Home The Mystic River Press Mystic River Press:
News Stop believing those food safety myths
Source : http://www.thewesterlysun.com/mysticriverpress/news/stop-believing-those-food-safety-myths/article_b8b1fe40-59b9-11e2-8c2b-0019bb2963f4.html
By Diane Wright Hirsch (Jan 13, 2013)
Lots of celebrities seemed to be victims of one foodborne bug or another
Justin Bieber threw up on stage. Elton John cancelled several appearances
at Caesar’s Palace in February.
Even Martha Stewart got sick! She attributed her bout with Salmonella
to her frequent appointments with raw turkeys during the Thanksgiving
food show season. That would make sense. Raw turkey is very likely
to be contaminated with Salmonella. But, often I hear claims about
food safety and foodborne illness that are clearly wrong.
Many are misinformed or ignorant of how food gets contaminated, how
microorganisms grow in food, or how we get sick from contaminated
So, let’s take a few minutes at the beginning of 2013 and dispel
some of the most common misconceptions about food safety and foodborne
illness. This column’s top 10 list, if you will, features food
safety myths and the real truth about all of them.
10. Locally grown produce is safer because you know your farmer.
Unless you are asking your farmer if he or she uses Good Agricultural
Practices to reduce the risk of microbial contamination of their produce,
there is no way that you can be assured that the food is safer than
that grown on a mega-farm in California. Large and small farms alike,
in California or Connecticut, can produce fruits or vegetables that
can make you sick.
It’s all about understanding how produce gets contaminated on
its way from the soil to the plate and being proactive about prevention.
This includes paying attention to agricultural water, manure use,
personal hygiene, and sanitation in the packinghouse. Yes, your local
farmer is not likely to be the source of food borne illness outbreaks
that are national in scope, but he can certainly make people sick
with contaminated spinach or cantaloupe that was pooped on by a deer.
9. You don’t need to wash a fruit if you are not going to eat
Just because you are not eating a peel, doesn’t mean that you
do not need to wash it. It is easy to contaminate a cutting board,
knife, or hands with bacteria from a dirty peel, then pass it along
to the part of the fruit you do eat. Think of those lemons sitting
in your drink as you sip your iced tea, or the dirty rinds of watermelon
or cantaloupe. When they are cut open, the knife brings the surface
bacteria right on to the fruit.
8. Mamma said, “Mayonnaise is a dangerous food.”
Commercial mayonnaise is actually not a potentially hazardous food
by definition. The pH of mayonnaise is around 3.8 to 4.6, or in the
“acid” range. This environment is not favorable to the
growth of the microbes that cause food borne illness.
Add the mayonnaise to chicken or potatoes or cooked macaroni, however,
and the pH of the dish is now in the “low acid” range,
meaning that bacteria and other microbes are happy to grow and multiply.
You actually can leave mayonnaise at room temperature, but the quality
deteriorates rapidly, so follow the manufacturer’s storage recommendations
and put it in the fridge.
7. You can tell if a burger is cooked by the color.
Nope, nope, nope. Studies have shown that a burger can be brown and
not cooked sufficiently to kill E. coli O157:H7 (160°F), or it
can be pink and safe.
The only way to tell if meat is cooked to safety is with a food thermometer.
And don’t let a chef tell you that you can tell a steak is done
by the way it “feels.”
6. The sell by date has passed so the food is no longer safe.
Sell-by dates are not safety dates. If you buy milk that is printed
with tomorrow’s date, it does not mean you cannot drink it tomorrow.
Most dairy products, eggs and fresh meats carry sell-by dates. Milk
is good five to seven days after the sell-by date; eggs, at least
a month after the date; hamburger, a day or two.
Of course, this assumes the food was handled properly during transportation
and its stay in the retail store. Remember, too, that if a food is
frozen, the sell by date is pretty much meaningless. A few years ago,
a school was forced to throw out “outdated” food that
was stored in the freezer. While quality can suffer in the freezer,
food safety does not. If it was safe when it went in, it will be safe
when it comes out – even a year later.
5. You should never put hot food in the fridge because everything
in the fridge will spoil.
Only if you are still using an ice box…with ice blocks….like
in the olden days.
Modern refrigerators can certainly handle moderate amounts of hot
food without having the entire fridge warm to unsafe temperatures.
There are limits, however.
A hot soup or stew made in large stockpots, a large roast or casserole
should be broken down into smaller amounts so that they can cool quickly.
But don’t leave food out to cool more than 15 to 30 minutes
(see number 3).
4. Leftovers (or any food, for that matter) will smell bad and/or
look bad if it is unsafe to eat.
The bacteria and other microorganisms that cause food spoilage often
cause a bad odor, sliminess, fermentation or the appearance of mold.
You would be wise to throw food out if any of these signs or symptoms
is present. However, the types of microorganisms that cause foodborne
illness rarely let you know they are there. You cannot expect Salmonella
to make food smell bad, E. coli to make meat slimy or botulinum to
make canned soup taste funny. That is why it is important to learn
how to buy, prepare, cook and store food safely.
3. If you leave soup to cool and forget about it over night, it will
be safe once you boil it.
A lot of folks think that once you cook a food, you destroy all harmful
bacteria, so it is safe to leave it out for hours and hours. In addition,
they may think that even if it does become contaminated after cooking,
the answer is simply more cooking: boil that soup for a while and
it will be safe again.
In fact once a raw food is cooked, it then becomes a positive growing
environment for another slew of bacteria. The Salmonella, E. coli,
and Listeria are dead. Long live the Staphylococcus and Clostridium
perfringens. The complicating factor here is that Staph and perfringens
are bacteria that produce toxins or poisons (the true definition of
food poisoning – when bacteria produce toxins, which not all
do). These toxins are heat stable. You can cook and cook and cook,
but the toxins will still be there.
