Horse DNA found in beef in UK leads to massive
Source : http://www.alaskadispatch.com/article/horse-dna-found-beef-uk-leads-massive-burger-recall
By Barry Neild (Jan 27, 2013)
LONDON, UK — Outside the Tesco Extra supermarket in Neasden,
a low-rent district toward the outer fringes of London, Samuel Okoro
offers up a shopping bag for inspection.
"There you go: chicken nuggets, oven chips and frozen peas,"
the 29-year-old delivery driver lists off. "But no horse, as
far as I know."
Okoro's broad grin and booming laugh indicates he, like several other
customers emerging from the store into an afternoon flurry of fat
snowflakes, has few qualms about equine ingredients creeping into
his evening meal.
Indeed, for many in the UK, it's often been hard to see past the humor
of a recent food scare caused by the detection of horse DNA in beef
burgers sold across the country. Politicians, journalists and the
general public seem to have swapped more jokes than concerns about
the quality of food.
"It's an unbridled disaster," was one of the gags doing
the rounds via the Twitter hashtag #horsepuns. "Horse meat in
burgers. All part of a stable diet," was another.
But not everyone is laughing. Behind the punchlines is a major food
scandal that has already cost the food retail industry millions of
dollars in recalled produce and millions more in lost consumer confidence.
It has also generated new doubts about safeguards imposed on the supply
and processing of animal carcasses following the emergence of so-called
mad cow disease or BSE in the 1990s.
Given that the latest scandal involves lower quality meat, there are
further concerns over whether this is an inevitable consequence of
producers chasing dwindling profits in economic hard times.
Like most modern health scares involving food, it has quickly become
an international problem. Just as the European E.coli outbreak of
2011 claimed victims across Europe and America, Britain's horse meat
scandal has already mapped its way to Ireland and mainland Europe.
The problem first emerged earlier in January when the Food Safety
Authority of Ireland handed over results of DNA tests it had carried
out on burgers produced in Ireland for sale in the UK. Samples from
10 of 27 products sourced from three processing plants had tested
positive for horse DNA. One sample is said to have contained 29 percent
The response was a relatively faultless exercise in damage control.
APB, the European food processing giant whose companies produced the
tainted burgers, immediately shuttered one plant identified by Irish
It then recalled 10 million frozen burgers supplied to the UK market,
forcing shelves to be cleared at Tesco, Britain’s dominant supermarket
and the world’s third-largest retailer by revenue. Aldi and
Lidl, stores catering to lower income households, also emptied their
Several other supermarkets followed suit as a precautionary measure.
Fast food chains issued reassurances that their burgers were unaffected.
Burger King, suspended its use of the APB suppliers and warned it
could suffer a product shortage until an alternative was found.
Meanwhile, Tesco published full-page apologies in UK national newspapers.
“We and our supplier have let you down,” it said, before
posting an unfortunate horse tweet of its own.
The gesture wasn’t enough to stop Tesco shares tumbling by 1
percent, wiping $475 million off their value.
The hunt for the source of the horse meat has so far proved inconclusive.
Irish and Dutch food safety authorities are investigating the possibility
the contamination came from additives imported from a company in the
Traces of pork were also detected in some products — much to
the horror of many UK customers whose religion strictly forbids the
consumption of pig meat. This contamination was blamed on plants using
the same machinery to process different animals.
As the horse jokes continued to come thick and fast (“why the
long faces.” was another favorite), doubts were cast over official
reassurances that the meat presented no risk to health, and questions
were asked about why Britain’s own food safety body hadn’t
detected the rogue DNA.
“Until we know what the source is of the horse or something
derived from horse that has been found in the beef products, we can’t
be sure there is no food safety risk," said Duncan Campbell,
a scientist at West Yorkshire Analytical Services, one of the UK’s
leading food control laboratories.
Without knowing where the DNA was coming from, he pointed out, it
was impossible to know how safe that source was. That the contamination
has gone undetected until now also points to worrying holes in checks
imposed to guarantee the provenance of all meat sold for human consumption.
There has been finger pointing at the Food Standards Agency, an independent
UK body set up in the wake of the BSE crisis and other outbreaks of
foodborne illness to protect public health, and criticism over recent
government decisions that have weakened its powers.
“There are more legs to this story, if you excuse the pun,”
said Ben Bradshaw, a lawmaker with the opposition Labour party. “When
I spoke to a representative of the Food Standards Agency they couldn’t
give me a guarantee it wouldn’t happen again because they don’t
do testing, we had to rely on the Irish.”
Another consequence of the DNA scandal has been to open the debate
over the acceptability of eating horse meat. While rarely seen on
British menus, horse is consumed in large quantities in France, where
sales amounted to $238 million in 2005.
Several newspapers helpfully printed recipes featuring horse meat
alongside articles arguing for and against equine edibility. There
was also speculation that economic hard times could revive a taste
for horse meat that was relatively common in the UK during wartime
food rationing in the last century.
For some, however, the prospect of eating horse, knowingly or otherwise,
"I've bought burgers for my boys in the past, so I hope they’ve
not had any of the dodgy ones,” said Tesco customer Niamh Curran,
44. “My grandfather looked after race horses for a living and
he would have been horrified. I’m not taking any chances today
— we’re having fish.”
Horsemeat burgers plant discovered in Poland
Source : http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2013/01/27/horsemeat-burgers-plant-discovered-in-poland%e2%80%8f/
By Bruce Clark (Jan 26, 2013)
Polish suppliers have been found responsible for imported meat products
that were found to contain up to 29% horse meat last month.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI), in an analysis of imported
meat, found that ten out of 27 beef burgers and 23 out of 27 pork
burgers tested positive for contamination.
Sources were traced to two processing plants in Ireland, Liffey Meats
and Silvercrest Foods, as well as one plant in the UK, Dalepak Hambleton.
All of which are suppliers of Tesco, Iceland, Lidl, Aldi and Burger
APB Food Group, Europe’s biggest beef exporter, which owns Silvercrest
Foods has stated that it is “extremely disappointed” with
the discovery and has recalled all of the contaminated products.
Burger King, in a statement last Thursday, stated it had dropped APB
Food Group as a supplier voluntarily due to concerns even though there
had been no evidence that their burgers had been contaminated.
Most products only contained small traces of the horse meat but Tesco’s
Everyday Value beef and pork burgers were found to contain 29% horse
Larry Goodman, founder and executive chairman of ABP, stated that,
“We have been let down,” and suspected the contamination
had come from suppliers on the continent.
In a statement Simon Coveney said: “The current findings of
the official investigation do not show any evidence that the company
Silvercrest deliberately used horse meat in their production process.”
APB’s Chief Executive Paul Finnerty, also stated last month
that the company was investigating two third-party overseas suppliers.
Although at first APB pointed the finger at the Netherlands and Spain
it has now been found by the Irish government that Polish suppliers
Paul Finnerty has now released a statement stating he is glad the
true source has been found.
“While the company has never knowingly purchased or traded in
equine product, I wish to take this opportunity to apologise for the
impact this issue has cause,” he said.
Ironically the scandal that trashed over ten million meat burgers
came this year soon after it was reported that 40% of world food produce
is wasted in a report by the Institute of Mechanical Engineering.
A commendable move to ensure food safety
Source : http://www.thedailystar.net/newDesign/news-details.php.nid=266773
By The Daily Star (Jan 28, 2013)
The recent initiative of food minister to set up Bangladesh Food Safety
Authority (BFSA) with a view to preventing food adulteration and ensuring
food safety is a very positive move. The widespread use of formalin
and chemical preservatives in all types of food stuffs has been posing
serious health hazards. Producers and marketers apply this harmful
substance to preserve and forcibly ripen fruits. Food adulteration
causes cancer, kidney disorder, skin disease and birth defects, etc.
