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FoodHACCP Newsletter
04/08,2013 ISSUE:542

US (CA): Almond industry ready for Food Safety Act
Source : http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=107569#SlideFrame_1
By freshplaza.com (Apr 02, 2013)
The Almond Board of California (ABC) has worked with USDA and leading food-safety experts to develop a food quality and safety plan designed to provide consumers with the safest possible almonds from California.
This program addresses the entire supply chain, recommending practices that encompass good agricultural practices (GAPs), good manufacturing practices (GMPs) in processing plants, and pasteurization.
The new produce safety rule is likely to impact on the industry, as almonds are considered "produce" by the FDA.
The GMPs and preventive controls proposed rule will impact almond handlers. This rule will update the FDA current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) regulations involving processing, packing, and holding of food for human consumption.
The cGMP updates focus primarily on clarifying requirements to protect against contamination and cross contamination, as well as allergens. In addition, focus will be placed on prevention of contamination of food packaging materials.
The rule also establishes a requirement to develop a written food safety plan.
Finally, under the GMPs and preventive controls proposed rule, there will be a requirement for establishing and maintaining records to demonstrate implementation of GMPs and the food safety plan.
Both proposed rules will have exemptions based on meeting FDA definitions of small business. On the farming side, the proposed produce safety rule would not apply to farms with an average three-year value of $25,000 or less. For average three-year sales less than $500,000, modified requirements would apply.
With the almond industry mandatory program for the reduction of Salmonella bacteria on almonds, it is possible that almonds would be exempted from the produce safety rule.
On the handling side, exemptions to the hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls portion of the rule have been proposed for FDA-defined small business and/or low-risk activities. FDA is seeking comments on the definition of small business, and is considering exemptions for those with average annual sales of less than $1,000,000, $500,000, or $250,000. Exemptions to the current good manufacturing practices component of the rule are not being proposed.
It is also clear that whether or not almonds will be exempt from the produce safety rule, FDA will consider farming operations in a similar fashion as food processing facilities with more emphasis placed on GMP-type programs at the farm level to ensure sanitary operations.
Undoubtedly this will require more diligence on the part of the almond grower with greater attention to prevention and control of contamination at the orchard level and during the harvest, transport, and storage of almonds.
Almond handlers will be affected primarily by the need to update their current food safety program and practices to conform to the .;written food safety plan” requirements specified under the new rule as outlined above.
Source: westernfarmpress.com

Improvement in food labelling
Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/health/news/article.cfm?c_id=204&objectid=10875965
By nzherald.co.nz (Apr 07, 2013)
The Government is promising a big improvement in the quality of information on food labels to help consumers make better-informed decisions.
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has signed off a new standard covering health claims made about food.
Kaye says the claims will only be allowed on certain foods and there will be strict enforcement to make sure those claims are backed up by evidence. The Minister says families who want to eat healthier food will be more empowered by the labeling regime.

Sushi, Salmonella and Arkansas 2006
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/sushi-salmonella-and-arkansas-2006/
By Bill Marler (Apr 07, 2013)
Sushi is not what I think about when I am in Arkansas.
On February 13, 2006 a physician in Benton County, Arkansas reported 4 cases of gastroenteritis among area residents to the Benton County Health Unit (BCHU).  All four reported eating at the Sushi King Restaurant in Bentonville just prior to symptom onset.  Laboratory test results of patients.; specimens were pending.  An alert was sent to area health care providers and clinics advising them of a possible foodborne illness outbreak in the community.  Laboratory results confirmed Salmonella Typhimurium (S. Typhimuirum) in patients, and by Friday, February 17 news of the outbreak was broadcast on local television.  The BCHU was inundated with complaints from ill Sushi King patrons.  The Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services (ADHHS) and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) joined the investigation.
BCHU staff collected information from persons reporting gastrointestinal symptoms using a standard interview form.  Information collected included date of restaurant patronage, types of symptoms experienced, date of illness onset, and health care provider contact.  In an effort to identify potential vehicles for illness and the mode of transmission, Sushi King patrons were asked about consumption of various menu items.  Their answers were used to formulate a questionnaire which was administered to individuals selected for participation in a case-control study.
Case finding
Sixty-three confirmed cases and 98 probable cases of S. Typhimurium were epidemiologically linked to Sushi King with onset of illnesses ranging from February 3 to February 19, 2006.  The median incubation was 2 days.  At least five persons were hospitalized.  No deaths resulted from the outbreak.
Case-control study
For the purposes of the case-control study, a case was defined as a person age 5 years or older who had eaten at Sushi King from January 31 to February 17, 2006 with onset of diarrhea within one week of eating at the restaurant.  A confirmed case was a person who was culture confirmed with S. Typhimurium.  Controls were non-ill meal companions or acquaintances of cases who had eaten at Sushi King during the same time frame.  The study questionnaire asked about food items consumed, clinical symptoms, treatment, the date of consumption, and whether or not food was shared.
Fifty-five cases and 18 controls were included in the case-control study.  Onset of illness ranged from February 3 to February 19, 2006.  Consumption of Sushi King California rolls was statistically associated with illness (Odds Ratio 6.0, 95% Confidence Interval 1.7-20.6, p-value=0.003).  When specific ingredients of the crab roll were evaluated, only the imitation crab mix ingredient was statistically associated with illness (Odds Ratio 3.3, 95% Confidence Interval 1.0-10.7, p-value=0.05.)
Environmental Investigation
On February 13 BCHU environmental health specialists conducted an on-site outbreak investigation at Sushi King with follow-up visits on February 15, 17 and March 10.  The restaurant owner agreed to close the restaurant until the source was identified and the outbreak stopped.  Before food service was halted, investigators observed unsafe food handling practices and temperature abuse at the facility.
During a site inspection, an employee working in the kitchen who handles both chicken and crabmeat was seen handling chicken and then other food items in the kitchen without washing his hands.  During inspections, it was noted that food was left at inappropriate temperatures in the kitchen.  Though the owner reports that food was never saved overnight to be served to patrons on the following day, some reports show that various food items were prepared in bulk in the kitchen without being served immediately.
Other errors noted during the February inspections included improper sanitation, improper storage, inadequate hand washing, and temperature abuse.  On February 17 for example, inspectors found that rolls made with sushi rice were improperly cold held.  The rolls were destroyed.  Finally, on March 10 the restaurant received a clean inspection report and was allowed to reopen.
Eight of the 9 Sushi King employees submitted stool specimens for laboratory analysis.  Of the 8 specimens, 5 specimens tested positive for S. Typhimurium.  One worker reported having non-bloody diarrhea; the remaining employees claimed they were asymptomatic.  All employees with laboratory confirmed S. Typhimurium were required to submit two stool specimens free of salmonella before they could return to work.
Summary
Dr. Nicholas Gaffga, Epidemic Intelligence Service officer at the CDC and lead outbreak investigator, concludes that a large outbreak of S. Typhimurium infections was associated with eating at Sushi King.  He identifies consumption an ingredient of the California roll, imitation crab mix, as being associated with illness.  Although Dr. Gaffga does not reach a conclusion as to how the Salmonella bacteria got into the restaurant, he cites improper food storage temperatures, ill food handlers, and food handling procedures as plausible means for the bacteria to multiply and sicken so many individuals.

Hepatitis A, Not a Virus to Take Lightly
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/hepatitis-a-not-a-virus-to-take-lightly/
By Bill Marler (Apr 06, 2013)
While dessert patrons of New York.;s Alta.;s Restaurant line up for preventative vaccines, it is wise to recall a bit of history.
Pennsylvania State health officials first learned of a Hepatitis A outbreak when unusually high numbers of hepatitis A cases were reported in late October 2003. All but one of the initial cases had eaten at the Chi Chi.;s restaurant at the Beaver Valley Mall, in Monaca, Pennsylvania.
Ultimately, at least 565 cases were confirmed. The victims included at least 13 employees of the Chi Chi.;s restaurant, and residents of six other states (identity of the states was not given). Three persons died as a consequence of their hepatitis A illness.  Over 125 were hospitalized.  One man suffered liver failure, which required an emergency transplant.  More than 9,000 persons who had eaten at the restaurant, or who had been exposed to ill persons, were given an injection of immune globulin as prevention against hepatitis A.
Preliminary analysis of a case-control study indicated fresh, green onions were the probable source of this outbreak. Previous hepatitis A outbreaks had been linked to green onions, and had involved patrons of a single restaurant, however this outbreak was unusually large. The FDA issued a statement dated December 9, 2003, reaffirming that this outbreak, as well as others recently, had been associated with eating raw, or undercooked, green onions. The investigation and trace-backs by the state health department, the CDC, and the FDA, confirmed that the green onions had been grown in Mexico.
The viral sequence of the outbreak strain was similar to the viral sequences obtained from persons involved in hepatitis A outbreaks that had occurred in September 2003, in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Green onions had also been implicated in these outbreaks.
Read full summary and reports.
Incubation period for Hepatitis A is 28 days (range: 15–50 days).

Two food poisoning cases related to wild mushrooms
Source : http://7thspace.com/headlines/435497/two_food_poisoning_cases_related_to_wild_mushrooms.html
By 7thspace.com (Apr 06, 2013)
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (April 6) urged the public not to collect and eat wild mushrooms from parks or the countryside.
The call followed two reports of suspected food poisoning involving three patients, who had eaten wild mushrooms picked from country parks.
The first case involved a 74-year-old.
He developed limb numbness, vomiting and diarrhoea about eight hours after eating the wild mushrooms picked from Tai Mo Shan Country Park at home on April 5. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Yan Chai Hospital today. He is now in serious condition.
Another case involved a 48-year-old man and a 47-year-old woman. They developed abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea about 12 hours after eating the wild mushrooms picked from Shing Mun Country Park at home on April 3. They attended the Accident and Emergency Department of Prince of Wales Hospital on the next day and were admitted for treatment.
The female patient is in stable condition. The male patient developed liver failure and was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit on April 5. His condition is critical.
A CHP spokesman advised people not to pick wild mushrooms for consumption as it is difficult to distinguish edible mushroom species from inedible ones.
"Mushroom toxin poisonings are generally acute. The main treatment for this kind of poisoning is only supportive treatment," the spokesman said.
Source: HKSAR Government

World Health Day Reminder: Food Poisoning Causes Hypertension
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/world-health-day-reminder-food-poisoning-causes-hypertension/
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 07, 2013)
Each year, World Health Day, which marks the creation of the World Health Organization (WHO), highlights a public health concern. This year, for WHO.;s 65th anniversary, the theme is hypertension, a major cause of heart disease worldwide.
Being overweight, inactive and having a poor diet that consists of too many foods that are highly processed, low in fiber and high in sodium are major causes of high blood pressure.  But another, lesser known cause is food poisoning.
High blood pressure is one of several long-term health effects that can develop after a case of food poisoning. For example, between 7 to 12 percent of people who contract E.coli infections develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a severe, sometimes life-threatening complication that can lead to kidney failure, stroke or coma. Hospitalization is required to treat HUS. Treatments include fluid replacement, blood or platelet transfusions, plasma exchange and kidney dialysis. Those who recover from HUS after E.coli will sometimes develop high blood pressure. Children, seniors, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems are most at risk for HUS.
A 2012 study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, found that 30 percent of children who developed HUS after E.coli poisoning had hypertension, kidney problems or neurologic symptoms at their 5-year follow-up appointments.  The study, believed to be the largest to study the long-term effets of HUS, followed 619 pediatric patients who developed HUS after E.coli poisoning. Results prompted its authors to conclude: .;Our data strongly suggest that HUS should no longer be viewed as a critical acute disease only.”