The lesson here is to refrigerate foods quickly after cooking.
2. “I got food poisoning...probably from that new restaurant
where I ate yesterday.”
Not true. It is just as likely, or maybe more likely, that your illness
was from something you ate at home, cooked by you.
Also, while it is true that some foodborne illness causing microorganisms
will cause symptoms within hours or a day or two, many of these microorganisms
need time to multiply in your body before you become symptomatic of
the illnesses they cause.
Listeria can take three weeks to show up. E. coli can take a week.
Hepatitis may not be evident for 30 days. Don’t assume the illness
was from something you ate yesterday. If you are vomiting, suffering
from fever, diarrhea, aches and pains for more than 24 to 48 hours,
get yourself to a doctor and get diagnosed.
Ta dah….and the number one food safety myth (my favorite, actually)
“I have been preparing food this way for years and I haven’t
made anyone sick yet.”
I hear this all the time.
From home cooks who can peppers in olive oil like they did in the
old country; from the barbecue expert who checks to see if the steaks
are done by pressing them with his index finger; from the person who
leaves the turkey out all day long; from the mom who serves her toddler
unpasteurized cider; from the vendor serving blood red burgers (most
likely cooked from frozen) to the little soccer players at the local
All I can say is, “How do you know you haven’t made any
one sick?” and, “You sound like a teenager who, when doing
something that is not smart, or maybe a little dangerous, says it
won’t happen to me!”
And maybe when your grandmother was in the kitchen, the bugs that
cause foodborne illness were different. Listeria wasn’t even
in the human food processing industry 25 years ago. E. coli was unknown
in unpasteurized cider. These and other microorganisms have adapted
and evolved and become problematic in our food system.
This year, make a resolution to learn how to buy, prepare, cook, and
store food safely. A good place to start is by checking www.foodsafety.gov,
a gateway site to all sorts of credible food safety information for
consumers and others.
For more information about safe food handling, contact the Home and
Garden Education Center at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-486-627.
More Raw Milk and E. coli in Missouri
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/more-raw-milk-and-e-coli-in-missouri/
By Andy Weisbecker (Jan 12, 2013)
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) has become
aware of several cases of diarrheal illness from northwest Missouri,
possibly caused by Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC),
including one confirmed as E. coli O103. These may be related to the
consumption of locally-produced, raw (unpasteurized) dairy products.
DHSS recommends that any person who has signs or symptoms of STEC
infection seek medical care. Health care providers should evaluate
patients adequately to determine if testing for STEC infection is
Symptoms of STEC infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea
(which is often bloody), and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually
is not very high. Most patients’ symptoms improve within 5–7
days, but some patients go on to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome
(HUS), usually about a week after the diarrhea starts. The classic
triad of findings in HUS are acute renal damage, microangiopathic
hemolytic anemia, and thrombocytopenia.
Use of antibiotics in patients with suspected STEC infections is not
recommended until complete diagnostic testing can be performed and
STEC infection is ruled out. Some studies have shown that administering
antibiotics in patients with STEC infections might increase their
risk of developing HUS. However, clinical decision making must be
tailored to each individual patient. There may be indications for
antibiotics in patients with severe intestinal inflammation if perforation
is of concern.
Guidelines to optimize detection and characterization of STEC infections
include the following:
•All stools submitted for testing from patients with acute community-acquired
diarrhea should be cultured for STEC O157:H7. These stools should
be simultaneously assayed for non-O157 STEC with a test that detects
the Shiga toxins or the genes encoding these toxins.
•Clinical laboratories should report and send E. coli O157:H7
isolates and Shiga toxin-positive samples to the Missouri State Public
Health Laboratory (MSPHL) as soon as possible for additional characterization.
•Specimens or enrichment broths in which Shiga toxin or STEC
are detected, but from which O157:H7 STEC isolates are not recovered,
should be forward-ed as soon as possible to MSPHL so that non-O157:H7
STEC can be isolated.
•It is often difficult to isolate STEC in stool by the time a
patient presents with HUS. Immunomagnetic separation (IMS) has been
shown to increase recovery of STEC from HUS patients. For any patient
with HUS without a culture-confirmed STEC infection, stool can be
sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) through
MSPHL. In addition, serum can be sent to CDC through MSPHL for serologic
testing of common STEC serogroups.
•The benefits of adhering to the recommended testing strategy
include early diagnosis, improved patient outcome, and detection of
all STEC serotypes.
Medical providers are required to report, within one day, suspected
or diagnosed cases of the following: Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
(STEC), other Shiga toxin-positive organisms that have not been characterized,
and all cases of post-diarrheal HUS. Reports can be made to the local
public health agency, or to DHSS at 800/392-0272 (24/7). In addition,
laboratories are required to submit isolates or specimens positive
for E. coli O157:H7, or for other Shiga toxin-positive organisms,
to MSPHL for epidemiological or confirmation purposes.
Laboratory consultation is available from MSPHL by calling 573/751-3334,
or 800/392-0272 (24/7). Other questions should be directed to DHSS’
Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention at 573/751-6113,
or 800/392-0272 (24/7).
Tip o’ the Pen to eFoodAlert.
How Listeria Outbreaks Are Investigated
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/how-listeria-outbreaks-are-investigated/
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 12, 2013)
Listeria is in the news right now thanks to a string of smoked salmon
recalls. But what exactly is it, how does it get into our food and
what do consumers need to know about it? Dr. Emily Cartwright, answered
all those questions and more in a podcast about her recently published
paper about how listeriosis outbreaks are investigated.
