12/24,2012
ISSUE:527

                       


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Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
USDA/FDA News
/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety


Bulgarian Food Safety Agency officers to be on duty during holidays
Source : http://www.focus-fen.net/index.php?id=n295246
By FOCUS News Agency (Dec 23, 2012)
Teams on duty will check on the regularity and safety of food products and the hygiene at the public establishments during teh Christmas and New Year holidays, said Dr Boyan Tsolov, Director of the District Food Safety Directorate in the town of Vidin, speaking for Radio FOCUS – Vidin.
The inspectors will carry out checks at the markets, the commercial chain and the catering and entertainment establishments in the district of Vidin. A mobile group will be on duty and will check the food products entering the territory of the country from the border checkpoints in the region.

FDA closer to approving biotech salmon
Source : http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/12/21/16074075-fda-closer-to-approving-biotech-salmon?lite
By Carey Gillam (Dec 22, 2012)
A controversial genetically engineered salmon has moved a step closer to the consumer's dining table after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Friday the fish didn't appear likely to pose a threat to the environment or to humans who eat it.
AquAdvantage salmon eggs would produce fish with the potential to grow to market size in half the time of conventional salmon. If it gets a final go-ahead, it would be the first food from a transgenic animal - one whose genome has been altered - to be approved by the FDA.
The AquAdvantage Atlantic salmon egg was developed by AquaBounty Technology to speed up production to meet global seafood demand.
In a draft environmental assessment, the FDA affirmed earlier findings that the biotech salmon was not likely to be harmful. It said it would take comments from the public on its report for 60 days before making a final decision on approval.
"With respect to food safety, FDA has concluded that food from AquAdvantage salmon is as safe as food from conventional Atlantic salmon, and that there is a reasonable certainty of no harm from consumption," the FDA assessment states.
AquaBounty officials said they were caught by surprise by the news that its product was a step closer to approval as years of controversy had followed the company's application for a go-ahead from the regulator. They said they did not know the timing or details of the process the FDA will follow following the 60-day comment period.
"We are encouraged that the environmental assessment is being released and hope the government continues the science-based regulatory process," said AquaBounty Chief Executive Ronald Stotish.
Critics say the new salmon is a "dangerous experiment" and have pressured the FDA to reject it. They say the FDA has relied on outdated science and substandard methods for assessing the new fish.
"We are deeply concerned that the potential of these fish to cause allergic reactions has not been adequately researched," said Michael Hansen, a scientist at the Consumers Union. "FDA has allowed this fish to move forward based on tests of allergenicity of only six engineered fish, tests that actually did show an increase in allergy-causing potential."
There were also concerns the FDA would not require the genetically modified salmon to be labeled as such, and some critics said they may file a lawsuit to prevent what they fear could be the imminent approval of the engineered fish.
"Congress can still keep FDA from unleashing this dangerous experiment," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group. "Although this latest FDA decision is a blow to consumer confidence, we encourage everyone to contact their members of Congress and demand this reckless decision be overturned."
The Center for Food Safety, another non-profit consumer protection group, was highly critical of the FDA report, and officials said they might sue the regulator over the issue.
"It is extremely disappointing that the Obama Administration continues to push approval of this dangerous and unnecessary product," said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety. "The GE salmon has no socially redeeming value. It's bad for the consumer, bad for the salmon industry and bad for the environment."
FDA spokeswoman Morgan Liscinsky said no final decisions have been made on labeling or on the application for approval.

Food safety for Christmas
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/local/stories/2012/12/21/3659262.htm?site=riverina
By ABC Riverina (Dec 21, 2012)
Sara Morley, top chef from Riverina Institute of TAFE, has been coming into the studio with Chris Coleman all last week cooking up a storm for Christmas but with food, comes safety.
Sara says there are a few rules that you should follow to keep food safe.
"The most important thing about food at Christmas is keeping it safe and keeping everybody healthy," Sara said.
When storing food in the fridge the temperature should be below four degrees Celsius and the freezer should be below 18 degrees Celsius.
Bacteria like to grow between the temperatures of five to sixty degrees Celsius.
Sara says the big issue at Christmas time is an overfilled fridge which doesn't allow the air to flow which would cause the temperature to go above four degrees Celsius.
"The best present you can give someone is a thermometer. You can buy a really cheap thermometer from the supermarket for a couple of dollars," she said. "Store it in the warmest part of your fridge, towards the top, and keep an eye on it."
Sara's big tips
Temperature of your refrigerator should be below 4 degrees Celsius
Not to overfill the refrigerator with drinks but to put them in an esky or the laundry tub with plenty of ice.
Store cooked products above raw products in the refrigerator
Food can be out of the refrigerator for maximum of four hours, if longer discard the food.
Keep your poultry and seafood in the refrigerator s long as possible
Never refreeze food
Cover food when storing in the refrigerator to stop it drying out
If in doubt, throw it out

