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FoodHACCP Newsletter
01/14,2013 ISSUE:530

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 in 2012.
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 food.
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 the peel.
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) is:
“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 tournament…etc., etc.
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 ladybug@uconn.edu 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 warranted.
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 Diseases.
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 County.
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 From FDA
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 Mentone, Indiana.
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 last year.
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 inspection.
In addition, FDA findings involving the California egg production facilities included:
•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 unsuccessful.
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 penicillin levels.

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 $75 million.
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 by workers.
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 and practice
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 "More".
For more information, contact Liz Maynard at 219-531-4200, ext. 4206, or emaynard@purdue.edu.

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 statement.
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 investigation.”

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 Food-Safety Law
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 a role.
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.
Why now?
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 years.
“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 families.”
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.
Associations react
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 year.
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 some advice:
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.
Refrigerating
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).
Storing
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).
Reheating
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 implement this.”
“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 to.
“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 targeted.”
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 and correctly.
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 bacteria.
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 food contamination.
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 down.

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. commerce.

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 listeria monocytogenes.
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 by dates
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.

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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. coli Outbreak
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 O157:H7.
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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