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FoodHACCP Newsletter
02/25,2013 ISSUE:536

Nestle finds horse meat in its packed food
Source : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-02-20/uk/37199812_1_horse-meat-dna-in-two-products-fsa
By times of India (Feb 13, 2013)
LONDON: The horse meat scandal in Europe is only getting worse with the world's biggest food company now saying that tests have found traces of horse DNA in their packed products made from beef in Italy, France and Spain.
Nestle on Tuesday said, "Our tests have found traces of horse DNA in two products made from beef. The levels found are above the 1% threshold the UK's Food Safety Agency uses to indicate likely adulteration or gross negligence." It added, "When reports first emerged in the UK about the fraudulent mislabeling of beef, we enhanced testing of our products and the raw materials we use across Europe. We are now suspending deliveries of all our finished products produced using beef supplied by a German firm."
Nestle added that there was no food safety issue "but the mislabeling of products means they fail to meet the very high standards consumers expect from us. We are also enhancing our existing comprehensive quality assurance programme by adding new tests on beef for horse DNA prior to production in Europe. We want to apologize to consumers and reassure them that the actions being taken to deal with this issue will result in higher standards and enhanced traceablity."
An update on test results from throughout the food industry will be published by the Food Standards Agency of UK next Friday with a further update to be published on March 1. After that, food businesses will update the FSA on their tests results every three months.
UK's environment secretary Owen Paterson meanwhile met representatives of food businesses including retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and trade associations asking them to conduct tests on all their products.
At the meeting, food businesses right through the supply chain agreed to do their level best to report back as many testing results as possible to the FSA by Friday.
Latest revelations on the horse meat scandal shows that FSA had written a letter to the department for environment, food and rural affairs (Defra) in April 2011 warning that horse meat was being passed off as beef.
The letter also warned Defra that packaged food was also being contaminated with horse meat, but the warnings were ignored. Paterson has now asked FSA to investigate the claims that the govenment was indeed warned.
John Young, a former manager at the Meat Hygiene Service write a letter to former minister Sir Jim Paice on behalf of Britain's largest horse meat exporter, High Peak Meat Exports warning that its effort to stop meat containing the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, known as bute, getting into the food chain was a "debacle". "I have discussed it with the chief executive of the FSA and she is going to go back through the records and see exactly what was said at the time," he said.
The FSA meanwhile has submitted a full file and evidence on this scandal to Europol. The data submitted is now being analysed by both Europol and law enforcement agencies in 35 countries across Europe and elsewhere. Latest data shows horse meat has been consumed by millions of children and hospital patients across Europe.

Farmers markets may be exempt from new food safety rules
Source : http://posttrib.suntimes.com/news/porter/18052650-418/farmers-markets-may-be-exempt-from-new-food-safety-rules.html
By Karen Caffarini (Feb 24, 2013)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released two new proposed food safety rules as it looks to prevent the foodborne illnesses that it says results in approximately 3,000 deaths and 130,000 hospitalizations each year.
However, the new rules would only target large farms and food producers, meaning produce purchased at local farmer’s markets and grown at local farms may be exempt.
The proposed regulations, which would fall under the Food Safety Modernization Act signed by President Barack Obama two years ago, would require food manufacturers to have a formal plan in place to prevent contamination of human food and would create enforceable standards for growing and harvesting produce.
Those standards would involve agricultural water, biological soil amendments, health and hygiene, domesticated and wild animals and equipment, tools and buildings, which the FDA believes contribute to the bacteria that causes food contamination.
Smaller, exempt farms would still be responsible for the safety of their produce, the FDA stated.
Kate Flannery, co-owner of Green Farms Agronomics & Mycology in Valparaiso, said the vertical indoor farm wouldn’t fall under the new rules, but then the rules wouldn’t apply to her business anyway.
“This is a controlled environment. It’s safer. There are no birds flying overhead leaving droppings, there are no contaminants. These are elements that could create health issues,” she said of the farm, which produces different varieties of lettuce, microgreens and herbs, some of which is sold to local restaurants.
