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FoodHACCP Newsletter
03/04,2013 ISSUE:537

Food safety is hot topic in mango industry
Source :
By Tim Linden (Mar 01, 2013)
As one would expect on the heels of last year's mango recall at the end of the Mexican mango deal, food safety is the hot topic this year.
Recognizing this, the National Mango Board was scheduled to hold a free seminar for the industry March 6 in McAllen, TX, during the third annual America Trades Produce Conference to make sure that everyone had the latest information and the industry could take every precaution necessary to provide consumers with the safest product possible.
"Everyone in the industry has a heightened sense of awareness with regard to the food-safety issue," said Bill Vogel, president of Vision Produce Co. in Los Angeles, who is the 2013 NMB chairman of the board. The food-safety conference in Texas "is a very important event for us so we can talk about what we know and make sure we bring the safest product possible to the consumer."
Mr. Vogel said that while no one likes to be involved in a recall, "it was handled in the right way and we are turning it into a positive for the industry. Because it was handled correctly by the industry and the companies involved, a certain trust has been developed with the retail and foodservice trade, so we haven't seen any resistance in sales of mangos moving forward this year."
That same sentiment was echoed by many others.
"As an industry, we've stepped up our food-safety program," said Chris Ciruli, chief operating officer of Ciruli Brothers LLC, based in Nogales, AZ. "It has made us a better industry."
He said most packers already had a strong program in place, but those that didn't have had to catch up if they expect to sell to U.S. receivers.
Gary Clevenger, managing member of Freska Produce International in Oxnard, CA, said that the biggest change he sees from the buyer community is that "everyone is asking for validation. We've always had a food-safety program, but now the buyers want proof."
He said that the hot-water treatment that mangos have to go through to be certified for importation to the United States offers a high level of safety as long as the packingshed follows the proper procedures and keeps the water and belts in the packing facility clean.
JoJo Shiba of GM Produce agreed that the requests for certification documentation have increased the workload for the Mexican packingshed, but it has also caused some to improve their practices.
"We are making sure all the packingsheds we work with are GAP-certified as well as GFSI-certified," she said.
Ms. Shiba said that for some packers in Mexico, it is not an easy thing to accomplish but they are working toward it. "I'm not sure how it will affect supplies this year, but there might be an impact. We'll have to see how that plays out."
Larry Nienkerk, president of Splendid Products in Burlingame, CA, which was involved in the recall last year, said that while it was a "painful lesson," the industry has learned from it.
"The mango industry, and in fact, the entire produce industry, has gained knowledge from this situation, which is a good thing," said Mr. Nienkerk. "Facilities that needed upgrading are being upgraded. For our part, we did help our packers upgrade their systems. Everyone in our industry is making sure that there are guidelines and that they are being followed."
At the end of the day, Mr. Vogel said that the goal is to deliver top-quality, safe produce to the consumer, and he is confident the mango industry is doing that.



Easter is Saved – No Salmonella in Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs
Source :
By  Bill Marler (Mar 02, 2013)
Tip o’ pen to JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News for reporting the Easter has been saved.  According to Ms. Aleccia, the Indiana firm that recalled its Zachary Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs less than a month before Easter over fears of salmonella contamination now says that a test was wrong and the candy is fine.
Zachary Confections Inc. of Frankfort, Ind., voluntarily pulled four lots of its popular holiday treat on Feb. 27 after a test of one lot by an independent, third-party laboratory indicated a positive result for Salmonella bacteria, which can cause illness in people.
Company officials and investigators with the Food and Drug Administration suspended production of the treats until a source could be found, a press release said. But then the lab reported that further testing of the sample detected no Salmonella, according to George Anichini, the company’s vice president of operations.
“Accordingly, all post-production samples of Zachary Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs have now been confirmed not to contain salmonella and are safe for consumption,” firm officials said in a press release.

Chocolate-Covered Marshmallow Eggs Free of Salmonella, Company Says
Source :
By foodsafetynews (Mar 02, 2013)
Zachary Confections today announced that the company’s Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs, which were previously recalled for potential Salmonella contamination, do not contain Salmonella and are safe for consumption.
According to a company press release, Zachary Confections recalled its Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Eggs with code dates D3245D, D3145E, F3145E and D3245E after a lab test indicated that they were potentially positive for Salmonella.  Zachary Confections initiated the product recall to prevent them from reaching consumers while conducting further tests on the marshmallow eggs.  Those additional tests returned negative for Salmonella.
In a press release, Jack Zachary praised his team’s efficiency in conducting the earlier recall:  “I am proud of the swift responsible actions taken by our team.  I am comfortable with our decision to communicate with our Retail Partners and the FDA about this possible issue.  We are confident that our efforts as well as those of our retail partner, to remove the suspect product from the distribution channels, resulted in insuring that the American consumer was protected at all times.”