Watch: Woman Describes Her Near Death From Listeria Poisoning During Pregnancy
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/watch-woman-describes-her-near-death-from-listeria-poisoning-during-pregnancy/
By Carla Gillespie. (Apr 07, 2013)
Bernadette Jacobs was 32 weeks pregnant with her third child when she contracted Listeria poisoning from a sandwich she ate from a sandwich shop. She nearly died and so did, Kate, the baby girl she delivered.  Their story is one of three documented on video by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to watch the videos, click here.
On a busy night, shuttling between activities and sports practices, Bernadette.;s family stopped at a sandwich shop for dinner. Later that evening, the whole family became sick to their stomachs. Bernadette.;s symptoms lingered, she was short of breath, she was bale to function as she normally did. She went to a doctor and was misdiagnosed. She went to a hospital and was misdiagnosed with a sinus infection. Only when a nurse she happened to know came into the room, talked with her and agreed that something was off did the ball start rolling in the right direction.
Bacterial meningitis had developed from the Listeria infection. Both she and her baby had sepsis. She needed and emergency C-section. Baby Kate was delivered, but there were problems. She was in critical condition, her survival was hour to hour. The doctors told Bernadette Kate had 15 percent chance of living and if she did, she would likely be brain dead.
Kate developed hydocephalus which is sometimes called .;water on the brain.”  Doctors needed to regularly drain the fluid. Kate pushed on. After years of physical therapy four days a week and surgery on her eyes, she began walking at age 3 and half. In the video, she shows off her running skills.
Bernadette stills has issues with her pancreas, scar tissue on her lungs. .;Who knew that  food poisoning could have caused it,” she said. .;I had no idea that getting a take out sandwich could change my life.”
Listeria monocytogenes is the third-leading cause of food poisoning death in the U.S.  Pregnant women are at particular risk as it often causes miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and birth defects.

Your refrigerator: Spring cleaning and food safety
Source : http://www.metro.us/newyork/lifestyle/2013/04/07/your-refrigerator-spring-cleaning-and-food-safety/
By Advertorial Published (April 7, 2013)
Do you know what.;s in your refrigerator? Not everyone does. The outdated sauces, expired dairy products, rotting fruits and veggies, and the bacteria: It.;s all there at one time or another for most people. Now that the clocks have .;sprung” ahead, this is a great time to spring-clean your refrigerator and learn about healthful food storage habits — which will help you keep on track for healthful living.
Keeping Your Fridge Spick-and-Span
Few people actually take the time to really clean their refrigerator, meaning with soap, bleach and hot water. Because germs are introduced to this appliance daily, it is important to routinely clean it just like you would the rest of your home. Clean up spills as soon as they occur, and take the time to wipe down drawers and door trays.
The Right Temperature
Many people don.;t understand the dangers of improper food storage. You can reduce the potential for food-borne illness by keeping your refrigerator running at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, and your freezer at zero degrees or lower. It is easy for temperatures to fluctuate when doors are continually opened, so it.;s a good idea to check the temperature now and then to make sure the thermostat is set properly.
Where.;s the Beef?
The location of your food in the fridge is key to food safety.
• Keep your meats and dairy on the lower shelves. You don.;t want raw meat juices to drip onto your produce or cooked foods.
• Keep fruit and veggies either in produce drawers or on higher shelves, along with cooked foods. Local farm-grown veggies are great, but the dirt they bring in is not, so make sure to brush off dirt before refrigerating.
Product .;Due” Dates
Consider the .;sell by” and .;use by” dates on product labels. Condiments and sauces, especially, can sit in the fridge for months before being completely consumed. Check the dates, and throw the product out if it has changed flavor, odor or appearance.
• A .;sell-by” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale, meaning the product should be purchased before that date.
• A .;use-by” date is recommended by the manufacturer to use the product before that date for best quality.
What to Stock
When it comes to produce, fresh is not always best if you can.;t consume it fast enough. Consider keeping only the fresh fruits and vegetables you will eat within a week. Frozen vegetables are good to have on hand to add to casseroles, pizza and stir-fries. Buy low-fat dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, as well as lean meats. If you do not expect to eat the meat within 2 to 4 days, consider freezing it for later use. Avoid buying large portions of easily spoiled ingredients like sour cream, cheese and fish.
Planning Ahead
Avoid food waste and food-borne illness (and save money, too!) by making a grocery list before you go to the store. Without excess and uneaten foods in the refrigerator, cleaning up and cleaning out is easier.
Here.;s to healthful food storage — and healthful living!
Information provided by Elizabeth North, RD, CDN, Registered Dietician at Roosevelt Hospital.

Pew report shows flaw in tracing food-safety lapses
Source : http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/201704451.html
By STAR TRIBUNE EDITORIAL (Apr 07, 2013)
Twenty-two weeks. That.;s how long it took federal health officials to determine the contaminated food source after the first person was infected in a 2011 outbreak of salmonella that swept across 34 states, sickened 136 people and led to one of the largest national recalls of ground turkey.
The headlines generated by that outbreak have faded. But the disturbingly slow trace-back time frame and other weaknesses — spotlighted in a new national report from the respected Pew Charitable Trusts — merit close scrutiny. The findings are especially valuable as landmark new federal food-safety reforms roll out.
The Food Safety Modernization Act signed into law in 2011 mandates efforts by both federal and state health officials to improve foodborne illness surveillance systems. While public health professionals are understandably focused on outbreak causes, there hasn.;t been enough retrospective evaluation of where improvement is needed.
The Pew report adds to public efforts underway to do this. Its findings from its 2011 look-back don.;t just highlight weaknesses in one outbreak but suggest opportunities for systemic improvement of surveillance and response.
Among its recommendations: Public health officials should notify and work with industry sooner when a company.;s products may be involved in an outbreak. Additional information about food brands, processing plants and purchase dates should be uploaded to a key public health database used by disease detectives to monitor potential outbreaks. And, public health officials should put a higher priority on detecting potential salmonella outbreaks and understanding its transmission.
It.;s worth noting that Minnesota.;s world-class health and agriculture departments are the gold standard for outbreak investigation. But the state, which is home as well to world-class food processors and a thriving poultry industry, has a stake in ensuring that public health agencies across the nation are performing at the same level.

.;Ready to Cook” Frozen Meals with E. coli can be very, very Dangerous
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/ready-to-cook-frozen-meals-with-e-coli-can-be-very-very-dangerous/
By Bill Marler (Apr 06, 2013)
The CDC is reporting a total of 27 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli O121 (STEC O121) from 15 states.  81% of ill persons are 21 years of age or younger and 35% of ill persons have been hospitalized. Two ill people developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a type of kidney failure, and no deaths have been reported.  Farm Rich brand frozen food products is one likely source of infection for the ill persons in this outbreak.
These .;Ready to Cook” meals have caused a number of both Salmonella and E. coli Outbreaks in the recent past.
Nestle Toll House Cookie Dough E. coli Outbreak: Public health officials from several states and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began investigating an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak with a common source in March of 2009. By June 18, the CDC had reported 69 E. coli cases in 29 states with a common source, and on June 19, 2009 Nestle recalled its Nestle Toll House prepackaged refrigerated cookie and brownie dough products for possible E. coli O157:H7 contamination.
The FDA advised consumers to throw away any prepackaged, refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough products. Cooking the dough was not recommended to eliminate risk of contamination, since the E. coli bacteria could be transferred from the dough to hands and other cooking surfaces.
Nestle USA initiated a voluntary recall of many uncooked cookie dough products on June 19, 2009. The Nestle press release contained a list of recalled products, with production codes. The company also closed half of its Danville, Virginia, plant – the half of the plant that makes Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough. According to a company spokeswoman, the Danville plant was responsible for the majority of Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough production.
On June 22, the Marler Clark law firm filed the first E. coli lawsuit against Nestle USA in connection with the Nestle Toll House refrigerated cookie dough E. coli outbreak on behalf of a young California woman. The next day, the E. coli lawyers filed a second lawsuit against Nestle USA on behalf of a Colorado child who became ill with an E. coli infection and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of E. coli infection that can lead to kidney failure, after eating Nestle Toll House cookie dough in April. The firm filed a third cookie dough E. coli lawsuit against Nestle USA on behalf of a Washington victim on June 24. The law firm has resolved over a dozen claims on behalf of victims, including several HUS cases.
Later, on January 13, 2010, Nestle USA announced that two samples of its Toll House refrigerated cookie dough made at a Virginia factory tested positive for E. coli bacteria despite rigorous safety measures put in place after a recall of the product. They also announced that no dough had left the factory so there was no need for a recall.
In the end, Marler Clark represented 24 individuals who became ill with E. coli infections during the Nestle Toll House cookie dough E. coli outbreak. Their claims were successfully resolved.
Banquet Pot Pie Salmonella Outbreak:  Marler Clark filed six Salmonella lawsuits against ConAgra, the company whose Banquet and store-brand chicken and turkey pot pies were identified as the source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak in 2007. The serotype of the outbreak was determined to be I 4,5,12:i:-*.
Public health officials from several states collaborated to determine the source of the outbreak, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially announced that a Salmonella outbreak had been traced to the consumption of ConAgra pot pies on October 9th. At the time, ConAgra did not initiate a recall.
The CDC issued an investigation update regarding the Salmonella outbreak on October 10, 2007. In that update, the CDC announced that at least 152 people had been confirmed as suffering from Salmonella infections that had been linked epidemiologically and through laboratory testing to the consumption of contaminated pot pies between January 1, 2007 and October 9, 2007. At the time of the update, the CDC was aware of 20 people who had been hospitalized due to their Salmonella infections.
On October 11, 2007 – the same day Marler Clark filed its first lawsuit against the company – ConAgra asked stores selling Banquet and other pot pies produced by ConAgra to pull those products from their shelves. The law firm has since resolved all cases.
The final report issued by CDC on the outbreak determined that 401 people in 41 states had fallen ill with salmonellosis, the illness caused by Salmonella infection.
Marie Callender.;s Cheesy Chicken and Rice Dinner Salmonella Outbreak:  Marler Clark.;s Salmonella lawyers represented victims of a Salmonella serotype Chester outbreak linked to Marie Callender.;s Cheesy Chicken and Rice dinners in 2010. At least 44 people in 18 states became ill with Salmonella infections after eating the ConAgra-made products between April 11 and August 27, 2010.
Collaborative investigative efforts of public health officials linked the outbreak to Marie Callender.;s Cheesy Chicken & Rice single-serve frozen entrées. The CDC launched an epidemiologic study and found that ill persons were significantly more likely than well persons to report eating a frozen meal, and all ill persons who ate frozen meals reported eating a Marie Callender.;s frozen meal. Additionally, two unopened packages of Marie Callender.;s Cheesy Chicken & Rice entrées collected from two patients.; homes yielded Salmonella Chester isolates with a genetic fingerprint indistinguishable from the outbreak pattern.
After the CDC informed ConAgra Foods of a possible association between the Marie Callender.;s Cheesy Chicken & Rice entrées and the outbreak of Salmonella Chester infections, ConAgra recalled the product on June 17, 2010. Products subject to the recall bore on their package label, .;P-45” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
On June 23, 2010, Marler Clark filed a Salmonella lawsuit against ConAgra on behalf of an Oregon man who was sickened by the frozen meal. A second Salmonella lawsuit was filed on behalf of another outbreak victim on June 25.
And, guess what?  Each time these manufacturers produced and sold contaminated product they blamed the consumers for not cooking the sh&^ out of it.

