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In US two new food safety rules that will help prevent foodborne illness
Source : http://www.teatronaturale.com/article/4074.html
By S. C. (Jan 07, 2013)
The proposed rules build on significant strides made during the Obama Administration, including the first egg safety rule protecting consumers from Salmonella and stepped up testing for E. coli in beef
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration today proposed two new food safety rules that will help prevent foodborne illness. The proposed rules implement the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and are available for public comment for the next 120 days. The FDA encourages Americans to review and comment on these important proposed rules.
The proposed rules build on significant strides made during the Obama Administration, including the first egg safety rule protecting consumers from Salmonella and stepped up testing for E. coli in beef as well as existing voluntary industry guidelines for food safety, which many producers, growers and others currently follow.
The rules follow extensive outreach by the FDA to the produce industry, the consumer community, other government agencies and the international community. Since January 2011, FDA staff have toured farms and facilities nationwide and participated in hundreds of meetings and presentations with global regulatory partners, industry stakeholders, consumer groups, farmers, state and local officials, and the research community.
“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. “With the support of industry, consumer groups, and the bipartisan leadership in Congress, we are establishing a science-based, flexible system to better prevent foodborne illness and protect American families.”
The burden of foodborne illness in the United States is substantial. One in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year. Of those, nearly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from their illness. Preventing foodborne illnesses will improve public health, reduce medical costs, and avoid the costly disruptions of the food system caused by illness outbreaks and large-scale recalls.
These two FSMA rules are part of an integrated reform effort that focuses on prevention and addresses the safety of foods produced domestically and imported, with additional rules to be published shortly.
The first rule proposed today would require makers of food to be sold in the United States, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness. The rule would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise. The FDA seeks public comment on this proposal. The FDA is proposing that many food manufacturers be in compliance with the new preventive controls rules one year after the final rules are published in the Federal Register but small and very small businesses would be given additional time.
The FDA also seeks public comment on the second proposed rule released today, which proposes enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of produce on farms. This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.
The FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register. Small and very small farms would have additional time to comply, and all farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.
“The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments, and our international trading partners,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “Our proposed rules reflect the input we have received from these stakeholders and we look forward to working with the public as they review the proposed rules.”
Before issuing the two rules, the FDA conducted extensive outreach that included five federal public meetings and regional, state, and local meetings in 14 states across the country as well as making hundreds of presentations to ensure that the rules would be flexible enough to cover the diverse industries to be affected. The FDA also visited farms and facilities of varying sizes.
“We know one-size-fits-all rules won’t work,” said Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine. “We’ve worked to develop proposed regulations that can be both effective and practical across today’s diverse food system.”
Additional rules to follow soon include new responsibilities for importers to verify that food products grown or processed overseas are as safe as domestically produced food and accreditation standards to strengthen the quality of third party food safety audits overseas. Improving oversight of imported food is an important goal of FSMA. Approximately 15 percent of the food consumed in the United States is imported, with much higher proportions in certain higher risk categories, such as produce. The FDA will also propose a preventive controls rule for animal food facilities, similar to the preventive controls rule proposed today for human food.
The FDA plans to coordinate the comment periods on the major FSMA proposals as fully as possible to better enable public comment on how the rules can best work together to create an integrated, effective and efficient food safety system.
US tightens food safety rules to prevent foodborne illness
Source : http://www.deccanherald.com/content/303121/us-tightens-food-safety-rules.html
By Deccan Herald (Jan 05, 2013)
The US has proposed stringent food safety measures on both domestic and imported foods to prevent contamination of processed food, which has been a cause of illness of tens of thousands of Americans in recent years.
The new rules, when enforced, is expected to have considerable impact on import of processed foods in particular to that of countries like India, which officials feel, are lacking in the high-standards of food processing in the US.
The first proposed rule would require makers of food to be sold in the US, whether produced at a foreign- or domestic-based facility, to develop a formal plan for preventing their food products from causing foodborne illness.
It would also require them to have plans for correcting any problems that arise.