Congressional sequester threatens food safety, farming industry
Source :
By David Lippman (Mar 01, 2013)
Baton Rouge, LA (NBC33) — There are still lots of questions about when the cuts ordered by Congress' sequester will take effect and how they will be applied. But there is no doubt that everyone will feel their impact.
Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain believes Washington's inaction is going to either take food off our tables or money out of our wallets.
"In the agricultural sector," Strain said Friday, "our main concern is what will happen if we do not have an orderly furlough, with a backup plan on food inspection."
Louisiana has both state and federal food inspectors. But the state inspectors are paid with a one-to-one matching program from the federal government. Sequestration means mandatory furloughs for federal employees, which means the people who keep our food safe will have to take time off the job.
"But we will not sacrifice safety. Period," Strain promised. "I mean, that's not an option."
Animal products have the strictest inspections, but all food is checked, including items that are imported into Louisiana.
Strain's challenge will be organizing the two-week furloughs of his inspectors. But those furloughs have to be the result of cooperation between the government and the labor unions. Not even the White House knows when that will get done.
"And we talked about, well, what is going to happen, what is the plan," Strain said of a recent meeting with officials from Washington. "And we're not quite sure what the plan is yet."
Strain said he wants to make sure he can stagger the furloughs. Because if every inspector is forced to take the same two weeks off, the entire food supply will grind to a halt.
"There will be no uninspected food, period," Strain stated. "If that plant doesn't operate, then the product will back up in the system. And if you look at the estimates of the cost to the American farmer, it's between $4-10 billion."
But do not expect that nightmare to become a reality.
"I am committed to making sure that we find the money to keep our plants open with our state inspectors," Strain said. "If there's a disruption in the inspection system, and there's a disruption in the entire chain that brings that product to you, you're gonna see less availability and higher price."
Many of the department's other activities also operate in conjunction with the federal government, such as conservation, pesticides, and even fighting wildfires.
But Strain said he is used to this kind of thing.
"My budget has been cut almost 25 percent since I've been here and we've downsized by over 30 percent," he claimed.

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Sharjah cracks down on food safety
Source :
By Caline Malek (Mar 1, 2013)
All Sharjah food outlets should be able to display a food safety certificate on their front doors by 2016.
So far, 1,200 food businesses have implemented Sharjah's food safety system, and officials hope all 7,000 will be certified within three years. Each outlet will have a municipality sticker on its door.
"We are moving slowly in Sharjah but we believe it is better to give attention to detail," said Basem M Azzam, a technical manager at the municipality's Sharjah Food Safety Programme.
"We work with 7,000 food businesses, so if we make a mistake for each, it's a horrible situation. We're taking our time to move step by step."
He was speaking on the sidelines of a food safety inspection conference at Gulfood, which took place in Dubai this week.
Started as a pilot project in 2011, the programme includes help for smaller food outlets, which make up most of the emirate's food businesses.
"We are focusing on small and/or less developed businesses because these are approximately 95 per cent of the food businesses," he said. "We provide them with free-of-charge technical support."
Inspectors will visit the small shops regularly. "We are sharing the responsibility of food safety between the Government, food businesses, training consultancies and certification bodies," said Mr Azzam.
The programme will focus on the "high-risk activities" most likely to cause food poisoning, including cooking, cooling, refrigerating and storing food. "They are the most important things."
Sharjah has had problems with food poisoning in the past. In June 2009, a four-year-old girl died of food poisoning after eating breakfast ordered from a restaurant near her home.
Although Mr Azzam said no food poisoning deaths were recorded last year, seven people were admitted to hospital last April after eating samosas from a bakery.
"People saying that Sharjah is lagging behind Dubai and Abu Dhabi are wrong," he said.
The team initially faced educational and linguistic challenges in training food handlers, and so introduced pictorial exams, as well as tests in Arabic, English, Urdu, Hindi and Malayalam.
"We've cracked it now and found a way to teach people with no shared language," said Dave Shannon, the operations director at TSI Quality Services, the programme's consultants.
And it seems to be working. More than 1,200 food businesses in the emirate have implemented the system, and more than 2,500 managers have been trained.
"The impression people have had is that Sharjah is only starting to do something now but this isn't the case," said Mr Shannon.
"It's just been carefully designed to not rush and make mistakes."