Mayor Bloomberg: Don.;t Ban Big Gulps, Order Hepatitis A Shots!
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/mayor-bloomberg-dont-ban-big-gulps-order-hepatitis-a-shots/
By Bill Marler (Apr 06, 2013)
Dessert customers of New York.;s Alta.;s Restaurant are lining up for preventative Hepatitis A vaccines today and for the next few days.  Hopefully the vaccines do the trick and the thousands who were exposed do not get sick.  However, had that employee, who had his or her hands in you dessert, been vaccinated before, those thousands would not be standing in line to get a poke and worrying for the next few weeks if it worked or not.
OK, let.;s be honest: as an attorney who makes a substantial portion of his living by filing lawsuits against restaurants, it.;s not in my financial interest to have the National Restaurant Association (NRA) change its position on mandatory hepatitis-A vaccinations for food-handlers. That being said, I think the NRA.;s position is largely indefensible, especially for the vast majority of independent restaurant operations who are in most cases unable to absorb outbreak-related losses from a single outlet.
The NRA.;s position is for the most part based on the fact that, in 1998, the CDC waffled on its recommendations on the prevention of hepatitis-A through immunization. On the one hand, the CDC did not include food handlers among the groups of people it deemed at increased risk for hepatitis A and thus in need of prophylactic vaccinations. On the other hand, it conceded that that .;persons who work as food handlers have a critical role in common-source outbreak” and that consideration should be given to whether such vaccinations are .;cost-effective”. In short, the CDC left it to state and local health departments to decide what to do. Not surprisingly, most such departments have done nothing.  Here are a few restaurants who likely see if differently – now:
Subway 1999:  In mid-October, 1999, an unusually high number of hepatitis-A cases were reported among individuals residing in Northeast Seattle and Snohomish County. At the same time, the Snohomish Health District reported an increased number of hepatitis-A cases reported among individuals who resided in Snohomish County, but who worked in the Northeast Seattle area.  Because the infected individuals had no other identified risk factor for hepatitis A, health department officials quickly suspected the existence of a hepatitis-A outbreak with a common foodborne source located in Northeast Seattle.
To identify the outbreak.;s source, health officials developed an epidemiological survey that included the fast food restaurants and groceries stores prevalent in the North Seattle area.  Health department officials then contacted all persons with hepatitis A in King and Snohomish County since October 15, 1999 and the food survey was completed.  By November 5, 1999, 18 of 21 persons reported with hepatitis A in King County after October 15, 1999, were found to have eaten at one of two Subway Sandwich outlets during the two to six week period prior to the onset of their symptoms. During this same time period, the Snohomish Health District determined that at least six persons with hepatitis A had eaten at one of the two implicated Subway outlets.
Once the likely source of the hepatitis-A outbreak was determined, health department officials performed a case-control study.  The results of the initial case-control demonstrated a strong statistical association between eating at Subway during the identified time period and developing a hepatitis A infection. A subsequent inspection by environmental sanitarians found that neither of the implicated Subway outlets had a written hand washing policy, and that employees were not required to document their knowledge of proper hand washing technique.  In contrast, the vast majority of fast food restaurants in the area have written hand washing policies, intensive training on proper hand washing techniques, and require employees to sign their initials to a check-off sheet that confirms that their hand were washed hourly and all after bathroom use.
Having confirmed that the Subway outlets were, in fact, the outbreak.;s common source, health department officials issued a press release that stated, in part, that:
An ongoing investigation by Public Health suggest that many [hepatitis-A] infections are associated with consuming food form one of two Subway Salads and Sandwiches outlets during the month of September. . . ..;If you have eaten at these restaurants during September and are ill with symptoms of hepatitis, you should seek prompt medical evaluation,” said Dr. Alonzo Plough, Director of Public Health – Seattle & King County.
It is estimated that over 40 persons became ill as a result of eating contaminated food sold at the two Subway outlets implicated in the September 1999 hepatitis-A outbreak.
Carl.;s Jr. 2000:  On February 16, 2000, the Spokane Regional Health District published a .;Hepatitis Alert” which read as follows:
The Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) has received a confirmed report of hepatitis A in a food handler employed at the Carl.;s Jr., Restaurant, 707 W 3rd Avenue, Spokane, WA.  The foods with possible risk of transmitting hepatitis A are any sandwiches (including hamburgers) with a vegetable garnish (such as lettuce, tomato, or onion).  The days of possible exposure were:  January 28, January 31, February 2, February 5, February 6, February 8, February 9, and February 10….
Hepatitis A is a viral infection usually spread by eating contaminated food.  After a two-to seven-week incubation period with no symptoms, the infected person presents with symptoms such as:  feeling generally unwell, joint and muscle aches, cramps with belly pain and tenderness, loss of appetite, fever, nausea and diarrhea.
After a few days to a week of these fly-like symptoms, a patient may develop a yellowish tint to the skin and eyes (jaundice); sometimes though, jaundice never appears.  Sometimes urine turns dark brown and bowel movements look pale and gray.  The illness almost always resolves within several weeks to months with out treatment….
D.; Angelo.;s Deli 2001:  In October of 2001, the D.;Angelo.;s corporate office contacted the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) to inform MDPH that one of its employees had been diagnosed with hepatitis A, and that he had been working at two different D.;Angelo.;s delis – at Swansea and Seekonk, during his infectious period.
D.;Angelo.;s regional and corporate managers assured MDPH that the infected employee, who was ServSafe certified, was fanatical about hand washing and wore gloves when preparing food and touching surfaces.  The corporate office then voluntarily closed the Swansea store, without public notice of the illness.  Thirty doses of immuno globulin (.;IG”) were sent to a walk-in clinic in Seekonk to be administered to all employees.
On Saturday, October 27, the Swansea Board of Health (.;SBH”) became aware that the store had reopened for business, and inspected that store.  The SBH inspector and town nurse were informed by the D.;Angelo.;s district manager at the store that the MDPH had authorized the store to reopen if all employees had been given shots and if the sick employee stayed away from work until healthy.  No public notice of the hepatitis A illness of the D.;Angelo.;s employee, and of the fact that he had worked during at least 15 days of his infectious period, was provided at the time.
On November 20, 2002, the MDPH was notified of seven confirmed hepatitis A cases in the area.  All local boards of health were notified, and an investigation into this hepatitis A outbreak began.
Ultimately, the investigators identified a total of 53 hepatitis A cases meeting the definition of an outbreak-case.  An epidemiological analysis of the case interviews revealed an association between the hepatitis A illness and the consumption of food from D.;Angelo.;s.  Two of the confirmed cases were food workers employed at Rudy.;s Country Store.  Both employees had eaten at the Swansea D.;Angelo.;s three to four weeks prior to the onset of their respective symptoms.  Both of the Rudy.;s employees who tested positive had contact with food served to customers.
On November 27, 2001, a press release and public notice was published notifying the patrons of Rudy.;s of their potential exposure to hepatitis A, and recommending that patrons who had eaten food from Rudy.;s during the period from November 5 to November 23, 2001 obtain IG shots.  A clinic was held at Charlton Memorial Hospital to provide these treatments on November 29 and 30.  Approximately 1600 persons obtained IG shots there during those two days.  No hepatitis A cases were linked to the consumption of food sold at Rudy.;s.
Chi-Chi.;s 2003:  Pennsylvania State health officials first learned of a Hepatitis A outbreak when unusually high numbers of hepatitis A cases were reported in late October 2003. All but one of the initial cases had eaten at the Chi Chi.;s restaurant at the Beaver Valley Mall, in Monaca, Pennsylvania.
Ultimately, at least 565 cases were confirmed. The victims included at least 13 employees of the Chi Chi.;s restaurant, and residents of six other states (identity of the states was not given). Three persons died as a consequence of their hepatitis A illness.  Over 125 were hospitalized.  One man suffered liver failure, which required an emergency transplant.  More than 9,000 persons who had eaten at the restaurant, or who had been exposed to ill persons, were given an injection of immune globulin as prevention against hepatitis A.
Preliminary analysis of a case-control study indicated fresh, green onions were the probable source of this outbreak. Previous hepatitis A outbreaks had been linked to green onions, and had involved patrons of a single restaurant, however this outbreak was unusually large. The FDA issued a statement dated December 9, 2003, reaffirming that this outbreak, as well as others recently, had been associated with eating raw, or undercooked, green onions. The investigation and trace-backs by the state health department, the CDC, and the FDA, confirmed that the green onions had been grown in Mexico.
The viral sequence of the outbreak strain was similar to the viral sequences obtained from persons involved in hepatitis A outbreaks that had occurred in September 2003, in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Green onions had also been implicated in these outbreaks.
Friendly.;s 2004:  In June of 2004, a food worker at a Friendly.;s restaurant in Arlington, Massachusetts was diagnosed with hepatitis A, a virus that can cause acute liver failure.  Health officials estimated that more than 3,800 people were at risk for developing hepatitis A infection after dining at the restaurant.
In mid-June, more than 3,000 people exposed to the hepatitis A virus at Friendly.;s lined up at an area clinic to receive immune globulin (.;Ig”) shots to prevent hepatitis A infection. When administered within 14 days of exposure to the virus, Ig is effective in preventing – or at least reducing the symptoms of – hepatitis A infection.  Many of the people who lined up for shots were initially turned away and due to a lack of Ig and had to return later.
Quizno.;s 2004:  A Boston Quizno.;s employee was diagnosed with hepatitis A in June 2004. Upon notification of the potential for a hepatitis A outbreak, the Boston health department advised consumers who had eaten at the Quizno.;s Subshop located at 74 Summer Street in Boston to receive Immune globulin shots to prevent infection.
Maple Lawn Dairy 2004:  On November 6, 2004, the Chemung County Health Department issued a hepatitis A news release announcing that four persons had confirmed hepatitis A infections, which were traceable to the Maple Lawn Dairy Family Restaurant in Elmira. The Health Department also advised that persons who had eaten at the defendant.;s restaurant between September 26 and October 10, 2004 might have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. A restaurant employee was diagnosed with the hepatitis A virus on October 10, 2004 and was working at the defendant.;s restaurant while infected with the virus. The Department recommended that persons who had potentially been exposed receive injections of immune globulin, an antibody treatment that provides protection from the hepatitis A virus if exposure to the virus has occurred within 14 days prior to the injection.
Houlihan.;s 2007:  On or about January 21, 2007 the KCHD, announced that a case of HAV had occurred in a food worker at the Houlihan.;s restaurant located at 1332 Commons Drive, Geneva, Illinois. In a notice posted on the KCHD web site health officials warned that people who ate foods at the restaurant between January 8 through January 19 may be at risk of developing HAV.
Officials urged that anyone who ate cold or uncooked foods at the restaurant during that period should contact their health care provider and be administered Immune Globulin shots as soon as possible.  It is estimated that as many as 3000 persons were potentially exposed to HAV at the restaurant in the relevant time frame.
McDonald.;s 2009:  On July 13, Rock Island County Health Department officials informed the McDonald.;s corporate office that a McDonald.;s franchise in Milan, Illinois had an employee infected with hepatitis A.  The employee had been working at that restaurant over the past week.  The next day, health officials went to the Milan McDonald.;s and found that employees were washing their hands improperly and should have been wearing gloves when they had cuts, painted nails, or fake nails.  The inspector provided the employees material about proper hand washing and hepatitis A.
On July 15, health officials returned for a full inspection.  The inspection detailed a laundry list of violations, two of them critical, involving .;hygienic practices” and .;presence of insects/rodents.”  It was also reported that after the first employee was confirmed positive with hepatitis A on June 9, another employee had been confirmed positive with hepatitis A on July 15.  As a result, the Milan McDonald.;s was ordered to close until all employees completed health histories, got vaccinated, and completed hand-washing training.
Though it was initially believed that the employee infections were not detected until July 13, evidence later surfaced suggesting otherwise.  The second employee who contracted hepatitis A, Cheryl Schram, had been diagnosed on June 20 and told the restaurant a few days later, once she had been released from the hospital.  Despite the highly contagious nature of her illness, she was permitted to return to work.
During the period when the infected employees had been allowed to work and handle food, it was estimated that as many as 10,000 people ate at that restaurant.  This led to county health officials inoculating more than 5,000 local residents against the disease in order to contain the outbreak.  Unfortunately, the damage had already been done and those infected were beginning to exhibit symptoms.
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) released a report of its investigation into the Hepatitis A outbreak on October 30, 2009. IDPH reported a final tally of 34 confirmed cases of Hepatitis-A with onsets from June 11 through August 10, 2009.  IDPH concluded that food from the Milan McDonald.;s was the source of the outbreak.  IDPH explained:
The restaurant had inspection reports indicating issues with bare hand contact with food, employees reported no use of gloves when preparing foods not later cooked, during hand hygiene education the employees had difficulty in properly washing hands, and the index case in the community, a food handler at McDonalds, had a period of communicability and work history that match with the dates of onset of the majority of the other cases and she handed food that was not later cooked with bare hands.  In addition, the case-control study showed that there was an elevated risk of hepatitis A associated with consuming food from the McDonalds in Milan, Illinois.  Other possible sources in the community were ruled out.
Olive Garden 2001:  In August 2011, the Cumberland County Health Department announced that thousands of diners had potentially been exposed to Hepatitis A after an employee of a Fayetteville, N.C. Olive Garden had tested positive for the virus.  The employee was infected with hepatitis A while working shifts at the restaurant on July 25, 26, 28, 29, and 31, as well as August 1, 2 and 8.  Many people who had dined at the Olive Garden on those dates had to obtain a Hepatitis A vaccinations or Immune globulin (Ig) injections to prevent infection with the potentially deadly hepatitis A virus.  3,000 patrons received shots.
Money well spent:  Estimates of the annual costs (direct and indirect) of hepatitis A in the United States have ranged from $300 million to $488.8 million in 1997 dollars.  In one study conducted in Spokane, Washington, the combined direct and indirect costs for each case of hepatitis A from all sources ranged from $2892 to $3837. In a 2007 Ohio study, each case of HAV infection attributable to contaminated food was estimated to cost at least $10,000, including medical and other non-economic costs. Nationwide, adults who become ill miss an average of 27 workdays per illness, and 11-to-22 percent of those infected are hospitalized. All of these costs are entirely preventable given the effectiveness of a vaccination in providing immunity from infection.  See, www.about-hepatitis.com.

