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FoodHACCP Newsletter
03/11,2013 ISSUE:538

Strengthening The US Response To Foodborne Disease Outbreaks
Source : http://www.irishsun.com/index.php/sid/213044756/scat/a1e025da3c02ca7c
By medicalnewstoday (Mar 07, 2013)
Executive Summary
Foodborne illness sickens or kills an extraordinary number of people each year. It also has great economic costs. Last year, an outbreak linked to contaminated cantaloupe in the United States sickened 146 and killed 30. In 2011, another outbreak in Germany that was eventually linked to contaminated sprouts, sickened more than 4,000 and caused at least 50 deaths. Foodborne disease outbreak response is a critical part of reducing the consequences of outbreaks that will occur in the future. If public health officials can more quickly recognize when a foodborne illness outbreak has occurred and identify the food causing the outbreak, lives can be saved and economic losses averted. The lessons learned from outbreak investigations can be used by industry and government to address the underlying causes of contamination that lead to illness, thus making food safer for everyone.
The Center for Biosecurity of UPMC produced this report to catalyze improvements in the country's ability to respond to large foodborne disease outbreaks. We analyzed the existing data and studies on foodborne illness outbreak response, identified emerging trends, and interviewed dozens of federal and state level officials and experts from industry, professional organizations, academia, and relevant international organizations. The report puts forth a series of recommendations to accelerate and strengthen responses to foodborne illness outbreaks in the US.
Findings
1. Foodborne illness outbreaks continue to impose enormous health and economic burdens in the US.
Foodborne diseases cause significant morbidity and mortality in the US, sickening more than 40 million people and causing 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths each year.1 Medical expenses combined with lost productivity from foodborne illness cost upwards of $77 billion annually.2 Compared to the significant health and economic tolls associated with foodborne illnesses, the level of resources devoted to preventing and responding to such outbreaks is quite small.
2. Effective surveillance for and rapid response to foodborne illness outbreaks are critical to overall preparedness.
In addition to helping to mitigate the consequences of accidental contamination of the food supply, effective surveillance and rapid response to foodborne disease outbreaks can help improve overall readiness for other public health emergencies. The same surveillance systems and public health investigation approaches used to conduct routine outbreak investigations will likely be the country's first response to deliberate contamination of the food supply. Therefore, maintaining state and local health departments' capacity to respond is a necessary component of preparedness for biological attacks.3
3. National surveillance programs have led to meaningful improvements in the detection of foodborne illness outbreaks and can drive improvements in food safety.
Foodborne disease surveillance programs such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) PulseNet, FoodCORE, and FoodNet have helped to improve response to foodborne illness outbreaks and food safety in general. Improved surveillance has led to the detection of many more foodborne illness outbreaks, including some that have involved just a handful of cases spread out among several states. Investigations in the past decade have resulted in the recall of hundreds of millions of pounds of contaminated products. More importantly, information obtained from outbreak investigations allows identification of previously unrecognized problems in the food supply, giving industry and regulators the information they need to implement changes to ensure safer food products.
4. Determining the source of foodborne illness outbreaks remains the top response challenge and will likely become harder as the complexity of the food supply increases.
Linking a known case of gastrointestinal illness to the ingestion of a specific contaminated food product continues to be a major challenge in responding to foodborne illness outbreaks. In nearly all outbreaks, public health agencies rely on interviews of individual case patients to determine what foods they may have consumed around the estimated date of infection. Food histories are typically incomplete and insufficient to identify the source in time to make a difference. In addition, the complexity of the food system makes tracking down a single contaminated ingredient difficult.
5. Heterogeneity in states' capacities to detect and respond to outbreaks creates national vulnerabilities.
Local, regional, and state health departments have differing capabilities, budget priorities, and procedures. There is also a wide range in the speed and frequency with which states initiate foodborne illness outbreak investigations. States that are considered leaders in the field of foodborne illness outbreak response consistently commit to 3 response components: (1) they rapidly interview all patients reported to the health department as having been infected with a pathogen that is commonly associated with foodborne disease; (2) they pay for a courier services to transport specimens from clinical labs to public health laboratories for faster testing and analysis; and (3) they conduct strain-typing tests on all tracked organisms in the recommended time frame.
6. The increased adoption of culture-independent diagnostic testing by the clinical sector threatens to undermine early detection of foodborne illness outbreaks.
In recent years the advent of laboratory-based surveillance programs has greatly improved the speed and frequency with which foodborne illness outbreaks are detected in the US, but there are serious concerns about the viability of current surveillance approaches. This is because changing trends in clinical medicine have led to increased use of diagnostic tests that do not require isolation and culturing of pathogens. This change is causing a decline in the availability of clinical isolates on which PulseNet and other public health surveillance programs depend. Without clinical isolates, PulseNet will not function, and without PulseNet, our foodborne illness response efforts would be seriously degraded.
7. Tapping nontraditional data sources may help improve detection and response to outbreaks.
Persistent challenges in determining the source of foodborne illness outbreaks have prompted interest in new sources of data to aid in outbreak investigations. The most commonly cited example of this is health departments' growing use of data contained in shoppers' club cards. Other valuable nontraditional data may come from analysis of food distribution pathways, food consumption and marketing surveys, coordination with industry, and crowd-sourced information.
8. Better integration of existing surveillance programs is necessary to improve outbreak detection and response.
Improved access to existing foodborne illness outbreak information, such as that which exists at the CDC, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), is necessary to improve the speed and accuracy with which foodborne illness outbreaks are detected and their sources identified. Several high-profile outbreaks have led to a dedicated effort to improve communication and information sharing at the national level, but more integration of these systems is needed.
9. Federal funding cuts are expected to compromise the public health system's ability to respond to foodborne illness outbreaks.