We know from newspapers that BFSA will have five divisions such as
Surveillance & Enforcement Division, Food Safety Laboratory Division,
Quality Assurance (CODEX) Division, Risk Assessment & Communication
Division, and Resources and Support Division. We do hope that these
divisions will work very sincerely and ensure adulteration-free food
stuff right from the production to consumption. Regular meetings and
dialogues with the producers and marketers and mass people could be
very useful as their involvement in the entire process is really important
to make it a success. Finally, I would like to thank the food minister
for taking such noble steps to save the people of Bangladesh from
China begins food safety crackdown before
Source : http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013-01/26/content_16176858.htm
By China Daily (Jan 26, 2013)
BEIJING - The Ministry of Public Security on Friday announced a new
crackdown on food safety crimes amid the approach of the Chinese Lunar
Food safety crimes remain rampant and food risks are expected to surge
during the Spring Festival holiday in February, according to Huang
Ming, vice-minister of public security.
The ministry will focus on cases involving quality problems among
cooking oil, spirits, meat and folk specialty foods during the holiday
in order to ensure food safety, said Huang.
The ministry will also join hands with authorities of food safety,
agriculture and quality control to cut off sources of food safety
risks stemming from agricultural and animal husbandry practices by
eliminating the use of illegal additives in pesticides and feed.
Huang also urged local authorities to improve relevant policies and
fix loopholes in daily food safety supervision.
A Salmonella Outbreak to Remember: 2003 Vernon Hills Chili’s
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/a-salmonella-outbreak-to-remember-2003-vernon-hills-chilis/
By Bill Marler (Jan 26, 2013)
The posts I recently did on Jack in the Box and Odwalla prompted some readers to ask what other stories I had. Unfortunately, I have a very large plate full. Perhaps by retelling some of these stories others will be prompted to pay just a bit(e) more attention to food safety.
On June 30, 2003, Lake County Health Department (LCHD) received a report from Lake Forest Hospital indicating that a patient was ill with a Salmonella infection. The LCHD immediately contacted the patient and interviewed him, using a questionnaire that is standard for the epidemiological investigation of foodborne illness outbreaks. One of the first things learned by the interviewer was that the patient had recently eaten at the Chili’s Grill & Bar in Vernon Hills, Illinois.
About an hour after receiving this first report, a second person contacted LCHD to report that a family member had become ill after eating at Chili’s in Vernon Hills. This prompted the LCHD to send investigators to the restaurant to inspect it. What they found was disturbing. The restaurant’s dishwashing machine was broken and corroded; the tube that fed chlorine into the machine was plugged, preventing proper sanitization of dishes. Employees told the investigators that the machine had not worked properly for at least a week. In fact, according to the LCHD Final Report, “[e]mployees had wrapped plastic bags around the line to stop the chlorine from spraying into the air.” Despite the obvious broken condition of the dishwasher, the restaurant management still had done nothing to get the machine “repaired” that is, until caught by the health department.
During their inspection, the investigators also found food not stored at proper temperatures in the cooler. And following questioning of the on-duty manager, investigators learned that three employees, plus another manager, had called in sick that day with flu symptoms.
The next day, LCHD received two new reports of individuals with Salmonella infections who had eaten at Chili’s on June 26, while Chili’s management reported six more ill employees. With evidence of the outbreak-source growing increasingly clear, investigators returned to the restaurant to instruct employees on hand-washing procedures, require the use of nailbrushes, and to issue a glove-use order. This meant that no further bare-hand contact of food was to be allowed at the restaurant. The investigators also collected stool samples from the employees there in addition to interviewing each one of them regarding gastrointestinal symptoms. As a result of these interviews, investigators discovered thirteen employees who had been allowed to work despite suffering from diarrhea and other symptoms.
Because of the large number of infected employees identified, the LCHD ordered the restaurant to close. A statement issued by LCHD Executive Director Dale Gallassie announced that:
Due to the large number of ill employees, and the high potential for spread of this illness, Chili’s was required to cease all operation or face suspension or revocation of its food service permit, at which time Chili’s management made the decision to voluntarily close the establishment.
Despite the initially voluntary closure of the restaurant, Chili’s management pushed to re-open almost immediately, arguing that workers from other restaurants could safely run the operation. LCHD refused because the source of Salmonella was still not known, and it could have been in a food item still on the premises, or some other contamination at the restaurant itself.
Following closure, investigators collected an additional 38 stool samples from employees and interviewed them. Two symptomatic employees revealed that they worked at two other restaurants located in Lake County. These other two restaurants were then inspected, and the two employees were restricted from working there until it could be demonstrated that they were no longer infected with Salmonella. Finally, that afternoon, LCHD drafted and sent a letter by certified mail to the management of the Vernon Hills Chili’s restaurant detailing the reasons for the closure of the premises.
On July 2, investigators returned to Chili’s and collected 50 more employee stool samples, then issued a press release advising the public of the outbreak. People who had eaten at the restaurant between June 23 and July 1 were instructed to seek medical help if ill, and to report their illness to the health department. Just a few hours later, LCHD was flooded with telephone complaints of illness from people who had eaten at the restaurant. LCHD had to enlist the aid of two additional communicable disease nurses to help interview all of the people calling in about the outbreak.
The next day, on July 3, LCHD received a call from a customer that had dined at Chili’s on June 27. She informed LCHD that the establishment had no running water while she had been there for lunch. The customer estimated that Chili’s had no water for at least an hour or two. This was information that Chili’s management had not thought it necessary to share with investigators at the time of their initial interviews.
On July 7, LCHD received notice from the lab that the stool samples of seventeen employees had cultured positive for Salmonella. One of the employees had also worked at the Chili’s restaurant located in Gurnee, which was immediately inspected. This was the fourth restaurant potentially implicated in the Salmonella outbreak as a result of infected Chili’s employees working at more than one restaurant.
Returning to the Vernon Hills Chili’s restaurant, LCHD investigators interviewed restaurant managers again and confirmed that there had been no water during the lunch rush on June 27, and no hot water the entire day before. No one could explain why the decision was made to keep the restaurant open in violation of food-safety regulations requiring that hot water be available at all times during a restaurant’s operation.
Meanwhile, Chili’s corporate office discussed with LCHD officials the possibility of reopening the restaurant on July 10 or 11, believing that enough previously infected employees would test negative by then. A request was therefore made for a pre-opening inspection to occur on July 9 to clear the restaurant for reopening. LCHD tentatively agreed to do so pending confirmation of a sufficient number of negative Salmonella stool cultures from employees.
On the afternoon of July 8, LCHD issued a statement announcing that 31 cases of salmonellosis had by that time been confirmed, and well over 100 cases were suspected to be related to the Chili’s outbreak. Of the confirmed cases, 14 had eaten at the restaurant, and 17 others were employees.
Investigators inspected the restaurant on July 10, and then again on July 11 right before it’s reopening. LCHD staff provided a hand-washing demonstration for Chili’s employees, and then formally gave approval to operate. Chili’s reopened at 11:00 a.m. for lunch. The restaurant had been closed for over two weeks as a result of the outbreak.
At the time of the restaurant’s reopening, a total of 19 employees and 67 patrons had been confirmed positive for Salmonella, with an additional 128 cases suspected to be linked to the outbreak. Of the total cases so far, nine had been serious enough to require hospitalization.
On July 12, Chili’s management called LCHD to notify it that the restaurant again had no hot water. This time it ceased operation pending completion of additional repairs. Once it opened again, LCHD investigators continued to inspect the restaurant daily.
On July 16, the results of microbiological testing performed on food samples from the restaurant, and from leftovers provided by customers, came back from the lab. Only two food samples had tested positive for Salmonella, both from customer leftovers: one from the Vernon Hills restaurant, and one from the Gurnee restaurant.
By July 18, LCHD concluded its investigation and determined the outbreak was under control. No secondary cases had been reported, but over 300 individuals had been sickened as a result of consuming contaminated food at a Chili’s. Of those, 141 customers and 28 employees had tested positive for the Salmonella bacteria, while 105 other infected individuals met the LCHD’s definition of a probable case. Infected employees who contaminated food with Salmonella as a result of poor sanitary practices and improper food handling caused LCHD issued a preliminary report that concluded the outbreak. It was by this time also determined that the Salmonella associated with the outbreak was Salmonella serotype javiana, a relatively rare and virulent strain often associated with foodborne transmission.