Cartwright is an Infectious Disease fellow at Emory University and
former EIS Officer with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’
s (CDC’s) Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental
Diseases. Her paper about foodborne Listeria outbreaks, appears in
the January issue of the CDC’s journal, Emerging Infectious
About 1,600 cases of listeriosis are diagnosed in the US every year,
according to the CDC. Of those, about 1,500 are hospitalized and 260
die. “So it’s a rare bacterial foodborne disease, but
nearly all patients are hospitalized and about one in six people with
it die,” Cartwright said. Those most at risk are seniors, those
with weakened immune systems from disease such as cancer and AIDS
patients and pregnant women. “Listeriosis during pregnancy can
cause a miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature labor. Some newborn
babies become very ill and some die,” said Cartwright.
Outbreaks of listeriosis are detected through a network of laboratories
called PulseNet which all make “genetic fingerprints”
of pathogen strains from sick people. The shared information helps
to determine if there is a spike in cases and if any of the case patients
were sickened by the stain. There is also a specific surveillance
system, called the Listeria Initiative, which was designed specifically
to investigate Listeria outbreaks.
The paper discusses 24 listeriosis outbreaks that occurred between
1998 and 2008 . “Outbreaks that occurred later in the study
period, after 2004, were generally smaller in the number of sick people
and shorter in duration. We believe that these improvements reflect
better detection of outbreaks through PulseNet and better investigation
through the Listeria Initiative. In other words, rapid detection and
response to listeriosis outbreaks, finding the contaminated food,
and removing it from the food supply, resulted in fewer illnesses
and ended the outbreaks sooner,” Cartwright said.
Some of the most important trends identified in the study had to do
with the types of food associated with outbreaks of listeriosis, Cartwright
said. ”Ready-to-eat meats were the most common source
of outbreaks early in the study period, from 1998 to 2003. But later
in the study period, after 2004, they were associated with only one
outbreak.. We know that, after several multistate outbreaks caused
by ready-to-eat meats in the late 90s and early 2000s, industry and
regulatory agencies responded with interventions to prevent Listeria
contamination in ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs and turkey deli
meat. So this is an example of how findings from outbreak investigations
can lead to enhanced efforts to control Listeria contamination, which
has national benefits. “
Botulism Risk for Soup, Pickles and Beets
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/botulism-risk-for-soup-pickles-and-beets/
By Bruce Clark (Jan 11, 2013)
The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is warning consumers
not to eat “Sister Sara’s Good for You” products
because they may have been improperly produced, making them susceptible
to contamination with Clostridium botulinum.
No illnesses have been linked to any of the affected products at this
time. The products were sold at certified farmers markets in Alameda
Sister Sara of Pleasanton, CA., is voluntarily recalling the products
after CDPH discovered they were produced without the required controls
to prevent formation of botulism toxin. Ingestion of botulism toxin
from improperly processed foods can lead to serious illness and death.
These products were sold under the Sister Sara label and packaged
in one-pint glass canning jars with screw-on metal lids. The products
were labeled as “Sister Sara’s Good for You Soup,”
“Sister Sara’s Bread & Butter Pickles,” “Sister
Sara’s Pickled Beets,” and “Sister Sara’s
Old Fashioned Dill Pickles.” These products do not contain production
or date codes. Additional product information, including photos of
affected products, can be found on the CDPH website.
Botulism toxin is odorless and colorless. Symptoms generally begin
18- to-36 hours after eating contaminated food, but can occur as early
as six hours, or as late as ten days. Symptoms typically begin with
blurred or double vision, followed by trouble speaking and swallowing,
progressing to muscle weakness that starts in the upper body. Botulism
can lead to life-threatening paralysis of the muscles used in breathing.
People experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Two Prominent Egg Producers Get Warning Letters
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/two-prominent-egg-producers-get-warning-letters-from-fda/
By Dan Flynn (Jan 10, 2013)
Among the egg producers the American Egg Board uses to promote the
industry is Midwest Poultry Services, located west of Fort Wayne near
Family owned and operated since 1875, the egg producer houses at least
two million laying hens.
But now, Midwest’s Robert L. Krouse, one of AEB’s spokesmen
for the “Incredible Edible Egg” and Wen Chang Su, president
of SKS Enterprises Inc., have both received warning letters from the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for violating the now-two-year-old
shell egg regulations.
SKS Enterprises is based in Lodi, CA, where it promotes its “California
Farm Fresh” eggs.
In both instances, FDA is concerned about violations occurring away
from the main offices of the two egg producers. For Midwest, FDA is
concerned about the company’s shell egg production facility
in Ft. Recovery, OH, which was inspected between July 23 and 25 of
For SKS, FDA’s inspections found problems at the following egg
production facilities: Honen Ranch in Lodi, Fosberg & Griffin
in Hughson, Castle and Palm View in Manteca and D&C in Hughson.
FDA found all these egg production facilities, located in Ohio and
California, to be in “serious violation” of the shell
egg regulations, causing it to determine that eggs being produced
in the facilities are “adulterated” in that they have
been “prepared, packed or held” under “insanitary
conditions whereby they may have become contaminated with filth, or
whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”
For the Ohio egg production facility, Midwest could not provide documentation
of corrective actions taken to address high levels of rodent activity.
“In layer house 1 our investigators observed apparent rodent
excreta pellets too numerous to count along the inside perimeter floor
and walkway,’ FDA Cincinnati District Director Paul J. Teitell
wrote in the recently released Dec. 20 warning letter.
In layer house 3, 113 rodents were caught in a five-day period.
The FDA warning letter said Midwest’s response to its inspection
report was inadequate because it failed to update the company’s
Salmonella Enteriditis Prevention Plan with a new rodent monitoring
and documentation system.
Midwest was also warned about its failure to document compliance with
refrigeration requirements. Regulations require eggs be refrigerated
withiun 36 hours of being laid. FDA said it would verify such corrective
actions are taken at its next inspection.
Finally, FDA commented on Midwest’s SE Prevention Plan as it
relates to preventing cross contamination by people and equipment
moving among the various laying houses.