China probes KFC over safety of chicken products
Source : http://www.todayonline.com/World/EDC121221-0000118/China-probes-KFC-over-safety-of-chicken-products
By TODAYonline (Dec 21, 2012)
SHANGHAI - Yum Brands's fast-food chain KFC was supplied with chicken in China that contained excessive amounts of antibiotics, said food safety authorities investigating allegations of tainted KFC products.
The finding by the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) deals a blow to KFC's reputation in China, where it is facing fierce competition from the likes of Taiwanese-owned fried chicken chain Dico and Japanese-style noodle chain Ajisen. Yum Brands has forecast a drop in same store China sales in the fourth quarter.
Eight of the 19 batches of chicken samples Yum Brands sent to a testing laboratory in 2010 and last year contained overly high levels of antibiotics, the SFDA said in a statement on its website late yesterday.
An investigation is underway to determine whether Yum Brands had taken corrective measures at that time, and the Louisville, Kentucky-based company may face harsh penalties if the probe showed laws had been violated, the SFDA said.
Shares in Yum Brands have slumped 4 per cent since Dec 18 when China's state television CCTV reported that some poultry suppliers in eastern Shandong province had fed chickens with anti-viral drugs and hormones to accelerate their growth.
The SFDA is looking into the CCTV report and has not released its findings yet, but authorities in Shandong have already shut two chicken farms in eastern China, including one that supplied KFC and McDonald's Corp, the official Shanghai Daily newspaper reported yesterday.
Officials at Yum Brands in China could not be immediately reached for comment.
KFC's subsidiary in China has pledged to cooperate with the authorities, while McDonald's wrote on its official microblog that its chicken and raw materials pass through independent, third-party laboratory tests.
China has been trying to stamp out health violations that have dogged the country's food sector amid reports of fake cooking oil, tainted milk and even exploding watermelons. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000. REUTERS

Hosting A Holiday Party? Take A Food Safety Quiz
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/hosting-a-holiday-party-take-a-food-safety-quiz/
By Kathy Will (Dec 20, 2012)
Do you know how long perishable food can be out at room temperature before it spoils? To what temperature poultry should be cooked? Or, the proper temperature for your refrigerator?
The holiday season is a time when public health officials publish lots of food safety advice. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for example, has a tips on safe road travel, how to prepare safely prepare a turkey, food safety tips for pregnant women, a three-and-a-half minute podcast called “Holiday Food Safety” and holiday safety tips set to song.
FoodSafety.gov has links to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) “Fun Platters” and “Buffet Bonanza” and the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) “Holiday or Party Buffets,” “Keeping Food Safe on the Buffet Table,” and “Be Food Safe for Holiday Buffets.”
The health department in Chester County, Pa. has a food safety quiz you can take. It’s about 10, multiple choice questions in a click-through format. Send us your health departments food safety tips and we’ll add them to our growing stash.
One food safety tip that appears almost universally on these tipsheets is good handwashing. Whether you are the cook or the guest, good handwashing- washing hands with soap and hot water for 20 seconds, before you prepare or eat food is one of the best defenses against spreading foodborne illness.
Norovirus, the most common cause of food poisoning is in full swing this time of year and it’s highly contagious. Touching a surface that a sick person has touched and then touching your face or mouth or eating without first washing hands is one of the ways this virus-which causes frequent, forceful bouts of diarrhea and vomiting, is contracted. If you have been sick, you should not prepare food until you’ve been symptom-free for three days.
Another universal recommendation is to use a food thermometer. It’s the only way to safely check the “doneness” of meat. When serving your foods keep the hot ones hot and the cold ones cold and don’t leave anything out at room temperature for more than two hours.
For more tips, you can check one of the many resources listed above. Or try FoodSafety.gov’s “Ask Karen” to email or chat online with a food safety expert.