America's Federal Drug Administration also proposed enforceable safety standards for the production and harvesting of products on farms.
This rule proposes science- and risk-based standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.
The burden of foodborne illness in the United States is substantial, federal officials said. One in six Americans suffer from a foodborne illness every year. Of those, nearly 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die from their illness.
Preventing foodborne illnesses will improve public health, reduce medical costs, and avoid the costly disruptions of the food system caused by illness outbreaks and large-scale recalls, FDA said.
The proposed rules are part of the effort to implement the landmark, bipartisan FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.
"The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a common sense law that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
"With the support of industry, consumer groups, and the bipartisan leadership in Congress, we are establishing a science-based, flexible system to better prevent foodborne illness and protect American families," she said.
The FDA is proposing that larger farms be in compliance with most of the produce safety requirements 26 months after the final rule is published in the Federal Register.
Small and very small farms would have additional time to comply, and all farms would have additional time to comply with certain requirements related to water quality.
"The FDA knows that food safety, from farm to fork, requires partnership with industry, consumers, local, state and tribal governments, and our international trading partners," said FDA Commissioner Margaret A Hamburg.
An overdue step toward food safety
Source : http://www.startribune.com/opinion/commentaries/185755912.html?refer=y
By StarTribune EDITORIAL , Washington Post (Jan 05, 2013)
Most Americans probably do not realize that, until now, there have not been mandatory standards for the produce they buy.
Last summer, cantaloupe grown at an Indiana farm triggered a 24-state outbreak of salmonella poisoning that sickened 261 people and caused three deaths. In recent days, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) made public the results of an inspection of the farm. Salmonella was found on conveyor belts, there was trash and standing water in the packing house, and birds were roosting above - dropping feces on the processing line.
Until now, the basic approach of the U.S. government has been to react to such outbreaks. The Indiana case offers a powerful example of why this is flawed: With proper precautions, it could have been prevented. Two years ago Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed landmark legislation to overhaul the nation's food-safety laws, shifting toward preventing outbreaks. The Food Safety Modernization Act was approved with bipartisan support in both houses and industry backing. But it has been caught in a regulatory black hole.
Foodborne illness strikes one in six Americans each year; about 130,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 people die, according to the FDA, which regulates about 80 percent of the U.S. food supply. (The Agriculture Department oversees the rest.) In addition to the human suffering, the outbreaks add enormous burdens to our health-care system. Recalls and disruptions are costly to industry.
On Friday, the new law moved a step closer to reality with the FDA's announcement of proposed rules in two major areas: produce safety and food processing. Most Americans probably do not realize that, until now, there have not been mandatory standards for the produce they buy. The new rules will, if adopted, set standards for equipment, tools, buildings, water, soil and other sources of possible contamination. The proposed rules on processing will require the establishment of preventive controls: Facilities would have to have written plans and follow up on them.
Certainly there will be quibbles here and there, but we think this is an area appropriate for government intervention and activism. The publication of the proposed rules is a welcome step after a long delay. For a year, draft rules were bottled up in a review by the Office of Management and Budget. Another set of rules to govern imported food also is overdue. Administration officials have insisted the delays are due to complexity, not a desire to avoid controversy before the election.
Either way, delay is costly. Foodborne illness knows no state boundary nor political party. Combating it is in the national interest. The release of the proposed rules ought to signal that the law will soon be functioning to protect the food supply and prevent the next contaminated cantaloupe from making it to the grocery.
Three More Countries Place Restrictions on Brazilian Beef Over BSE Concerns
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/three-more-countries-place-restrictions-on-brazilian-beef-for-bse-concerns/
By News Desk (Jan 05, 2013)
Three more countries — Taiwan, Chile and Jordan — have imposed restrictions on Brazilian beef after it was revealed in early December the country had a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2010, according to Meatingplace.
China, Japan, South Africa, Lebanon, Peru, and Saudi Arabia have also all reportedly put bans in place since in the past few weeks, but not all of those countries have yet informed Brazil.