Flannery said Green Farms consistently participates in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Good Agricultural Practices voluntary audit program. According to the USDA, the audits verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.
At local farmers markets, Porter and Lake County Health Departments regularly do inspections for prepared foods, but none for fresh produce sold there, spokespersons said.
“As long as it’s not cooked and sampled, we don’t do anything with it. I don’t know of any agency that inspects fresh produce,” said Juanita Goepcheus, food service coordinator for Porter County Health Department.
She said the department makes sure vendors preparing food on site are following the food code, making sure the foods are stored at the right temperature and hands and utensils are properly washed.
A Lake County Health Department employee said whole, uncut produce doesn’t have to be inspected because consumers generally wash and cook it anyway.
Allison Baughman, marketing manager for Duneland Chamber of Commerce and manager of Chesterton’s European Market, said she doesn’t inspect the farms where produce sold at the market is grown. All that is required is the farmer’s state tax ID number.
Baughman, like Raeann Trakas, who is in charge of Hobart’s Summer Market on the Lake, relies on the county health departments to inspect vendors.
“We don’t do any inspections ourselves, but we make sure the vendors dot all the I’s and cross the t’s,” Baughman said.
Baughman said she hasn’t heard any complaints of someone becoming ill from food purchased at the market.
Trakas said food preparers need to have a permit from the county, but nothing is required of farmers selling fresh produce.
“We’ve never had a problem and we’re going on our fourth year,” Trakas said.


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Horse meat in the US? Unlikely, but tests are rare
Source : http://www.12newsnow.com/story/21318348/horse-meat-in-the-us-unlikely-but-tests-are-rare
By JoNel Aleccia (Feb 24, 2013)
Europe's scandal over horse meat hidden in beef products -- including recalls of Nestle ravioli and Birds Eye chili con carne -- has renewed questions about whether Americans unwittingly could be eating equine products as well.
U.S. Department of Agriculture regulators say it's highly unlikely that beef adulterated with horse meat could make it to the nation's dinner plates because no domestic suppliers currently slaughter horses and the agency has strict labeling and inspection standards for imported meat.
But agency officials also acknowledge privately that species testing for meat imported into the U.S. is performed typically only when there's a reason to question a shipment.
And a Florida company that supplies the only validated tests for horse meat in food has been slammed with nearly 1,000 requests in recent weeks for its $500 kits -- including orders from major U.S. meat producers.
"It's becoming a little hectic," said Natalie Rosskopf, administrative director of Elisa Technologies Inc. of Gainesville. "There was no call for horse testing a month ago. Nothing."
Continental Europe has been roiled recently by reports of horse meat masquerading as beef in frozen burgers and prepared foods, including frozen dinners and pastas. This week, Nestle announced it was removing chilled pasta products produced by a German supplier, including Buitoni Beef Ravioli and Beef Tortellini, from stores in Italy and Spain, and a lasagna product from France. On Friday, frozen food maker Birds Eye said it would withdraw products including chili con carne from Britain and Ireland because tests detected traces of horse DNA.
The trouble with horse meat hidden in beef is partly a health concern. Meats taken from store shelves in Britain and Germany had traces of a powerful equine painkiller, phenylbutazone, or "bute," which is banned in animals destined for human food, tests showed.
But it's also about trust, especially in the U.S., where many shudder at the mere thought of eating horse meat and the deception would raise even more suspicion about a company's practices.
"If a company is willing to commit fraud, I can't imagine that food safety is the biggest thing on their agenda," said Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer and food safety expert who publishes a blog focused on the industry.
In fact, boneless beef adulterated with horse meat -- and with kangaroo -- did make it to the U.S. more than 30 years ago, when mislabeled meat from Australia led to the impounding and testing of 66 million pounds of the product, according to old USDA records found and posted by Marler.
Known as the "Australian meat incident," the beef substitution scandal prompted swift action and increased scrutiny by agency officials.
USDA officials couldn't quickly produce records of species testing results in the past 30 years -- or even the past year -- but they say the possibility of that happening again is remote. The U.S. neither slaughters horses nor imports horse meat from other countries, and it doesn't allow import of beef from the countries and companies involved in the European scandal, an official told NBC News. (He was speaking on background because he said he wasn't authorized to discuss the issue.)