Once the LCHD believed the outbreak was controlled, the department sent a letter by certified mail informing the restaurant’s management of a hearing scheduled for July 31 to discuss their failure to cease operations during periods where no hot water, or no water at all, was available, failure to adequately monitor their employees’ health, and the steps management had implemented to prevent future outbreaks.
Following the hearing, Executive Director Dale Galassie stated that Chili’s had violated local ordinances by remaining open and serving customers while without available water.
Although LCHD decided not to pursue punitive measures against Chili’s and its management, the department sent a letter to Chili’s corporate parent requesting reimbursement of outbreak-related investigation costs, including testing and training of staff, in the total amount of $32,500. Mr. Galassie stated, “[t]hese were extraordinary circumstances. There were excessive costs in dealing with [the outbreak] and therefore we are requesting reimbursement. The good news is that it prevented a secondary outbreak as a result of cooperation of the Chili’s corporation, local media, and ourselves, but it doesn’t excuse poor local management decisions made that caused it.” After a relatively lengthy, silent delay, it was announced on December 2, 2003, that Chili’s agreed to reimburse the LCHD for the costs associated with the outbreak. In addition, that Chili’s location was closed.
The Vernon Hills outbreak was not Chili’s first experience with the Salmonella bacteria. In June and July 2000, a Chili’s restaurant in Fort Smith, Arkansas caused an outbreak of Salmonella newport that sickened at least 96 people.
The Sebastian County Health Department (SCHD) first suspected the Fort Smith Chili’s when a woman reported that each member of her family had fallen ill with nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea two days after eating at the restaurant on June 24. Four days after this report, the SCHD received another report implicating Chili’s. This one came from a physician’s office that had hosted a Chili’s-catered luncheon on June 26. Several days after the luncheon, 16 to 20 people fell ill with similar symptoms.
After the SCHD received several more calls from people sickened at the luncheon, local sanitarians visited Chili’s to question employees about hygiene at the restaurant and to discover whether any employee was recently sick. On July 5, the SCHD received a report of an employee who was symptomatic. He had been seen by a physician on June 30 and submitted a culture. The employee had returned to work by July 4, but reported that he was no longer symptomatic.
By July 6, the SCHD had received over 50 reports of illness from people who had eaten Chili’s food in late June or early July. The focus was now squarely on the Fort Smith Chili’s. The SCHD obtained stool samples from all employees, and it prohibited symptomatic employees from returning to work. Also, a regional food safety specialist and a local sanitarian met with Chili’s management to discuss restrictions on ill or symptomatic employees returning to work.
On July 7, the SCHD received a report from another symptomatic person who had eaten at Chili’s on July 4. This report prompted a return visit by a sanitarian, who again conferred with management and collected various food samples for testing. It was soon learned, however, that restaurant management had allowed several Chili’s employees who had not been cultured to remain at work. The SCHD immediately restricted these employees and, on July 10, cultures taken from three of them returned positive for the Salmonella bacteria. Sanitarians again had to discuss with Chili’s management their concerns about work-place hygiene and restricting symptomatic employees.
All Chili’s employees were finally cultured by July 13, and several cultures had since returned positive for Salmonella. Meanwhile, the SCHD continued to receive reports of illness from people who had eaten at Chili’s in early to mid-July. Sanitarians continued their almost daily inspections until July 14 when, finally, Chili’s was closed down. The SCHD concluded that closure was necessary because the restaurant’s management had proved incapable of stopping the outbreak.
Sanitarians performed multiple intervention controls over the following several days. All kitchen utensils and equipment were cleaned and sanitized, cutting boards were replaced and color coded, food was thrown away, a produce cleaning system was installed, handwashing stations were upgraded, and the shift table system i.e., where employees ate during breaks was eliminated.
Chili’s remained closed until July 20. By this date, 12 employees had cultured positive for Salmonella newport, and 84 cases had been reported overall.
The Arkansas Department of Health issued its final report on March 14, 2002. The report noted two causes of the outbreak. The first “probable” cause was cross-contamination between raw poultry and fresh salsa, which was served as a side dish with most of the menu items. The second possible cause was food-handler contamination, which may have proliferated as a result of the “shift-table” system. In other words, contaminated salsa caused the initial wave of illnesses, and the outbreak was then propagated and made worse by person-to-person transmission from infected employees to restaurant customers.
Except for the elimination of the “shift table” at this particular Chili’s restaurant, it is not known what system-wide operational changes were made, if any, to prevent such an outbreak from occurring again. Assuming they were made, the changes were either not effective, or were not followed well enough at the Vernon Hills Chili’s restaurant. Either way, Chili’s is plainly in no position to claim that it was unaware of the risks that infected food-workers posed to its customers. And the fact that, in the restaurant industry, the risk of cross-contamination from an infected food-worker to food is a well-known and well-studied phenomenon, there is no room for Chili’s to argue that the policies in place at the time of the outbreak were consistent with those prevalent in the industry. And, given that an unpaid consultant had inspected the Vernon Hills restaurant, and more than once told a manager there of numerous safety-risks and deficiencies, documenting the same, there is a wealth of evidence available to prove Chili’s knowledge of these problems.
Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak Grows: 16 Sick in 5 States
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/01/salmonella-typhimurium-outbreak-expands-to-five-states-16-illnesses/
By Dan Flynn (Jan 25, 2013)
An emerging outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium has expanded to five states with 16 people infected with the outbreak strain, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta said Friday.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)– just 24 hours earlier– announced the existence of the outbreak with seven illnesses in two states, Michigan and Arizona.
CDC said the states and the number of persons infected in the outbreak now includes: Arizona (!), Illinois (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (9), and Wisconsin (3). No deaths have been reported, but 53 percent of the ill persons have required hospitalization.
Local, state, and federal public health officials and regulatory agencies are involved in a collaborative investigation that has concluded ground beef produced by Jouni Meats Inc. and Gab Halal Foods, both in Michigan, are the likely sources of the pathogen.
As FSIS reported earlier, seven people in Michigan reported eating a raw ground beef dish at the same Macomb County restaurant before becoming ill. The restaurant acquired the raw beef from the two retailers and served the raw beef to customers.
“Initial investigations focused on six ill persons in Michigan and one ill person in Arizona who reported eating at the same restaurant before their illness began. All seven of these ill persons reported eating raw ground beef kibbeh (a dish typically made of finely ground red meat, usually beef, minced onions, and bulghur wheat) at this restaurant before becoming ill. Investigations are ongoing to determine if the additional nine ill persons may be linked to the recalled products,” CDC said in a statement released on its website.
Jouni Meats has recalled about 500 pounds of ground beef products and Gab Halal Foods has recalled about 550 pounds of ground beef products. Public health officials including the CDC urge consumers to avoid eating raw or undercooked ground beef.
CDC recommends that consumers do not eat recalled ground beef products and that they dispose of any remaining recalled product in their home or return the product to the place of purchase.
The warning is especially important for children under the age of 5 years, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems because these people are at a higher risk for serious illness.
Consumers should check their freezers for recalled products and not eat them.
Salmonella Typhimurium Outbreak in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Wisconsin
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/salmonella-typhimurium-outbreak-in-arizona-illinois-iowa-michigan-and-wisconsin/
By Bill Marler (Jan 25, 2013)
Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods are likely sources of this outbreak. Seven of the ill persons reported eating a raw ground beef dish at the same restaurant before becoming ill. The restaurant served raw beef to customers and had acquired the raw beef from two retailers.
•On January 24, 2013, Jouni Meats, Inc. recalled approximately 500 pounds of ground beef products.
•On January 25, 2013, Gab Halal Foods recalled approximately 550 pounds of ground beef products.
The CDC reports that a total of 16 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), Illinois (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (9), and Wisconsin (3). 53% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
Homestead Creamery License Renewed After E. coli O103 Outbreak
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/homestead-creamery-license-renewed-after-e-coli-o103-outbreak/
By Bill Marler (Jan 25, 2013)
The Missouri Department of Agriculture has reinstated the plant license for Homestead Creamery of Jamesport following an inspection this week. Earlier this month a 250-pound batch of Flory’s Favorite cheese was being pulled from stores. The 60-day aged cheese is labeled as “Packed On 210.”