Since 2005, there has been a net decline in the amount of federal funding available to support public health preparedness, while at the same time, state governments have drastically reduced their investments in public health.4 As a result, the capacity of state and local public health agencies to investigate and respond to foodborne illness outbreaks has been reduced. Federal support was cited as critical to enabling state and local practitioners to investigate foodborne illness outbreaks and identify leads. The consequence of planned cuts to state and local public health preparedness programs and of reduced funding for the key foodborne illness outbreak response systems we rely on across the country will be slower recognition of major foodborne disease outbreaks and the delayed ability - or even inability - to identify the contaminated foods that are responsible. Such an outcome threatens to exacerbate the economic consequences of the loss of consumer confidence in the food supply and to increase unnecessary severe illness and loss of life from foodborne illness.
10. The Food Safety Modernization Act has the potential to significantly improve the safety of the US food supply, but it will likely do little to improve public health response to foodborne illness outbreaks.
The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) seeks to improve the safety of food produced or consumed in the United States by enhancing measures to prevent or detect food contamination closer to the source of production.5 If fully implemented and funded, FSMA will likely reduce the consumption of contaminated food, which should reduce the number of outbreaks. Congress should be commended for passing this food safety legislation,6 but there is still a need to strengthen systems for detecting and responding to foodborne illness outbreaks. First, implementation of FSMA has been slowed by delays in the rulemaking process and by lack of funding. Second, even if fully implemented, it is not likely that FSMA will protect the food supply sufficiently to reduce the need for robust outbreak surveillance and response systems. Third, although the law contains some requirements for improving foodborne disease outbreak surveillance and response capacity at local, state, and federal levels, efforts on this front to date have been small and insufficient compared with what is needed. As a first priority, FSMA should be fully implemented and funded, including critical provisions to improve public health capacity, but measures beyond FSMA are also needed to address detection and response vulnerabilities highlighted elsewhere in this report.
Recommendations
1. The US government should fund the development of next-generation technologies that provide rapid diagnosis while preserving the capacity to identify and resolve large outbreaks.
Existing foodborne illness outbreak surveillance programs depend on testing pathogens that are isolated from cultures of clinical specimens. Increased use of diagnostic approaches that do not rely on culture-based approaches is reducing the number of isolates submitted to public health laboratories. Although a number of administrative patches to this problem have been suggested - for example, requiring that clinical laboratories perform additional culture-based testing on positive samples - many of these options are probably not feasible in the long term given efforts to reduce healthcare costs. A new technological solution is needed.
2. Congress should restore funding to state health departments.
Cuts to federal funding and declines in state budgets threaten to reverse critical improvements in detection and response to multistate foodborne illness outbreaks and to national preparedness for other public health emergencies. Increases in the complexity of the food system will require more, not less, intensive public health investigations. This will not happen with the coming budget reductions. To prevent the further erosion of the gains made since 2001, the US should restore funding for these programs to at least 2005 levels. This is a small but important investment relative to the substantial health and economic losses caused by foodborne illness outbreaks. Even small increases in funding for health departments for these programs (<$1 million per state) could substantially increase the country's ability to respond to and resolve large foodborne illness outbreaks.
3. The US should develop a foodborne illness outbreak response network that taps the expertise and data that exist in the private sector.
The increasing complexity of food production and distribution requires greater information exchange among public health and industry officials during outbreaks than ever before to improve the speed and accuracy with which causes of outbreaks are identified. Most public health agencies rely on federal agencies as their primary liaison with the private sector, but the resulting information is often insufficient for investigation and containment of foodborne illness outbreaks. State and local public health agencies need direct connections to the private sector.
4. Congress should adequately fund and agencies should fully implement FSMA, including provisions for strengthening surveillance and response to outbreaks.
Congress should adequately fund FSMA, and agencies should work quickly to fully implement this act. Although FDA and CDC have made significant progress in implementing FSMA provisions relating to outbreak response, full implementation has been unnecessarily slowed by funding shortages and belated rulemaking, leading to substantial delays. Congress should appropriate funds to meet FSMA's objectives to enhance disease surveillance by increasing coordination among local, state, and federal disease surveillance systems as well as by developing and implementing strategies for enhancing capacities at the state and local levels.
5. The US government should improve integration of existing foodborne illness surveillance efforts.
A first priority for improving surveillance for foodborne illness outbreaks should be to improve the integration of the food-related surveillance initiatives that exist across the federal government. There are many different, separate national surveillance systems that, if integrated, could provide a better understanding of the occurrence and possible causes of foodborne illness outbreaks. Federal agencies should digitally connect and automate the comparisons of data from the food, animal, and human health surveillance programs that are operated by CDC, FDA, and USDA, which may provide an earlier indication of a link between human and animal infections. At the very least, there should be a way to directly compare isolate patterns that are in animal and human health surveillance programs. CDC's PulseNet and USDA's VetNet programs should be linked and equipped to automate analysis of these 2 data streams for evidence of similarities that may indicate a common exposure.
The US government should also continue to work to improve public health officials' access to data from healthcare providers, which would expedite their response to foodborne illness outbreaks. In many places, reporting of foodborne diseases from the clinical sector continues to be incomplete or delayed. As the nation builds a national framework for electronic health records (EHRs), there is a great opportunity to develop critical connections between public health and healthcare to enable earlier detection of cases of gastrointestinal illness that may have been caused by consumption of contaminated food. In particular, EHR development efforts should focus on expediting disease reporting by clinical laboratories to public health agencies.

