
level of $1.2 billion it would continue to struggle to implement the
expansive new regulations. "Implementing that broadly expansive
mandate with limited resources has been a challenge," Hamburg said
at an event hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies,
a think tank. "It has been harder and slower than any of us would
The longer it takes the food laws to be enacted, proponents of the law
argue, the more time the country's food supply remains exposed to an
unnecessarily high level of risk. They point to the example this fall
of Salmonella found at a Sunland Inc. peanut butter
processing plant in New Mexico that caused 42 people, mostly children,
in 20 states to become ill. The facility had a history of food safety
"The Obama administration has already seen a number of very serious
outbreaks while we have been waiting for these rules to be released,"
said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director with the Center for
Science in the Public Interest. "The cost of delay is really the
likelihood that more people will get sick and some may get seriously
ill, may end up in the hospital and some could even die while we're
waiting for these rules to be finalized."
Foodborne illnesses strike an estimated 48 million people in the United
States each year, or about one in six Americans, killing 3,000, according
to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A
study released in 2010 by consumer and public health groups said foodborne
diseases cost the United States $152 billion in health-related expenses
each year, far more than prior estimates. Despite the outbreaks, the
United States is widely regarded as having one of the safest food supplies
in the world.
The Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law by President Obama
in January 2011 marked the biggest change of U.S. food safety laws since
1938 when Congress gave the FDA authority to oversee the safety of food,
drugs and cosmetics.
For years, the FDA, tasked with regulating 80 percent of the U.S. food
supply, was widely seen by lawmakers, consumer groups and the agency
itself as understaffed and underfunded. That leaves the agency able
to inspect only of a fraction of the plants under its watch.
A handful of power-boosting rules went in place immediately after Obama
signed the new law. Among the most prominent were regulations that:
•Gave the FDA access to documents at a food company tied to an
illness or death
•Increased the frequency of plant inspections
•Gave the agency the power to order a mandatory recall
•Allowed the FDA to suspend a company's operation's ""
something the agency did last month in the case of Sunland.
But implementation of other measures -- such as requiring food production
facilities to have a plan in place to identify and prevent contamination
along with stricter requirements for overseeing the production and harvesting
of fresh produce -- are months behind. Tougher oversight of imported
foods also has been delayed. The law requires importers to verify the
food they bring into the United States meets domestic safety standards.
The food could be denied entry if it fails to do so.
The produce rule, for example, has been besieged with criticism that
it was poorly written, and an insufficient job was done analyzing the
costs and benefits for producers. All this has caused the rule to swell
in excess of 700 pages, likely contributing to its subsequent delay,
according to those who follow the food safety legislation.
"It is a broader ranging bill than Congress thought it passed,"
said Chad Hart, an associate professor of economics at Iowa State University.
"Once you begin to look at the agricultural production and transport
systems here in the U.S. that's a mammoth task so it doesn't surprise
me that it's taken quite a while."
Rep. Kristi Noem, a South Dakota Republican and a member of the House
Agriculture Committee, was sympathetic to the complexity of the rule-making
process required to implement the new regulations. A host of factors
must be considered such as if the measures are needed, how much they
will cost and the degree to which they will impact food delivery and
safety. Still, she said: "Two years "¦ is too long
not to come forward with rules and regulations especially when it is
as important as food safety."
The FDA submitted them to the White House's Office of Management and
Budget in late 2011 for approval, but the administration has yet to
sign off on them. Once the OMB gives the okay, implementation of the
food safety laws is likely still several years away. The public must
first be given the chance to comment on the proposals before the FDA
can incorporate their suggestions into the final rules. After that,
larger companies are usually given a year to comply with the new measures
with smaller businesses having three years.
The White House referred questions on the food safety rules to the OMB.
Moira Mack, a spokeswoman with the OMB, said the Obama Administration
remains committed to food safety, citing a rule enacted to crack down
on salmonella in eggs and the expansion of E. coli testing for beef.
"We are working as expeditiously as possible to implement the food
safety legislation we fought so hard for," said Mack. "When
it comes to rules with this degree of importance and complexity, it
is critical that we get it right."
Even if the rules went into effect on time it's unlikely they would
have been able to prevent recent major recalls. David Acheson, the FDA's
former food safety czar, said it takes time before companies can make
the necessary changes that will have a noticeable effect on public health.