It was sold at the Homestead Creamery facility in Jamesport. It also may have been sold by HyVee grocery stores in Liberty and Trenton, Benedict Builders’ Farm in Knob Noster and Milton Creamery in Milton, Iowa.
Missouri Department of Health has reported that three people became sick with E. coli O103 after consuming the cheese the creamery made with unpasteurized cow’s milk.
Listeria Cheese Killing People Down Under
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/listeria-cheese-killing-people-down-under/
By Bill Marler (Jan 25, 2013)
A further three cases of listeriosis have been reported in NSW in people who have consumed recalled soft cheeses. There are now 21 cases of Listeria infection nationally, and a link to batches of Jindi manufactured cheeses sold at delicatessens and supermarkets has been identified. Two people – a Victorian man, 84, and a Tasmanian man, 44, have died of listeria infection, and a NSW woman miscarried.
On 18 January, the Jindi Cheese Company voluntarily recalled its cheeses from all batches it manufactured up until 7 January. The three recent cases have been exposed to soft cheeses produced by Jindi prior to the recall manufacture date, but are awaiting final laboratory confirmation of the link to the outbreak strain
All of the recent cases have been in people aged over 65 years with one person in a serious condition.
There is the potential for further cases of listeria to be reported, as there can be a long incubation time from when people eat affected cheese until the time when people become unwell. This may be as long as 70 days.
The list of recalled products includes:
•Wattle Valley 110g brie and camembert and Jindi 125g brie and camembert with best before dates up to 27/2/13.
•Jindi 120g blue brie and 120g triple cream blue with best before dates up to 28/2/13.
•Top Paddock and Blue Cow 1kg brie with best before dates up to 27/3/13.
•Jindi, Wattle Valley and Harris Farm 200g camembert with best before dates up to 20/3/13.
•Coles Finest triple cream blue 140g with best before dates up to 21/2/13.
For the full list of products please visit:
Jouni Meats and Gab Halal Foods Links in Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/jouni-meats-and-gab-halal-foods-links-in-salmonella-outbreak/
By Patti Waller (Jan 25, 2013)
The CDC reports that atotal of 16 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), Illinois (2), Iowa (1), Michigan (9), and Wisconsin (3). 53% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
Collaborative investigative efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that ground beef produced by Jouni Meats, Inc. and Gab Halal Foods are likely sources of this outbreak. Seven of the ill persons reported eating a raw ground beef dish at the same restaurant before becoming ill. The restaurant served raw beef to customers and had acquired the raw beef from two retailers.
•On January 24, 2013, Jouni Meats, Inc. recalled approximately 500 pounds of ground beef products.
•On January 25, 2013, Gab Halal Foods recalled approximately 550 pounds of ground beef products.
CDC Report Finds Norovirus Outbreak In US Has Taken A Stronghold, Cases Rising
Source : http://www.redorbit.com/news/health/1112770657/norovirus-outbreak-stronghold-us-012513/
By Red Orbit (Jan 25, 2013)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 260 cases of the stomach flu seen in the US between September and December 2012 are actually attributed to a new strain of norovirus known as GII.4 Sydney. Health experts do not think it is a particularly dangerous strain, but admit it is different, and might be more difficult for some to fight off than others.
The outbreaks from the new strain have been steadily growing throughout the world and in the US, and experts believe it now accounts for nearly 60 percent of flu cases reported.
The CDC’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, released on Thursday, shows that the new strain originated last year in Australia and has quickly been taking a stronghold worldwide.
The bug, which causes gut-wrenching pain, nausea, forceful vomiting, and diarrhea, begins very suddenly and lasts for up to three days. Most people recover without treatment, yet some require intravenous fluids to rehydrate the body. It is most dangerous in the elderly and is especially problematic in children. Stomach bugs like norovirus typically strike more than 21 million Americans every year and, according to CDC estimates, about 800 people die from the infections.
Norovirus—originally known as Norwalk virus—is usually spread to others by direct contact. However, it can also be spread through water, food, and contaminated surfaces. Norovirus is typically most associated with winter, and is often dubbed the “Winter Virus.” It usually maintains its grasp from November to April, with activity picking up in January.
While often considered a form of stomach flu, norovirus is not the flu. However, it is highly contagious and often spreads rapidly through schools, nursing homes, and cruise ships. Last month, 220 people aboard the Queen Mary II were stricken with norovirus during a Caribbean cruise.
A new strain typically appears every two or three years, the last being in 2009. The new strain’s appearance has coincided with a rise in influenza, possibly raising the perception that this year’s flu season is particularly worse than it may actually be.
Using the CaliciNet database, experts with the CDC gathered and examined norovirus strain data linked to outbreaks in 2012 in the US. Their results showed that GII.4 Sydney was the cause of 266 norovirus outbreaks reported in the three-month period.
“The new strain spread rapidly across the United States from September to December 2012. The proportion of reported outbreaks caused by this strain increased dramatically from 19 percent in September to 58 percent in December,” said Dr. Aron Hall, an epidemiologist with the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases (DVD).
This makes up only a very small number of the 21 million Americans who contract norovirus-like bugs every year, but is still alarming. And it is not yet clear whether this strain is more likely to infect more people, or make the ones who do catch it more ill than in previous strains. But according to Hall, any time a new strain emerges, it has the potential to increase disease “because people haven’t been exposed to it before, so they’re more susceptible.”
“New norovirus strains often lead to more outbreaks but not always,” revealed Dr. Jan Vinjé, director of CaliciNet. “We found that the new GII.4 Sydney strain replaced the previously predominant GII.4 strain.”
Better surveillance techniques have led to earlier detection of norovirus strains in the US and other countries. Health experts and the general public are able to prevent infections and control outbreaks much more efficiently when new strains are identified early on.
Ian Goodfellow, a researcher at University of Cambridge in England, said norovirus is the “Ferrari of viruses” because of the speed at which it passes through large groups of people.
“It can sweep through an environment very, very quickly. You can be feeling quite fine one minute and within several hours suffer continuous vomiting and diarrhea,” he told Mike Stobbe with ABC News.
With better detection methods, experts have been able to determine how the bug spreads so rapidly. They now know that norovirus is also the most common cause of food poisoning in the US. The virus is spread by infected food handlers who either have poor hygiene or none at all when it comes to washing their hands after using the bathroom.
There is neither a cure nor vaccine for norovirus. Those who become infected just have to ride it out for the few days that it lasts, and guard themselves against dehydration.
Researchers are working to create a vaccine for norovirus, but there is nothing out there yet. “I think in the next five to 10 years, probably closer to 10,” Vinjé told USA Today.
“Right now, it’s too soon to tell whether the new strain of norovirus will lead to more outbreaks than in previous years. However, CDC continues to work with state partners to watch this closely and see if the strain is associated with more severe illness,” said Hall.
Salmonella Cause of Most Foodborne-Illness Outbreaks: CDC
Source : http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_133400.html
By Health Day (Jan 24, 2013)
Food poisoning sickens millions of Americans each year, and most outbreaks are caused by salmonella-tainted foods or norovirus, federal health officials report.
Salmonella-contaminated eggs alone accounted for 2,231 illnesses in 2009-2010, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who set out to identify the specific pathogens responsible for widespread foodborne illnesses.
"CDC estimates that one in six Americans get sick from a foodborne illness each year," said lead author L. Hannah Gould, a senior epidemiologist at CDC's National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
More than 1,500 foodborne-disease outbreaks were reported in 2009-2010, involving nearly 29,500 illnesses, 1,200 hospitalizations and 23 deaths, according to the CDC.
Besides salmonella in eggs, common causes of outbreaks included E. coli O157 in beef and Campylobacter in unpasteurized dairy products. Besides salmonella-contaminated eggs, outbreaks were also traced to salmonella in sprouts and vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, the agency said.
More than 40 outbreaks resulted in product recalls, according to the Jan. 25 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
However, outbreaks account for only 5 percent to 10 percent of foodborne illnesses, Gould said. And not all outbreaks get reported, she noted.
Both salmonella and norovirus, also called cruise-ship flu, cause serious gastrointestinal problems.
Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City, said foodborne illness is "epidemic" in the United States. "There is a lack of scrutiny of food products," he said.
Contamination can occur at any step along the food chain, from farm to fork, Gould said.
"Everyone has a role in preventing foodborne illness, starting at the farm to processing to restaurants and at the home," Gould said.
"Most foodborne illness is preventable if people follow the right steps," she added. The keys to prevention include hand washing, proper storage and preparation. Clean foods, keep meat and produce separate and cook foods thoroughly, Gould said. Also, keep produce, meats, and eggs refrigerated.
Of more than 700 outbreaks attributed to a single source, 48 percent were traced to food eaten in a restaurant or deli, and 21 percent were caused by food eaten at home.
If you're eating out, Gould suggests checking the restaurant's health inspection score. "Don't eat there if the score is low," she said.
Siegel said much of the contamination occurs at the farm and in processing. Farming practices are to blame in many cases, he said.
Chickens are raised in their own feces, which is the source for most Salmonella, and cattle are fed grain, which makes their stomachs a breeding ground for E. coli, he said.
"If we improve the conditions chickens are raised in, and if we start feeding cows grass instead of grain, much of the initial contamination could be stopped," Siegel said.
SOURCES: L. Hannah Gould, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City; Jan. 25, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
Fresh Produce Outbreaks Show E. coli Is An Equal Opportunity Pathogen
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/fresh-produce-outbreaks-show-e-coli-is-an-equal-opportunity-pathogen/
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 23, 2013)
When people hear “E. coli”, tainted meat is usually the first thing that springs to mind. But E. coli is an equal opportunity pathogen and shows up in vegetables more often than we tend to think.
Escherichia coli (E. coli) bacteria live in the intestines of people and animals where they play an important part in digestion. Most types are harmless, but some are pathogenic and can cause serious, sometimes fatal illness if they make their way into our food. E.coli can show up in any kind of food: meat, raw milk, other unpasteurized drinks, fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables, particularly fresh produce, have been the source of several recent E. coli outbreaks. In Canada, an ongoing E. coli outbreak linked to shredded lettuce served at fast food restaurants has sickened at least 30 people. A December E. coli outbreak at a Longhorn Steakhouse in Cincinnati sickened five people. And two of the largest multi-state foodborne illness outbreaks of 2012 were linked to produce.
An E. coli outbreak linked to spinach and spring mix sold at Wegmans and other grocery sickened 33 people in five states. The tainted salad greens identified as the source of the outbreak, which ended in December, were produced by State Garden of Chelsea, Mass. At least two of the 33 people sickened were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a life threatening condition that develops after some E. coli infections that leads to kidney failure. And last year at this time, clover sprouts contaminated with E. coli served at a fast-food sandwich chain were causing illnesses in 11 states.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the best ways to reduce your risk of E. coli infection are to: wash your hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers, having contact with animals and before preparing or eating food. Cook meats thoroughly, ground beef and mechanically tenderized meat should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F/70¢ªC. Avoid unpasteurized drinks. Avoid swallowing water while swimming. Prevent cross contamination by using separate cutting surfaces and tools and serving trays for raw foods.
Third of Britain’s chickens prone to cause food poisoning
Source : http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_01_23/Third-of-Britain-s-chickens-prone-to-cause-food-poisoning/
By Voice of Russia (Jan 23, 2013)
It’s a bacterium. It grows in the guts of chickens when they’re raised. But it doesn’t affect them, it doesn’t look like they’re being sick. Although it’s associated with chicken, it’s a human disease. And we get it mostly from chicken sources.
But it’s harmless if the chicken is cooked properly.
It is, but it’s not reasonable, I think, to expect that humans take all responsibility for controlling it. We need the industry to do its part and make sure that the food that it provides to consumers is as safe as possible.
But are retailers doing enough to combat this bacterium.
For the last two years we had a joined working group with the industry – the producers, the processors and then retailers – and we had a number of large scale trial going on with this. We’re working very closely with them. We have a joint working group that meets four times a year. We have good representation of the industry and the industry is working together on this, but some of the companies proved to be unsuccessful when they came up to production scale, others are giving us some hope. But we don’t think that there’s going to be one thing that will provide the solution. We suspect it’ll be the combination of things.
But presumably it will need cooperation not only from retailers, but also from poultry producers. Is there reluctance amongst poultry producers to acknowledge this.
No, we have got the poultry industry onboard as well. The British Poultry Council is at the moment joined working group and their chief executive chairs the working group. So they’re very much involved. We’ve managed to get them engaged and committed to try and do something about it. It’s proving to be a difficult nut to crack. It causes the largest number of human illnesses from food right across the European Union. So we’re all in the same boat. But it’s important that because we have a large chicken industry, we eat a lot of chicken in the U.K. The U.K. industry slaughters 518 million birds every year. It’s something that’s important to get right, because there’re too many people getting ill from it.
But the figures released are saying that a third of chicken is affected. That sounds like an awful lot to the lay person. Would people just be better off avoiding chicken as much as they could.
The risk from chicken can effectively be controlled at home. Mainly it becomes the problem through cross-contamination – through handling of chicken packaging, of the raw chicken itself and then transferring the contamination you might pick up off those sources onto other food that may not get cooked. So that’s the cross-contamination. It’s probably underappreciated of how important this is. The other thing is that if you cook chicken or anything else that may have some contamination on it, you will kill any food poisoning bugs. As long as the inside of the chicken has no pink left in it and juices run out clear, then your chicken should be safe to it.
But if left unchecked, if the situation worsens, what could we see. Could we see chicken pulled off supermarket shelves. Europe-wide ban. What’s the worst-case scenario.
I don’t think it’s going to get this far. I think if the issue has been recognized by the European Commission – they will have scientific opinion on it. The difficulty is that there’s no effective intervention that can reduce the amount of bacterium yet. The best thing to do would be to work with farmers and prevent that contamination happening, in the first place. But it’s proving to be very-very difficult. To be effective it means almost running chicken rearing units which is very difficult and almost unrealistic. And it’d also mean an awful lot of investment on farms, so we’re looking at solutions which are effective, but also practical.
FSA warns that chicken bacteria could be next meat scandal
Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/9820838/FSA-warns-that-chicken-bacteria-could-be-next-meat-scandal.html
By The Telegraph (Jan 23, 2013)
The Food Standards Agency warned that around two thirds of all raw, shop-bought chicken in the UK is contaminated by campylobacter, which affects an estimated 500,000 people a year and kills around 100.
It said not enough was being done by manufacturers to prevent the spread of the bacteria and has called a "summit" meeting of food retail leaders at which it will ask them to plough more money into fighting the problem, rather than treating the current contamination levels as acceptable.
Catherine Brown, chief executive of the FSA, told the Grocer magazine: “A lot of people have put effort in but it's not working and more people are getting ill.”
She expressed concerns with the pace of progress and said that both the poultry industry and retailers had key roles to play.
"There's a sense that they think it's acceptable, chicken is a tight margin product,” she added. “There is a lot of anxiety about the costs.
"Potentially the effect could be chicken taken off the shelves and that's not the way we want to go."
Brown admitted that the industry was not dealing adequately with the problem and said the FSA was investing significantly in research.
The agency is aiming to reduce the number of birds with the highest level of contamination from 27 per cent to 10 per cent of bird production by 2015.
Peter Bradnock, CEO of the British Poultry Council, insisted that the lack of progress was not for want of trying.
"We share her (Brown’s) frustration but she ignores the fact that science has not found an answer to tackle this problem and this is not to do with any lack of effort by manufacturers or retailers,” he said.
The campylobacter bacteria one of the main causes of food poisoning in the developed world.
Consuming meat which is contaminated with the bug can result in diarrhoea, cramps, fever and pain.
A study by Which. magazine last year found that one in five supermarket chickens is contaminated with bacteria.
Farmers markets are exempt from new food safety rules
Source : http://www.vcstar.com/news/2013/jan/23/farmers-markets-are-exempt-from-new-food-safety/#ixzz2JEExjnUL
By Stephanie Snyder (Jan 23, 2013)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released two new food safety rules this month under the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act that was signed into law two years ago to prevent foodborne illness.