While Brazil officially says eight countries have taken actions against their beef products after the news, the U.S.-based meat trade publication Meatingplace says there are actually 10 total.
According to the report, “Jordan is prohibiting beef products only from Parana state, where the BSE case was cited, while Chile is restricting Brazilian bone flour (farinha de osso) and beef flour (farinha de carne). Taiwan has also sent confirmation of a Brazilian beef ban, though Taiwan already restricts raw beef imports.”
Brazil, which is the largest exporter of beef, says it will take strong actions against countries with import restrictions, arguing that these moves are not based on science.
“There is no basis for these decisions on health parameters and the government is analyzing what measures will be taken,” said Brazil’s foreign trade secretary Tatiana Prazeres. “Taking action at the WTO is on our radar.”
According to Brazil, the cow in question was 13 years old and grass fed, which meant that it was a genetic mutation, not caused by contaminated feed. The animal tested positive for the protein that causes the disease.
Sprouts and Pathogenic Bacteria: What You Should Know
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/sprouts-and-pathogenic-bacteria-what-you-should-know/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 05, 2013)
Raw sprouts have been the cause of several food poisoning outbreaks in the last several years. In 2012, there were many recalls of raw sprouts for bacterial contamination. Several facilities, including Kroger and Jimmy John’s, decided to stop offering sprouts for sale altogether, although Jimmy John’s put the vegetables back on their menu in October 2012.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning those in high risk groups to avoid sprouts completely, unless they are thoroughly cooked. And FoodSafety.gov just released information about what you, as a consumer, should know about sprouts.
Since 1996, there have been at least 30 outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with “raw and lightly cooked sprouts”. The most common pathogens involved were Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli.
Attorney Fred Pritzker has called on all restaurants to stop using raw sprouts “unless an explicit food safety warning is provided on menus.” Pritzker, who has successfully sued restaurants and facilities on behalf of people sickened by sprouts, also stated that “more than a decade of concentrated effort by regulators and sprout suppliers has failed to make raw sprouts safe to eat.”
There are two problems with sprouts: how they are grown and how they are sprouted. The seeds used to grow sprouts can be contaminated in many ways, from feces from domestic or wild animals, contaminated irrigation water, or runoff from large farms. In fact, the bacteria may be encapsulated within the seed, which means cleaning the seeds does not get rid of the pathogens. The way seeds are sprouted contributes to the problem. The seeds are placed in a warm, moist environment, which is the perfect medium for pathogenic bacterial growth. Homegrown sprouts are not any safer than commercially grown sprouts. It takes just a few bacteria to contaminate an entire supply.
To reduce the risk of illness, public health officials recommend that children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with a weakened immune system or chronic illness avoid raw sprouts of any kind, including alfalfa, clover, radish, and mung bean. If you do want to eat sprouts, cook them thoroughly to kill harmful bacteria. And when dining out, request that raw sprouts are not added to your food. Taking them off food won’t work; the bacteria most likely has already contaminated the food at that point.
MDP Shuts Down; USDA Testing of Produce for Pathogens Halted
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/mdp-officially-shut-down-pathogen-testing-for-produce-halted/
By Helena Bottemiller (Jan 03, 2013)
The Microbiological Data Program, which used to conduct 80 percent of all federal produce testing for pathogens like Salmonella and Listeria, officially shut down on December 31, a U.S. Department of Agriculture official confirmed.
The $4.5 million program had been in shutdown mode since mid-November. State agriculture departments, which tested samples of leafy greens, melons, tomatoes, and peppers for the Agricultural Marketing Service program, were told to wrap up their sampling and submit their data. The scientists running MDP within AMS have been assigned to other programs.
While MDP, which launched under the Bush administration in 2001, was designed for data surveillance to monitor the overall prevalence of pathogens in certain commodities, the program also reported positive findings to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which would often result in recalls.
The produce industry lobbied to eliminate MDP, arguing that it did not benefit public health because the recalls were often announced after the product was expired or already consumed by consumers.
The Obama administration asked Congress to cut the testing program because it does not fit within the mission of AMS, which is focused on agriculture marketing. Congress did not fund the program in the last round of appropriations.