"The change does not move that quickly. They are going to take
a long time before they have an impact," he said.
Acheson, food safety groups and others said the administration should
release the proposed rules so the public and businesses affected by
them could comment. They put the blame directly on the White House,
which they claim likely delayed releasing the proposed rules before
the election amid fears that higher costs imposed on companies would
be passed on to consumers. "It's time to stop playing with them
just get them out there, warts at all, and have at it," said Acheson,
who is now a partner at Leavitt Partners and oversees the firm's food
and import safety practice.
"There is a high level of frustration in the (FDA) about this and
they genuinely believe these things are ready to go," said Acheson.
"I believe the holdup is political and thus by process of elimination
sits at the White House door and ultimately with the president."
The FDA has not been the only consumer protection agency to have its
regulatory arsenal strengthened by Congress in recent years.
After a series of highly publicized recalls involving lead-painted toys
from China, lawmakers passed a law in August 2008 to strengthen the
Consumer Production Safety Commission. The new law increased its budget
and staff, imposed stiffer testing and product labeling requirements
on businesses and established thresholds for several substances such
as lead and chemicals called phthalates that are found in plastics and
have been linked to birth defects in lab animals. Businesses that violated
the law were slapped with higher fines and in some cases jail time.
In the last four years, the CPSC, which is responsible for monitoring
more than 15,000 types of products, has seen the number of recalls drop
for items it oversees from 107 in the quarter when the law was passed
by Congress to 70 in the third-quarter of 2012, according to data from
Stericycle ExpertRECALL, an Indianapolis-based firm that has provided
advice and helped major U.S. companies carry out recalls. Meanwhile,
the FDA, without its full arsenal of funding and enforcement tools,
has seen recalls rise from 113 recalls in the first quarter of 2011
when the Food Safety Modernization Act was signed to 169 in the second
quarter of this year, a 50 percent increase.
Gale Prince, a consultant for Stericycle ExpertRECALL, said companies
affected by the CPSC rules have had more time to adopt and implement
the new regulations in their business operations. "It's the difference
in maturing of the legislation," said Prince. "The awareness
of the activity of the CPSC has had an effect, they have gotten the
word out and I think that may be part of the downward trend."
While some businesses are waiting until the food safety rules are published,
many companies are already incorporating their own food safety handling
and transportation measures into their operations. The threat of potential
litigation, long-term damage to their brand and a surge in the use of
social media tools by the public to communicate has put more pressure
on businesses to meet or exceed existing food safety requirements, said
Hy-Vee, the 234-store, West Des Moines-based grocery chain has hired
an outside auditor to do inspections of its stores. It also has worked
with its distribution centers to make sure they handle and transport
food using the same standards, such as ensuring sanitary conditions
and uniform temperatures are maintained.
"There is cost involved but it's a cost of doing business and certainly
it's nothing compared to not doing it," said Ruth Comer, assistant
vice president of media relations with Hy-Vee. "If something isn't
done and there is a food borne illness outbreak or another situation
that one incident could be far more costly than any protective measures."
Norovirus Link to Wyoming Golden Corral Confirmed
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/norovirus-link-to-wyoming-golden-corral-confirmed/
By Bill Marler (Dec 16, 2012)
Early last week, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department reported
that it was investigating several reports of intestinal illnesses.
They announced that they were also coordinating efforts with the Epidemiology
Section of the Wyoming Department of Health. Some reports have
suggested a local restaurant, but others have reported no contact there.
Symptoms include Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea and Headaches, and duration
is about 24-48 hours. If you have experienced these symptoms in
the past 3-4 days, please call the Health Department at 307-235-9340.
According to Kyle Roerink of the Casper Star-Tribune, as of Friday evening,
the Casper-Natrona County Health Department had received 292 reports
of foodborne illness related to the Golden Corral restaurant in east
Casper, according to department Director Bob Harrington. Harrington
cautioned that not all reports are likely to be related to the restaurant.
Then Harrington was quoted as saying – despite asking the people
who pay his salary to call in:
Some people may have contracted the disease somewhere else, he said.
And given the litigious nature of society, some people may be trying
to make a quick buck off of insurance claims, Harrington added.