In California, SKS was warned about its failure to conduct environmental
testing in the pullet environment when the pullets are between 14
and 16 weeks of age. It also found inconsistencies in the protocol
for handling chicks that test positive for Salmonella Enteritidis
before they are moved into laying facilities. FDA said some of the
SKS timeframes were inconsistent.
FDA will check on whether adequate changes are in place at its next
In addition, FDA findings involving the California egg production
•An auto entering without washing or disinfecting the vehicle
•Stray poultry, wild birds, cats and other animals were not prevented
from entering the poultry houses
•Wild birds and wild bird nests were mentioned as special problems
•Failure to perform SE testing after inducing a molt in the flock
•Failure to maintain rodent and pest control records. Many records
for rodent and fly monitoring were missing for specific time periods.
•Environmental sampling was inconsistent as it samples only half
the cage rows.
Neither Midwest nor SKS was ordered to stop shipping eggs until the
problems mentioned in the warning letters are solved. Both were given
15 working days to respond to the warning letters. Attempts
to reach the two egg producers through the egg board for comment were
The new egg rule went into effect on July 9, 2010 for egg producers
with 50,000 or more laying hens,. FDA estimates that, if followed,
the rule might prevent up to 60 percent of the 79,000 illnesses and
30 deaths from eating eggs contaminated with Salmonella Enteritidis
(SE). Refrigeration during egg storage and transportation and
other protective measures are included in the 2010 requirements.
On an unrelated subject, FDA sent a Dec. 21 warning letter to john
M. Ficher, owner of Mountain Vista Dairy at Tilamook, OR when tissue
samples of a dairy cow sold for slaughter tested positive for excessive
Mercury News editorial: New FDA food safety
rules are a huge step forward
Source : http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_22349308/mercury-news-editorial-new-fda-food-safety-rules
By Mercury News Editorial (Jan 10, 2013)
At long last, after seven frustrating and sometimes deadly decades
of inaction, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has the power it
needs to recall tainted foods and require common-sense safety measures
for farmers and food manufacturers. But the new food safety rules
announced last week won't do much good if there's no money to enforce
them, and therein lies the rub.
The FDA took two years to come up with the rules for implementing
Congress' landmark legislation. The delay was in part because the
FDA knows Congress has always shortchanged it on food safety, even
though more than 3,000 Americans die every year and more than 300,000
are hospitalized from eating contaminated food. For example, lawmakers
have failed to appropriate the $600 million the FDA needs to implement
its new food safety center, even though it's hard to imagine a service
of greater value to consumers.
California has a huge stake in Americans' confidence in their food
supply because it grows nearly half of the fruits, nuts and vegetables
they eat. Its congressional delegation should lead the charge to include
the FDA funding.
Fortunately, California growers are ahead of the curve. The state's
farm industry in 2006 voluntarily adopted a set of practices that
largely mirror the new tracking procedures and safety steps the FDA
is calling for. This was prompted by the 2006 E. coli outbreak tracked
to contaminated spinach grown at a San Benito County farm. Three people
died, nearly 200 were infected and the industry lost an estimated
The FDA's new goal is to aggressively try to prevent contamination.
Food manufacturers will be required by 2015 to submit plans to monitor
and minimize food packaging hazards. Farmers will have to monitor
water safety, develop soil safety controls and guarantee proper sanitation
The vast majority of growers and processors go out of their way to
keep their products safe. The new rules are needed to deal with those
who cut corners, whether to save money or simply out of carelessness.
For them, publishing rules isn't enough. The FDA will need to monitor
compliance. And that takes money.
Melon food safety conference to focus on research
Source : http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2013/Q1/melon-food-safety-conference-to-focus-on-research-and-practice.html/
By Jessica Merzdorf (Jan 10, 2013)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Melon growers and sellers can review the challenges
of 2012 and learn about new research and initiatives for this year
at a melon food safety conference.
"Melon Food Safety - 2012 and Beyond" will be held Jan.
29 from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at the Southwest-Purdue Agricultural Center,
4369 N. Purdue Road, Vincennes.
There will be instruction in safe handling practices for growers and
discussion on the prevention and investigation of foodborne illness.
The conference is open to current and prospective farmers, packers
and brokers from Indiana and surrounding states.
Session topics include food safety guidelines and practices for cantaloupe
and watermelon, Purdue University food safety research and consumer
produce handling. Additionally, there will be a review of the 2012
Salmonella outbreak on cantaloupe and the Indiana State Department
of Health's Produce Safety Initiative for 2013.
Registration costs $15 per person and is due by Jan. 22. To download
a registration form, visit http://ag.purdue.edu/hla/fruitveg/, select
"Melon Food Safety" under "Hot Topics" and click
For more information, contact Liz Maynard at 219-531-4200, ext. 4206,
Fresh Produce ‘Highly Likely’ Source
of Canadian E. coli Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/fresh-produce-highly-likely-to-be-source-of-canadian-e-coli-outbreak/
By Gretchen Goetz (Jan 09, 2013)
Fresh produce is now suspected to be the source of an E. coli outbreak
that has sickened at least 15 people in northeastern Canada, said
a top health official Wednesday.
“Our environmental and epidemiological investigations suggest
a common source related to a produce item,” said Dr. Frank Atherton,
deputy chief medical officer of health for Nova Scotia in an emailed
Of the 15 E. coli O157:H7 infections known to be linked to the outbreak,
6 occurred in New Brunswick, 5 in Nova Scotia and 4 in Ontario. Five
more illnesses in Nova Scotia are suspected to be part of the outbreak.
Samples from these patients are currently under analysis at the national
microbiology lab in Winnipeg, said Atherton.
For those worried about contracting an infection, health officials
say the outbreak appears to be tapering off, and they expect few,
if any, new cases. The first confirmed victim fell ill on December
22, 2012, and the number of new cases peaked the following day, according
to epidemiological information posted by the federal Canadian Food
Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“Most cases had onset dates over the Christmas period,”
confirmed Atherton. “We are not seeing new cases and so we are
hopeful that the outbreak is tapering off.”