FDA, OMB seek more time for food safety rules
Source : http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/FDA-OMB-seek-more-time-for-food-safety-rules-184354631.html
By Tom Karst (Dec 20, 2012)
Even with the White House Office of Management and Budget now sitting on several Food Safety Modernization Act rules for more than a year, the Food and Drug Administration wants the U.S. District Courts to provide the administration with more time.
In a late November motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against the FDA and the Office of Management and Budget by the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health seeking prompt FDA implementation of food safety rules, the FDA asked the U.S. District Court in Northern California to give it more time to implement complex and wide-ranging food safety regulations.
“FDA’s decisions regarding enforcement actions are not subject to judicial review, and the defendants have not, as a matter of law, unreasonably delayed the adoption of regulations implementing FSMA,” government lawyers argued in the motion.
The rules that the Office of Management and Budget has been reviewing for more than a year include Hazard Analysis and Risk Based Preventive Controls (under review at OMB since Nov. 22, 2011), the Foreign Supplier Verification Program (under review since Nov. 28 of 2011), the Current Good Manufacturing Practice and Hazard Analysis and Risk-Benefit Preventive Controls for Food for Animals (under review at OMB since Dec. 5, 2011) and the Produce Safety Regulation (under review since Dec. 9, 2011).
Industry leaders have also been impatient with lack of movement by OMB on the food safety regulations.
Some have speculated the proposed rules were slowed by election-year politics. That reason no longer applies after the November election, but the rules continue to languish at OMB.
Now, Tom O’Brien, Washington, D.C.-based representative for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association, said the Office of Management and Budget website http://1.usa.gov/Wo6cma shows the FDA in late November submitted the proposed regulation on accreditation of third parties to conduct food safety audits and for other purposes to the Office of Management and Budget.
“I don’t know if that review (by OMB) will take place in time for it to come out with the other (food safety regulations), but we don’t know when the others are coming out and it may be possible,” he said.
David Gombas, senior vice president of food safety and technology for Washington, D.C.-based United Fresh Produce Association, said Dec. 18 that the delay has become the number one question n the industry.
“A year is way too long to wait to see what these rules say,” Gombas said. “They are just proposed rules, so let’s get them out there and take a look at them already.”
Even knowing the reason for the long delay would be helpful, Gombas said.
In their lawsuit against the FDA and OMB, the Center for Food Safety and the Center for Environmental Health said the delay in the regulations is “unlawful” and they’re seeking a a court order that would require FDA to enact FSMA regulations by a court-imposed deadline and would prevent the OMB from delaying FDA’s compliance with that deadline.

Massey to facilitate global food safety initiative
Source : http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/ED1212/S00128/massey-to-facilitate-global-food-safety-initiative.htm
By Massey University (Dec 20, 2012)
The World Bank has chosen Massey University to help lead a plan to improve international food safety.
The Global Food Safety Partnership is a public-private partnership aimed at increasing food safety capacity. It was launched at a conference in Paris last week.
Massey’s Professor of Agribusiness Hamish Gow, who earlier this year won a major international award for an open source food safety knowledge network he helped develop, will take up a leadership role within the multi-agency structure.
“The goal is to build a food safety system suitable for supporting the delivery of safe, affordable food for everyone, everywhere, all of the time,” Professor Gow says.
The partnership will utilise an open educational model that would enable individuals, firms, non-governmental organisations, governments and international agencies to collaborate.
Massey University will facilitate the working groups that will provide technical input and expertise into the design of the partnership and associated programmes. Ross Davies of the School of Engineering and Advanced Technology in the College of Sciences will act as project manager for Massey’s part of the initiative.
These working groups will cover the establishment of the open source platform (or information resource), an effective communications strategy and technical aspects including training materials, quality control, service provision and delivery systems.
“We need innovative solutions to share best practice, increase adoption, build capacity, lower delivery costs and more generally improve food safety systems across the developing world,” Professor Gow says.
“The science of food safety is already well established, what we need to do now is package that knowledge appropriately for food producers, manufacturers, retailers and distributors and consumers so it is relevant to them. It is not so much a scientific problem as a business development and community development problem.”
Massey's Assistant Vice-Chancellor Operations and University Registrar Stuart Morriss says the University is ideally positioned to facilitate this initiative. “We have proven our ability in leading major World Bank sponsored projects, having been successfully delivering the One Health project in Asia over the last three years. Our internationally recognised expertise in food and agriculture, trade policy and strategy, coupled with our leading position in distance learning has enabled us to secure a leadership role in what is going to be a major global project" he says. “This initiative provides significant opportunities for New Zealand, and has the potential to make a real difference to global food safety.”