The reality Mr. Harrington is that your citizens who became sick at
Golden Corral wound need to prove 1) that they ate there, 2) that they
contracted norovirus from Golden Corral’s food, and 3) that they
And, then Friday, the Golden Corral announced a voluntary 24-hour closure
to thoroughly clean and disinfect the restaurant.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that
noroviruses cause nearly 21 million cases of acute gastroenteritis annually,
making noroviruses the leading cause of gastroenteritis in adults in
the United States.
Listeria and Botulism risk with Farmstead Food
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/listeria-and-botulism-risk-with-farmstead-food/
By Drew Falkenstein (Dec 15, 2012)
The Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) advises consumers that
they should not eat certain products produced by Farmstead Inc. of 186
Wayland Ave. in Providence. Certain food items purchased from the Farmstead
Inc. retail shop or through http://www.farmsteadinc.com are being voluntarily
recalled due to food safety concerns.
HEALTH inspectors initiated an investigation after receiving a tip.
No illnesses associated with these products have been reported at this
The recalled food products were produced without the required controls
to prevent the production of the toxin that causes botulism and the
growth of listeria. Ingestion of botulinum toxin from improperly processed
foods can lead to serious illness and death.
Among the recalled products are jarred vegetables (8 or 16 oz. Ball
jars), including carrots, beets, eggplant, zucchini, pickles, tomato
jam. In addition, meat products, including chicken liver mousse and
pork rillettes (4 oz. jars), produced by Farmstead Inc. are being voluntarily
recalled because they may have been improperly processed, making them
susceptible to contamination with Clostridium botulinum. These jars
have a screw-on metal lid with the name of the product, but do not contain
production or date codes.
Certain soft and semi-soft cheeses, raw milk cheeses, goat cheeses,
and any cheeses that are labeled “Keep Refrigerated” and
were sold at room temperature in the retail store are also being recalled.
D’Artagnan salami (labeled “Keep Refrigerated”) and
Proscuitto, salamis, Liverwurst, pâtés, and other meats
processed at the store are also being recalled because they were improperly
Consumers who have any of these recalled products at home should discard
them or return them to the store.
Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and experiences abdominal
cramps; difficulty breathing, speaking or swallowing; double vision;
muscle weakness; muscle aches; nausea; vomiting; diarrhea; or fever
should contact their healthcare provider immediately for evaluation
and treatment. The young, elderly, those with chronic conditions, and
pregnant women are especially susceptible to foodborne illness.
DM meet with food firms stresses safety
Source : http://gulftoday.ae/portal/59ea7021-4876-437a-917b-02aa249fff45.aspx
By The Gulf Today(Dec 14, 2012)
DUBAI: The food inspection section of Dubai Municipality has conducted
its quarterly meet with food establishments in Dubai. Over 100 representatives
from different organisations attended. Sultan Ali Tahir, head of the
food inspection section said the meeting was aimed at stressing provision
of excellent services and receiving suggestions to achieve the goal.
ldquo;These establishments are important as they are the main destinations
for thousands of residents and tourists. The authorities are obliged
to confirm the compliance of these establishments with the rules and
regulations,” he added.
Khalid Mohammed Sherif Al Awadi, director of Food Control Department,
welcomed the guests and stressed the significance of continuous co-operation
between authorities and private sector in the field of food safety.
“We aim to achieve the strategic goal in eliminating food poisoning
cases, which will be realised only through the adherence to rules and
regulations,” he pointed out.
Historic food safety agreement with US
Source : http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbpol/1850396236-historic-food-safety-agreement-with-us
By Katie Bradford-Crozier (Dec 14, 2012)
A historic food safety agreement has been signed between New Zealand
and the United States.
The Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement means we recognise each
other's systems as providing a similar degree of assurance.
It's the first time the US Food and Drug Administration has recognised
another country's food safety system in such a way.
Food Safety Minister Kate Wilkinson says it'll lessen the potential
regulatory burden for foods traded between our countries, by removing
WY Restaurant Outbreak Likely from Norovirus
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/12/wy-restaurant-outbreak-likely-from-norovirus/
By James Andrews (Dec 13, 2012)
At least 167 residents around Casper, Wyo. have reported suffering from
gastrointestinal illnesses in the past week, according to the Casper-Natrona
County Health Department.
The evidence points to a Norovirus contamination at a buffet-style Golden
Corral restaurant in east Casper as the source, health department director
Robert Harrington told Food Safety News.
Thus far, none of the 167 self-reported cases have been clinically diagnosed.
Results from tests should begin coming in next week.