While produce has been suspected, Atherton said investigators have
yet to pinpoint a specific food.
“At this time, it is still too early to identify a definitive
source, and with multiple provinces involved, additional coordination
through our federal agencies is also required as part of the overall
Ohio Longhorn Steakhouse Linked to December
E. coli Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/ohio-longhorn-steakhouse-linked-to-december-e-coli-outbreak/
By Patti Waller (Jan 09, 2013)
Coral Beach of the Packer reports that health officials in Hamilton
County, Ohio say a small, localized outbreak of E. coli linked to
leafy greens in mid-December is over and they have closed the investigation.
Mike Samet, public information officer with the county health department,
said the common denominator for the people who got sick was consumption
of leafy greens at a Cincinnati Longhorn Steakhouse.
There were five lab-confirmed cases and one “probable case”
of E. coli Dec. 10-15. Samet said all six people have recovered.
“We expect no more cases and the investigation is closed,”
Samet said Jan. 9.
He said the county health department did not pursue further traceback
on the leafy greens.
Associations Collaborate with Government on
Source : http://associationsnow.com/2013/01/associations-collaborate-with-government-on-food-safety-law/
By Chloe Thompson (Jan 08, 2013)
The federal government is working to implement the 2011 Food Safety
Modernization Act, with help from associations aiming to align food
safety with industry needs.
It may have taken a little time, but America is finally getting serious
about foodborne illnesses.
The Obama administration last week issued two major regulatory proposals
that would implement the the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, Bloomberg
reported. The regulatory framework will represent the biggest change
to food industry oversight since 1938, and associations are playing
One of the proposals would give companies that sell food in the U.S.
one year to develop a formal plan for preventing the causes of foodborne
illnesses. The other would require produce farms that have a high
risk of contamination to develop new hygienic protocols.
Concerns about food safety have grown substantially after a series
of foodborne illness outbreaks were linked to tainted meats and other
foods (such as peanuts, spinach, and even cookie dough) in recent
“The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act is a commonsense law
that shifts the food safety focus from reactive to preventive,”
said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in an FDA
statement. “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
The numbers are daunting: According to the FDA, one in six Americans
suffer from a foodborne illness annually, and about 3,000 die. The
new regulations aim to improve public health, reduce medical costs,
and alleviate the widespread panic—and disruptions in the nation’s
food system—that happen when a foodborne illness circulates.
Several associations, such as the United Fresh Produce Association,
a trade group for the fruit and vegetable industry, and the Produce
Marketing Association are working with the FDA on the new regulations.
The National Milk Producers Federation, for example, has submitted
comments on user fees authorized under the act to fund the FDA’s
enforcement activities. It urged the agency to revisit the proposed
fee structure, considering the fees’ impact on small businesses.
Still to come: More rules on imported goods.
The proposed rules are available for public comment for 120 days.
Packing, eating and reheating: Food safety from
the store to the table
Source : http://www.sentinelsource.com/life_and_style/parenting/packing-eating-and-reheating-food-safety-from-the-store-to/article_1aade4cc-59d0-11e2-9d89-0019bb2963f4.html
By SentinelSource (Jan 08, 2013)
(BPT) - Today's busy families are always on the go, which means less
time for shopping, preparing and eating food. However, there is one
thing you can't skimp on no matter how fast you're going, and that's
food safety. From grocery shopping to reheating leftovers, you can
use several tips to ensure that the food you eat isn't going to make
you or your family sick.
The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) has a plethora of information
for consumers about how to prevent foodborne illness throughout the
To make sure that the food you bring home is as safe and delicious
as it was at the store, it's important to know the best way to pack
and transport your groceries. In a video on the IFT website, bit.ly/VTwhE5,
Jennifer McEntire, PhD, a food scientist and microbiologist offers
Pack similar foods together in order to avoid cross contamination
- the transfer of pathogens between one food to another. For example,
pack produce together in one bag, and meats in another. Pack a bag
of frozen foods and another one for dry goods.
If you're a fan of reusable bags, make sure you're keeping them clean.
Wipe them out, or even throw them in the washing machine on a regular
basis to keep them germ free. Some reusable, thermal bags can keep
foods hot or cold for up to a couple of hours, so make sure these
bags are free from holes or tears. It's important to wrap meats in
a disposable bag before placing them in a reusable bag in order to
avoid spreading pathogens. If you can, bring two reusable bags to
keep meats and produce separate.
Whether you cook all your food for the week on Sunday or have extra
left at the end of a meal, for many families, leftovers are the key
to solving the problem of "what's for dinner." Some foods,
like casseroles, chicken salad and foods with many different spices,
can even taste better the next day once all the flavors meld together.
Proper handling can ensure that leftovers keep that "first bite"
taste, as well as staying delicious and bacteria-free.
It's important to remember to keep three things in mind when it comes
to leftovers: refrigerating, storing, and reheating. The video which
can be found on the Food Facts page at bit.ly/RN0mWj offers several
tips on how to safely savor foods a second time around.
To save energy, first cool your food before placing it in the refrigerator.
You can speed up the cooling process by chilling food in an ice bath
or cold water, setting it in front of a fan, or dividing it into smaller
portions that can be placed into shallow containers. The temperature
in your refrigerator should be at 40 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees
Celsius) or lower. It's best to use a thermometer to make sure you
have the correct temperature rather than relying on refrigerator controls
and displays. The key is to store leftovers quickly, within two hours
of cooking (one hour on hot summer days or in warm climates).