Salmonella Outbreak Investigation Too Slow, Says Pew
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/salmonella-outbreak-investigation-too-slow-says-pew/
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 06, 2013)
Salmonella in ground turkey produced by Cargill Meat Solutions was the cause of a food poisoning outbreak that sickened 136 people and killed one person in 2011. But those numbers could have been lower if health officials acted more quickly, according to a new study by the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Salmonella
It took investigators at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.;s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) months to identify the source of the outbreak. It was 22 weeks after the first person became ill and 10 weeks after CDC detected the outbreak before the illnesses were linked to ground turkey produced at Cargill.;s plant in Springdale, Ark.  The outbreak began five months before the CDC announced it on August 1, 2011. During those five months 127 people became ill.
Pew identified three main problems with the existing system that prevented authorities from discovering the food source more quickly. The first is that although Salmonella sickens 1 million people every year at an annual cost of $11 billion, it isn.;t given as much attention as other pathogens. Culturing bacterial samples from patients isn.;t required in all states and public health labs don.;t perform DNA fingerprinting of Salmonella isolates uniformly.
The second problem is that when public health officials post DNA fingerprints on PulseNet, a national network of foodborne bacteria information, the isolates are not identified with the brand names or the processing plants where they were produced. And the third problem is that food companies are not engaged in the investigation early enough.
By addressing these problems, health officials can improve their response to foodborne illness outbreaks, the report says. Those recommendations are consistent with requirements outlined in the Section 205 of the Food Safety Modernization Act which directs the CDC to improve surveillance of foodborne illness.

Farm Rich E. coli Outbreak Can.;t Be Blamed on Consumers
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/farm-rich-e-coli-outbreak-cant-be-blamed-on-the-customer/
By Linda Larsen (Apr 06, 2013)
The outbreak of E. coli 0121 linked to recalled Farm Rich products is unusual. The ingredients that make up the frozen mini meals and snacks are precooked (chicken, pepperoni, and cheese) and are simply assembled to make a product that is reheated before consuming.
No foodborne illness can be blamed on the consumer. Manufacturers have the legal responsibility to produce safe food.  The law states that manufacturers are responsible for making and selling food that will not make consumers sick, but this has happened over and over again.
The food you buy should not be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. Unfortunately, manufacturers put the burden on the consumer to heat the food to a safe temperature. This so called .;consumer kill step” has been the subject of many government studies and guidelines for the packaged food industry and consumers. A food safety article from the University of Minnesota extension gives guidelines for the consumer on how to cook frozen foods. Very few people know that these foods need to be heated to kill bacteria, not just heated so they taste good.
Again, manufacturers are responsible for illnesses caused by their products, but the continued failure to provide safe food means you need to protect yourself and your family by making sure all foods that you prepare are as safe as possible.
Not many people know that any processed food carries risk of contamination simply because it moves through many venues as it travels from the manufacturing facility to the kitchen. Contamination with pathogenic bacteria can happen at any time along that journey, from the facility itself to the packaging line to handlers to shipping outlets.
When cooking frozen convenience foods, read and follow cooking instructions carefully. A product should be labeled .;raw product”, .;uncooked”, .;ready to cook” or .;contains uncooked poultry.” Some frozen foods look as if they are fully cooked, even when they are not, because they are breaded or pre-browned.
You should also pay attention to microwave wattage. Label instructions are developed for certain wattage, and cooking times vary according to how powerful your microwave oven is. If you don.;t know the wattage, use a food thermometer to make sure that the food reaches 165 degrees F before you eat it.  Insert the thermometer in the thickest part of the product. If the food hasn.;t reached 165 degrees F, continue cooking it. Be sure to wash the thermometer with soap and water before you recheck the temperature. And follow stirring, rotating, and standing times carefully. These are developed to cook the food as evenly as possible.

A Very, Very Nasty Virus – Hepatitis A
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/a-very-very-nasty-virus-hepatitis-a/
By Bill Marler (Apr 06, 2013)
Incubation period for Hepatitis A is 28 days (range: 15–50 days).
While dessert patrons of New York.;s Alta.;s Restaurant line up for preventative vaccines, it is wise to recall a bit of history.
Pennsylvania State health officials first learned of a Hepatitis A outbreak when unusually high numbers of hepatitis A cases were reported in late October 2003. All but one of the initial cases had eaten at the Chi Chi.;s restaurant at the Beaver Valley Mall, in Monaca, Pennsylvania.
Ultimately, at least 565 cases were confirmed. The victims included at least 13 employees of the Chi Chi.;s restaurant, and residents of six other states (identity of the states was not given). Three persons died as a consequence of their hepatitis A illness.  Over 125 were hospitalized.  One man suffered liver failure, which required an emergency transplant.  More than 9,000 persons who had eaten at the restaurant, or who had been exposed to ill persons, were given an injection of immune globulin as prevention against hepatitis A.
Preliminary analysis of a case-control study indicated fresh, green onions were the probable source of this outbreak. Previous hepatitis A outbreaks had been linked to green onions, and had involved patrons of a single restaurant, however this outbreak was unusually large. The FDA issued a statement dated December 9, 2003, reaffirming that this outbreak, as well as others recently, had been associated with eating raw, or undercooked, green onions. The investigation and trace-backs by the state health department, the CDC, and the FDA, confirmed that the green onions had been grown in Mexico.
The viral sequence of the outbreak strain was similar to the viral sequences obtained from persons involved in hepatitis A outbreaks that had occurred in September 2003, in the states of Tennessee, Georgia, and North Carolina. Green onions had also been implicated in these outbreaks.
Read full summary and reports.
Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation.;s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald.;s, Chipotle, Quiznos Chi-Chi.;s and Carl.;s Jr.