Norovirus The Gift That Keeps On Giving
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/norovirus-the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving/
By Carla Gillespie (Dec 19, 2012)
It’s norovirus season and health officials in Minnesota are warning folks to take extra precautions so that a nasty illness isn’t among the things they receive during the holidays. Norovirus is a common and highly contagious group of viruses you can catch any time but caseloads peak between November and January.
You can catch norovirus by eating or drinking foods prepared by someone who is infected with the virus, touching contaminated surfaces and then touching food or your mouth; or eating shellfish harvested from contaminated waters. Once ingested, norovirus inflames the stomach lining causing frequent, intense bouts of vomiting and diarrhea paired with severe abdominal cramps. Low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches headache can also occur. Symptoms usually develop one to two days after exposure, but may appear within12 hours.
If you become sick, try to stay hydrated by taking frequent, small sips of water. Wash your hands frequently. Don’t prepare food until you have been sympton-free for three days. Make sure areas where you have been sick are thoroughly cleaned right away. In the bathroom and kitchen, a bleach solution is best.
Those who aren’t ill should wash hands frequently, too. Hand-washing for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water is the primary defense in preventing the spread of norovirus. At holiday gatherings, don’t eat or put your hands to your mouth or face without first washing your hands. Avoid eating raw shellfish.
“If everyone followed these guidelines diligently, we could eliminate the majority of the norovirus outbreaks in Minnesota,” said Dr. Kirk Smith, foodborne disease supervisor at MDH. “The season of giving should also be the season of good handwashing,” he said.
Noroviruses are the leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks in Minnesota,  sickening thousands of people each year. Two weeks ago, some of the 400 guests  at a wedding in LeRoy were infected. In November, a norovirus outbreak sickened 30 to 40 people who attended the Greater Mankato Growth banquet at the Mankato Civic Center. Health officials identified Najwa’s Catering, the food service provider for the event, as the source of the outbreak. And in January, several clusters of the virus struck residents in Olmstead county.

Food poisoning, hygiene and safety
Source : http://www.nation.co.ke/Features/Living/Food-poisoning-hygiene-and-safety/-/1218/1646904/-/ete3fy/-/index.html
By MUGAMBI NYABOGA (Dec 19, 2012)
Food poisoning is an illness caused by the consumption of contaminated food or water. Food poisoning must meet two criteria, namely: it must affect a minimum of two persons, and there must be evidence of food as the cause.
Causes
Food poisoning is caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, or toxic agents such as poisonous mushrooms, or pesticides on fruits and vegetables.
Contamination usually occurs from the following: leaving prepared food at temperatures that allow bacterial growth, inadequate cooking or reheating, cross-contamination with contaminated food, and infection from food handlers who are already infected.
Symptoms
The symptoms depend on the type of contaminant and the amount eaten. These develop rapidly within 30 minutes, or slowly within a day or two of consuming a contaminated food or drink.
Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, headache and diarrhea . Occasionally, fever, chills, bloody stool and dehydration may occur.
These symptoms will more often than not affect more than one person who ate the same thing. In rare cases, the nerves, liver and kidney may be affected, leading to permanent disability or death.
Diagnosis
Food poisoning is mainly diagnosed based on clinical symptoms.
Diarrhoea lasting more than two weeks is almost always not as a result of food poisoning and must be investigated thoroughly. Fever, though uncommon, may be present, but this too needs to be investigated for other causes such as amoebiasis.
Should the diagnosis be unclear, a stool test may be carried out to check for cysts of parasites. Bacterial culture for organisms is mandatory in cases of unrelenting fever or symptoms persisting for longer than three to four days.
Treatment
Most cases of food poisoning are self limited, and treatment is mainly symptomatic, with an objective of adequate rehydration and electrolyte supplementation. This can be achieved with either oral rehydration solutions (ORS) or intravenous fluids.
A simple ORS may be made with one level teaspoon of salt and four heaped teaspoons of sugar added to one litre of water. The use of ORS has reduced the mortality rate associated with cholera from higher than 50 per cent to less than 1 per cent.
Intravenous solutions are recommended for patients who are severely dehydrated or who have intractable vomiting.
In the absence of dysentery (bloody diarrhoea), antibiotics are unnecessary, unless laboratory confirmation of a bacterial agent is confirmed. Most people begin feeling better within a day or two.
Nausea and slight diarrhoea may however last a day or two days longer.