Produce industry releases cantaloupe food safety guidance
Source : http://www.agra-net.com/portal2/fcn/home.jsp?template=newsarticle&artid=20018030138&pubid=ag096
By agra-net.com (Mar 07, 2013)
Just nine days after FDA announced it would begin new inspections of U.S. cantaloupe packinghouses, the produce industry has released a food safety guide for companies that grow, harvest, sort, pack, process or ship cantaloupes and netted melons.
On Feb. 25, FDA notified cantaloupe businesses that investigators will be inspecting U.S. packinghouses during the 2013 growing season in light of recent outbreaks (see FCN March 1, 2013, Page 10). "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," said Michael Landa, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.

China Plans Revamp of Railways, Energy, Food Safety Ministries
Source : http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-03-09/china-restructures-energy-regulation-in-government-overhaul/
By Bloomberg News (Mar 10, 2013)
China plans to revamp government bodies responsible for energy, railways and food safety as the country’s new leaders seek to cut red tape and graft in the biggest top-level reorganization since 2008.
The Ministry of Railways will be split and the food and drug regulator will given more power in a bid to improve safety, according to a plan announced yesterday. Maritime law enforcement will be brought under one body as China tussles with neighbors including Japan and Vietnam over territorial claims.
The changes may allow Xi Jinping, set to take over as China’s president on March 14, to assert greater control over vital sectors of an economy that grew last year at its slowest pace since 1999. After the government swelled under outgoing leader Hu Jintao, Xi may be seeking to devolve power to state- owned companies and give ministries a greater regulatory role.
“Every 10 years a new generation of leaders come to power and at least in the beginning want to show everyone they want to make a change,” Ding Xueliang, a professor at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who teaches Chinese politics, said by telephone. “There is more hope now because there’s increasing domestic pressure and greater international challenges, and the sense of crisis among the new leaders is more striking than before.”
Maritime Law
The State Oceanic Administration will now oversee the coast guard, the fisheries enforcement command and the maritime anti- smuggling unit, which had all been under different administrations, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Tensions between China and its neighbors in the South China Sea have spurred concern that competing territorial claims will disrupt economic relations between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the group’s largest trading partner.
The railway ministry’s administrative duties will be transferred to the Ministry of Transportation and commercial operations will be spun off to form a new company, according to the plan. The reorganization won’t affect investment, Railways Minister Sheng Guangzu told reporters in Beijing yesterday.
The reorganization of the rail ministry comes almost two years after a high-speed train crash killed 40 people near the eastern Chinese city of Wenzhou. A government investigation blamed the July 2011 disaster on mismanagement and design flaws, and former Rail Minister Liu Zhijun was among officials held responsible. Liu, who was ousted on corruption allegations, was later expelled from the Communist Party.
Biggest Issuer
The rail ministry is the nation’s biggest issuer of corporate notes, with 2.66 trillion yuan ($428 billion) of liabilities, larger than Denmark’s economy. It has 2 million employees.
The National People’s Congress is scheduled to approve the plan March 14, according to an agenda for the annual meeting. That’s the day Xi is expected to take the presidency as the country wraps up a once-a-decade leadership transition. On March 5, outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao set a 2013 economic-growth target of 7.5 percent, unchanged from last year when actual expansion slowed to 7.8 percent.
The changes announced yesterday mark the seventh time the government has tried to restructure ministries in 30 years, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. Several overlapping bodies remain, such as ministries for agriculture and water resources and another minister-level body that administers forests.
Same Agencies
“I have looked at restructuring for three decades and I keep seeing the same agencies,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, head of the department of government and international studies at Hong Kong Baptist University. “There’s an impression of deja vu.”
In other changes, the National Energy Administration will take over power-market regulation. The administration is currently a branch of the National Development and Reform Commission, the nation’s top economic planner, and oversees the oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy sectors.
Securing the natural resources needed to fuel China’s economic growth has been a priority for the ruling Communist Party, with the cabinet in 2010 forming an energy commission headed by Wen. Chinese companies announced more than $25 billion of overseas energy acquisitions last year, a 39 percent increase from 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
A new general administration will be responsible for overseeing the safety of food and drugs, according to yesterday’s plan. Other changes include merging the press and broadcasting regulators and combining family planning with the health ministry. The report showed the People’s Bank of China will remain within the State Council.
Wen said in his annual work report to the National People’s Congress on March 5 that China will reform and perfect the nation’s safety supervision system for food and drugs. During his tenure, the government faced safety scares ranging from contaminated milk to chicken meat with excessive levels of antibiotics.