Ask Lonely Planet: Food safety in India
Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=10874903
By nzherald.co.nz (Apr 05, 2013)
How careful do you have to be with food and drink in India? Is it better to get it all over and done with early and enjoy the rest of the trip? - Greg
Lonely Planet's Sarah Bennett and Lee Slater write:
No trip to India would be complete with at least one dose of Delhi belly.
Diarrhoea is by far the most common ailment for travellers to India. In more than 80 per cent of cases the cause is bacterial, usually arising from contaminated food or drink. By following a few simple guidelines you can reduce the chances of it all turning to custard.
Never drink tap water. Bottled water is generally safe but check that the seal is intact and avoid ice unless you know it has been safely made. Be careful when drinking fruit juice, especially at food stalls, as they may have been watered down. Opt for juice that is pressed in front of you and steer clear of anything stored in a jug or served in a glass unless you're assured of high washing standards.
Don't be tempted by glistening pre-sliced melon and other fruit, which keeps its luscious veneer with a regular dousing of often-dubious water. When preparing food yourself, peel all fruit, cook vegetables and soak salads in iodine water for at least 20 minutes.
Iodine is the best chemical purifier, although it should be avoided by pregnant women and those with thyroid complaints. Water filters should sieve out viruses but ensure yours has a chemical barrier such as iodine and a pore size of less than four microns. Boiling water is usually the most efficient method of purification.
India's cuisine is one of its joys but ease into it, allowing your tummy to adjust.
Follow the crowd and look out for popular places, particularly those patronised by families as these will probably be your best bet.
If possible, inspect the cooking utensils and ascertain how they are being cleaned. Eyeball the cooking oil to see if it's clean. If the pots or surfaces are dirty or there are squadrons of flies, beat a hasty retreat.
On the street, don't panic if your deep-fried snack is thrown back into the wok before serving. It's common practice to partly cook snacks then finish them off to order. Frying them hot again should kill any germs.
If, or more likely when, you are struck down with a bout of traveller's diarrhoea, stay well hydrated. Rehydration solutions such as Gastrolyte are best for this. Antibiotics such as norfloxacin, cioprofloxacin or azithromycin should kill the bacteria quickly. These are essential first-aid kit items for any trip to India. Loperamide (such as Imodium and Lopex) is just a "stopper" and doesn't get to the cause of the problem. It can, however, be helpful for long bus and train journeys.
Two friends and I wish to travel around the United States for four months. We intend buying a vehicle in Los Angeles and selling it in New York at the end of the trip. What is the best way to go about such a purchase? Can this be done online, or is that risky? Are there agents we could trust to help us or should we ask a friend? - Courtney Shannon
For a trip of four months or less, buying a car in the United States is usually much more trouble than it's worth. We have done it although it took us two weeks to sort out a car and a week to get shot of it at the end of the trip.
Don't buy on the internet, which is too risky. Things will be whole lot easier if you have a stateside friend or relative who can offer advice and provide a fixed address for registration, licensing and insurance.
Vehicle rules and regulations vary from state to state and are generally more stringent in California where you'll need a smog certificate on top of everything else.
This is the seller's responsibility so don't buy a car without this necessary paperwork.
You may like to consider buying your car in Nevada. It's only a few hours' drive away and the process is easier than in California. Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree forum has lots of detailed advice on buying a car in the US.
It's far less hassle to rent a car, although you'll get stung with steep charges for dropping the car off in a different place.
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Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness Tumble over 10-Year Period, Reports CSPI
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/04/outbreaks-of-foodborne-illness-tumble-over-10-yea.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Apr 04, 2013)
WASHINGTON—Americans may have a reason to place greater trust in the safety of the nation's food supply. From 2001 to 2010, reported outbreaks of foodborne illness decreased by roughly 40%, according to an analysis by the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). Better food-safety practices, implemented by the meat, poultry and seafood industries, possibly contributed to the decline.
But CSPI warns that public health agencies often fail to fully investigate outbreaks, meaning they don't identify the food and pathogen such as E. coli that caused the illnesses. During the 10-year period studied, the percentage of fully investigated outbreaks fell from 46% to 33%, according to the group. What's more, foodborne illness is notoriously underreported since most people who fall ill don't seek medical treatment.
"Despite progress made by the industry and by food safety regulators, contaminated food is still causing too many illnesses, visits to the emergency room, and deaths," CSPI food safety director Caroline Smith DeWaal said in a statement March 25. "Yet state and local health departments and federal food safety programs always seem to be on the chopping block. Those financial pressures not only threaten the progress we've made on food safety, but threaten our very understanding of which foods and which pathogens are making people sick."
CSPI learned U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated foods were to blame for more than twice as many outbreaks as the meat and poultry foods under the oversight of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The number of outbreaks linked to FDA-regulated food could fall in the coming years, thanks to a landmark food-safety law the agency has been implementing. The 2-year-old Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is intended to prevent foodborne illness rather than simply react to a crisis.
Still, the global food-supply chain presents challenges for regulators. In a report last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found foodborne disease outbreaks caused by imported food rose in 2009 and 2010, with fish being the most common reason for the illnesses. Roughly 50% of fresh fruits, 20% of fresh vegetables and 80% of seafood are imported, according to FDA.
FDA officials are working with foreign governments to make food safer around the world. In February, as required by law, the agency released "FDA's International Food Safety Capacity-Building Plan."
"Capacity building is one tool in a larger toolbox FSMA has provided for FDA to hold imported foods to the same standards as domestic foods," Michael Taylor, FDA's Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, wrote.

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Salmonella Spice was not one of the Spice Girls
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/salmonella-spice-was-not-one-of-the-spice-girls/
By Bill Marler (Apr 03, 2013)
This is another it what will be a long – too long – series of outbreak investigations where we have represented consumers in what I hope will be a cautionary tale, and a learning experience, for manufacturers of food.
Veggie Booty is a puffed rice and corn snack food, coated with vegetable spices.  This snack has become tremendously popular with young children, and many parents view Veggie Booty as a healthy alternative to chips and other processed foods commonly marketed to toddlers.
In early spring 2007, public health officials at local and state health departments noticed an increase in reported cases of Salmonella serotype Wandsworth, a rare strain of Salmonella.  Communicating through OutbreakNet[1], a CDC-facilitated network of epidemiologists responsible for investigating disease outbreaks of foodborne and waterborne origin, investigators determined that ill cases tended to be 3 years old or younger. Interviews conducted with parents of case-patients revealed that they often shopped predominately at upscale grocery stores selling organic products.  Still, data obtained from preliminary interviews did not reveal any strong evidence of a particular food or type of food.  As the number of cases of S. Wandsworth climbed to 46 cases by late June, investigators decided a more targeted interview approach was needed.
CDC and state investigators agreed that a single interviewer would re-contact parents of case-patients to collect information about food consumption using an open-ended questionnaire.  Responses to the open-ended questionnaire provided the first inkling that the outbreak might be linked to consumption of Veggie Booty snack food.  To confirm investigators.; suspicions, a nationwide case control-study using age-matched friend controls was implemented.  Case-patients ten months of age and older were enrolled in the study.  Control cases were selected from non-ill friends of an enrolled patient.  Three controls were interviewed for each case.  Completed questionnaire forms were sent to the CDC for data analysis.  On June 27, 2007, the CDC had gathered enough data to implicate Robert.;s American Gourmet Veggie Booty as the source of the outbreak.  The agency advised the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that a recall was needed.
On June 28, 2007, Robert.;s American Gourmet of Sea Cliff, New York, manufacturer of Veggie Booty, issued a voluntary recall of Veggie Booty.  All bag sizes, lots and codes were affected by the recall.  That same day the FDA issued an alert to warn consumers not to eat Veggie Booty Snack Food and to discard any Robert.;s American Gourmet brand Veggie Booty.  The recall was expanded on July 2, 2007 to include Super Veggie Tings Crunch Corn Sticks.
The CDC asked local and state investigators to contact parents of case-patients to determine if leftover product was available for testing at public health laboratories.  On July 2, 2007, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) posted a message on OutbreakNet informing participants that the state.;s Department of Agriculture (MDA) had isolated Salmonella serogroup Q in a bag of Veggie Booty with a Sell-By-Date of September.  By July 3, MDH and MDA microbiologists had found Salmonella in five bags of Veggie Booty with different production codes.  Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis matched the outbreak strain of S. Wandsworth (pattern number WWSX01.0013) found in product to the strain found in case patients.  Minnesota microbiologists would subsequently identify a second strain of S. Wandsworth (WWSX01.0012) in Veggie Booty.
On July 12, 2007, the CDC reported that an uncommon strain of Salmonella serotype Typhimurium had been isolated from Veggie Booty product and that the strain (JPXX01.1037/JPXA26.0333) matched case-patients in Washington and Oregon who had a history of consuming Veggie Booty in the week prior to symptom onset.  The New York State Department of Health isolated a third serotype, Salmonella Kentucky (JGPX01.0111) in a sealed bag of Veggie Booty.  In total 61 bags of Veggie Booty were tested in 12 states.  Salmonella sp. was found in 13 bags.  Eleven of the 13 bags were positive for the outbreak strain of S. Wandsworth, and one bag was positive for S. Typhimurium and Enterobacter sakazakii.  Furthermore, the CDC isolated S. Haifa (EPCX01.0008) and S. Saintpaul (JN6X01.0169/JN6A26.0027) in separate bags of Veggie Booty.
The FDA inspected Van de Vries.; Edison, New Jersey location from June 28, 2007 to August 21, 2007.  The FDA determined a spice utilized in making Veggie Booty was the contamination source.  A sample tested from a mixed batch of Veggie Booty spice blend tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Wandsworth.  A sample from a lot of parsley powder, an ingredient in the Veggie Booty spice mix supplied by World Spice, Inc., also tested positive for Salmonella Wandsworth.  The FDA also found isolates in seasoning positive for Salmonella Mbandaka (TDRX01.0153/TDRA26.0019). The FDA inspection determined that Van de Vries failed to inspect and handle raw materials to ascertain that they were clean and suitable for processing into food.
Between 2/26/2007 and 9/6/2007, 70 cases of Salmonella Wandsworth were identified in 23 states and 14 Salmonella Typhimuirum cases were identified in six states.  All of the isolates were indistinguishable from the outbreak strains by PFGE.  Ninety-three percent of the cases with S. Wandsworth occurred in children aged ten months to three years.  Six patients were hospitalized.  Just over one-half (n=8) of the S. Typhimurium cases were in children aged ten months to three years; two were hospitalized.  There were no deaths associated with the outbreak.  Ninety-eight percent of the cases reported eating Veggie Booty snack food in the week before illness onset.