The proposed rules would require food manufacturers to have a formal plan to prevent contamination and create enforceable standards for growing and harvesting produce.
But not all businesses or farms will be subject to such policies that look to reduce the approximately 3,000 annual deaths and 130,000 hospitalizations from foodborne illness, according to the FDA.
Food producers and farms, including those in Ventura County, are exempt from the law if they average less than $500,000 in annual sales and sell most of their food directly to consumers or restaurants and shops within the state or 275 miles.
One doesn't have to go far to see where that exemption comes into play.
Shopping at the county's 12 certified farmers markets has become the most mainstream way for consumers to buy fresh food directly from growers — but there is little to no government regulation on the growing and harvesting practices for those products.
The county agricultural department has to certify a farm before it can sell fruits, vegetables, eggs, nuts or honey at a certified farmers market, which is sanctioned by both the agricultural and environmental health departments.
While the farm certification process includes two annual site inspections by an agricultural department employee, the inspector only needs to verify the grower is actually producing each product they plan to sell at the market, Ventura County Deputy Agricultural Commissioner Kerry DuFrain said.
"What we're certifying has nothing to do with the safety of the producer," she said.
There are 134 certified producers in Ventura County and the only benefit of the certification is to sell at certified farmers markets, which also allow certified producers from other counties in the state, DuFrain said. There are no limitations on the size of an operation or annual revenue to qualify as a certified producer, she added.
Beyond a farm's designation as a certified producer, it's up to the farmers market manager to decide whether to inspect a farm's growing practices or require additional food safety measures. "We have a lot of consistency with our farms. We have a lot of history with them," said Karen Wetzel Schott, who oversees three Ventura County certified farmers markets and another in Santa Clarita.
"You always want food safety to be first and foremost, but some of the policies are just maybe a little over the top," she said, referring to the food safety regulation law. "A lot of those food safety practices are ... because you're going to have four, five, six handlers on the product. It's kind of a different thing, and that's why they give a lot of exemptions in farmers markets because we do have that direct connection."
Wetzel Schott has worked for nonprofit Ventura County Certified Farmers Market for more than two decades. Over that time, she said she has visited nearly every farm selling products at the group's markets in Thousand Oaks and downtown and midtown Ventura to "preserve the integrity" of the markets.
But not all farmers markets operate the same way.
Coastal Pacific, a nonprofit overseeing the certified farmers markets in downtown Oxnard, Channel Islands and Simi Valley, does not make site visits to the farms that sell at the markets, said Tasha Shallenberger, a market manager working primarily at the Simi Valley location.
Certified farmers markets are inspected at least once every year by both the agricultural and environmental health departments. Agricultural department inspectors ensure farmers are only selling the products listed on their certified producer application, while health inspectors look for proper food handling and food storing practices.
From January to September last year, Ventura County had 111 complaints of foodborne illness from the public and 277 additional confirmed cases of organisms that could be caused by food contamination, said Elizabeth Huff, community services manager for the Ventura County Environmental Health Division.
But Huff could not recall any cases originating from local farmers markets and said she is confident that small farms will continue providing safe food without federal regulations, which target commercial farms that deliver food nationwide.
"We're not finding that there's outbreaks associated with the small, local farms," Huff said. "They're probably already handling it better or we would be seeing more outbreaks."
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USP: Food Fraud Reports Up 60% Since 2010
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/01/usp-food-fraud-records-up-60-since-2010.aspx
By Food Product Design (Jan 23, 2013)
ROCKVILLE, Md.—Key findings from a report released today by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) reveals the incidences of food adulteration or “food fraud" has risen a staggering 60% since 2010. Seafood, clouding agents and lemon juice were among the nearly 800 new records of “food fraud" added to the USP Food Fraud Database, which tracks information about foods that are vulnerable to fraudulent manipulation in today’s food supply.
While intentional and dangerous adulteration is relatively rare these days, it still occurs—mainly in imported products created by unscrupulous manufacturers. Unintentional adulteration also occurs due to environmental factors, packaging issues and other factors. And while it rarely causes serious food-safety issues, food fraud—often motivated by greed—also remains rampant.
The first iteration of the database compiled 1,300 records of food fraud published between 1980 and 2010. (See the Image Gallery: Food Safety—Tainted & Adulterated Foods.) The new report increases the total number of records by 60%—and consists mostly of newer information published in 2011 and 2012 in both scholarly journals and general media.
Initial analyses of the database was published in the April 5, 2012, issue of the Journal of Food Science and revealed milk, vegetable oils and spices were among the top categories where food fraud occurred as documented in published reports. Analyses of new information by USP scientists show similar trends for 2011 and 2012, and add seafood (fish, shrimp), clouding agents and lemon juice as categories vulnerable to food fraud.
Among the new scholarly records added to the database, the top ingredients represented are olive oil, milk, saffron, honey and coffee (all in the top seven in the analysis of 1980-2010 records), followed by tea, fish, clouding agents (commonly used in fruit juices/beverages to improve their visual appearance and make products look freshly squeezed) and black pepper—none of which was in the top 25 for 1980-2010.
Among the new media and other reports examined, the most-represented products in the database are milk, fish, turmeric, chili powder and cooking oil (all in the top 12 in 1980-2010), followed by shrimp, lemon juice and maple syrup (none of which was even in the top 25 in 1980-2010).
Key Areas of Concern
Milk, Vegetable Oils and Spices. The database indicates watered-down and urea adulterated fluid milk in India, dilution of milk powder with fillers such as maltodextrin in South America and replacement of milk fat with vegetable oil in South America. In the category of oils, olive oil replaced with other, less-expensive vegetable oils was pervasive, and so-called “gutter oil" (waste oil repurposed as cooking oil) was documented in China. With regard to spices, the database shows examples of the dilution or replacement of spices with less-expensive spices or fillers.
Seafood. With $80 billion in seafood sold in the United States each year and more than 80 of fish in the country imported, seafood is big business—and fraud is a significant problem. Examples of seafood fraud documented in the database include sale of the fish escolar, often fraudulently mislabeled as white tuna or butterfish. Escolar is banned in Italy and Japan, and other countries have issued advisories on the trade and consumption of this fish. Escolar has high content of waxy esters that is likely to cause a special form of food poisoning called gempylotoxism or gempylid fish poisoning. Another example of seafood fraud included in the database involves puffer fish, with documented incidents in the United States of the fish being mislabeled as monkfish to evade import and other restrictions. Puffer fish has caused tetrodotoxin poisonings.
Clouding Agents. Considered the 2011 equivalent to the melamine scandal involving Chinese milk products from a few years ago, numerous database records document the plasticizer Di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP) and other related phthalates as having been fraudulently added as clouding agents in place of the more expensive palm oil or other allowed food ingredients in fruit juices, jams and other products. The scope of this fraud was vast: 877 food products from 315 companies were involved; 206 products were exported to as many as 22 countries; and there were roughly 4,000 potential victims in Taiwan. Safety concerns surrounding DEHP include cancer and the improper reproductive organ development in children. DEHP may be used in food contact materials (e.g., seals, packaging); however, the amount allowed to migrate into the food is tightly regulated as to not exceed approximately 1.5 ppm; levels in reported examples of food fraud were found from 2-34 and 8,700 ppm in food and supplement products, respectively.
Another Lesson Learned the Hard Way: Odwalla E. coli Outbreak 1996
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/another-lesson-learned-the-hard-way-odwalla-e-coli-outbreak-1996/
By Bill Marler (Jan 23, 2013)
In the fall of 1996 the very last of the Jack in the Box cases had resolved and the media attention surrounding the outbreak had faded away. For most of the summer and fall I juggled being a lawyer and the campaign finance chair for, what would become, Gary Locke’s successful run to become the first Chinese America Governor (now the US Ambassador to China). I flirted – just for a moment – a run for either a U.S. House or Senate seat – thankfully my somewhat more rational side won out.