U.S. and Russia Spar Over Ractopamine in Pork and Beef
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/12/u-s-and-russia-spar-over-ractopamine-in-pork-and-beef/
By  Helena Bottemiller (Dec 18, 2012)
The long-running international dispute over ractopamine, a drug used to boost growth and leanness in pork and beef production, has become even more contentious in recent weeks. Russia, which is an increasingly important export market for U.S. meat products, announced it will no longer accept meat from animals raised on the drug, and it will require countries to certify that their meat is ractopamine-free.
The move infuriated United States trade and agriculture officials, who point out that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved ractopamine as safe for use in cattle, pigs and turkeys and that more than two dozen other countries have approved the drug.
“The United States is very concerned that Russia has taken these actions, which appear to be inconsistent with its obligations as a member of the World Trade Organization,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement last week. “The United States calls on Russia to suspend these new measures and restore market access for U.S. beef and pork products.”
U.S. interests believe the ban is a retaliation for the Senate approval of a bill that punished Russian officials linked to the death of Sergei Magnitsky, who died in a Russian prison after accusing authorities of embezzlement. The ban was announced hours after the bill passed. Russian agriculture officials maintain that their new policy, which has been in the works for months, is not politically motivated, but a response to lingering questions about the safety of ractopamine.
The drug, which is a beta-agonist and mimics stress hormones, is fed primarily to swine and cattle in the weeks leading up to slaughter to improve the rate at which they convert feed to muscle.
“In Russia, (ractopamine) is not included in the register of products approved for use,” Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief health inspector and the head of Rosselhohznadzor (the agency charged with meat safety), told Interfax. “We can only regret that American Federation analysts on meat exports lacked even a tiny bit of imagination to classify the 27 countries of the European Union, China and all other 167 countries that have banned the use of this product as opponents of the ‘Magnitsky Act’ adopted by the U.S. Senate.”
U.S. and Canadian officials argue that Russia’s new policy violates the country’s WTO obligations, especially after the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the UN-backed international food standards body, adopted a safe residue limit for beef and pork products last summer. The standard, which had been stuck at Codex for years, was adopted by a 69-67 vote in an extremely contentious meeting that pitted the European Union, China and Russia (which all ban ractopamine) against the U.S., Canada and Brazil (which all use ractopamine).
Russia agrees with the position the EU has taken on ractopamine. The European Food Safety Authority has determined the science backing ractopamine is insufficient to determine what amount, if any, of the drug is safe for human consumption. China has long expressed concerns about the higher levels of the drug that can be found in offal, which are part of a traditional Chinese diet.
A Codex residue limit makes it easier for the U.S. and others to challenge countries like China and Russia for having zero tolerance policies for ractopamine in meat products. With an international standard in place, the World Trade Organization is much more likely to rule against any country that has a more restrictive policy. The Codex Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) is 10 parts per billion (ppb) for muscle cuts of beef and pork. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s limit is 30 ppb for beef and 50 ppb for pork.
Brazil Gives In to Russia
U.S. officials are demanding that Russia rescind the import ban on ractopamine, which essentially blocks about $500 million in U.S. exports. The U.S. Trade Representative’s chief agricultural negotiator traveled to Moscow last week for talks on the issue.
While the U.S. appears to be sticking to its guns on ractopamine, Brazil is now assuring Russia that its exports of meat products to the country will be free of ractopamine residues. A pork trade publication reported late last week that, even though Brazil and Russia were on opposite sides of the Codex vote, Brazilian officials have “expressed willingness to comply with the requirements” and “provide additional guarantees about the absence of ractopamine in production” for Brazilian meat headed to Russia.
The U.S. has not publicly signaled it will move in the same direction, but in an online document detailing the export requirements for Russia, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said, “At this time, FSIS is not requiring documentation that demonstrates that the product is free of ractopamine before issuing export certification. FSIS likely will soon provide additional instructions that will require such documentation.”
The agency already has a ractopamine-free program in place for meat headed to the European Union, which strictly bans all non-therapeutic growth promoting drugs from meat production.
For more on the food safety and animal welfare debate over ractopamine, see: “Dispute over drug in feed limiting US meat exports“