Thin-walled metal, glass or plastic shallow containers (no more than
2 inches deep), bags, foil and plastic wrap are ideal for storing
leftovers. Cooked meat can be stored three to four days in the fridge,
while uncooked ground meats, poultry and seafood will last only a
day or two. Raw roasts, steaks and chops (beef, veal, lamp or pork),
as well as casseroles, veggies and similar side dishes and pie can
be refrigerated for three to five days. If you have a lot of leftovers,
you may choose to freeze them, which completely halts bacterial activity,
so food can stay safe and usable for several months. Freezer temperature
should be at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 degrees Celsius).
Using a food thermometer is the best way to ensure food is heated
to a safe temperature. Most foods, especially meats, should be heated
to 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius) in the center. It's
safe to leave steak or other whole cuts of beef or lamb a little bit
rare when you reheat them, as long as they were initially cooked at
a high temperature to sear the outside and kill bacteria on the surface
of the meat. Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a boil. Never reheat
leftovers in crock pots, slow cookers or chafing dishes. When reheating
in a microwave, use a lower power setting to reheat and to avoid overcooking.
For some fast facts for fast heating, while using the microwave oven,
check out this IFT video: bit.ly/PjUyl0.
Sweeping Food Safety Rules Raise More Concerns
About FDA Funding
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/sweeping-draft-food-safety-rules-raise-more-concerns-about-fda-funding/
By Helena Bottemiller (Jan 08, 2013)
As stakeholders review the landmark draft food safety rules the U.S.
Food and Drug Administration released Friday – which may take
a while, given that the two rules come to more than 1,000 pages with
another couple hundred pages of supporting documents – there
are renewed concerns about the agency’s ability to actually
enforce the sweeping measures.
While the initial response from consumer advocates, industry groups,
and lawmakers was positive, especially after such a lengthy delay,
agency officials were repeatedly pressed during a Friday phone
briefing with reporters on whether there will be adequate resources
to implement the forthcoming rules.
“Resources remain an ongoing concern,” said FDA Commissioner
Margaret Hamburg, who was quick to point out that the new law was
projected to save more than it would cost by preventing illnesses
and outbreaks. “We hope to be able to work very closely with
Congress as they shape the 2013 and 2014 budgets.”
But in the current budget landscape, the agency has little to no chance
of getting funding increases at levels deemed necessary by the Congressional
Budget Office. According to CBO, the Food Safety Modernization Act
would likely cost around $1.4 billion over five years to implement.
In the last budget, FDA received a $50 million increase, and many
considered the boost miraculous in the face of rampant cuts.
In an interview with Food Safety News, Michael Taylor, Deputy Commissioner
for Food and Veterinary Medicine, said that FDA absolutely needed
additional resources to invest in technical assistance and education,
research, and to better partner with the states: “We’ve
said from the beginning we’ll need additional resources to fully
“With produce, in particular, the state agriculture departments
want to work with us to reach out and educate farmers so they’re
moving toward compliance,” said Taylor. Working with state agriculture
departments to ensure growers understand the new, complex produce
requirements will be a feat in and of itself.
Taylor also told reporters Friday that, due to budget constraints,
FDA would be relying upon state regulators to help enforce the new
rules, once they are finalized. The agency is trying to build up the
capacity of the states to do this type of work and better integrate
it into a coordinated system, but state governments have been facing
their own budget cuts, and FDA will likely be limited in how much
it can help the states.
With only modest funding increases from Congress, FDA is increasingly
looking at charging the food industry fees, much like it charges drug
manufacturers to pay for drug regulation. The Obama administration’s
fiscal year 2013 budget proposal sought a $253 million increase, but
$222 million of that was to come from food facility registration fees,
which the entire food industry, from farm to factory is roundly opposed
“As consumers continue to cope with a period of prolonged economic
turbulence and food makers struggle with record high commodity prices,
the creation of new food taxes or regulatory fees would mean higher
costs for food makers and lead to higher food prices for consumers,”
a diverse group of food industry associations wrote to the FDA last
year. “As such, we believe imposing new fees on food makers
is the wrong option for funding food safety programs.”
Taylor recognizes that fees are somewhat of an uphill battle, but
believes such a funding mechanism is necessary if Congress doesn’t
appropriate the funding necessary to overhaul the food safety system
from reactive to preventive.
“We’re not there yet in terms of a consensus around fees.
We’ll continue that dialogue,” said Taylor. “It’s
not for us, ultimately, to say where the resources come from. We can
identify resource needs and then work with Congress, work with the
industry to figure out how to meet them. Whether it’s fees or
appropriations or some combination, the important thing is to get
the resources into the program.”
One of the big problems with transforming the food safety system is
that inspections, including domestic, but especially abroad, are extremely
resource intensive. Under FSMA, the FDA is supposed to double the
number of inspections it conducts for the next few years. So far,
the agency has been able to meet that mandate, but it will become
increasingly difficult to meet those benchmarks, according to Taylor.
The new law gives FDA an inspection frequency mandate for food facilities,
based on risk, but there isn’t one for farms or produce packinghouses
(farms and on-farm packinghouses do not have to register with the
agency, so FDA won’t have a database of these companies). This
all might mean that there will be very limited on-farm inspection
once the rules roll out.
“From a resource standpoint, there will be a limit to the frequency
of produce inspections,” said Taylor. “They will be very
Just how will FDA target these inspections? There will be multiple
factors, according to Taylor, who said the agency plans to be transparent
about how it designates high-risk produce products. Past outbreaks
and data on contamination rates will be part of the equation.
Why is Smoked Salmon Contaminated with Listeria?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/why-is-smoked-salmon-contaminated-with-listeria/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 08, 2013)
There have been several recalls of smoked salmon for Listeria monocytogenes
contamination in the past several weeks. There is zero tolerance for
only two bacteria in ready to eat foods such as smoked salmon: Listeria
and Salmonella. These are foods that are processed in some way, but
are eaten without reheating.