Food safety regulators put US cantaloupe growers on notice after outbreak deaths
Source : 285221-food-safety-regulators-put-us-cantaloupe-growers-on-notice-after-outbreak-deaths
By Ben Goad (Feb 27, 2013)
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is stepping up oversight of the cantaloupe industry following a pair of illness outbreaks linked to more than 400 illnesses and three dozen deaths.
In a letter issued this week to industry groups, FDA announced plans to initiate inspections at packinghouses during the 2013 growing season.
“The aim of these inspections is in part, to assess the current practices by this segment of the produce industry and to identify insanitary conditions that may affect the safety of cantaloupe destined for distribution to consumers,” wrote Michael Landa, director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
“In the event of adverse findings, we will take action as needed to protect the public health,” Landa wrote.
The increased scrutiny comes as FDA is working to enact a pair of sweeping proposed rules that represent the biggest food safety overhaul in more than 70 years. But the new regulations, now in a recently extended public comment phase, are many months off.
In the meantime, the agency is intent on avoiding a repeat of the last two seasons. The agency responded to two major outbreaks traced to fresh cantaloupes in 2011 and 2012.
Subsequent investigations revealed “multiple findings of insanitary production, handling conditions, and practices in packinghouses,” Landa wrote.
In addition to the inspections, FDA will also target cantaloupes coming into the United States from across the border, according to the letter, sent to to firms that grow, harvest, sort, pack, process or ship the melon.

Report Says 33% of Seafood Sold in U.S. Mislabeled
Source :
By foodproductdesign (Feb 27, 2013)
WASHINGTON—The dishonest and illegal practice of substituting one seafood species for another, or seafood fraud, is ramped in the United States and abroad at levels ranging from 25% to more than 70% for commonly swapped species such as red snapper, wild salmon and Atlantic cod. A new report from U.S.-based Oceana revealed DNA testing found 33% of the 1,215 seafood samples analyzed nationwide over a 2-year period spanning 2010 to 2012 were mislabeled, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines.
The Oceana investigation was one of the largest seafood fraud investigations in the world to date, collecting more than 1,200 seafood samples from 674 retail outlets in 21 states to determine if they were honestly labeled.
Of the most commonly collected fish types, samples sold as snapper and tuna had the highest mislabeling rates (87% and 59%, respectively), with the majority of the samples identified by DNA analysis as something other than what was found on the label. In fact, only seven of the 120 samples of red snapper purchased nationwide were actually red snapper. The other 113 samples were another fish.
Halibut, grouper, cod and Chilean sea bass also were mislabeled between 19% and 38% of the time, while salmon was mislabeled 7% of the time. Forty-four percent of all the retail outlets visited sold mislabeled fish. Restaurants, grocery stores and sushi venues all sold mislabeled fish and chances of being swindled varied greatly depending on where the seafood was purchased.
The study identified strong national trends in seafood mislabeling levels among retail types, with sushi venues ranking the highest (74%), followed by restaurants (38%) and then grocery stores (18%). These same trends among retail outlets were generally observed at the regional level.
Seafood substitutions included species carrying health advisories (e.g. king mackerel sold as grouper; escolar sold as white tuna), cheaper farmed fish sold as wild (e.g. tilapia sold as red snapper), and overfished, imperiled or vulnerable species sold as more sustainable catch (e.g. Atlantic halibut sold as Pacific halibut). Testing also turned up species not included among the more than 1,700 seafood species the federal government recognizes as sold or likely to be sold in the United States.
The findings demonstrate that a comprehensive and transparent traceability system—one that tracks fish from boat to plate—must be established at the national level. At the same time, increased inspection and testing of our seafood, specifically for mislabeling, and stronger federal and state enforcement of existing laws combating fraud are needed to reverse these disturbing trends.
According to Oceana, “the U.S. government has a responsibility to provide more information about the fish sold in the United States, as seafood fraud harms not only consumers’ wallets, but also every honest vendor and fisherman cheated in the process—to say nothing of the health of our oceans."
A released in January by the US Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) revealed 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.
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.