In addition, USDA inspectors look at every shipment of meat sent through U.S. ports and can demand species testing if anything is amiss, documents show.
Officials with the Food and Drug Administration, which oversees processed foods, said that they had detected no horse meat in imported or U.S.-made food.
"We have no past record or current indication that horse meat is an ingredient in any FDA-regulated processed foods in the U.S.," Jalil Isa, an FDA spokesman, said in an email. He added that FDA officials are reaching out to Nestle and Birds Eye to ensure that no adulterated food was sent to the U.S. Nestle has said no U.S. products use meat from European sources.
Birds Eye Iglo U.K. products have no connection to the Birds Eye brand in the U.S., which is owned by Pinnacle Foods, and isn't affiliated with the U.K. supplier.
Producers such as the meat giant Cargill say they don't import beef from plants that also slaughter horses, or from the companies and suppliers implicated in the European scandal, and they remain confident that their meat is free of adulteration.
"Cargill's beef supply chain is shorter than those involved in the horse meat issue in Europe and we know, and work directly with, our suppliers, which minimizes the potential for fraudulent substitution of products," Cargill spokesman Mike Martin told NBC News in an email.
Still, the problems in Europe could prompt renewed scrutiny, he added.
"We do not analyze for other species and are assessing the current situation to determine if this is something we might do in the future," Martin said.
If they do, they'll have to turn to Elisa Technologies for the horse species test, said Rosskopf. The company's meat species kits, which verify animal proteins in raw and cooked meat samples, have been used for years by the USDA and by private firms, she said.
Before the discovery in Europe of horse meat in beef, the firm's typical demand was for tests for more common species, for instance, to confirm that no pork was present in kosher meat, Rosskopf said. Now, meat suppliers mostly in Europe, but also in the U.S., have been clamoring for the equine test.
Have there been any positive tests so far?
"I can't say," said Rosskopf, noting that the company is known for its adherence to confidentiality agreements.
Of course, putting horse meat on the dinner table is common in many countries, including France, Canada, Mexico and Japan, to name a few. And it's not unheard of on American menus, either. Slaughterhouses that produced horse meat for human consumption were in operation in the U.S. until 2007, when the last three of a one-time high of 16 or 17 plants closed under state and federal pressure.
Congress effectively banned the practice then by refusing to fund USDA inspections of the slaughterhouses. Those efforts were fueled by vocal anti-slaughter activists who regarded the practice as inhumane.
The arrangement stayed in place until 2011, when the Obama administration quietly lifted the restriction, partly out of concern for the neglect of horses in the U.S. and the treatment of horses that were shipped to Canada and Mexico to be killed.
The U.S. exported more than 46,000 metric tons of horse meat in 1990, a figure that fell to about 5,600 metric tons in 2007, when the ban was enacted, industry figures show.
Wyoming state Rep. Sue Wallis is trying to reinstate horse slaughter in the U.S. and to build a new source for the meat in America and abroad.
Her application is among those pending with the USDA to open horse slaughterhouses in Missouri, Iowa and New Mexico. The firms would produce what she and other advocates call "cheval," horse meat that she said is prized by gourmet cooks and health enthusiasts for its taste and lean profile. Plus, Wallis said, horse meat is generally about 40 percent cheaper than beef.
"There are plenty of people in America who have no problem with cheval and are anxiously awaiting our product," she said.

Food Fraud in US? Who Knows?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/food-fraud-in-us-who-knows/
By Bill Marler (Feb 24, 2013)
JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer for NBC News posted an interesting article yesterday: “Horse meat in the US? Unlikely, but tests are rare.”
I have been wondering when the food fraud story going on throughout Europe surrounding passing horse meat off as beef would make it here.  Putting eating pony aside, Ms. Aleccia and I discussed that the more troubling issue for me is the likely relationship between fraud and food safety, that that certainly can extend far beyond meat.
But it’s also about trust, especially in the U.S., where many shudder at the mere thought of eating horse meat and the deception would raise even more suspicion about a company’s practices. 