The emergency room of the local hospital reported a “remarkable
spike” last week in illnesses featuring symptoms of Norovirus
infection, Harrington said. Those suffering from infection may experience
diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting.
Around 1 p.m. Mountain Time, Golden Corral announced a voluntary 24-hour
shutdown to sanitize the premises. Harrington cautioned management that
a temporary closure cannot guarantee eliminating the contamination,
but praised the move as “doing the right thing.”
The restaurant opened approximately one month ago, Harrington said.
Local health officials performed their first operational inspection
of the facilities on Wednesday following the spate of illness reports.
A news story published Wednesday in the Casper Star-Tribune featured
an interview with a Golden Corral patron who noted dirty plates being
served to customers. When he addressed the concern to an employee, he
said he was told that the restaurant’s dishwasher was broken.
Harrington said that the dishwasher was functioning properly when officials
inspected the restaurant on Wednesday. Inspectors did not note any unclean
Health officials will be back at Golden Corral Friday to inspect the
facility once again before it re-opens for dinner.
After Listeria Recall, Capital Packers Resumes
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/after-listeria-recall-capital-packers-resumes-operations/
By Carla Gillespie (Dec 13, 2012)
Capital Packers Inc., of Edmonton, Alberta has resumed operations after
a temporary closure prompted by a November recall for possible contamination
with Listeria monocytogenes. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA)
lifted the suspension of operations at the company’s Establishment
231, after additional testing and the completion of a food safety investigation,.
Capital Packers sells products under its own name and makes several
products marketed under private labels. The recalled items were
ham sausage products under the Capital and Compliments brands.. Capital
Packers submitted a corrective action plan that addressed recall and
traceback issues and it was approved by the CFIA which will continue
to closely monitor operations at the plant. The company has also submitted
a timeline for implementation of other corrective action plans
related to general sanitation and maintenance issues such as: building
maintenance, ventilation and storage.
There have been no illnesses reported in association with the
recall. However, Listeria can cause severe illness. Unlike
other foodborne pathogens, symptoms of Listeria infection, called
listeriosis, can take up to two months after exposure to develop. Synptoms
include headache, fever, stiff neck, muscle aches and nausea.
Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to premature delivery, infection
of the newborn, miscarriage oe stillbirth. In addition to pregnant women,
those most at risk include small children, seniors and those with compromised
Stricter Food Safety Guidelines At Restaurants,
Hotels Start Jan. 1
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/11/food-safety-disasters-2012_n_2276869.html
By CBSMiami (Dec 12, 2012)
FLORIDA (CBSMiami) – Beginning in January, your restaurant experience
will be a little different, particularly in the menu.
Florida is changing the way it inspects restaurants and warns consumers
about possible allergens in their meals.
The new guidelines come after changes to the National Food Safety Codes
that were mandated by Congress and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA)…all the way back in 2009.
Alain Turras wonders how safe and healthy the food is when he goes out
“Sometimes you go out and wonder about how the food’s being
cooked, whether it’s healthy. Sometimes after eating at a restaurant,
I’m not feeling very well,” Turras explained.
They’re aimed at making prepared foods safer and cutting down
on food borne illnesses.
Effective January 1st, restaurants will have to disclose all potential
allergens – like nuts and fruits – in its recipes to help
consumers avoid foods that they are either allergic to or that would
make them sick.
Kids meals can’t just be warmed up anymore: they’ll have
to be fully cooked to kill off any potentially dangerous food-borne
And inspection violations will be better classified into 3 categories…from
the 2 which are used now..to provide more detailed information
for food safety areas that need to be improved.
Violations could be serious, such as improper hand-washing or undercooking
food; intermediate, such as inadequate employee training or labeling;
or basic, which the Code deems best practices to implement.
It is unclear why incorporating best practices is classified as a violation.
More information on the 2009 Food Code can be found here.
The Florida Restaurant Association supports the changes which will be
phased in statewide starting next month.
Restaurants will still face a minimum of 2 mandatory food safety inspections
Lee Neal is a Doral restaurant operator who said, “It’s
red tape but it shouldn’t be too bad since a good operator ought
to be doing it right anyways.”
Florida remains one of the few states in the nation that doesn’t
“grade” food safety and require those grades to be openly
posted for customers to see.
In addition to the changes for food service operators, lodging operators
will also see the three-tiered system replace the designations of “critical”
or “non-critical” violations.