World's best restaurant poisons diners
Source : http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/1745036/Worlds-best-restaurant-poisons-diners
By World News Australia (Mar 10, 2013)
Noma, the world's No. 1 restaurant, has offered to reimburse dozens of diners who suffered food poisoning.
Noma, the world's top-ranked restaurant, has offered to reimburse dozens of diners who suffered food poisoning.
Denmark's two-Michelin-star Noma restaurant said on Saturday that tests had shown the poisoning was caused by the stomach bug norovirus, which was brought in by a staff member.
Sixty-three customers fell ill over five days, health officials said on Friday.
Noma said customers could choose between a refund or a free meal, if they dared to return. A menu at Noma costs 1,500 kroner ($A250). Drinks are extra.
The restaurant has been ranked No. 1 in the world by Restaurant magazine for the past three years.
Inspectors from the Danish food ministry criticised the restaurant for not alerting authorities quickly enough and for failing to take adequate action after the worker fell ill.
Noma blamed a delay in disinfecting the restaurant's kitchen on internal communication problems.
Even when members of two separate dining parties complained by email, and one employee reported being ill after handling food, no measures were taken the next day.

GFPI Vice President to Speak in Food Safety Webinar
Source : http://www.ourmidland.com/prweb/article_8c87a034-53a9-5281-b746-3a1e54eb67b0.html
By the Midland Daily News Midland Daily News (Mar 10, 2013)
Dr. Preston Hicks, Vice President of Resource Development and Evaluation at the Global Food Protection Institute (GFPI), will speak during a March 14 webinar on “Food Safety & Technology: What’s Next for 2013.”
Battle Creek, MI (PRWEB) March 10, 2013
Dr. Preston Hicks, Vice President of Resource Development and Evaluation at the Global Food Protection Institute (GFPI), will speak during a March 14 webinar on “Food Safety & Technology: What’s Next for 2013.”
The webinar, scheduled for 2 p.m. EST, will be hosted by Food Manufacturing, which publishes two daily e-mail newsletters and nine annual print editions and serves as a leading voice in the $560 million food manufacturing industry.
Dr. Hicks will be joined by Christian Hutter, Senior Vice President, Manufacturing & Distribution, at Junction Solutions, which offers software to food and beverage businesses; Jim Neale, Partner at McGuireWoods, an international firm specializing in business law; and Krystal Gabert, Editor of Food Manufacturing and moderator for the webinar.
“The right technology is key to preventing foodborne illness,” said Hicks. “I look forward to discussing the latest issues in food safety and how advancements in technology can meet those needs across the food sector.”
About the Global Food Protection Institute
The Global Food Protection Institute (GFPI), established in 2009 in Battle Creek, Mich., is dedicated to protecting the world’s food supply by providing FDA-aligned training, advancing new food technologies and convening forums for the transformative exchange of ideas about food protection.
GFPI provides an overarching intellectual and organizational umbrella that empowers its three distinct food-protection initiatives:
.;Building training systems, providing evidence-based curriculum, and delivering training for U.S. and international public- and private-sector food-safety professionals that spans their entire careers, through its International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI).
.;Facilitating the development, commercialization, introduction, and adoption of novel food-protection technologies through its Technology Initiative.
.;Convening food-industry thought leaders and innovators to identify and solve pressing problems in food safety, food protection, and food security with our Symposia series.

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Royal Caribbean Vision of the Sea Has Norovirus Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/royal-caribbean-vision-of-the-sea-has-norovirus-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 09, 2013)
The Royal Caribbean cruise ship Vision of the Sea has reported an outbreak of norovirus that has sickened at least 105 people, according to the San Francisco Gate. The ship had 1,991 passengers on board and 772 crew members, which means 5.3% of the passengers were sickened.
The ship docked in Port Everglades, Florida on Friday March 7, 2013 and was thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before its next journey. Passengers “responded well to treatment”, according to the company.
Norovirus is an extremely contagious disease that causes vomiting, stomach pain, and severe diarrhea. Most people recover within a few days, but some can be severely dehydrated and require hospitalization. Other complications can include swelling of the brain, seizures, hypovolemic shock, kidney failure, and coma.
Norovirus is spread through contaminated food and water, touching contaminated surfaces, and through person-to-person contact. The virus spreads quickly when people are in closed places, such as nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships. Most norovirus outbreaks happen from November to April in the U.S. Last year there were five outbreaks on cruise ships, including two on Celebrity cruises, two on the Princess Line, and one on the Cunard Line.