Would you like some unlabeled soy, donkey, goat or water buffalo in your burger?
Source :
By  Bill Marler (Feb 26, 2013)
I am heading to South Africa in October of this year to give a series of lectures on safe food a.k.a., “why it is a bad idea to poison your customer.”  It appears that I might need to move up the timing of my trip.  According to South African news:
As the horse meat scandal rages in Europe, top local researchers have found “fraudulent meat products” across South Africa. The study found that anything from soy, donkey, goat and water buffalo was found in up to 68 percent of the minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that were tested.  In other cases, undeclared plant matter was detected.  These ingredients were not declared on the products’ packaging labels.
The study was published in the international Food Control journal, and was carried out by Dr. Donna-Maree Cawthorn and Professor Louw Hoffman of the Stellenbosch University Department of Animal Sciences, with Harris Steinman of Food & Allergy Consulting & Testing Services in Milnerton.
“Our study confirms that the mislabeling of processed meats is commonplace in South Africa and not only violates food labeling regulations but also poses economic, religious, ethical and health impacts,” said Professor Louw Hoffman of the Department of Animal Sciences.
The study found that soy, donkey, goat and water buffalo were contained in up to 68 percent of the 139 minced meats, burger patties, deli meats, sausages and dried meats that were tested.
Seriously, all of Europe and South Africa are having this issue and nothing is going on in the United States?  Really?

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WSDA warns consumers to avoid Dungeness Valley Creamery raw milk products
Source :
By  Bill Marler (Feb 26, 2013)
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) is warning consumers not to drink Dungeness Valley Creamery brand raw Jersey whole milk, raw Jersey skim milk, and raw Jersey cream because the products may be contaminated with Escherichia coli bacteria (E. coli) that can cause serious illness.
Dungeness Valley Creamery raw Jersey cream, raw Jersey whole milk and raw Jersey skim milk with any Best Buy dates of 03/02 or later may be contaminated. The firm sells its products in gallon, half gallon, quart and pint containers. Today’s health alert includes all container sizes of the unpasteurized milk products.
The health alert is being initiated after routine sampling by WSDA found toxin-producing E. coli in a sample of raw cream. Based in Sequim, the Dungeness Valley Creamery and WSDA are continuing their investigation into the source of the problem. Currently, no human illnesses have been linked with these products.
Some strains of E. coli produce a toxin called Shiga toxin that can lead to severe illness. Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections may cause severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, and bloody stool. Symptoms generally appear three to four days after exposure, but can take as long as nine days to appear. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should contact a health care provider.
The infection sometimes causes hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious disease in which red blood cells are destroyed and the kidneys fail. Infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are especially at risk.
According to the Dungeness Valley Creamery website, the firm’s products are sold at the following retail locations:
Bainbridge Island: Real Foods; Pan D’Amore; Walt’s Lynwood Center Market
Bothell: Tru Health
Bremerton: CJ’s Evergreen General Store; Fresh Local
Federal Way: Marlene’s Market & Deli
Issaquah: Front Street Red Apple
Longview: Country village Nutrition Shoppe
Olympia: Olympia Food Co-op East; Olympia Food Co-op West
Port Angeles: Country Aire; Good To Go
Port Townsend: Port Townsend Food Co-op
Poulsbo: Abundantly Green
Seattle: Madison Market; My Asia’s Essentials; Pike Place Market Creamery
Sequim: Sequim Prairie Grange; Red Rooster Grocery; Sunny Farms Farm Store
Tacoma: Marlene’s Market & Deli
Vancouver: Chuck’s Produce; Neighbors Market
Retail raw milk is legal to sell and buy in Washington, but there are serious potential health risks. Consumers should read the warning label on the retail raw milk container carefully and ask their retailer to verify the milk was produced and processed by a WSDA-licensed operation.
Read Seattle Times article on Dungeness Valley Creamery from 2010.

Food Safety During a Power Outage: What You Need to Know
Source :
By Ann Pietrangelo (Feb 25, 2013)
When storms like Sandy and Nemo create power outages, your perishable food supply is at risk. Do you know how long your refrigerator and freezer can safely store food during a power loss? Do you know what is safe to eat and what should be tossed in the garbage?
When food is not kept cold enough, bacteria can multiply and cause foodborne illnesses, according to The National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NDDIC). Common symptoms of foodborne illnesses include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and chills. In rare instances, foodborne illness lead to serious complications.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers important tips on how to know if your food is safe during a power outage:
How to Prepare for a Potential Power Outage
Keep an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator and freezer so you can see the temperature of your food after a power outage. Your freezer should be set at 0 degrees or below fahrenheit and your refrigerator at 40 degrees or below.
Buy ice or freeze containers of water for ice to keep food cold in the freezer and refrigerator.
Freeze refrigerated foods that you won’t need immediately. This will help them last longer.
Group foods together in the freezer to help them stay cold longer.
During a Power Outage
Keep the freezer and refrigerator doors closed as much as possible so cold air stays inside.
A refrigerator will keep food safely cold for about four hours if it remains unopened.
If unopened, a full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours, and 24 hours if it’s only half full.
After a Power Outage
If power was out more than four hours, discard refrigerated meat, poultry, fish, soft cheeses, milk, eggs, leftovers, and deli items.
Foods that still have ice crystals or are still below 40 degrees may be refrozen or cooked.
If you didn’t have a refrigerator or freezer thermometer, use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature of individual foods.
Don’t taste the food to check for safety. (You can’t trust your sense of smell, either.)
When your ice cream melts, it’s easy to see. Other foods can look and smell perfectly harmless even after they’ve reached dangerously high temperatures. When in doubt, throw it out! It’s not worth the risk to you or your family.