Food safety ABS launches amid horsemeat and cod scandals
Source : http://www.thelawyer.com/law-firms/food-safety-abs-launches-amid-horsemeat-and-cod-scandals/3003587.article
By Lucy Burton (Apr 04, 2013)
Specialist food law firm ABC Food Law has been given the green light by the SRA to become an ABS, a move that comes months after horsemeat was first found in beef products across Europe.
The specialist firm, which launched on Tuesday (2 April), had applied for an ABS license last August so that one of its founders, former head of environmental health at the London Borough of Enfield, Andy Bowles, could manage the business alongside his wife, former Borough of Enfield solicitor Sharon Bowles.
The couple have been managing food law training company ABC Food Safety for the past 11 years, with clients including the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The ABS approval comes amid a high-profile horsemeat scandal in Europe. While the food-labelling crisis has no connection to why the firm was initially set up, Bowles said it has brought attention to the topic of food law and exposed frailty in the food-supply chain.
.;These are the kind of cases we expect to be working on,” he said, pointing to recent examples where food is being substituted for cheaper ingredients, such as labelling crushed peanuts as almonds. .;This is the sort of the thing that can happen. Substitution food doesn.;t just rip off the consumer but can also be dangerous.”
The latest food fraud case is that cheap varieties of fish, such as catfish and pollock, are being sold as cod or haddock.
ABC Food Law is located at Norwich Research Park, a national centre for food science and research.
.;We intend to provide legal services to local authorities, the food industry but also to clients at the research park” said Andy. .;I trained as a microbiologist and whilst I.;m not a white-coat scientist, I can relate to their work”.
Bowles said that, for the moment, the firm was not hiring any other solicitors.

Oh rot, the White House just gutted the new food safety rules
Source : http://grist.org/food/oh-rot-the-white-house-just-gutted-the-new-food-safety-rules/
By Tom Laskawy (Apr 04, 2013)
A little over two years ago, Congress passed and President Obama signed a historic reform to America.;s food safety laws, the Food Safety and Modernization Act. It was the first major update in over 80 years to the laws that aim to keep our food from killing us.
The new law gave the feds broad new enforcement powers to do things that most Americans probably thought they could do already — issuing mandatory food recalls, for example, and requiring frequent inspections of the riskiest food production facilities, and prosecuting executives of companies that knowingly ship contaminated food. Good news!
And now for the bad news. It looks like several of those new protections were quietly gutted earlier this year by a White House office charged with reviewing new regulations for their impact on corporate America. During a drawn-out review period, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) rewrote rules drafted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that spelled out how the agency would implement new safety protocols for food producers.
When Congress passed the food safety law, it for the first time required food producers to design, implement, and test risk-based food safety plans. The law required testing for contamination in food processing facilities, and then testing the foods themselves. The OMB revisions axed the mandate for verified food safety plans and dropped virtually all the testing requirements, turning them into voluntary protocols. (And we know how well it works out when the food industry regulates itself.)
Without requirements for testing and verification of safety plans, the FDA will remain powerless to stop things like the deadly 2011 listeria outbreak in cantaloupe caused by shockingly unsanitary storage conditions at a Colorado farm. Had that farm been forced by law to produce a safety plan and then to have that plan verified, much less to have its produce tested, the people who died would likely be alive today.
Thanks, OMB.
I asked food safety superlawyer Bill Marler (managing partner of the Seattle law firm Marler Clark and a key player in the lawsuit against Jack in the Box over E. coli poisoning in its hamburgers that killed four children in 1993) for his take on all this. He pointed out that the food industry by and large supported the testing requirements because they leveled the playing field between good corporate citizens that took food safety seriously and bad guys, like the Peanut Corporation of America, that did not. Then along comes OMB .;opening up a loophole for people to ignore” the new law, Marler said.
Alarm over these changes isn.;t restricted to food safety crusaders. I reached out to Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia, a microbiologist and food safety expert closely associated with industry who has in the past been skeptical of onerous testing requirements — and who was also once in the running to run the U.S. Department of Agriculture.;s food safety division. I asked him for his take on the OMB changes and he responded via email with what I can only characterize as dismay:
I do not believe OMB has the expertise to understand the potential adverse public health consequences of its actions, nor does the agency understand the importance of verification testing to a food safety plan and its relevance to enhancing the safety of food.
Or as it.;s often said on the internet: .;The stupid! It burns!”
Food-safety advocates had expressed relief back in January when OMB finally released these rules. The White House had been accused of delaying the law for months by refusing to publish the new rules. Some speculated it was out of fear that the rules would meet election-year repercussions from the politically powerful food and agriculture industry. This tiptoeing around corporations had become a hallmark of the post-2010 Obama White House.
The revelation about the OMB.;s changes to the law comes from an unlikely source — the federal government. As originally reported by industry publication Food and Chemical News [sub req.;d] and expanded upon by Food Safety News, some good soul in the Department of Health and Human Services (the parent agency of the FDA) posted documents on a government website that detailed the exact revisions OMB made to the food safety regulations. Ownership of these kinds of cuts are typically a well-guarded secret.
We already knew that Republicans in Congress were unlikely to give FDA the money to fully implement the law — and the sequester is likely to delay the law further. But there is still time to fix OMB.;s changes. The comment period on the new food safety rules runs until mid-May.
If you can stomach the bureaucratese, you, too, can leave a comment for the FDA about the changes to the rule here. Believe it or not, the agency reviews every one of them. It may be the best chance you have to ensure that the Food Safety and Modernization Act actually lives up to its name.

How Many Have Been Sickened by Farm Rich Products?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/how-many-have-been-sickened-by-farm-rich-products/
By Kathy Will NZ (Apr 04, 2013)
The latest E. coli outbreak in the United States has been linked to recalled Farm Rich products. According to the CDC, there are currently 24 victims in 15 states. Seven people have been hospitalized with E. coli 0121 infections, and at least one has developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication of the infection that can cause kidney failure.
But there are more than likely more than 24 victims of this outbreak. The National Institutes of Health conducted a study that found that for every E. coli infection reported to the government, there are 20 cases that go unreported. That means there are most likely at least 480 people who have been sickened in this particular outbreak. Public health officials use this number, called a multiplier, to estimate how many people are sickened in each outbreak. For Salmonella bacteria, the multiplier is 30.3. For other bacteria that cause severe illness that almost always requires a doctor.;s help or a visit to the emergency room, such as Clostridium botulinum and Listeria monocytogenes, the multiplier is only 2.
In addition, most hospital and clinical laboratories don.;t identify Shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria other than 0157:H7. In order to make a diagnosis, stool samples are tested for Shiga toxins that the STEC bacteria produce. If the toxins are found, the samples are then cultured to look for the outbreak strain of the bacteria.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include watery and/or bloody diarrhea, severe stomach and abdominal cramps, possible nausea, vomiting, and mild fever. For healthy adults, most people recover without medical treatment. But they can pass the infection along to others who may not be as lucky. That is one of the reasons why an E. coli infection is a reportable disease.
Even if you contract this infection and recover, you could still have health problems down the road. An E. coli 0121 infection raises the risk that you will have kidney disease or other health issues in the future. So if you have eaten these products and exhibited any of the symptoms of an E. coli infection, see your doctor to protect your health.