Some food safety advocates, like Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) pushed to keep the program because no other agency is slated to pick up the slack and provide valuable data about the contamination rates of different commodities.
According to an analysis published by Food Safety News last summer, though FDA has jurisdiction over the safety of fruits and vegetables, the agency only conducts a fraction of the microbiological tests that MDP once did.
UL Acquires Everclean Services, Enters Food Safety Audit Industry
Source : http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ul-acquires-everclean-services-enters-food-safety-audit-industry-185565822.html
By PRNewswire (Jan 03, 2013)
UL, a world leader in advancing safety, announced today the acquisition of Everclean Services, one of North America's leading food safety audit providers. The addition further extends UL's capabilities in the food industry, where the propagation of foodborne illnesses is a growing concern across the globe.
Everclean Services features a comprehensive assessment offering for restaurants, grocers and retailers, including audits of food safety, supplier qualifications, brand consistency and price integrity. Everclean Services performs over 40,000 food safety and sanitation audits on over 10,000 facilities among many of North America's major food service brands.
"UL has a compelling vision for improving the safety of food across the world, and we are thrilled to be a key part of enacting it," said Jack McShane , founder and CEO of Everclean Services. "This is a tremendous opportunity for our staff, our customers and the food service industry."
"Everclean Services has earned a sterling reputation for its rigorous approach to auditing the safety and quality of food service environments," said Hiroshi Yamaki , president of UL's Life & Health business unit. "With this exciting addition, UL can begin to address a food industry where safety is a paramount societal concern."
The addition of Everclean Services further broadens UL's entry into the food safety industry, at a time when U.S. foodborne illnesses have increased by 44% in the last two years.1 Everclean Services will join the Food & Water segment of UL Life & Health, which also includes food process validation, water quality testing and water product certification.
Jack McShane and Bill Flynn will continue to manage UL's food safety auditing operations. The business will remain headquartered in Agoura Hills, CA.
About Everclean Services
Founded in 1998, Everclean Services is an established leader in the field of food safety auditing for food retailers. Everclean Services offers credentialed and objective auditors, flexible and dynamic technology, and best-in-class programs. For more information, visit www.EvercleanServices.com.
UL is a premier global independent safety science company with more than 118 years of history. Employing more than 10,000 professionals in over 100 countries, UL has five distinct business units -- Product Safety, Environment, Life & Health, Knowledge Services, and Verification Services – to meet the expanding needs of our customers and to deliver on our public safety mission. Additional information about UL may be found at UL.com.
PR Newswire (http://s.tt/1xVJx)
“Vomiting Larry” Shows How Far Barf And Norovirus Can Travel
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/vomiting-larry-shows-how-far-barf-and-norovirus-can-travel/
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 03, 2013)
Vomiting Larry is a barfing machine. And anyone who’s ever had norovirus knows exactly how that feels, even if Larry doesn’t.
Thank goodness for Larry that he is an actual machine and can’t feel a thing, because his job is to get loaded up with fluorescent vomitus and spew it so scientists at the UK’s Health and Safety Laboratory can measure the distance his barf droplets travel to see how norovirus is spread and to prove once and for all that there really are fun jobs in the world of science. Thanks to Larry’s efforts we know that barf droplets, many of which are invisible to the naked eye, can travel more than three meters, or almost 10 feet. Each of these droplets contains thousands of particles of virus that can live for weeks on hard surfaces. It takes fewer than 20 particles to make someone sick. That’s why norovirus is universally described as “highly contagious” and, as the BBC put it, ”is one of the few diseases you actually can catch from a toilet seat.”
In addition to touching surfaces contaminated by the virus, you can also catch norovirus by eating or drinking foods prepared by someone who is infected with it or from shellfish harvested from contaminated waters. Once it’s in your system, norovirus inflames the stomach lining, causing frequent, intense bouts of vomiting and diarrhea accompanied by severe abdominal cramps. Sometimes low-grade fever, chills, muscle aches and headache also occur. Symptoms usually develop one to two days after exposure, but may appear within 12 hours.