5 E. coli illnesses linked to now recalled hamburger
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/5-e-coli-illnesses-linked-to-now-recalled-hamburger/
By  Bill Marler (Dec 18, 2012)
The same strain of E. coli O157:H that was isolated from five patients in Alberta and Ontario was also found in Butcher’s Choice brand Garlic Peppercorn beef burgers, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
As I said to the Calgary Herald, this public health agency likely could have moved faster to recall product.
Faced with multiple cases where patients had gotten sick from an identical strain of E. coli bacteria after claiming to have eaten the same brand of beef patties, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency should have immediately removed all the potentially-contaminated product from store shelves, Bill Marler said Sunday.
“I’m sorry for the business that might have recall costs and might lose some customers,” said Marler, “but when you’ve got sick people and genetic matches, the public has a right to be protected.”
The Herald has learned CFIA officials were first alerted to a potential problem with hamburgers from a Brampton, Ont. plant in early October after an Edmonton patient became ill from E. coli 0157:H7 poisoning.  But nearly two months passed and four more cases emerged before the federal agency began an investigation in early December.
Marler said he’s worried there many now be a repeat of the ever-expanding alerts consumers endured earlier this fall after tainted beef from the XL Foods Inc. facility in Brooks was discovered.
“By not doing the wise public health thing and recalling all the potentially-affected product at once, it undercuts CFIA’s credibility and it gets confusing to the public,” he said.
A Washington-based attorney who has represented victims of food-borne illness outbreaks for more than two decades and secured in excess of $600 million in settlements, Marler said frozen burgers are the most dangerous product in the market.
“At least in the United States, they have been the ones linked to the most outbreaks, and frozen patties are notoriously difficult for consumers to cook adequately,” he said.
Marler said tracing the source of the contamination in frozen burgers is also difficult, because processors typically use numerous sources of raw material to achieve the right fat content at the lowest cost.

Butcher’s Choice Hamburgers Sicken 5 in Canada
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/butchers-choice-hamburgers-sicken-5-in-canada/
By  Bill Marler (Dec 18, 2012)
The same strain of E. coli O157:H that was isolated from five patients in Alberta and Ontario was also found in Butcher’s Choice brand Garlic Peppercorn beef burgers, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
As I said to the Calgary Herald, this public health agency likely could have moved faster to recall product.
Faced with multiple cases where patients had gotten sick from an identical strain of E. coli bacteria after claiming to have eaten the same brand of beef patties, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency should have immediately removed all the potentially-contaminated product from store shelves, Bill Marler said Sunday.
“I’m sorry for the business that might have recall costs and might lose some customers,” said Marler, “but when you’ve got sick people and genetic matches, the public has a right to be protected.”
The Herald has learned CFIA officials were first alerted to a potential problem with hamburgers from a Brampton, Ont. plant in early October after an Edmonton patient became ill from E. coli 0157:H7 poisoning. But nearly two months passed and four more cases emerged before the federal agency began an investigation in early December.
Marler said he’s worried there many now be a repeat of the ever-expanding alerts consumers endured earlier this fall after tainted beef from the XL Foods Inc. facility in Brooks was discovered.
“By not doing the wise public health thing and recalling all the potentially-affected product at once, it undercuts CFIA’s credibility and it gets confusing to the public,” he said.
A Washington-based attorney who has represented victims of food-borne illness outbreaks for more than two decades and secured in excess of $600 million in settlements, Marler said frozen burgers are the most dangerous product in the market.
“At least in the United States, they have been the ones linked to the most outbreaks, and frozen patties are notoriously difficult for consumers to cook adequately,” he said.
Marler said tracing the source of the contamination in frozen burgers is also difficult, because processors typically use numerous sources of raw material to achieve the right fat content at the lowest cost.