World' Best Restaurant; Sickens 67 Customers in One Week
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/worlds-best-restaurant-sickens-67-customers/
By foodsafetynews (Mar 09, 2013)
The formal review by Denmark;s food safety agency, Fødevarestyrelsen, has found that 67 diners at the tiny Noma restaurant suffered from nausea and diarrhea after they contracted norovirus at the establishment between Feb. 12 and 16.
Were it not for the fact the Noma was named for each of the past three years as the world’s best restaurant by Restaurant magazine, the finding probably would have gone without much notice.
The 12-seat restaurant entertained just 78 patrons during the week when the illnesses were occurring. Noma’s kitchen, which gained attention for its cutting edge equipment did not have hot water for employees to wash their hands, according to the food safety agency.
Noma’s 32-year-old Chef Rene Redzepi gained attention for using only food native to the Nordic region, including local and wild food he often forages himself.
Before it made its customers sick, reservations at Noma were required months in advance and the menu without drinks put one’s charges in the $260 per seating range.

Rep. Markey Introduces SAFE Seafood Act to Combat Fish Fraud
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/03/rep-market-introduces-safe-seafood-act-to-combat-fish-fraud/
By foodsafetynews (Mar 08, 2013)
U.S. Rep.  Ed Markey (D-MA.) on Wednesday re-introduced a new, bipartisan version of a previously-introduced bill to combat widespread seafood fraud “that cheats fishermen and consumers, while posing health risks to pregnant mothers and others,” according to Markey.
The bill comes on the heels of recent studies that found, on average, 33 percent of the time seafood is mislabeled in restaurants, supermarkets, and other retail locations across the United States. This second version of the legislation “reflects intensive discussions with fishermen, consumer and conservation groups, and federal agencies that improved the original legislation,” according to a statement put out by Markeys office.
“Fish fraud is a national problem that needs a national solution. This bill finally tells the seafood swindlers and fish fraudsters that we will protect America’s fishermen and consumers from Massachusetts to Alaska,” said Rep. Markey, the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee. “From tackle to table, this bill makes the entire seafood supply chain more transparent and trustworthy.”
A summary of the bill notes that the Government Accountability Office estimates that only 2 percent of seafood imported into the U.S. is inspected, and that only 0.001 percent is inspected for seafood fraud. “This puts U.S. consumers at risk of being swindled and sickened. It also puts U.S. fishermen at risk of having the prices they receive for their catch undercut by inferior and falsely labeled foreign product,” read the summary.
According to Markey’s office:
To prevent seafood fraud, Rep. Markey’s SAFE Seafood Act, formally the Safety and Fraud Enforcement for Seafood Act, requires information that is already collected by U.S. fishermen — such as species name, catch location, and harvest method — to ‘follow the fish,’ and be made available to consumers. It also requires foreign exporters of seafood to the United States to provide equivalent documentation.
The bill also expands the ability of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to refuse entry of unsafe or fraudulent seafood shipments, and allows NOAA to levy civil penalties against violators under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
In addition to the fraud prevention measures, the SAFE Seafood Act addresses concerns over seafood safety raised by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) in a 2011 report by requiring cooperation and progress reporting. The report found that a lack of coordination between FDA and NOAA is resulting in needless duplication of seafood safety inspections at a time when resources are only allowing for 2 percent of seafood imports to be examined for safety.
Rep. Markey was joined in the legislation by original co-sponsors Walter Jones (R-NC), John Tierney (D-MA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Lois Capps (D-CA) and Jo Bonner (R-AL.).
Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) will introduce companion legislation in the Senate.

McDonald introduces traceability across all food products
Source : http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/industry-and-economy/marketing/mcdonalds-introduces-traceability-across-all-food-products/article4491818.ece?homepage=true&ref=wl_home
By The Hindu Business Line (Mar 08, 2013)
McDonald’s India can now keep track of the products it sources from 40 different suppliers across the country. To do this, it uses a traceability system to record the movement of each ingredient that goes into making its burgers, a senior official said on Friday.
Every day, McDonald’s uses 8,500-9,000 buns, 3,000-3,500 kg of tomatoes, 2,000 kg of iceberg lettuce and 5,500 slices of cheese. These are delivered to 255 restaurants across India using 60-70 refrigerated trucks.
To maintain quality, these products can now be traced back along each step of the production and transportation process to their point of origin — the farms/ units from where they are sourced — right down to the date of harvest or production batch, Amit Jatia, Vice-Chairman, Hardcastle Restaurants Pvt Ltd, told Business Line. Hardcastle operates and manages McDonald’s 155 restaurants in the country’s western and southern regions, employing 7,000 employees, and serving 16.7 crore customers annually.
Using traceability systems, McDonald’s can track the temperature and location of any product being supplied to a restaurant anywhere in India, in real time and with accuracy (tracking temperature variations as small as 1 degree C). The system allows the company to identify where and when the produce temperature rose outside of preset parameters, and take immediate preventive action.
Traceability, he said, ensures not only consistency in the taste of food at McDonald’s but also puts in place stringent international standards of food safety and quality. If offers customers transparency on food quality and allows a specific batch to be identified, isolated and removed in instances where there is a discrepancy in quality standards.
It ensures the implementation of preventive processes within the McDonald’s supply chain, with significant savings in terms of product waste.
Each burger undergoes over 40 separate tests throughout the chain to ensure that the food served is inspected for safety, he added.
In the near future, McDonald’s will deploy brand extensions such as McDelivery, Drive Thrus, Kiosks and 24x7 operations, and will focus on re-imaging its restaurants with fresh and contemporary designs.
At present, the 16-year-old McDonald’s India has a network of over 300 restaurants across the country. Currently it procures 46,000 tonnes of potato from Gujarat. Its potato supplier in Gujarat, McCain, plans to double the acreage under the tuber to 8,000 acres next year under contract farming.