So why is smoked salmon, more specifically cold smoked salmon, susceptible
to bacterial contamination? The FDA has specified processing parameters
that are necessary to control pathogenic bacteria presence in smoked
fish. Listeria monocytogenes is widely distributed in the environment
and occurs naturally in many raw foods. It is present in water bodies;
prevalence in river, seawater, and spring water varies from 0 to 62%.
Runoff from agricultural areas is associated with the higher numbers.
Therefore, it is present in salmon harvested in U.S., Norwegian, Chilean,
and Canadian waters.
A study at the Colorado State University Extension Service that was
published in 2008 provides more answers. There are several factors
that play into contamination, including how the salmon is held, draining,
brining, the smoking temperature, cooling, and packaging of the product.
All of these factors are called “critical control points”,
where contamination is possible unless the steps are followed perfectly
Salmon meant for cold smoking should be purchased frozen to reduce
parasite contamination. Brining the salmon must be conducted with
fresh brine for each batch to avoid cross-contamination. The fish
must be properly drained after brining and before introduction to
the smoker. During the smoking process, the fish must be of the same
size and shape so they dehydrate at the same rate. The cold smoking
temperatures only reach 90 degrees F, which is not high enough to
kill bacteria that may be present. Manufacturers of cold smoked salmon
can use CO2, nitrates, and other preservatives to help eliminate bacteria
on the salmon.
Another study conducted by the University of British Columbia found
that Listeria monocytogenes was present in 20% of ready to eat fish
products sold in Vancouver, British Columbia. The products tested
included lox (cold smoked salmon), fish jerky, smoked tuna, and candied
salmon. Once the fish is contaminated, the bacteria present on the
fish can easily multiply in the food while it’s being shipped
and while it’s on store shelves, even at refrigerator temperatures.
Because of these issues, public health officials recommend that anyone
in a high risk group avoid cold smoked salmon. That includes pregnant
women, the elderly, the very young, those with compromised immune
systems, and those with chronic illnesses. The risk is just too great,
and Listeria infections can be deadly.
Food Poisoning: Why You Won't Have to Worry
About It (As Much)
Source : http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-01-07/food-poisoning-bites-dot-why-you-wont-have-to-worry-about-it-as-much-anymore
By Elizabeth Dwoskin (Jan 07, 2013)
Afraid the spinach in your salad is contaminated with E. coli? You
should have less cause for worry — soon.
A little over two years ago members of Congress did something that
now seems practically unfathomable: They came together and passed
a piece of legislation mandating changes that were long overdue. That
bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, became law in 2011. Then,
as so often happens in Washington, politics and bureaucratic inertia
appear to have gotten in the way of it being implemented. At last,
the administration published a proposed set of regulations—1,200
pages in all—today.
The proposed rules establish protocols for fresh produce and processed
food. They set hygiene standards for equipment used with fruits and
vegetables; require that water be purified before being used to wash
produce, and set up sanitation procedures for farm workers. Companies
that make processed food have to tell the government about their “kill
steps,” during which they try to zap away potentially harmful
You might think these steps sound like no-brainers. That’s in
part because the last time the nation’s food-safety laws were
updated was the 1930s—long before the industrialization of agriculture
and food processing.
Since then the country has stomached one deadly foodborne-illness
outbreak after another as federal regulators, with few resources at
their disposal, desperately tried to trace contamination back to its
source. As I recounted in 2011, officials must go from supplier to
supplier, asking questions about how the food was washed, what equipment
it touched, and which fertilizers were used. Since companies weren’t
required to keep detailed records, regulators often got bad leads
or turned up short—meaning outbreaks continued to spread. The
Pew Health Group, which studies food safety, estimates that 3,000
deaths and 128,000 hospitalizations occur every year as a result of
Companies have had little direction from the federal government when
it comes to preventing illness, says Erik Olson, the Pew Health Group’s
director of food programs. Even washing produce before sale, he says,
hasn’t been required by law. That’s about to change. The
difference between the rules now being proposed and the old ones,
Olson says, is “profound.”
There’s no question it took a long time for Washington to get
these regulations in front of the public. And they’re still
not final. Industry groups and advocates have another four months
to weigh in before the rules will be finalized. But the good news
is that major industry trade groups support what the administration
has put forth. So the proposals aren’t likely to be watered
FDA Allows Sunland to Reopen Peanut Mill Plant
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/01/fda-allows-sunland-to-reopen-peanut-mill-plant.aspx
By FoodProductDesign (Jan 02, 2013)
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on
Monday announced reinstating the food facility registration of Sunland
Inc. after a federal judge entered a consent decree that imposed requirements
on the company. Sunland also has been given the green light to resume
processing and distributing raw peanuts from its peanut mill plant
in Portales, N.M.
But in order to process or distribute ready-to-eat food, Sunland must
complete further corrective actions and receive authorization from
FDA, the government agency said.
In late November, FDA suspended Sunland registration after evidence
linked the company to an outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney — a
bacteria causing abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever — that
sickened 42 people in 20 states. The move represented the first time
FDA has invoked its authority under the Food Safety Modernization
Act to prohibit a food facility from introducing products into U.S.
Giant & Martin Salmon Listeria Alert
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/giant-martin-salmon-listeria-alert/
By Andy Weisbecker (Jan 07, 2013)
GIANT Food Stores, LLC and MARTIN’S Food Markets, following
a recall by Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC, announced it removed from sale
several varieties of smoked salmon due to possible contamination by
The following products are included in this recall:
* Nathan’s Nova Salmon, 3 o.z., UPC 7303080368, all sell by
dates * Nathan’s Nova Salmon, 8 o.z., UPC 7303080369, all sell
by dates * Lascco Smoked Salmon, 3 o.z., UPC 7284001703, all sell
We have received no reports of illnesses to date. Customers who have
purchased the product should discard any unused portions and bring
their purchase receipt to GIANT/MARTIN’S for a full refund.