Hotline Answers “Panic Button” Food Safety Questions
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/hotline-answers-panic-button-food-safety-questions/
By Kathy Will (Dec 18, 2012)
When you’re entertaining and preparing a big dinner, and have a question about food safety, where do you turn? The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has compiled a list of “panic button” food safety questions along with answers you can use.
The questions range from what to do if you cook the turkey with the giblet packet still inside, to whether or not it’s safe to cook a roast that’s been left out of refrigeration for hours. Did you know you should never prestuff a turkey? Or that there is a minimum safe oven temperature for roasting meats? Do you know how to keep a ham hot and safe for hours?
More Fact Sheets on safe food handling are available at the USDA site. And remember that the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, at 1-800-535-4555  is open for questions weekdays from 10:00nam to 4:00 pm ET. Recorded messages are available at all times. Ask Karen is an automated online service that has a database of commonly asked questions. You can also type in a question to find an answer after hours.

Job openings
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12/20. Quality & Food Safety Manager - Ohio
12/20. Food Safety Supervisor – Mfg – Rossville, TN
12/20. Food Safety Consultant II – Seattle, WA
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12/19. Research Technician in Food Safety – Dover, DE

Norovirus kills six patients in Miyazaki as outbreaks spread to Yamanashi, Oita
Source : http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121224a5.html
By The Japan Times (Dec 24, 2012)
MIYAZAKI — Six patients have died of gastroenteritis caused by a norovirus outbreak at Shunkokaihigashi Hospital in Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture, hospital officials said Sunday.
The victims — all men aged between 78 and 88 — were among 44 patients and staff who came down with symptoms of the illness, including vomiting and diarrhea, the officials said. All six were bedridden.
The health ministry has issued a nationwide warning about the norovirus because infections are approaching the record high set in 2006.
Elderly people and children are considered those most vulnerable to the virus, which spreads via physical contact, food consumption or through the air.
As of Sunday, 11 people, including hospital staff, were being treated. Five patients aged 76 to 90 are in serious condition.
Shigekazu Miyaji, the hospital's director, apologized for the late report on the outbreak and said the staff didn't initially think it was being caused by the norovirus.
The hospital began looking more closely at the norovirus when cases quadrupled from four to 16 on Dec. 16. It then reported its observations to prefectural medical authorities.
The first norovirus fatality occurred on Dec. 14, but the hospital didn't start reporting the deaths until Dec. 22, when the sixth person died.
In a separate development, 1,184 people at 372 Yamanashi-based companies developed food poisoning symptoms after eating boxed lunches bought from catering service Runrun Lunch, based in Kai, prefectural officials said.
The norovirus surfaced in 32 people, including at Runrun, but none is critically ill so far.
In Oita, meanwhile, 27 people began complaining of diarrhea and other systems after eating at a restaurant in the capital named Gento.
City officials said that 11 of the people, who were in their 20s to 70s, had contracted the norovirus but none is in serious condition.
Both Runrun and Gento have suspended business.

Largest Multi-State Food Poisoning Outbreaks Of 2012: #10
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2012/largest-multi-state-food-poisoning-outbreaks-of-2012-10/
By Carla Gillespie (Dec 22, 2012)
An E. coli outbreak that sickened 18 people in nine states and took the life of a toddler in Louisiana was one of the tenth largest multi-state food poisoning outbreak of 2012, based on the total number of people sickened. Despite months of investigation, a specific food source for the outbreak, which was caused by the rare strain E. coli 0145, was never identified.
In early June, Food Poisoning Bulletin discovered that multiple states had case patients whose lab tests were genetic matches of the rare E.coli stain, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to announce the outbreak several days later.  Patients who were interviewed by the CDC reported onset of E.coli symptoms, which include severe abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea,  from mid-April to mid-June. Before the outbreak was declared over 18 people, ranging in age from 1 to 79 years old were sickened. The median age of outbreak victims was 33. Most them, 78 percent, were female. Four people required hospitalization, including the young girl from Louisiana who died. The case count by state was as follows: Alabama (2), California (1), Florida (1), Georgia (5), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (5), Maryland (1), Tennessee (1), and Virginia (1).
State and federal investigators used DNA “fingerprinting” to establish that cases in all nine states were caused by the same source. They conducted interviews with case patients but were never able to determine what specific food item caused the outbreak.  The last time a multi-state outbreak was attributed to this rare strain of E. coli, was in May 2010 when 26 confirmed and seven probable cases of E. coli 0145 poisoning were caused by tainted lettuce.
Check Food Poisoning Bulletin each day as we count down the largest multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks of 2012. Coming tomorrow:  #9.


                       


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