“If a company is willing to commit fraud, I can’t imagine that food safety is the biggest thing on their agenda,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer and food safety expert who publishes a blog focused on the industry. 
In fact, boneless beef adulterated with horse meat — and with kangaroo — did make it to the U.S. more than 30 years ago, when mislabeled meat from Australia led to the impounding and testing of 66 million pounds of the product, according to old USDA records found and posted by Marler.
Honestly, I have no idea how often what we think we are buying is actually what we are buying.  I certainly assume so – don’t we all?

Tega Brand Organic Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos Herbal Tea May Contain Salmonella Bacteria
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/tega-brand-organic-lemon-hibiscus-green-rooibos-herbal-tea-may-contain-salmonella-bacteria/
By Andy Weisbecker (Feb 23, 2013)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume certain Tega brand Organic Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos Herbal Tea described below because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Tega brand Organic Lemon Hibiscus Green Rooibos Herbal Tea, sold in packages of 24 tea bags (48 g / 1.69 oz), UPC 6 64322 10406 0, with best before dates of 2014FE01, 2014MR27, and 2014MR28 is affected by this alert.
This product has been distributed in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.
There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.
Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with these bacteria may cause salmonellosis, a foodborne illness. In young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, salmonellosis may cause serious and sometimes deadly infections. In otherwise healthy people, salmonellosis may cause short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis.
Nu-Tea Company Ltd., Abbotsford, BC, is voluntarily recalling the affected product(s) from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

PCA Executives Indicted for Fraud, Conspiracy in Salmonella Peanut Butter Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/02/pca-executives-indicted-for-fraud-conspiracy-in-salmonella-peanut-butter-outbreak/
By foodsafetynews (Feb 21, 2013)
The U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday announced a 76-count indictment has been filed charging four former officials of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) and a related company for selling Salmonella-contaminated peanut butter products blamed for a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in 2009 that killed 9 people and sickened more than 700.
Former PCA owner and president Stewart Parnell, of Lynchburg, VA, and three other former company leaders, have been charged with mail and wire fraud, the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy, according to the Department of Justice.  Stewart Parnell and two others were also charged with obstruction of justice.
Family members of the victims were thrilled with the news of the felony charges, which many of them had been seeking for years.
“Words can’t give this news justice. Let’s hope the federal court system does, though!” said Jeff Almer, whose mother, Shirley Almer, lost her life to Salmonella after eating contaminated product made by PCA. Almer has since become an outspoken advocate for stronger food safety laws and urged DOJ to actively pursue criminal charges.
“I’m still trying to pick my chin up off the floor. After four years without a comment [from investigators], finally we have something,” said Randy Napier, who also lost his mother, Nellie Napier, in the outbreak.
“I don’t wish ill on anyone, but there are consequences to every action you take,” Napier continued. “Unfortunately, they took actions that hurt a lot of people — hundreds in the hospital and 9 deaths. That was their action, and now comes the reaction.”
In a White House press release, DOJ said charges against former PCA operations manager Daniel Kilgore, of Blakely, GA, was unsealed and that he pleaded guilty to charges of mail and wire fraud, the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy.
The investigation into the activity at PCA began in 2009, after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced a national outbreak of Salmonella to a PCA plant in Blakely.  As alleged in the indictment, the Blakely plant was a peanut roasting facility where PCA roasted raw peanuts and produced granulated peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut paste; PCA sold these peanut products to its customers around the country.
In company emails obtained through investigation, Parnell allegedly ordered the shipment and sale of products known to be contaminated with Salmonella. When other lots of peanuts tested positive for Salmonella, he ordered them to be retested.
On February 11, 2009, Parnell sat before U.S. representatives at a hearing on the outbreak hosted by the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. To each question posed by the Congress members, he and former PCA plant manager Sammy Lightsey invoked their Fifth Amendment rights to not incriminate themselves. At one point, U.S. Rep. Greg Walden brandished a container full of grocery products featuring PCA peanuts and asked the men to sample something. They declined.