Listeria is a common organism found in nature. Consumption of food
contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an
uncommon but potentially fatal disease. Healthy people rarely contract
listeriosis. However, listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache,
neck stiffness and nausea. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages
and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections
in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly
and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.
01/11. Assoc Sci
II, Biodefense and Food Safety – Austin, TX
01/11. Sci I, Biodefense and Food Safety – Austin, TX
01/11. Food Safety – Restaurant Audit – Morristown, NJ
01/08. Food Safety and Quality Manager – Orlando, FL
01/08. Food Safety - Restaurant Audit – Knoxville, TN
In Canada, 26 Cases of E. coli 0157:H7 Associated
with KFC and Taco Bell
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/in-canada-26-cases-of-e-coli-0157h7-associated-with-kfc-and-taco-bell/
By Kathy Will (Jan 13, 2013)
The Public Health Agency of Canada is investigating an E. coli 0157:H7
outbreak that has now sickened at least 26 people. The outbreak is
located in the Maritimes and Ontario and is associated with shredded
lettuce produced by Freshpoint Inc. and sold at KFC and KFC-Taco Bell
restaurants. The lettuce was not distributed to grocery stores.
A recall has been announced. The source of contamination has not been
determined. The lettuce originally came from California. U.S. officials
have been notified of this outbreak. Public health officials are investigating
to see if food safety controls were followed at each step along the
production and supply chain.
So far, there are six cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in New Brunswick, ten
cases in Nova Scotia, and ten cases in Ontario. Most of those sickened
have recovered or are recovering. There may be more cases of illness
identified as the investigation continues. The reported illnesses
occurred between late December and early January.
The public can help government officials take control of this outbreak.
If you are suffering symptoms of E. coli 0157:H7, such as severe stomach
cramps, watery and/or bloody diarrhea, and vomiting, see your doctor
immediately. And stay home when you are sick. About 5-10% of those
who contract this infection develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS),
which can cause kidney failure and can be fatal. Thorough hand washing
is the best way to prevent person-to-person spread of this illness.
And follow general food safety rules and precautions at all times.
Missouri Issues Alert About Raw Milk and E.
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/missouri-issues-alert-about-raw-milk-and-e-coli-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 13, 2013)
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is issuing a
health advisory about consumption of locally produced, raw dairy products
that may be contaminated with E. coli O103. This bacteria is Shiga-toxin
producing Escherichia coli (STEC) that can cause serious illness and
death. Several cases of the illness in northwest Missouri have been
reported to public health authorities, including one confirmed case
of E. coli O103.
Anyone who has the symptoms of a STEC infection, including severe
stomach cramps, diarrhea, which may be watery and/or bloody, and vomiting,
should see a doctor immediately. Most people get better within a week,
but some can develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which can cause
kidney failure and death.
This is a reportable illness, so all health care providers should
be on the lookout for these infections. All stool samples should be
cultured for STEC 0157:H7 and other non-0157 STEC bacteria with a
test that finds the Shiga toxins. Labs must report E. coli 0157:H7
isolates and non-0157 samples to the Missouri State Public Health
Laboratory. Laboratory consultation is available by calling 573-751-3334
or 800-392-0272. If anyone has questions about this advisory, call
the DHSS’ Bureau of Communicable Disease Control and Prevention
at 573-751-6113 or 800-392-0272. We’ll keep you up to date as
this story develops.
Taco Bell & KFC Link to Lettuce E. coli
Outbreak in Canada
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/taco-bell-kfc-link-to-lettuce-e-coli-outbreak-in-canada/
By Bill Marler (Jan 12, 2013)
According to press reports, Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling
the lettuce believed to be at the center of the outbreak. The
source of the lettuce has not been announced. Dr. Frank Atherton,
Nova Scotia’s deputy chief medical officer of health, says investigators
believe that lettuce distributed to KFC and Taco Bell is behind the
E. coli outbreak in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario.
New Brunswick has reported six cases of the infection, Nova Scotia
has had 10 and there have been four cases in Ontario.
In 2006 lettuce in Taco Bell Restaurants were linked to 78 ill with
E. coli O157:H7 on the East Coast of the United Sates. And,
in 1999 KFC Restaurants in Ohio were linked to 18 ill with E. coli
In 2006, at least one Canadian resident became ill with an E. coli
infection during an outbreak linked to spinach grown in California.
In 2008, 55 residents of Ontario, Canada suffered E. coli infections
after eating Romaine lettuce served at local restaurants, and at least
3 Canadians became ill with E. coli infections after eating iceberg
lettuce. In both outbreaks, the lettuce was traced back to California
growers. In 2009, at least 4 Ontario residents fell ill with
E. coli infections after eating contaminated lettuce at Wendy’s
restaurants. Also that year, 12 Canadians became ill during a Salmonella
outbreak traced to California lettuce. And, in 2012, at least
18 Canadians suffered E. coli infections after eating California-grown
Romaine lettuce in April and more were part of an E. coli outbreak
traced to a similar product in August.
300 sickened by food poisoning in Oman
Source : http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2013/01/09/300-sickened-by-food-poisoning-in-Oman/UPI-40341357753799/
By News Desk (Jan 04, 2013)
An Omani oil company says it has the situation under control after
300 of its contractors at a drill site were sickened by food poisoning
Most of the workers were treated and released at a camp clinic, Petroleum
Development Oman said in a statement, but some required hospitalization,
Gulf News reported Wednesday.
Some 62 workers were admitted and 19 were later discharged,
"All those sent to the hospitals are stable and no one is in
any danger," the company said.
All of the workers were employed at oil installations in Qarn Alam
in central Oman, about 250 miles from Muscat.
Petroleum Development Oman is owned by the state of Oman.
A team from the Ministry of Health has been sent to camp to investigate
the incident, officials said.
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