You can catch norovirus anytime, but there is a season and we’re in it. Most of the 23 million cases of norovirus that happen each year in the US, occur between November and January. Of the millions sickened annually, an estimated 50,000 people will become so sick they require hospitalization. More than 300 of them will die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Handwashing with warm soapy water for 20 seconds is the primary defense against the spread of norovirus. Clean up immediately after someone who has been sick. Wear a particle mask and use a bleach solution, the CDC recommends 5 to 25 tablespoons per gallon of hot water, for best results.
Coming clean on food safety
Source : http://www.cjr.org/the_observatory/obama_administration_fails_tra.php
By Helena Bottemiller V
In the January/February edition of the Columbia Journalism Review, I report on the challenges facing journalists covering food safety, from the slow trickle of information during foodborne-illness outbreaks to the complicated food-regulatory system. While some of these issues are unique to the beat, when it comes to dealing with federal agencies, food-safety reporters face the same transparency challenges as everyone else.
Every journalist I interviewed for the piece complained about the sometimes-astonishing lack of openness at the public-health agencies we deal with regularly. Their concerns largely mirrored those outlined in 2011 by CJR’s Curtis Brainard in “Transparency Watch: A Closed Door”: Reporters have trouble getting access to scientists and decision-makers and when they do get access, public-affairs staff listen in; press officers are not always responsive and often don’t answer questions in a timely fashion; and delays (and denials) in filling Freedom of Information Act requests make getting important public information in a timely manner a struggle.
Though transparency and access complaints remain common, Brainard reported that a survey of health and environment journalists rated the Obama administration’s performance on these issues better—if only somewhat—than the Bush administration’s record. The consensus among food-safety reporters, however, seems to be that this administration is actually worse than its predecessor.
“They are much more on message than the Bush administration was, which seems to be a bit of a shock,” says Elizabeth Weise, who has covered food safety at USA Today for nearly a decade. “Really, the only way you can get what you need is to FOIA.”
Reporters cite transparency problems with all three of the major federal agencies involved with food safety: the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The FDA is very problematic,” says Lynne Terry of The Oregonian. “You have to call them repeatedly to get a response. I’ve had zero luck with [USDA]. When I call, they send me an email response. CDC doesn’t always give restaurant or company names, which can be frustrating.”
The CDC’s policy of not naming companies tied to foodborne-illness outbreaks, if the link is established after the threat to public health has passed, has made it tough to report on the incidents.
In January 2012, for instance, the agency announced that there had been a 10-state Salmonella outbreak a few months earlier that was likely linked to “Restaurant Chain A.” When media pressed the CDC to name the restaurant, the agency explained that not doing so helped officials keep a cordial, cooperative relationship with the company during the investigation. Plus, CDC officials argued, the outbreak was over, so consumers were no longer at risk.
But reporters and food-safety advocates didn’t see it that way; they argued that consumers had a right to know about such outbreaks, even if the threat had passed.
The name of the restaurant (Taco Bell) was eventually revealed to Dan Flynn, my editor at Food Safety News, by officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Acute Disease Service, and subsequently reported by several other media outlets.
It also can be challenging to get access to the scientists and policymakers who have the most knowledge about newsworthy events, like major recalls, multistate outbreaks, or policy changes. “During the Bush administration, you could walk the halls and pop into an assistant under secretary’s office and say, ‘Hey, do you have a minute to explain this?’” says one reporter who covers the USDA. “Now, they’d call security.”
With limited access to experts, reporters increasingly rely on FOIA requests to answer their questions, but though there have been improvements to the process, filing and following up on such requests can still be time consuming and frustrating.
In early 2012, for instance, JoNel Aleccia, who covers the health beat at NBCnews.com, started to look into the source of Chinese-made pet treats after learning that hundreds of pet owners were concerned that imported chicken jerky products were sickening and killing their dogs. When the FDA wouldn’t release the inspection reports of the processing plants in China that made the treats, she filed a FOIA request.