Inspection reports are available online at myfloridalicense.com, and
consumers still have the right to ask for, and be shown a restaurants’
most current inspection report.
England may stop serving burgers (minced meat)
that will kill you with E. coli
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/england-may-stop-serving-burgers-minced-meat-that-will-kill-you-with-e-coli/
By Bill Marler (Dec 12, 2012)
As the Daily Telegraph printed today:
James Armitage, the council’s food health and safety manager,
said: “This is about making sure customers are eating meat that
is not a threat to their health. It is possible to produce burgers that
can be eaten undercooked, but strict controls are essential.
“We have enlisted the UK’s top expert on E. coli, Prof Hugh
Pennington, to get this matter resolved and he has outlined that rare
minced meat that is not correctly cooked and prepared can kill.”
As a friend’s Son-in-Law sent from London this morning:
Hopefully, we here in the former colonies hopefully remember (20 year
Jack-in-the Box E. coli outbreak coming up) that undercooked meat kills.
Food safety top priority for Canadians, says
Source : http://beaconnews.ca/blog/2012/12/food-safety-top-priority-for-canadians-says-new-poll/
By Beacon Staff Reporter (Dec 11, 2012)
A new poll released by the Canadian Food Safety Alliance on Tuesday
showed that Canadians’ concern for food borne illness has persisted,
months after the XL Food recall.
Canadians list food safety as one of their top concerns on par with
concerns over the deficit. The poll by Praxicus was commissioned
by Canadian Food Safety Alliance and conducted between November 20 and
22 and included a sample of 1000 Adult Canadian citizens. The margin
of error is +/- 3.1 per cent.
The survey also found that Canadians demand action when it comes to
ensuring the food offered is safe, citing an increase in inspectors
and the vaccination of all cattle to prevent them from carrying E. coli
O157 as priorities for fighting food borne illness.
While the vast majority of Canadians are still either recorded as confident
or somewhat confident in Canadian meat safety, concerns over issues
such as E. coli O157 contamination remain a priority for the majority.
“This survey was done long after the massive beef recall and Canadians
remain concerned about their food safety,” Canadian Food Alliance
spokesperson Bliss Baker said.
“It certainly seems that Canadians want to see more done to protect
the safety of their food,” Baker added.
Some of the highlights of the poll include food safety as topical and
an issue of great importance, the importance of dealing with the issue
trumps all other issues, including the deficit.
E. coli contamination trumps all food safety issues, as half of Canadians
believe E. coli incidents have increased over 5 years and 42 per cent
of Canadians say they have decreased beef consumption as a result of
The survey showed that Processors and Meat inspectors as mainly (equally)
responsible for the E. coli outbreak. Eleven per cent of the respondents
believed that the CFIA were doing “everything they can”
compared to 15 per cent who believed that they were “not doing
Processing plants and big box/discount retailers are seen as the most
likely places to purchase E. coli contaminated beef whereas local butchers
and organic beef were seemed to be the least likely sources of E. coli
The Canadian Food Safety Alliance is committed to protecting the public
health by promoting a prevention program that reduces the human health
risks associated with E. coli O157 contamination.
China, U.S. to continue food safety cooperation
Source : http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/China-US-to-continue-food-safety-cooperation-183042261.html
By Tom Karst (Dec 11, 2012)
The U.S. and China will continue to cooperate on food safety matters.
The Food and Drug Administration has renewed a 2007 agreement with China’s
food safety agency to enhance cooperation between the two countries.
The five-year extension of the agreement includes language on strengthening
FDA’s ability to identify high-risk food items from China. The
pact also promises cooperation in inspections of facilities that produce
food and the creation of methods for FDA to accept “relevant,
verified information from (China) regarding registration and certification,”
according to a news release from FDA.
The 2007 agreement resulted in FDA opening offices in Beijing, Shanghai
and Guangzhou, according to the release.
The agency has made considerable progress in food safety since the first
agreement was signed, according to the release. One of those gains is
increased inspection of Chinese food facilities, from zero inspections
in 2007 to 85 inspections in 2011. Progress has also occurred in increased
understanding of food safety systems and the adequacy of Chinas’
food safety laboratories, according to the release.