“These indictments will have a far reaching impact on the food industry,” said attorney Bill Marler, who represented hundreds of individuals in claims against PCA and whose law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News. “Corporate executives and directors of food safety will need to think hard about the safety of their product when it enters the stream of commerce.  Felony counts like this one are rare, but misdemeanor charges that can include fines and jail time can and should happen.”
Family members of other victims expressed feelings of surprise and relief to Food Safety News. Lou Tousignant’s father Clifford Tousignant died as a result of medical complications after eating peanut butter sandwiches from a PCA customer. When he heard the news Thursday morning, he said that his and other families might finally see something positive lesson come out of the last four years of pain.
“We can pass all the regulations we want,” Tousignant said, “but I think most manufacturers are willing to take a risk if all they have to do is write a check for a fine – it can be seen as part of doing business. But when you have a potential criminal charge and jail time that comes from those decisions, that changes the game.”

“When those responsible for producing or supplying our food lie and cut corners, as alleged in the indictment, they put all of us at risk,” said Stuart F. Delery, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will not hesitate to pursue any person whose criminal conduct risks the safety of Americans who have done nothing more than eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
“We all place a great deal of trust in the companies and individuals who prepare and package our food, often times taking it for granted that the public’s health and safety interests will outweigh individual and corporate greed,” said Michael Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Unfortunately and as alleged in the indictment, these defendants cared less about the quality of the food they were providing to the American people and more about the quantity of money they were gathering while disregarding food safety. This investigation was complex and extensive, and I credit the cooperation of our federal agencies with not only making sure that the cause of this outbreak was uncovered and the people responsible called to account, but also with working hard every day to make sure that parents across the country can feel confident that the food they are feeding their children is safe.”

CDC Launches iPad App Game for Playing Outbreak Detective
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/02/cdc-launches-ipad-app-game-for-public-to-solve-outbreaks/
By foodsafetynews (Feb 21, 2013)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has launched a “Solve the Outbreak”  iPad app that lets people play disease outbreak investigator, as if they were in the agency’s Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS).
According to CDC, which announced the app this week, the program allows users to navigate three fictional outbreaks based on real-life events. Users get clues, look at data, and then make their own decisions to determine the cause of the outbreak.
“The goal is to use new technology to  provide an engaging, interactive way for users to learn how CDC solves outbreaks, thereby increasing general knowledge about real-life public health issues,” said CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden. “This application allows us to illustrate the challenges of solving outbreaks and how our disease detectives work on the front lines to save lives and protect people 24/7.”
CDC says that during the game participants also become familiar with health tips, definitions and information about epidemiology. Users can advance in rank as they earn points and can “post their results on Facebook and Twitter to challenge other participants.”
“This is a great learning tool for science teachers, teens, young adults, public health enthusiasts and mystery lovers,” said Carol Crawford, branch chief, CDC’s Electronic Media Branch.  “The three introductory scenarios are based on actual events EIS officers have solved.  We also plan to add new outbreak cases.”
Established in the early 1950s, the EIS program recruits some of the most gifted physicians, scientists, health professionals and veterinarians into a two year on-the-job training program in epidemiology.  In addition to their scientific, research and surveillance work in public health, EIS officers – also known as disease detectives – are ready at a moment’s notice to fly anywhere in United States and around the world to investigate mysterious disease outbreaks, natural and man-made disasters, and other public health emergencies.
“The public no longer have to experience an outbreak investigation through fictional Hollywood films like Contagion,” Dr. Frieden said.  “Users can now get their own first-hand experience of being a disease detective through this new application.”

Parnell and Others Indicted for Selling Salmonella-Tainted Peanut Butter
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/parnell-and-others-indicted-for-selling-salmonella-tainted-peanut-butter/
By Bill Marler (Feb 21, 2013)
Allegations Include Mail and Wire Fraud, Introduction of Adulterated and Misbranded Food into Interstate Commerce with Intent to Defraud or Mislead, and Conspiracy
A 76-count indictment was unsealed yesterday charging four former officials of the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) and a related company with numerous charges relating to salmonella-tainted peanuts and peanut products, the Justice Department announced today. Stewart Parnell, 58, of Lynchburg, Va.; Michael Parnell, 54, of Midlothian, Va.; and Samuel Lightsey, 48, of Blakely, Ga., have been charged with mail and wire fraud, the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy. Stewart Parnell, Lightsey and Mary Wilkerson, 39, of Edison, Ga., were also charged with obstruction of justice.