Despite Food Safety Problems, Australia’s Privatized Meat Inspection Deemed “Equivalent” to U.S. by USDA
Source : http://www.northcentralpa.com/feeditem/2013-01-02_despite-food-safety-problems-australia%E2%80%99s-privatized-meat-inspection-deemed-%E2%80%9Cequi
By Feed: Food and Water Watch in Gas Industry (Jan 02, 2013)
Washington, D.C.—Today the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to review its decision to allow the newly privatized meat inspection system of Australia to be considered equivalent to U.S. inspection. In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the group pointed to repeated discoveries of meat imported from Australia that was contaminated with fecal material and digestive tract contents.
“Documents from USDA and Australian officials reveal that this is not an isolated problem,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. “The repeated problems with products coming from Australia in 2012 show that this is a systemic problem and that privatized meat inspection in Australia is not working.”
One letter from a USDA official to Australian food safety officials, summed up the problems in imported products from Australia: “Within the last month, there have been five additional zero tolerance (fecal material/ingesta) POE (point-of-entry) violations in four separate establishments, including one establishment that had repetitive violations during this month (December, 2012), as well as earlier this calendar year.”
Australia is not the only country exporting meat to the United States that is operating a privatized inspection system, and is not the only exporting country with food safety problems. In 2012, there was a recall in the United States for 2.5 million pounds of Canadian beef products that were potentially contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7 produced using a privatized inspection system that the USDA had secretly recognized in 2006.
“U.S. consumers should not be endangered by unsafe imports from Australia or from any other country exporting to the United States,” said Hauter. “It is time for USDA to revoke the equivalency determinations of privatized meat inspection schemes, and to abandon its attempts to privatize inspection here in the United States.”
Food & Water Watch Disputes US-AU Food Safety Equivalency
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/food-water-watch-disputes-us-au-food-safety-equivalency/
By Kathy Will (Jan 02, 2013)
Food & Water Watch has sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about the equivalency status of Australia’s privatized meat inspection program and the USDA program. Last year, the USDA decided to make the two programs equivalent, despite discoveries of contaminated meat imported from Australia.
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said in a statement, “documents from USDA and Australian officials reveal that the repeated problems from products coming from Australia in 2012 show that this is a systemic problem and that privatized meat inspection in Australia is not working.” The meat was contaminated with fecal material and contents of the digestive tract.
The organization also opposes the “Beyond the Border” program, which is establishing equivalency between the U.S. and Canadian meat products. The program is continuing, despite a recall of more than 2 million pounds of Canadian beef last year that was contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7.
The letter references a letter written by Dr. Ronald K. Jones, Assistant Administrator for the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). It states, “within the last month, there habve been five additional zero tolerance (fecal material/ingesta) point-of-entry violations in four separate establishments. FSIS is interested in the activities AQIS has planned or is undertaking from a system-wide perspective that will prevent fecal material and ingesta contamination of the carcass during the slaughter process.” Food & Water Watch wants to know about discussions between the U.S. and Australia about these point of entry violations.
In addition, a letter from Dr. John Langbridge, Veterinary Counsel for the Australian Meat Industry Council discussed imported meat rejections of New Zealand products. The USDA has granted equivalency status with that country as well. Food & Water Watch wants to know what measures New Zealand has taken to resolve point of entry rejections to the U.S. We’ll keep you informed as this issue develops.
County offering food protection courses
Source : http://www.sopghreporter.com/story/2013/01/02/news/county-offering-food-protection-courses/13133.html
By SoPghReporter (Jan 02, 2013)
The Allegheny County Health Department has released its winter schedule of food protection certification courses for food industry workers.
The two-day course will be offered on February 2 and 12 at Oakmont Country Club in Plum and March 4 and 11 at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.
The course teaches the importance of food safety along with techniques designed to prevent food contamination and outbreaks of food poisoning. The Health Department requires facilities that prepare foods to have at least one certified worker on site during operating hours.
The fee is $60 for anyone who lives in Allegheny County or works in a food facility in the County and $75 for others. A three-year certification is awarded to those who complete the course and pass the exam.