Salmonella Spice was not one of the Spice Girls
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/salmonella-spice-was-not-one-of-the-spice-girls/
By Bill Marler (Apr 03, 2013)
This is another it what will be a long – too long – series of outbreak investigations where we have represented consumers in what I hope will be a cautionary tale, and a learning experience, for manufacturers of food.
Veggie Booty is a puffed rice and corn snack food, coated with vegetable spices.  This snack has become tremendously popular with young children, and many parents view Veggie Booty as a healthy alternative to chips and other processed foods commonly marketed to toddlers.
In early spring 2007, public health officials at local and state health departments noticed an increase in reported cases of Salmonella serotype Wandsworth, a rare strain of Salmonella.  Communicating through OutbreakNet[1], a CDC-facilitated network of epidemiologists responsible for investigating disease outbreaks of foodborne and waterborne origin, investigators determined that ill cases tended to be 3 years old or younger. Interviews conducted with parents of case-patients revealed that they often shopped predominately at upscale grocery stores selling organic products.  Still, data obtained from preliminary interviews did not reveal any strong evidence of a particular food or type of food.  As the number of cases of S. Wandsworth climbed to 46 cases by late June, investigators decided a more targeted interview approach was needed.
CDC and state investigators agreed that a single interviewer would re-contact parents of case-patients to collect information about food consumption using an open-ended questionnaire.  Responses to the open-ended questionnaire provided the first inkling that the outbreak might be linked to consumption of Veggie Booty snack food.  To confirm investigators.; suspicions, a nationwide case control-study using age-matched friend controls was implemented.  Case-patients ten months of age and older were enrolled in the study.  Control cases were selected from non-ill friends of an enrolled patient.  Three controls were interviewed for each case.  Completed questionnaire forms were sent to the CDC for data analysis.  On June 27, 2007, the CDC had gathered enough data to implicate Robert.;s American Gourmet Veggie Booty as the source of the outbreak.  The agency advised the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that a recall was needed.
On June 28, 2007, Robert.;s American Gourmet of Sea Cliff, New York, manufacturer of Veggie Booty, issued a voluntary recall of Veggie Booty.  All bag sizes, lots and codes were affected by the recall.  That same day the FDA issued an alert to warn consumers not to eat Veggie Booty Snack Food and to discard any Robert.;s American Gourmet brand Veggie Booty.  The recall was expanded on July 2, 2007 to include Super Veggie Tings Crunch Corn Sticks.
The CDC asked local and state investigators to contact parents of case-patients to determine if leftover product was available for testing at public health laboratories.  On July 2, 2007, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) posted a message on OutbreakNet informing participants that the state.;s Department of Agriculture (MDA) had isolated Salmonella serogroup Q in a bag of Veggie Booty with a Sell-By-Date of September.  By July 3, MDH and MDA microbiologists had found Salmonella in five bags of Veggie Booty with different production codes.  Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) analysis matched the outbreak strain of S. Wandsworth (pattern number WWSX01.0013) found in product to the strain found in case patients.  Minnesota microbiologists would subsequently identify a second strain of S. Wandsworth (WWSX01.0012) in Veggie Booty.
On July 12, 2007, the CDC reported that an uncommon strain of Salmonella serotype Typhimurium had been isolated from Veggie Booty product and that the strain (JPXX01.1037/JPXA26.0333) matched case-patients in Washington and Oregon who had a history of consuming Veggie Booty in the week prior to symptom onset.  The New York State Department of Health isolated a third serotype, Salmonella Kentucky (JGPX01.0111) in a sealed bag of Veggie Booty.  In total 61 bags of Veggie Booty were tested in 12 states.  Salmonella sp. was found in 13 bags.  Eleven of the 13 bags were positive for the outbreak strain of S. Wandsworth, and one bag was positive for S. Typhimurium and Enterobacter sakazakii.  Furthermore, the CDC isolated S. Haifa (EPCX01.0008) and S. Saintpaul (JN6X01.0169/JN6A26.0027) in separate bags of Veggie Booty.
The FDA inspected Van de Vries.; Edison, New Jersey location from June 28, 2007 to August 21, 2007.  The FDA determined a spice utilized in making Veggie Booty was the contamination source.  A sample tested from a mixed batch of Veggie Booty spice blend tested positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Wandsworth.  A sample from a lot of parsley powder, an ingredient in the Veggie Booty spice mix supplied by World Spice, Inc., also tested positive for Salmonella Wandsworth.  The FDA also found isolates in seasoning positive for Salmonella Mbandaka (TDRX01.0153/TDRA26.0019). The FDA inspection determined that Van de Vries failed to inspect and handle raw materials to ascertain that they were clean and suitable for processing into food.
Between 2/26/2007 and 9/6/2007, 70 cases of Salmonella Wandsworth were identified in 23 states and 14 Salmonella Typhimuirum cases were identified in six states.  All of the isolates were indistinguishable from the outbreak strains by PFGE.  Ninety-three percent of the cases with S. Wandsworth occurred in children aged ten months to three years.  Six patients were hospitalized.  Just over one-half (n=8) of the S. Typhimurium cases were in children aged ten months to three years; two were hospitalized.  There were no deaths associated with the outbreak.  Ninety-eight percent of the cases reported eating Veggie Booty snack food in the week before illness onset.

Consumers as .;kill step”: another look at industry reliance on cooking in the wake of Farm Rich.;s E. coli outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/consumers-as-kill-step-another-look-at-industry-reliance-on-cooking-in-the-wake-of-farm-richs-e-coli-outbreak/
By Drew Falkenstein (Apr 03, 2013)
Twenty-four ill in 15 states, with one case of HUS, is reason enough to re-examine the frozen food industry.;s reliance on consumers to make a bad product–i.e. food contaminated by E. coli–good.  Several of Farm Rich.;s frozen products–quesadillas, mozzerella bites, philly cheese steaks and pizza slices–have been fingered as the likely cause of a large E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.  As was to be expected, Farm Rich.;s website contains the following proviso:
Please note, each of our product packages contain cooking instructions that, if followed, will effectively destroy any E.Coli bacteria. These preparation instructions have been validated following the Grocery Manufacturers Association industry protocol to ensure food safety.
What of the industry.;s practice/habit of making these kinds of statements?  Is it merely a face-saving measure, or does the industry really factor consumer cooking into its food safety efforts?  If the latter, that is problematic.
It is worthwhile to revisit a 2009 article from New York Times reporter Michael Moss, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his piece on Marler Clark E. coli client Stephanie Smith.  The 2009 article, which Moss wrote after the ConAgra pot pie Salmonella outbreak, was called .;Food Companies are Putting the Onus for Safety on Consumers.;.  Here is what he found, and had to say, about consumer cooking of frozen products:
Federal regulators have pushed companies to beef up their cooking instructions with the detailed .;food safety” guides. But the response has been varied, as a review of packaging showed. Some manufacturers fail to list explicit instructions; others include abbreviated guidelines on the side of their boxes in tiny print. A Hungry-Man pot pie asks consumers to ensure that the pie reaches a temperature that is 11 degrees short of the government-established threshold for killing pathogens. Questioned about the discrepancy, Blackstone acknowledged it was using an older industry standard that it would rectify when it printed new cartons
Some food safety experts say they do not think the solution should rest with the consumer. Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said companies like ConAgra were asking too much. .;I do not believe that it is fair to put this responsibility on the back of the consumer, when there is substantial confusion about what it means to prepare that product,” Dr. Osterholm said.
In fact, the Times article continued:
attempts by The New York Times to follow the directions on several brands of frozen meals, including ConAgra.;s Banquet pot pies, failed to achieve the required 165-degree temperature. Some spots in the pies heated to only 140 degrees even as parts of the crust were burnt.
A ConAgra consumer hotline operator said the claims by microwave-oven manufacturers about their wattage power could not be trusted, and that any pies not heated enough should not be eaten. .;We definitely want it to reach that 165-degree temperature,” she said. .;It.;s a safety issue.”
In 2007, the U.S.D.A..;s inspection of the ConAgra plant in Missouri found records that showed some of ConAgra.;s own testing of its directions failed to achieve .;an adequate lethality” in several products, including its Chicken Fried Beef Steak dinner. Even 18 minutes in a large conventional oven brought the pudding in a Kid Cuisine Chicken Breast Nuggets meal to only 142 degrees, the federal agency found.
It is only a natural reaction for Farm Rich to highlight consumer cooking practices in defense of its product, particularly in the wake of a large E. coli outbreak.  But there is a problem if Farm Rich factors consumer cooking into its food safety efforts.  Consumers cannot be the last line of defense because, for many reasons, consumers.; ability to ensure the safety of products they buy will never be a 100% guarantee.  There are too many variables involved, including, to name just a few, differences in cooking devices and the temperatures acheived; differences in the observance, or even reading, of instructions (after all, are mozzerella bites and frozen quesadillas not marketed, in large part, to kids? Do your kids reliably read and observe cooking procedures on packages?); and differences in the habitual usage of certain products (think Nestle cookie dough E. coli outbreak; did Nestle not know and fully expect that people consumed this product raw?)

Farmers question costs of new food safety regs
Source : http://www.capitalpress.com/newest/mp-produce-rule-analysis-032913
By MATEUSZ PERKOWSKI (Apr 03, 2013)
Capital Press
Farmers and the federal government seem to take divergent views of the economic burden imposed by proposed produce safety regulations.
That disconnect became apparent during a recent public meeting in Portland, Ore., to discuss food safety rules proposed earlier this year.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration estimated that employee-related expenses represented roughly half of the produce rule's $460 million annual cost to domestic farmers.
About 30 percent of the total amount stems from lost time due to farm laborers frequently washing their hands, maintaining and replacing gloves or being excluded from work due to illness.
Another 20 percent of the total cost came from training managers and employees in the new food safety protocols.
While the FDA's economic analysis found these employee-related expenses to be the biggest financial impact of the proposal, they were largely ignored by farmers during public comments at the meeting.
Several growers and their representatives who attended the meeting were primarily worried about new regulations for agricultural water -- a component the FDA pegged at less than 11 percent of the total cost, or $49 million.
"I believe your economic estimates are extremely low in the impact on agricultural producers in this country," said Jim Colbert, food safety director of the Chelan Fruit Cooperative in Chelan, Wash.
One of the top concerns was weekly testing of each water surface water source, which can add up quickly for farmers who draw from several streams and rivers. Rural areas are seldom close to laboratories where samples are tested, so this presents a practical challenge for growers as well.
The FDA's method of discerning risk was also questioned.
A partner in an Oregon produce company noted that its water regularly exceeded coliform levels set by the agency, but never tested positive for particularly dangerous microbes -- salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7.
Speakers also said that exceeding the allowable levels of coliform bacteria in the water could be financially disastrous for farmers who would have to stop irrigating or spraying fruit with water to prevent sun damage.
Chemical treatments and sophisticated filtration, which are used by municipalities, generally aren't an economic option for farmers, they said.
Charles Lyall, a farmer from Mattawa, Wash., said the regulations seemed like overkill for tree fruits, which unlike other crops haven't been linked to major illness outbreaks.
"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," he said.
For their part, FDA officials at the meeting seemed conciliatory and emphasized that the proposed rule was not set in stone.
"Rest assured, what you're saying is being heard," said Michael Taylor, the agency's deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, who has been dubbed the nation's "food czar."
Provisions have been built into the rule to provide for variances and science-based alternatives, said Donald Kraemer, senior advisor to FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
The agency is also open to suggestions about overseeing the safety of water on a larger scale, such as the irrigation district level, he said. "There are probably a lot better ways to collectively manage water."
Kraemer also said he was hopeful that a future regulation enacting the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010 may actually help simplify operations for farmers and packers.
Fruit and vegetable producers are now subject to time-consuming audit demands from buyers, he said.
If the FDA establishes a baseline standard for audits to ensure compliance with federal regulations, that could make life easier for the industry as well as the agency.
"We're not going to be adequately resourced to inspect all the farms," Kraemer said.