Also yesterday, an information filed against Daniel Kilgore, 44, of Blakely was unsealed. On the same day that charges against Kilgore were filed, he pleaded guilty to that information, which charged him with mail and wire fraud, the introduction of adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud or mislead, and conspiracy.
The investigation into the activity at PCA began in 2009, after the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced a national outbreak of salmonella to a PCA plant in Blakely as the likely source. As alleged in the indictment, the Blakely plant was a peanut roasting facility where PCA roasted raw peanuts and produced granulated peanuts, peanut butter, and peanut paste; PCA sold these peanut products to its customers around the country.
The charging documents charge that Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Lightsey and Kilgore participated in a scheme to manufacture and ship salmonella-contaminated peanuts and peanut products, and in so doing misled PCA customers. As alleged in the indictment, those customers ranged in size from small, family-owned businesses to global, multibillion-dollar food companies.
“When those responsible for producing or supplying our food lie and cut corners, as alleged in the indictment, they put all of us at risk,” said Stuart F. Delery, who heads the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will not hesitate to pursue any person whose criminal conduct risks the safety of Americans who have done nothing more than eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”
Although PCA is now no longer in business, the allegations against each of the defendants arise from his or her conduct while at PCA and a related company. The following allegations are set forth in the indictment: Stewart Parnell was an owner and president of PCA; Michael Parnell, who worked at P.P. Sales, was a food broker who worked on behalf of PCA; Lightsey was the operations manager at the Blakely plant from on or about July 2008 through February 2009; and Wilkerson held various positions at the Blakely plant – receptionist, office manager and quality assurance manager – from on or about April 2002 through February 2009. As charged in the information, Kilgore served as operations manager of the PCA plant in Blakely from on or about June 2002 through May 2008.
“We all place a great deal of trust in the companies and individuals who prepare and package our food, often times taking it for granted that the public’s health and safety interests will outweigh individual and corporate greed,” said Michael Moore, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Unfortunately and as alleged in the indictment, these defendants cared less about the quality of the food they were providing to the American people and more about the quantity of money they were gathering while disregarding food safety. This investigation was complex and extensive, and I credit the cooperation of our federal agencies with not only making sure that the cause of this outbreak was uncovered and the people responsible called to account, but also with working hard every day to make sure that parents across the country can feel confident that the food they are feeding their children is safe.”
The charging documents allege that Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Lightsey and Kilgore participated in several schemes by which they defrauded PCA customers about the quality and purity of their peanut products and specifically misled PCA customers about the existence of foodborne pathogens, most notably salmonella, in the peanut products PCA sold to them. As the charging documents allege, the members of the conspiracy did so in several ways – for example, even when laboratory testing revealed the presence of salmonella in peanut products from the Blakely plant, Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Lightsey and Kilgore failed to notify customers of the presence of salmonella in the products shipped to them.
In addition, the charging documents allege that Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, Lightsey and Kilgore participated in a scheme to fabricate certificates of analysis (COAs) accompanying various shipments of peanut products. COAs are documents that summarize laboratory results, including results concerning the presence or absence of pathogens. As alleged in the charging documents, on several occasions these four defendants participated in a scheme to fabricate COAs stating that shipments of peanut products were free of pathogens when, in fact, there had been no tests on the products at all or when the laboratory results showed that a sample tested positive for salmonella.
After the salmonella outbreak that gave rise to this investigation, FDA inspectors visited the plant several times in January 2009. According to the indictment, the inspectors asked specific questions about the plant, its operations, and its history, and, in several instances, Stewart Parnell, Lightsey and Wilkerson gave untrue or misleading answers to these questions.
“The charges announced today show that if an individual violates food safety rules or conceals relevant information, we will seek to hold them accountable,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The health of our families and the safety of our food system is too important to be thwarted by the criminal acts of any individual or company.”