A one-day refresher class for workers whose certification has expired will be offered on January 14 at Charles Morris Nursing Home in Squirrel Hill. The fee for the recertification course, including the exam, is $55 for people living in the County or working in a food facility here and $70 for others.
A certification challenge exam, with no instruction, will be given from 2 to 3 p.m. on January 9 and 23, February 6 and 20, and March 6 and 20 at the Health Department’s Food Safety Division in Lawrenceville. The one-hour exam, which is for those who already have had food safety training, is $40 for those who live in the County or work in a food facility here and $55 for others.
Discounted culinary student fees of $40 for County residents and $55 for non-residents are available for the certification course and refresher class.
For more information, call the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD (2243) or visit its web site at www.achd.net.
KFC faces food-safety investigation in China
Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9774241/KFC-faces-food-safety-investigation-in-China.html
By Malcolm Moore, Beijing (Jan 01, 2013)
The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration told the Oriental Daily newspaper that it has launched a formal investigation and would shortly publish its findings.
KFC's problems in China began on December 18 when CCTV, the national broadcaster, aired allegations that poultry farms in north China supplying KFC had used excessive amounts of antibiotics and growth hormones.
KFC said it would "actively co-operate" with the Shanghai authorities, and told the state-run China Daily newspaper it "strictly" abides by Chinese regulations.
It admitted that excessive amounts of antibiotics had been found in raw chicken in 2010 from two of its suppliers and that it has now terminated a contract with Liuhe, one of China's biggest poultry companies.
McDonald's, which also bought meat from Liuhe, terminated its contract on December 19.
Nevertheless, CCTV said: "KFC's control and management over food safety cannot be trusted completely by customers".
Meanwhile, Shanghai and Beijing have both vowed to blacklist food companies which breach regulations, as the Chinese authorities try to reassure the public that their food is safe.
“Humanoid Simulated Vomiting System” – Norovirus Travels Nearly 10 Feet
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/humanoid-simulated-vomiting-system-norovirus-travels-nearly-10-feet/
By Bill Marler (Dec 31, 2012)
The BBC reports that ‘Vomiting Larry’ is busy being sick over and over again in an experiment to test just how far the winter vomiting bug can travel when it makes you ill.
Lucky for Larry, he is not a constantly retching human – but a simulated vomiting system that shows the virus can travel an impressive 3m (9.8ft) in a projectile episode, according to his creators at the British Health and Safety Laboratory.
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. According to a relatively recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine:
The Norwalk agent was the first virus that was identified as causing gastroenteritis in humans, but recognition of its importance as a pathogen has been limited because of the lack of available, sensitive, and routine diagnostic methods. Recent advances in understanding the molecular biology of the noroviruses, coupled with applications of novel diagnostic techniques, have radically altered our appreciation of their impact. Noroviruses are now recognized as being the leading cause of epidemics of gastroenteritis and an important cause of sporadic gastroenteritis in both children and adults.
Of the viruses, only the common cold is reported more often than a norovirus infection—also referred to as viral gastroenteritis.
To learn more about norovirus, visit http://www.about-norwalk.com.
01/04. N America Quality & Food Safety Coordinator- Missouri
01/04. Qual Mgmt Specialist - Food Safety – Green Bay, WI
01/04. Retail Food Safety Specialist – Lakeland, FL
01/03. Qual Mgmt Specialist - Food Safety – Denver, CO
01/03. Extension Agent, FCS, Food Safety –VA Tech
01/03. Food Safety Specialist – Middlesboro, KY
01/02. QA Mgr/Formulated Pkg – Los Angeles, CA
01/02. Certification Auditor - Food Safety - Chicago, IL
Norovirus Outbreaks at Vancouver Hospitals Under Control
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/norovirus-outbreaks-at-vancouver-hospitals-under-control/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 05, 2013)
Two units at New Westminster’s Royal Columbian Hospital in Vancouver, British Columbia and one unit at Vancouver General Hospital have been struck by a norovirus outbreak. All three units were closed to prevent the spread of the virus. The CBC reports that 12 patients and 6 staff members were sickened.