Concerns over Mad Cow Disease Raised in Brazil
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2012/12/concerns-raised-over-mad-cow-disease-raised-in-br.aspx
By Food Product Design (Dec 10, 2012)
BRAZIL—Brazil, one of the world's largest beef exporters, has
been able to distance itself from mad cow disease, at least until recently.
The South American country last week notified the World Organization
for Animal Health (OIE) that it discovered a protein from a dead cow
that is believed to cause mad cow disease otherwise known as bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). However, the animal that died two years
ago did not have mad cow disease, according to Brazilian officials.
Still, those assurances didn't mollify world concerns over BSE, which
the OIE states is a "progressive, fatal disease of the nervous
system of cattle." Reuters reports that Japan has halted beef imports
R-CALF USA (the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers
of America) on Monday sent a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture
Secretary Tom Vilsack, asserting that "Brazil is not eligible to
import into the United States ruminants that have been in Brazil, meat,
meat products, and edible products other than meat."
"Further, until USDA conducts a through risk assessment of the
risk of introducing BSE into the United States from Brazil and further
conducts a public rulemaking with notice and opportunity for comment
should USDA propose to include Brazil as a country with a minimal risk
of BSE … Brazilian imports of ruminants and ruminant products
must be prohibited," wrote Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA, in
Earlier this year, USDA confirmed the presence of BSE in a dairy cow
from central California, though the agency reiterated no part of the
animal entered the nation's food supply. In 2011, there were only 29
worldwide cases of BSE, a dramatic decline and 99% reduction since the
peak in 1992 of 37,311 cases.
Australia, Brazil, India and the United States are among the world's
leading beef exporters, according to USDA. The agency reported earlier
this year that India's beef exports are forecast to surge 29% to a record
of 2.16 million tons in 2013, representing nearly one-quarter of world
trade. That figure is comparable to Brazil's record exports of 2.19
million tons in 2007, USDA said.
Salmonella and Peanut Butter: Victims’
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/12/salmonella-and-peanut-butter-victims-stories/
By James Andrews (Dec 04, 2012)
A little more than a week ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention announced the end of the Salmonella outbreak tied to
Trader Joe’s peanut butter made by Sunland Inc. in New Mexico.
In total, at least 42 people in 20 states fell ill, with 10 requiring
Headlines from recent years have made the combination of peanut butter
and Salmonella a notorious duo, predominantly due to two massive outbreaks
in the second half of the 2000s: Peter Pan peanut butter in 2006-07,
and products made with Peanut Corporation of America peanut butter in
Together, the two outbreaks resulted in at least 1,139 confirmed cases
of Salmonella infection. The CDC estimates that for every one laboratory-confirmed
case of Salmonella another 29 cases go unreported, meaning the outbreaks
potentially sickened tens of thousands of people.
At least 425 people in 44 states fell ill with strains of Salmonella
Tennessee in 2006 and 2007 after eating Peter Pan and Great Value peanut
butter manufactured by ConAgra in Georgia. Of those ill, 20 percent
One of those people was Mora Lou Marshall, an 85-year-old cancer survivor
and grandmother from Louisiana. After her dentist recommended
eating a spoonful of peanut butter every day for supplemental vitamins,
Marshall continued to eat the Peter Pan brand throughout months of illness
before health investigators finally traced the nationwide Salmonella
outbreak back to that product.
Clifford Tousignant went through an all-too-similar experience two years
later when he was hospitalized just after Christmas 2008 with what became
diagnosed as a Salmonella infection. Tousignant, a sociable, 78-year-old
Korean War veteran and three-time Purple Heart recipient from Minnesota,
had recently moved into an assisted living facility where he was eating
a peanut butter sandwich almost every day.
As it turned out, Tousignant was part of a Salmonella outbreak that
eventually sickened at least 714 people across 46 states. Just after
New Year’s 2009, investigators finally began to connect the rampant
outbreak to thousands of products all made with peanut butter manufactured
by Peanut Corporation of America.
For Tousignant, however, the discovery did not come fast enough. Health
complications from his infection led to his passing on January 12. The
outbreak also contributed to the deaths of 8 other victims.
12/14. Food Safety
Tech – Jessup, MD
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12/12. Food Safety - Restaurant Audit – San Francisco, CA
12/12. Safety & QA Department Specialist – Eden Prairie, MN
12/12. Food Safety Specialist – Green River, WY
12/11. Quality Assurance Supervisor - Gridley, CA
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