Ambassel Shuttered After Being Linked to Seattle E. coli Illnesses
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/ambassel-shuttered-after-being-linked-to-seattle-e-coli-illnesses/
By  Bill Marler (Mar 7, 2013)
Ambassel, an Ethiopian restaurant in Seattle on Jefferson and Twelfth,  has been shut down by the Seattle King County Department of Health for these violations:
.; Foods not protected from cross-contamination
.; Poor personal hygiene practices: insufficient handwashing
.; Equipment not properly sanitized
.; Handwashing facilities not working
.; Imminent health hazard: establishment linked to a foodborne illness outbreak
The foodborne illness outbreak is actually an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak and two are reported ill thus far.  One of the ill has retained us.  The interesting fact is that I represented her 20 years ago in another local E. coli outbreak – Jack in the Box.



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When Playing Bridge, Watch the Sigella
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/when-playing-bridge-watch-the-sigella/
By  Bill Marler (Mar 7, 2013)
The CDC in MMWR, reports that in May 2012, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health’s Acute Communicable Disease Control Unit and Environmental Health, Food, and Milk Program investigated an outbreak of shigellosis associated with a private bridge club. This investigation documented the first known transmission of Shigella sonnei with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin in the United States.
Cases were defined as an illness clinically compatible with shigellosis in a patient or S. sonnei isolated from stool of a person with an epidemiologic link to the bridge club during May 22–26, 2012. Investigators attempted to interview all bridge club workers and members who had visited the bridge club during the week of May 22; they collected stool specimens from workers who handled food and from workers and members with diarrhea who had not already submitted a stool specimen for culture at a health facility. Thirty-nine cases were identified among club members with diarrhea and four among club workers; of the four workers, two, including one who handled food, reported no symptoms. The average age of affected persons was 75.3 years (range: 54–98 years); 55% were female. Among those with symptoms, the duration of illness averaged 5.9 days (range: 1–14 days). Common symptoms included diarrhea in 95% of patients, abdominal cramps in 70%, and fever in 56%. Thirty-one (72%) persons sought medical care, and 10 (23%) were hospitalized. No specific exposures implicated a source for the outbreak.
Among the 43 cases, 14 were culture-confirmed; 10 isolates underwent pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), yielding indistinguishable patterns. Four isolates submitted to CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) displayed resistance to streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. Unlike most Shigella isolates tested by NARMS, these isolates also showed elevated azithromycin minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of >16 µg/mL and harbored a plasmid-encoded macrolide resistance gene, mphA.
CDC’s PulseNet identified two additional isolates indistinguishable from the outbreak PFGE pattern. One was from a man in Pennsylvania aged 23 years who had visited Los Angeles in April, and the other from a man in Hawaii aged 53 years who visited Los Angeles during April and May; both men were hospitalized with diarrhea. Neither case was epidemiologically linked to the bridge club or to each other.
Although sporadic cases of shigellosis caused by Shigella strains with increased azithromycin MICs have occurred, this is the first outbreak documented in the United States and might indicate increasing circulation of such strains. Illnesses in this outbreak tended to be severe; however, the affected population was much older than the general U.S. population. Clinical management of such illnesses is likely to be complex; although azithromycin currently is recommended for treatment of infections caused by multidrug-resistant Shigella, options for alternative treatment among children with such infections primarily include parenteral antimicrobial medications.