The Vancouver Sun reports that two more hospitals have recently experienced outbreaks and containment protocols have been established to prevent the spread of the disease. Until a patient has been free of symptoms for 24 hours, they will be kept in the ward.
Norovirus is extremely contagious. It inflames the lining of the stomach, causing symptoms including diarrhea and vomiting. Symptoms occur suddenly and usually last a few days. It can be spread person-to-person, through contaminated food and water, and by touching surfaces that contain the virus.
There is no treatment for norovirus, except to maintain hydration. Dehydration can cause complications that can lead to hospitalization. To prevent the spread of this virus, wash your hands often with soap and water, stay home and away from others if you are sick, and keep your hands away from your face.
E. coli Outbreak in New Brunswick, Canada
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/e-coli-outbreak-in-new-brunswick-canada/
By Kathy Will (Jan 05, 2013)
The Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health in New Brunswick Canada is investigating five confirmed cases of E. coli 0157 in that province. Two of the cases are in the Saint John region, and three are in the Fredericton region. All of the patients were seen in hospital emergency rooms; one person was admitted.
Dr. Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health, said in a statement, “at this time, we do not know if the cases have a common source. A number of sources are being investigated and we are still gathering information.”
To prevent further spread of this outbreak, public health officials recommend that all people thoroughly wash hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before and during food preparation. Avoid contact between cooked or ready-to-eat foods and raw meat and poultry. Thoroughly cook all meats, and do not consume unpasteurized dairy products.
If anyone is experiencing the symptoms of an E. coli infection, including severe, painful abdominal cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, mild fever, nausea, and vomiting, they should see their health care provider immediately. Complications of this infection can include hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can be life-threatening.
Wegmans Lettuce Linked to 33 with E. coli
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/wegmans-lettuce-linked-to-33-with-e-coli/
By Bill Marler (Dec 28, 2012)
A total of 33 ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 were reported from five states. The number of ill people identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Connecticut (2), Massachusetts (3), New York (26), Pennsylvania (1), and Virginia (1).
46% of ill persons were hospitalized. Two ill persons developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, and no deaths were reported.
Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies linked this outbreak to pre-packaged leafy greens produced by State Garden of Chelsea, Massachusetts.
Traceback investigations of pre-packaged leafy greens purchased by ill persons identified State Garden as a common producer, but a source of contamination has not been identified. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues its investigation to identify the source of the contamination.
E. coli Sickens Five in New Brunswick
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/new-brunswick-e-coli-outbreak-sickens-five/
By News Desk (Jan 04, 2013)
Health authorities are investigating five cases of E. coli O157:H7 in New Brunswick, Canada.
All five victims were seen in hospital emergency rooms, announced the New Brunswick Department of Health Thursday. All but one were released, while one was admitted to receive treatment.
Two cases were reported in the Saint John region of the province, and the remaining three occurred in Fredericton, reported NBDH.
“At this time, we do not know if the cases have a common source,” said Dr. Eilish Cleary, Chief Medical Officer of Health in a statement Thursday. “A number of sources are being investigated and we are still gathering information. It is very important that New Brunswickers wash their hands thoroughly after using the bathroom or changing diapers, and take food safety precautions.”
E. coli is passed from person to person via the fecal oral route.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection generally appear 3-4 days after exposure, and include abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea that can turn bloody in more severe cases.
Those experiencing symptoms of E. coli should see their healthcare provider, advises the health department in its press release.
New Brunswick is a Canadian province located in the southeastern region of Canada, bordering the U.S. state of Maine on its east side.
In late April of 2012, at least 18 people in the New Brunwick region fell ill from E. coli O157:H7 infections that were eventually linked to romaine lettuce that eventually turned out to have sickened people in California as well.
Then in July, four people came down with E. coli O157:H7 infections in Fredericton in a separate outbreak. Two victims, both teenagers, were hospitalized as a result of their illnesses
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