Turning back to the full-time practice of law, I never once for a moment thought that doing food poisoning cases would be where I would be in 2013. Then, a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections in the US (California, 26 cases; Colorado, 5 cases; Washington, 29 cases) and British Columbia, Canada (10 cases), were linked to the consumption of a broadly distributed, commercially sold, highly regarded, unpasteurized apple juice sold by Odwalla located in Half-moon Bay, California. Twenty-five were hospitalized (mostly children) with at least five of them developing hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). There was one death a youngster in Colorado. The juice was produced at a state-of-the-art facility in Dinuba, California. Once the outbreak was detected and additional case finding occurred, the product was recalled and a traceback investigation ensued. E. coli O157:H7 was detected in apple juice samples and matched the strain of E. coli O157:H7 that had been isolated from ill persons. Three lots of apples could have been the source of the contamination. Deer had grazed in the orchards where two of the lots had originated.
Within days of the outbreak and recall announcement lawyers from Washington D.C. and Chicago referred me the child of a D.C. business client and the granddaughter of the Chicago lawyer to me for help. Both children had developed HUS. Other families contacted me from California and Washington. A lawsuit was filed. I was back in the E. coli O157:H7 business.
Odwalla went on a public relations offensive. It publically apologized – offering to pay the children’s medical expenses (which they quietly reneged on) and vowing to be a leader in food safety. That all sounded good, but the reality behind it was as empty as Odwalla’s shelves after the recall.
Odwalla hired a big San Francisco law firm (now defunct) filled with former attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice. In private meetings they vowed to bury me – the battle was on.
Discovery to Odwalla – written or by deposition – was a slow and hard-fought battle. Every request for documents was met with denials and every person deposed “could not recall.” But, then something happened that would change to course of the litigation and show once again that a lesson there to be learned was ignored.
One Saturday I can into the office and the message light on my phone was slowly blinking. I listened to the message:
Mr. Marler, make sure you get the U.S. Army documents regarding Odwalla.
Click! I listened to it again and again and again. That Monday we sent a FOIA to the Army and were stunned within days to receive a packet of documents showing that Odwalla had tried to sell its juice to the U.S. Army and had been rejected several months before the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that would sicken dozens and kill one child.
Despite the fact that we had asked for ALL inspection reports, Odwalla, or its lawyers, failed to provide them. Here is a letter reconfirming that Odwalla’s “plant sanitation program does not adequately assure product wholesomeness for military consumers.”
Not wholesome enough for the military, but OK to sell to children.
The judge in the case was not amused that these documents were not turned over to us. The judge allowed us to dig deeper – even into Odwalla’s hard drives. Here is an email that I am sure they felt had been deleted – Yes, it was “subpoeanable!”
Two months before the outbreak Odwalla was considering – and then rejected – doing finished product pathogen testing. The decision was made that it was better to be ignorant that safe.
Indian food safety rules up to scratch: expert
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/states/kerala/indian-food-safety-rules-up-to-scratch-expert/article4333968.ece
By The Hindu.com (Jan 23, 2013)
N. Anandavally, Food Safety Consultant of the United Nations, has said that the food safety rules and regulations in India are at par with those of any developed country.
She was speaking on the Food Safety Act and the basic critical hazards analysis in food safety at a two-day technology clinic for agro-food processing industries organised by the District Industries Centre in Thiruvalla on Tuesday.
Dr. Anandavally, who is a member of many expert committees of the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said the regulations in India were more science-based and industry-specific, spelling out good manufacturing and hygiene practices and hazard analysis critical control point requirements. They had been developed after continuous monitoring, review, and expert consultations.
She said an improved support system was a must to ensure a strong food control and safety mechanism in the State.
She stressed the need to train food inspectors and handlers to implement the rules.
Mathew T. Thomas, MLA, inaugurated the programme. Municipal chairperson Sheela Varghese presided over the function. D. Rajendran, District Industries Centre Manager, spoke.
K. Sudheer, Additional Director of Industries and Commerce, made an introductory speech on the entrepreneur support programme of the Industries Department at a technical session.
Alex Thomas of Tierra Food India Private Ltd. spoke on the present trends in the food processing sector.
On Wednesday, P. Unnikrishnan, Food Safety Officer in Pathanamthitta, will speak on the implementation of the Food Safety Act and G. Padmaja, scientist at the Central Tuber Crops Research Institute in Thiruvananthapuram, on value-added products from tuber crops.
Suspected Food Poisoning At Chicago's Orange
on Roscoe Prompts Inspection
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/suspected-food-poisoning-at-chicagos-orange-on-roscoe-prompts-inspection/
By Kathy Will (Jan 22, 2013)
A suspected case of food poisoning and a complaint has led to an inspection
at Orange on Roscoe in Roscoe Village in Chicago Illinois. The Chicago
Department of Public Health;s Food Protection Program has details
about the inspection report at the restaurant. There is no word on
what pathogen may have caused the alleged food poisoning.
The inspection date is 1/0/13, with Risk 1 (High). Under Chicago’s system, restaurants are graded using a standardized procedure. They can pass, pass with conditions, or fail. Orange on Roscoe passed the inspection with no critical or serious violations.
During the inspection, the inspector found an ice machine that needed to be sanitized. He also found walls behind the storage shelves that needed cleaning. Splash guards needed to be installed between the exposed hand sink and prep cooler in the kitchen and between the three-compartment sink and drain board and hand sink, and everything that was stored on the floor must be elevated to at least six inches to prevent pest problems. In addition, restroom vents were dusty, and vents above the mop sink and drain board of the dish machine were rusted.
The inspector notes that food and non-contact food surfaces were clean and free of abrasive detergents, floors were constructed per code, cleaned, and in good repair. He also notes that walls, ceilings, and attached equipment was constructed per code and in good repair.
Many cities post restaurant inspections online. They are a good way for informed consumers to choose where to eat and what venues are better avoided.
E. Coli Outbreak at Longhorn Steakhouse in Cincinnati Prompts Questions
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/whats-up-with-e-coli-and-wisconsin/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 22, 2013)
An outbreak of E. coli associated with the Longhorn Steakhouse in Cincinnati Ohio has prompted some questions about eating at restaurants. While the source of this outbreak was most likely leafy greens, E. coli outbreaks are usually associated with improperly handled or inadequately cooked meat.
Whenever I’m at a restaurant, I always ask some questions before ordering. I ask if the steak has been mechanically tenderized, and I ask if they check the temperature of their burgers with a food thermometer before serving. There are good scientific reasons behind these questions. Foodsafety.gov has a chart of the safe minimum cooking temperatures for all foods likely to harbor pathogenic bacteria.
Steaks that have been mechanically tenderized should be cooked to 160 degrees F, or well done. The Safe Food Coalition has been advocating for labeling of mechanically tenderized beef products since 2009. The meat is pierced with fine needles to break up fibers in the meat. While this makes the steak more tender, it can also move pathogenic bacteria, such as E. coli, to the interior of the steak. Then, cooking that steak to rare, medium rare, or medium assures that the bacteria will not be destroyed and can make someone sick.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented clients sickened by mechanically tenderized steaks, has said, “meat companies and restaurants should inform consumers about this manipulation of beef and the dangers that go along with it. Even if fewer consumers purchase this type of beef and sales are hurt, the consumer has the right to know what they are eating.”
All ground meats should be cooked to a final internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Bacteria present on all meat surfaces are mixed throughout when meat is ground. That means pathogenic bacteria will be present throughout the ground mixture and are only destroyed with thorough cooking.
And what about produce. When you eat at a restaurant, you just have to take a chance on these foods. All produce should be thoroughly washed before serving, and should be carefully handled to prevent cross-contamination. But there is no way a consumer can know if leafy greens, mangoes, or cantaloupe were handled properly from the farm to the table. You can help protect yourself by checking your state or city’s restaurant inspection reports, which may be posted online.
Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak: Lessons
Learned the Hard Way
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/jack-in-the-box-e-coli-outbreak-lessons-learned-the-hard-way/
By Bill Marler (Jan 22, 2013)
I have thought a lot over the last 20 years about what lessons can
be drawn from the tragedy that was the 1993 Jack in the Box E. coli
O157:H7 outbreak. Knowing the children—many who are now nearing
30—who still bear the scars of eating a hamburger, and knowing
the parents of those who died, makes it difficult for me to see the
benefit of those losses.