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Wen highlights environment and food safety
Source : http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2013npc/2013-03/06/content_16281205.htm
By Wu Wencong, Zhu Zhe and Shan Juan (Mar 06, 2013)
Environmental protection and food safety were highlighted among issues concerning people's livelihood in Premier Wen Jiabao's Government Work Report delivered to the National People's Congress on Tuesday.
With dense smog and haze covering more than 10 provinces five times in January, and half of the country's groundwater polluted as revealed by media reports in February, environmental issues have triggered continued anxiety.
Wen addressed the issue in his suggestions to the country's new leaders.
"The government should take solid preventive and regulating measures to promote changes in the mode of production and lifestyle, should be determined to solve prominent environmental pollution problems that concern the public interest, such as airborne, water or soil pollution, and should give hope to the public with practical action: improving environmental quality and safeguarding people's health," he said.
He also mentioned the government's progress on environmental protection in the past five years, such as revising the ambient air quality standard and including a monitoring index of fine particles in it, total chemical oxygen demand - a key index for water quality - falling by 15.7 percent, and total sulfur dioxide emissions falling by 17.5 percent.
Cao Xianghong, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering and vice-president of China Petrochemical Corp, or Sinopec, said: "Though energy consumption per unit of GDP has fallen by 17.2 percent in the past five years, as mentioned in Premier Wen's report, total energy consumption that continues to grow still poses a threat to environmental protection, especially the prevention and control of airborne pollution."
Qin Dahe, a CPPCC member and meteorological expert, said: "The requirement for development and environmental protection means that the country must change its mode of economic development."
While attending a group discussion at the National People's Congress session on Tuesday afternoon, Health Minister Chen Zhu said: "Environmental health, such as clean air and water, is the foundation and backbone of public health. We're encouraged that Premier Wen Jiabao said in the work report that concrete measures will be taken to improve the environment, such as on water and air, to give the public hope."
Chen said China has seen several so-called cancer villages emerge in recent years - villages that see an unusually high incidence of cancers possibly caused by pollution.
More research is needed on a link between smog and lung cancer, but statistics from hospitals have shown there are increases in acute respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases when there is heavy smog, Chen told China Daily.
Wen also referred a great deal to food safety while delivering the Government Work Report, conceding that the country still faces many challenges on food and drug safety. He suggested the system for food and drug safety regulation and supervision be reformed and improved.
Yan Weixing, deputy director of the safety committee under the China Food Safety Risk Assessment Center and a CPPCC member, said: "To improve food safety management, the authorities should first set relative standards and install more professional and focused law enforcement and supervision teams."

Secondary E. coli Cases Can Kill
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/secondary-e-coli-cases-can-kill/
By Bill Marler (Mar 05, 2013)
In early May 2009, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) identified a cluster of E. coli O157:H7 infections.  See Email re: Cuyahoga County E. coli, PulseNet Cluster 0905HE…, Attachment No. 1.  Bacterial isolates obtained from the stool cultures of three case-patients were a two-enzyme genetic match using pulse-field gel electrophoreses (PFGE).  See May 26, 2009 E. coli O157:H7 Cuyahoga County PFGE, Attachment No. 2.  The PFGE pattern combination was uncommon, making it easier for the ODH to suspect a common source for the three cases of illness.  See Email re: Cuyahoga County E. coli, PulseNet Cluster 0905HE…, Attachment No. 1.
The ODH began an epidemiologic investigation into this cluster of infections.  Investigators determined that all three cases had consumed ground beef during the week before symptom onset.  (Ground beef is a well-recognized vehicle for E. coli O157:H7.)  Two of the three case-patients ate ground beef prepared and served at the Veterans of Foreign Wars 7647 (VFW) hall during the week prior to disease onset.  One case-patient consumed a rare hamburger at Deeker’s restaurant located in Mentor, Ohio.
John Strike, Abigail Fenstermaker’s grandfather, reported that he ate “chipped” (ground) beef served at the VFW on April 10 and April 13.  The other case patient reported eating a hamburger at the VFW on April 10.  See ODH Standard Inspection Report, Attachment No. 3. Invoice records show the VFW received shipments of 3S-brand lean ground beef from Brandt Meat Company on April 2, and April 9, 2009.  Brand Meat also delivered two shipments each day of “Natural Klub Burger” to the VFW.  See Brandt Meat Company Invoices, Attachment No. 4.
The third case-patient ate a “red burger” at Deeker’s restaurant on April 10, 2009.  The ODH found that Deeker’s also received Klub Burgers from Brandt Meat Company.  See Email re: E. coli Cluster 0905 OH EXH-1, Attachment No. 5.  This finding that a common meat supplier provided meat to both the VFW and to Deeker’s prompted a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) investigation of the meat manufacturers that supplied Brandt Meat Company.  The USDA investigation found the source processors of the meat used to make the suspect ground beef was Valley Meats LLC.  As a result, a recall was announced of Klub ground beef products, 3S brand ground beef products, and other non-brand specified ground beef products.  See ODH May 21, 2009 Recall Announcement, Attachment No. 6. See also May 21, 2008 Recall Announcement from USDA/FSIS, Attachment No. 7.
Ohio health officials later identified a fourth member of the outbreak.  Abigail Fenstermaker, John Strike’s grand-daughter, also tested positive for the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7.  She was noted to be a “secondary” infection.  In summary, an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 associated with consumption of Valley Meats LLC occurred in northern Ohio in April 2009 resulting in a USDA recall.  Three primary cases, including John Strike, were identified in April.  A secondary case, Abigail Fenstermaker, was diagnosed in early May 2009.
Valley Meats was strictly liable to the Fenstermakers for the death of their daughter, Abigail.  More specifically, under Ohio law, the manufacturer of a defective product is strictly liable for all damages proximately caused by the product.  Ohio Rev. Code. Ann. §2307.73(A).  A product is defective where it deviates in any material way from “design specifications, formula, or performance standards of the manufacturer, or from otherwise identical units manufactured to the same design specifications.”  Ohio Rev. Code. Ann. §2307.74.  All ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 is per se adulterated.  Kriefall v. Excel, 265 Wis.2d 476, 665 N.W.2d 417 (2003) cert. denied, 124 S. Ct. 1656 (2004); Texas Food Indus. Ass’n v. Espy, 870 F.Supp. 143 (W.D. Tex. 1994) (upholding USDA retail-sampling and zero-tolerance E. coli O157:H7 policy.)  There was, as a result, no question that the ground beef that Valley Meats sold was defective.
The only remaining inquiry, then, was the causal link between Valley Meats’ defective product and Abigail Fenstermaker’s death.  That link was beyond dispute – Abigail’s E. coli O157:H7 infection and subsequent death directly resulted from her exposure to her grandfather after he had developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection.  Mr. Strike’s E. coli O157:H7 infection was plainly linked to his consumption of Valley Meats’ ground beef.[1]
At the time of his illness, John Strike lived with his daughter and her family, including his granddaughter, Abigail Fenstermaker.  On numerous occasions, the last being on May 3, 2008, Abigail visited her ill grandfather at the hospital.  As noted above, John Strike had been hospitalized after consuming ground beef manufactured by Valley Meats.  He then subsequently developed an E. coli O157:H7 infection, with a strain genetically matching two other Ohio residents.  Both of these other ill persons had also consumed ground beef manufactured by Valley Meats.
On May 8, 2009, granddaughter, Abigail Fenstermaker, became ill with symptoms consistent with an E. coli infection.  A stool specimen collected from Abby on May 11, 2009 was positive for E. coli O157:H7, and PFGE analyses confirmed that Abigail was infected with the Valley Meat “outbreak strain.”  See May 26, 2009 E. coli O157:H7 Cuyahoga County PFGE, Attachment No. 2.
She died as a result of her infection on May 17, 2009.[2]
See Abigail’s video at Occupy Food Safety.
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[1]           Court’s have previously recognized that food manufacturers are liable to those who are injured through “secondary” exposure in foodborne illness outbreaks.  Almquist v. Finley Sch. Dist. No. 53, 114 Wn. App. 395, 57 P.3d 1191 (2002).
[2]           Outbreaks of foodborne illness nearly always involve both primary and secondary cases, meaning that secondary cases are neither unusual nor rare.  More importantly, a secondary case is, by definition, part of an outbreak.  To an epidemiologist, the person who defines the outbreak, what is definitive is whether a person is infected with the outbreak strain.  Person-to-person transmission of infectious bacteria within a family is well-documented.  See, e.g., K. Ludwig, “Outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infection in a Large Family,” Eur. J. Clin. Microb. Infect. Dis. 16:238-41 (1997).  P. Rowe, “Diarrhea in Close Contacts as a Risk Factor for Childhood Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome,” Epidem. Infect. 110:9-16 (1993).