Yum Brands To Cut Ties With 1,000 Chinese Slaughterhouses After Chicken Scare
Source :
By Megha Rajagopalan(Feb 25, 2013)
Yum Brands Inc said on Monday it will stop using more than 1,000 slaughterhouses in China as it moves to tighten food safety and reverse a sharp drop in business at KFC restaurants in its top market after a scare over contaminated chicken.
Diners began avoiding Kentucky-based Yum's nearly 5,300, mostly KFC, restaurants in China in December after news reports and government investigations in the Asian country focused on chemical residue found in a small portion of its chicken supply.
Yum was not fined by Chinese food safety authorities, but its restaurant sales in the country dropped and have yet to recover. As a result, Yum warned this month that it expected 2013 earnings per share to contract, rather than grow.
Yum said it would end ties with smaller chicken suppliers that have not modernized their operations.
"This is a public problem. Even though China has rules on use of additive products, we very much regret that some people still operated while breaking those rules," Yum China Chairman and Chief Executive Sam Su told a news conference in Beijing.
Su declined to give specifics on other efforts to shore up the safety of the company's food supply in China or its plans to lure diners back.
Yum gets more than half of its overall sales from China, the world's fastest-growing major economy.
The scandal has been a blow to the company, which has a reputation for serving safe, high-quality meals in China, where food contamination is a chronic problem.
"This is going to be quite a management task for (Yum) in terms of their reputation," said David Mahon, managing director of Mahon China, an investment management company that advises multinational companies that operate in the Asian country.
"I think they'll put a lot of effort into closing suspect suppliers and bringing better standards and proving to consumers that they're doing so," Mahon said.
Ultimately, the Chinese government is responsible for setting and enforcing better food safety standards, he said.
Yum Chief Executive David Novak said early this month that time, not money, is the cure for the company's China sales drop.
Based on the company's experience with prior sales-damaging crises related to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), avian flu and "Sudan Red" dye, Yum said it does not expect restaurant sales there to turn higher until the fourth quarter.
Shares in Yum were up 0.4 percent at $65.69 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Nestle and Ikea Drawn Into Europe' Horsemeat Scandal
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Feb 25, 2013)
The European horse meat scandal continues to expand. Horse DNA has been found in many different products, and now that product has been found in the foods of two major manufacturers, Nestle and Ikea.
Horse meat was found in Ikea meatballs made in Sweden and shipped to 13 countries in Europe. The Czech State Veterinary Administration stopped more than 1600 pounds of the frozen meatballs from reaching commerce. Meatballs from that same batch were shipped to Slovakia, Hungary, Britain, France, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Greeze, Ireland, and Cyprus. Ikea has removed the meatballs from store shelves in all of those countries.
In Spain, public health authorities found horse meat DNA in Buitoni and La Cocinera beef cannelloni made by Nestle.  That company is testing meat from its suppliers and has said it will take legal action against at least one supplier.
In a statement, Nestle said, “we would like to reassure consumers that we remain vigilant. In the first week of our new enhanced testing program we carried out hundreds of separate analyses of beef suplied to us and finished products. Only the four tests on beef supplied by H.J. Schypke and Servocar, and tests on products produced from that beef have come back positive. All other tests carried out so far have been negative. The testing continues.”
While there is no health concern from human beings eating horse meat itself, the meat may be contaminated with hormones and drugs if the animals were raced. Medications such as the anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, anabolic steroids, gestagenic steroids, and other substances have no maximum residue limit. The EU has set strict conditions for imported horsemeat, and states “only horses with a known medicinal treatment history, and which on the basis of medicinal treatment records can be shown to have satisfied the appropriate veterinary medicine withdrawal periods, should be allowed to be slaughtered for export to the EU.”

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