My first reaction is, “Why does it always seem to take a tragedy
before we seem to be able to act.” Whether it was reinforcing
the cockpit doors after the horror of 9/11, or now finally having
a dialogue about automatic weapons post-Newtown, we have seemed nearly
incapable of preventing a tragedy before it has happened multiple
times, or with such force that ignoring it any longer is impossible.
Frankly, not being able to look ahead to prevent disasters seems so
ingrained in human DNA that I am not sure of a ready fix.
Human evolution aside, I think there are lessons that can be learned
from Jack in the Box that have meaning in the food safety world both
in the past and in the future. First, like all food safety failures,
and the outbreaks that stem from them, the Jack in the Box outbreak
was completely preventable—in other words, Jack in the Box had
warnings enough to have prevented the outbreak. And second, after
the outbreak there will always be facts—and documents—that
In March of 1992 the Washington State Board of Health mandated that
the internal cook temperature for ground beef should be 155 degrees,
not the 140 degrees that all other of the 49 states used based on
the Federal Food Code. Washington was ahead of the curve because health
officials had investigated an earlier outbreak linked to undercooked
ground beef. Officials reached out to all restaurants in the State
with the new standards. Although Jack in the Box leaders initially
claimed that they knew nothing of the changes—and perhaps they
did not directly—but the new standards were found in files in
corporate headquarters in San Diego.
Finding the Washington State Food Code in the bottom drawer of a cabinet
was certainly not the best “find” in the litigation. Far
from it; a bit of context might be in order.
Although the outbreak was announced in mid-January 1993, aggressive
litigation and discovery did not really commence until late 1993.
It lasted through the end of 1994. During that time, I received nearly
50 boxes of paper from the lawyers representing Jack in the Box and
its meat suppliers. From those documents and the dozens of depositions
taken, it became clear that Jack in the Box had more than just the
new cook temperatures in its desk drawer. Scattered (on purpose) within
the boxes were documents that showed that Jack in the Box knew of
the new cook-temperature guidelines and simply chose to ignore them.
On June 18, 1992—five months before the Jack in the Box E. coli
outbreak struck its hometown of San Diego and seven months before
it would hit the Pacific Northwest—Wendy Cochinella, the shift
leader at the Arlington, Washington restaurant faxed the below “IN
THE SUGGESTION BOX” to Jack in the Box corporate headquarters
in San Diego:
“I think regular patties should cook longer. They don’t
get done and we have customer complaints.”
“If we change this we will be making our burgers done and edible.”
After just over a month, Wendy (and most of the Jack in the Box food
safety team) received the below response from corporate headquarters.
Wendy also received a pen highlighter (I always thought they should
have made her at least Vice-President):
We have received your suggestion regarding increasing the cook time
for our regular patties.
Your suggestion is currently being researched within the corporate
offices. You will again be notified with more detail as soon as a
decision has been made regarding this suggestion.
We would like to acknowledge the time and effort you have taken to
contribute to the success of JACK IN THE BOX by enclosing this pen/highlighter.
Each person submitting suggestions is eligible to receive one gift
per quarter with their first suggestion.
But it did not end there. No, Jack in the Box wanted to see if they
could make “[their] burgers done and edible.” What they
found in their corporate kitchen was that sometimes they could reach
internal temperatures of 155 degrees and above on new grills with
the two-minute cook time, but often—too often—internal
temperatures of 140 degrees or below were reached on older grills
with the two-minute cook time. E. coli O157:H7 bacteria can survive
at 140 degrees for two minutes, but not at 155.
So, what was the response.
Yes, you guessed it, the two-minute cook time was more important than
having “burgers done and edible.” Wendy’s next communication
from corporate headquarters indicated that a cook time longer than
two minutes made burgers “tough.”
Wendy and the Jack in the Box food safety team received the following
communication from superiors:
We have researched your suggestion and determined that with the variability
of our grill temperatures (350° – 400°) the two-minute
cook time is appropriate. If the patties are cooked longer than two
minutes, they tend to become tough. To ensure that you are meeting
quality expectations for regular patties, please ensure that the grill
temperature is correct and grill personnel are using proper procedures.”
And, as they say, the rest is history—a tragic history.
Weeks after the outbreak was announced Jack in the Box changed the
cook time from two minutes to two minutes and fifteen seconds –
yes, fifteen seconds.
of Food Safety
Vol 14. 113-120
Quality Assessment of Fresh Lake Malawi Tilapia (Chambo) Collected
from Selected Local and Super Markets in Malawi
Fanuel Kapute, Jeremy Likongwe, Jeremiah Kang'ombe, Ciira Kiiyukia,
Vol 14. 104-112
Detection of Salmonella spp. in Hamburgers:
a Comparison Between Modified Standard and Salmosyst Methods
Jorge Luiz Fortuna, Elmiro Rosendo do Nascimento, Robson Maia Franco
Vol 14. 93-103
A Preliminary Detection of Physical and Chemical Properties,
Inhibitory Substances and Preservatives in Raw Milk
Ali Ibrahim Ali Mansour, Mohamed Mansour El-Loly and Ramadan Omar
Vol 14. 89-92
Species Specific PCR Based Rapid Detection of Staphylococcus aureus
from Cottage Cheese,
and its Sensitivity against Antibiotics and natural products
Priyanka Singh and Alka Prakash
Vol 14. 83-88
Aflatoxigenic moulds and aflatoxins in street-vended snacks in Lagos,
Chibundu N. Ezekiel, Funmi O. Kayode, Stephen O. Fapohunda, Momodu
and Barinaada T. Kponi
Vol 14. 75-82
Microbial and Physico-chemical contamination in the wheat flour of
the twin cities of Pakistan
Syeda Afifa Batool Naseem Rauf, S.S.Tahir and Razia Kalsoom
Advances in Proteomics-based Detection Techniques of Listeria monocytogenes
: a Potential Risk in New Zealand
Ge Huang and Malik Altaf Hussain
Food Safety Review (FSR) in the State of Kuwait as a part of Arab
Hani M. Al-Mazeedi, Alaa B. Abbasa, Wafaa Y. Al-Jouhar , Siham A.
and Yousef A. Al-Mendicar
A Decision Tree Based Approach for the Identification of Halal Critical
for Slaughtering According to Islamic Dietary Law
Kohilavani, Tajul A. Yang, Noor A. Febrianto, Wan Nadiah Wan Abdullah
and Aadam Tajul Aris
Antibacterial Activity of Red Bell Pepper against Escherichia coli
O157:H7 in Ground Beef
Sulaiman O. Aljaloud , Rabin Gyawali, Muchha R. Reddy, and Salam A.
Evaluating Food Hygiene Awareness and Practices of Food Handlers in
the Kumasi Metropolis
Patricia Foriwaa Ababio and Doreen Dedo Adi
Growth Control of Standard L.monocytogenes and L.monocytogenes Spiked
in Goat Milk
by Natural products, Antibiotics and Lactic Acid Bacteria
Rupali Yadav and Alka Prakash
Assessment of Health Risk Associated With Reuse of Treated Wastewater.
Nadia Oubrim, Nozha Cohen, Abouddihaj Barguigua, Kaoutar Hajjami,
Brahim Bouchrif and My Mustapha Ennaji
Microbial and Physico-Chemical Quality Assessment of the Raw and Pasteurized
Supplied In the Locality of Twin City of Pakistan
Syeda Afifa Batool, Razia Kalsoom ,Naseem Rauf , S.S.Tahir and Fouzia
Microbiological Safety and Proximate Composition of Suya Stored at
for Six Hours from Maiduguri, Northern Nigeria.
Ogbonna, Innocent Okonkwo Danladi, Matthias Sunday Akinmusire, Oyekemi
and Odu, Collins Emeka
Bacteriological Quality Assessment of Selected Street Foods and
Antibacterial Action of Essential Oils Against Food Borne Pathogens
Chandi C. Rath and Sonali Patra
Improved Recovery of Viable Listeria monocytogenes From Stainless
Steel Surfaces for Subsequent Detection
John Xue and Burton Blais
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