National Farmers Union, at convention in Springfield, focuses on food safety
Source : http://www.masslive.com/business-news/index.ssf/2013/03/farmers_from_accross_the_country_meet_in.html
By Jim Kinney (Mar 05, 2013)
SPRINGFIELD - Proposed federal food safety regulations could bring federal scrutiny to everyday farm chores as mundane as washing and bagging spinach unless groups like The National Farmers Union can get those rules changed.
"Farmers are here to deliver safe food," said Roger F. Noonan, president of the New England Farmers Union which hosted the 2013 National Farmers Union Convention this week at the MassMutual Center. "We deliver safe food for New England every day. But we believe that these regulations are designed for the large-scale produce packer-shippers. They certainly are one-size-fits-all regulations."
The National Farmers Union, founded 111 years ago, prides itself on representing small-scale family farms across the country, Noonan said.
Large farms don't have livestock like family farms so they don't have to worry about manure-handling regulations. Big farms have staff to keep up with paperwork and regulations, Noonan said.
He owns Middle Branch Farm in New Boston, N.H., where he grows organic vegetables and raises some livestock.
Shelly L. Burgess, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, said the goal of the rules is simply to keep people safe from food-borne disease. She said there are some exceptions for small farms, exceptions the Farmers Union says don't go far enough.
The convention drew 500 delegates from all over the county including ranchers from Montana, Iowa corn farmers and a woman from Providence, R.I., who grows vegetables on two vacant city lots, said Catherine M. Snyder of Shelburne Falls, administrative director of the New England Farmers Union.
Members also networked and attended seminars, including one on rural broadband Internet access.
Besides food safety, they took legislative positions calling for help for the commercial fishing industry and for conservation measures to be included in any new federal farm bill.
The group also promoted young farmers by inviting about 20 teens from around the country. The average age of a farmer is 57, Snyder said.
"And a lot of the young farmers are in New England," she said.
The New England Farmers Union is much younger than the rest of the organization dating only from 2006.
Ida DeFrancesco was a founding member, having grown up in the Farmers Union in South Dakota. She came east to get her degree in biochemistry from Smith College in Northampton and ended up marrying a third-generation vegetable farmer from Wallingford, Conn. Together they now own Farmer Joe's Gardens Farm and Farm Store.
"And I hope I've got the fourth generation coming up. If I'm doing my job right," she said.
She grew up on a farm with wheat, corn, soybeans and cattle.
"Now I teach vegetarians to grow their own food," she said "It's a hoot."

 


                  

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