Stewart Parnell, Michael Parnell, and Samuel Lightsey are each charged with two counts of conspiracy; multiple counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud; multiple counts of introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud; multiple counts of interstate shipment fraud; and multiple counts of wire fraud. Stewart Parnell, Lightsey and Wilkerson are also charged with multiple counts of obstruction of justice.
Kilgore pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud, one count of conspiracy to introduce adulterated and misbranded food into interstate commerce, eight counts of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud, six counts of introducing misbranded food into interstate commerce with the intent to defraud, eight counts of interstate shipment fraud, and five counts of wire fraud.
Mark F. Giuliano, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “The FBI was brought in to this matter to provide additional resources and expertise to a complex and very serious investigation. We fully understand the victim impact as a result of this salmonella outbreak and will be asking to hear from other possible victims in this matter.”
The PCA indictment can be viewed at: www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/61201322111426350488.pdf.
Kilgore’s filed information can be viewed at: www.justice.gov/iso/opa/resources/22820132211141246302.pdf.
Individuals who feel that they may have been affected by or have become ill from tainted PCA products, and businesses that purchased products that were recalled as a result of the outbreak, should visit the following website for further details: https://forms.fbi.gov/pca-salmonella-tainted-product-case/
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Patrick Hearn and Mary M. Englehart of the Consumer Protection Branch of the Civil Division of the Department of Justice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia. Marietta Geckos, formerly a Trial Attorney with the Consumer Protection Branch, also worked on the prosecution. The case was investigated by the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigations and the FBI.
An indictment is merely an allegation, and every defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Fred Pritzker Reacts to PCA Indictments
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/fred-pritzker-reacts-to-pca-indictments/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 21, 2013)
The U.S. Department of Justice issued indictments against several officials of the Peanut Corporation of America today. That facility was linked to a 2009 Salmonella outbreak that sickened more than 700 people in this country and killed nine.
“The decision to prosecute Peanut Corporation of America officers and employees responsible for the deadly Salmonella outbreak in 2009 is an important and long overdue step towards improving food safety in the United States,” according to Fred Pritzker, president of the national food safety law firm, Pritzker Olsen, who represented several of the injury and death victims harmed by PCA products.
“My clients are ecstatic that the wrongdoers responsible for this food safety debacle are finally going to be held accountable by the criminal justice system for the harms and losses they caused,” Pritzker said.
In a timely and unique collaboration between the bankruptcy trustee, PCA’s insurers, defense attorneys for corporations that used PCA products and a few lawyers representing most of the people harmed by those products, the civil claims were resolved many months ago, according to Pritzker. However, and as is the case with most outbreaks, the actual wrongdoers were not required to pay anything out of their own pockets and faced no criminal responsibility – until now.
“This was an egregious case. It cried out for criminal prosecution. If it wasn’t prosecuted, it would be hard to imagine one that would be,” Pritzker commented. “This prosecution sends the right message to food producers: you need to take personal responsibility for the products you sell. You need to worry about a lot more than your company’s bottom line.”
“Notwithstanding this good news, I have a few concerns. First, it took an awfully long time for this indictment to be issued. I understand that food safety conspiracy cases are more complex than a typical criminal case, but a 4 year delay seems excessive. Second, the conduct of the wrongdoers was well documented and obvious. I would hate to see use of the criminal justice reserved for only the most blatant cases. Third, some of the victims from this outbreak died and others suffered serious injury yet the case was charged out essentially as a white collar criminal case. It could certainly be argued that even more serious charges were warranted,” Pritzker said.

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Food Safety Today Provides Safety Tips to Prevent Listeriosis
Source : http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/2/prweb10442553.htm
By Palm Beach (Feb 20, 2013)
In response to a recent outbreak of eight listeria infections, representatives with Food Safety Today (http://www.foodsafetytoday.com.au/) is providing guidance and training on how to safely handle food while taking safety measures to prevent the illness from happening.
“What we’re offering the only nationally recognized food handling course (http://www.foodsafetytoday.com.au/courses) for the hospitality, food processing and health and community services sectors,” said Joanne Ballantyne, owner and director of Food Safety Today. “The training, which includes information on listeria, can be done by correspondence, online and onsite training for groups.”
Listeria, according to national statistics, on average affects approximately three people per month.
“The recent outbreak of eight cases of listeria infections is a cause for concern, so we’re taking a proactive approach to doing something about it,” Ballantyne said.
According to The NSW Food Authority, most at risk should avoid ready to eat foods, such as soft cheese such as brie, blue, fetta, camembert and ricotta, cold chicken or turkey particularly if sliced or diced, such as used in chicken sandwiches.
In addition, Ballantyne said, pre-prepared or packaged salads greens and salads should be avoided.
“Raw seafood such as oysters, sashimi, smoked salmon or oysters (canned oysters are safe), sushi, unpasteurized dairy products including raw goat’s milk and Roquefort cheese, should be avoided,” Ballantyne stressed.
Signs of listeriosis, Ballantyne, said, include flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea that can occasionally lead to septicemia, meningitis and in some cases, miscarriage in pregnant women.
“Food Safety Today is an innovative leader in online food safety training, so we felt that it was our duty to provide tips and training on how to properly handle food and prevent illnesses like listeria from breaking out,” Ballantyne stressed.
Madison Eagles said she’s impressed with the food safety course.
“I loved being able to do the food safety supervisor certificate at home anytime,” Eagles said. “It sure beats running into some dull office in the city, wasting the whole day and be charged more. I found this allowed for better concentration and less distraction. I found the whole course was self explanatory and easy to understand.”
For more information, please visit: http://www.foodsafetytoday.com.au/blog and http://www.foodsafetytoday.com.au/course/retail-and-hospitality/food-safety-supervisor-hospitality-combined-course-nsw
About Food Safety Today
Food Safety Today provides high-quality online and correspondence food handling training for workers in the Retail & Hospitality (SIT codes), Health & Community Services (HLT codes) and Food Processing (FDF codes) industry. Our courses satisfy the requirements set by the NSW Food Authority, Queensland Food Act 2006, Queensland Food Regulation 2006, Victorian Food Act 1984, and Food Standards Australia & New Zealand.
In-house group training is an option for organizations that require a number of employees at a time to take a food handling course. Group training is available for both Level 1 (food handling certificate) and Level 2 (food safety supervisor) – combined FSS course is a one day course at venue.
Training for your food handling certificate or as a food safety supervisor consists of a set of assessment tasks, which include industry-based case studies and short answer questions. Our online courses are 100% online. Search for Food Safety Today on Google: http://goo.gl/6yU4I

CDC Names Only 2 of 12 States In Chicken Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/cdc-names-only-2-of-12-states-in-chicken-salmonella-outbreak/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 19, 2013)
On Thursday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a 12-state Salmonella outbreak linked to tainted chicken produced by Foster Farms Inc, based in Livingston, Calif. Most of the 124 illnesses occurred in Oregon and Washington state which have a combined total of 94 cases. The 30 remaining cases were in 10 states that the agency did not name saying, “At this time, CDC is not releasing the names of the other states until it is determined how these illnesses are linked to this outbreak.”
The CDC generally releases the names of all states included in a multi-state outbreak. It’s unclear why the agency has chosen not to do so in this instance or why the announcement came so late. Health officials have known about the outbreak, which began in June, for months. They have used DNA “fingerprints” of the Salmonella Heidelberg strain and PulseNet, a nationwide network of  public health and regulatory laboratories, to identify cases that are part of the outbreak, according to the CDC announcement.  If there are 30 cases in 10 states that match the outbreak strain and their number have been included in the agency’s own report of the total number of people sickened, why not name the states, wonders food safety attorney Fred Pritzker. “All consumers, including those who are part of this outbreak, have a right to know what state and federal investigators of foodborne illness outbreaks have discovered.”
In Washington, 56 people are part of the outbreak as are 28 people form Oregon. Those who became ill range in age from less than 1 to 94 years old.  The median age of cases patients is 23. Almost a third of the patients required hospitalization

 

 


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