Audit warns of meat contamination
Source : http://www.agweek.com/event/article/id/20730/
By Mike McGraw (Apr 03, 2013)
Despite numerous illnesses among consumers, federal meat inspectors fail to test steaks and other mechanically tenderized beef products for a dangerous strain of E. coli, according to a newly released federal audit.
That failure continues, according to the audit, .;even though these products present some additional risk for E. coli contamination.”
Food safety advocates were quick to respond, saying the report confirms their long-held suspicions about failures in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.;s meat inspection system.
.;We have heard the agency say this is a problem, yet they have never put out clear instructions to inspect this meat, and that is inexcusable,” says Tony Corbo, a senior lobbyist and food safety expert with Food & Water Watch.
According to the audit, USDA.;s meat inspection division — the Food Safety and Inspection Service — responded to the findings by saying it had limited resources. It also considered mechanically tenderized meat .;to be at a low level of risk for E. coli and did not see the need for testing.”
But the auditors recommended testing, and the agency agreed that if its own continuing studies revealed a .;significant risk,” it would propose such testing.
The audit report by the USDA.;s inspector general comes three months after a series of stories published in The Kansas City Star profiled several people who became ill from E. coli poisoning after eating medium-rare, mechanically tenderized steaks at restaurants.
Normally E. coli would only be present on the surface of intact meats such as steaks, and would be killed during cooking. But the process of mechanically blading that meat uses automated needles or knives to tenderize tougher cuts of beef, forcing pathogens into the center.
Studies have shown that E. coli may then survive there and sicken consumers if the meat is not adequately cooked.
The Star.;s series included the story of Margaret Lamkin, a Sioux City, Iowa, grandmother who was forced to wear a colostomy bag for the rest of her life after she ate a contaminated medium-rare, mechanically tenderized steak at a restaurant.
The newspaper.;s series, called .;Beef.;s Raw Edges,” noted that food safety advocates believe there could be many unknown victims of eating bladed or mechanically tenderized beef, but it.;s difficult to determine exactly how many because the products are not required to be labeled when sold to restaurants and grocery stores.
Recalls
Those products have been the subject of a number of meat recalls, including 248,000 pounds of chopped steak that caused 19 illnesses in 16 states, and 1,000 pounds of tenderized beef that sickened three middle-school students in Massachusetts, both in 2009.
And late last yea,r federal officials issued a public health alert after potentially contaminated tenderized steaks were shipped into the U.S. from Canada.
In the new report issued March 29, auditors said USDA failed to conduct adequate testing on those products.
Several years ago, however, USDA officials themselves had begun urging the meat industry to voluntarily label the products after their studies showed a higher risk of E. coli contamination.
After three years of lobbying by consumer advocates, food inspection service officials also proposed a rule that would require labels on mechanically tenderized beef so that grillers and restaurant patrons would know they may want to cook those cuts thoroughly.
But that proposed rule remains mired in the White House bureaucracy.
The Star.;s stories prompted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat and a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, to ask the Office of Management and Budget to expedite the review process.
.;Currently, consumers are largely unaware that this risk exists, and many consumers do not routinely cook beef cuts such as steaks well enough to eliminate such pathogens,” Gillibrand said in her December letter to the office.
Although food safety advocates and some in Congress have blamed the Office of Management and Budget for holding up the proposed rule, the audit suggests that the budget office may actually be awaiting further data from the USDA.
Risk assessments help the OMB evaluate such rules, but the inspector general report noted that the USDA is still working on one and doesn.;t expect to finish its studies until later this month.
When the budget office finally releases the rule, USDA will invite comments from the public and the meat industry which, in the past at least, has opposed such labels.
Either way, consumer advocates say that without mandatory labeling Americans are facing yet another summer grilling season that could produce more illnesses.
.;We have definitely missed the boat for another year,” Corbo says. .;People are already hauling out their barbecue grills, and we are probably still months from finalizing this (labeling) rule.”
Overall testing procedures
In addition to problems with mechanically tenderized meat products, the audit was also critical of the meat inspection agency.;s overall testing procedures for boxed beef that is later ground into hamburger and other products.
Auditors found Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors failed to do E. coli testing on boxed beef cuts that could end up being further processed.
As the auditors noted, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that E. coli O157:H7, which can be found in many sources, causes about 73,000 illness and 61 deaths annually in the U.S.
Most people who consume beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 recover within 5 to 7 days, but for others — especially the elderly and the very young — the outcome could be a serious illness or death.

Food Poisoning at Top Cairo University Sparks Protests
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/04/food-poisoning-at-top-cairo-university-sparks-protests/
By foodsafetynews.com (Apr 03, 2013)
Food poisoning has sent at least 479 students at Cairo.;s al-Azhar university to hospitals and sent hundreds of others into the streets to demand the resignation of the school.;s president.
The outbreak is so politically charged that Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi took a page out of the West.;s political playbook by visiting one of the hospitals where the sickened students are being treated.
Egypt.;s Health Ministry said that while hundreds were ill, there have been no deaths recorded among the patients. Those suffering from food poisoning were divided among several Cairo hospitals so they could receive medical attention more promptly. The Health Ministry said all the cases were stabilized.
.;Basic hygiene standards are not always observed at Egyptian universities, but this incident is one of the largest cases of food poisoning in recent years,” said BBC, reporting from Cairo.
Associated with al-Azhar mosque, the university is the most prestigious in the Sunni Muslim world. The student outrage over the food poisoning outbreak sent hundreds into the main roads around campus, brining traffic to a halt. One of the other protest targets for students was the offices of Ahmed el-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Egypt.;s top Muslim cleric, who presides over the Cairo university.
Campus meals were not that popular before they were being blamed for the current food poisoning outbreak. Egypt.;s top prosecutor has called for an expert panel to investigate the incident and ordered the collection of food samples from the meals served to the ill students.
While investigators seek to find those responsible, the university has already suspended its food services director and some other staff members. A team from the Health Ministry was to have arrived on campus Tuesday.
Meals making students sick were served in the university.;s dormitories in Cairo.;s Nasr City district.

EFSA Issues Opinion on Health Risks of Mechanically Separated Meat
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/04/efsa-issues-opinion-on-health-risks-of-mechanical.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Apr 02, 2013)
PARMA, Italy—The risk of microbial growth increases with the use of high-pressure production processes of meat, according to a new scientific opinion published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on public health risks related to mechanically separated meat. EFSA.;s Panel on Biological Hazards also developed a model to help identify mechanically separated meat and differentiate it from other types of meat.
Mechanically separated meat is derived from the meat left on animal carcasses once the main cuts have been removed. This meat can be mechanically removed and used in other foods. There are two main types of mechanically separated meat—.;high-pressure" mechanically separated meat, which is paste-like and can be used in products such as hotdogs; and .;low-pressure" mechanically separated meat, similar in appearance to minced meat.
EFSA.;s opinion concluded that possible microbiological risks associated with mechanically separated meat are similar to those related to non-mechanically separated meat. Microbiological and chemical risks arise from the contamination of raw materials and from poor hygiene practices during meat processing. However, high-pressure production processes increase the risk of microbial growth. In fact these processes result in greater muscle fiber degradation and an associated release of nutrients which provide a favorable substrate for bacterial growth.
In relation to chemical hazards, experts from EFSA.;s Panel on Contaminants in the food chain advise that no specific chemical concerns are expected provided that Maximum Residue Levels are respected.
The Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) considered different parameters to distinguish mechanically separated meat from non-mechanically separated meat. The BIOHAZ Panel found that, based on currently available data, calcium (released from bone during processing) is the most appropriate chemical parameter. EFSA.;s scientific experts developed a model which uses calcium levels to support the identification of mechanically separated meat products. The model will assist policymakers, as well as food operators and inspectors in differentiating mechanically separated meat from non-mechanically separated meat.
In order to improve the differentiation between mechanically separated meat obtained through low-pressure techniques and hand deboned meat, EFSA recommends the use of specifically designed studies to collect data on potential indicators.

Hygiene ratings keep score on food safety
Source : http://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/health/local-health/hygiene-ratings-keep-score-on-food-safety-1-4956024
By portsmouth.co.uk (Apr 02, 2013)
When you order a meal from your favourite take-away, or pop into your local cafe, maybe you take it for granted that your food was prepared in a safe and hygienic way.
And in most cases, it probably was, but there is a government-backed scheme that can let you know instantly.
The Food Standards Agency gives every premises that handles food, whether it be an in-store bakery or posh restaurant, a score from zero to five, based on its food hygiene.
And once these places are rated they can opt to display that rating with pride – or if they don't, you might like to ask yourself why.
Steve Bell is the commercial team leader for environmental health at Portsmouth City Council and heads the eight-strong team that is responsible for carrying out inspections at the 1,689 food-handling premises in the city.
He says: 'We have been inspecting the risk rating of places for years as part of the government guidelines.
'The new thing is that they created this score to translate it into something the public can understand.'
All the businesses are regularly inspected, as frequently as every six months for higher-risk premises, up to every three years for low-risk premises, depending on the team's risk assessment.
Mr Bell says: 'For low-risk premises, an inspection can take just half-an-hour, for somewhere like a high-risk manufacturer of goods, it could take the best part of a day. If we find problems then it can take much longer.
'The highest risk is where people are using raw food with cooked food because ?of the risk of cross-contamination.
'A few years ago in Wales, a butcher was using the same packing machine for raw and cooked food, and unfortunately a little boy died as a result. (see panel, far right)
'And it's the Welsh that have been leading the way since then. Here in England places don't have to display their scores if they don't want to, but in Wales they're making everyone display their score.'
The Food Hygiene Ratings (Wales) Bill was approved unanimously by the Welsh Assembly in January this year and became law on March 4, forcing all businesses to display their rating or face a fine. In England it remains optional for businesses to display the score.
'As with other consumer issues, consumers are becoming more aware of their rights,' adds Mr Bell.
'And when you go out somewhere to eat, or buy food, there is always this risk that you are putting your life in their hands.
'You are kind of reliant on our guys to make sure that side of things is taken care of.
'We are looking for an immediate risk to public health, that's when we have to evoke the ultimate power to close a place down.'
The impact of running an unclean business has been highlighted recently in court.
Last month Portsmouth City Council prosecuted Dale Alan, 57, and Ian Young, 60, after finding droppings and a dead mouse at the Dolphin pub, High Street, in February 2012.
The pair, who no longer run the pub, were each fined, £3,500 and ordered to pay £890 costs each after admitting seven breaches of food hygiene regulations.
Young, of Kent Road, Southsea, and Alan, who gave his address as the Dolphin, had earlier voluntarily agreed to close the pub for several days while urgent action was taken to clean and pest-proof the premises.
After a few days they were allowed to reopen, but further inspections showed continuing problems and the council decided to take legal action.
And late last year the council also secured the closure of a filthy bakery where inspectors found a mouse infestation and a robin flying around inside.
Justin O'Malley, 48, ran Portsmouth Bakers Ltd, at Dundas Spur, Copnor, Portsmouth.
He was prosecuted by Portsmouth City Council after failing to fix hygiene problems found by the officers.
Despite repeated visits and dealing with the inspectors, O'Malley failed to sort out the problems.
He was eventually found guilty at a trial in his absence of five food hygiene charges and fined £5,000, and ordered to pay £2,200 costs to the city. He was also banned from operating a food business in the UK – the first time the city had obtained such a ban.
Mr Bell says:'We have emergency powers to order a place to close.
'We have three days to put that request before magistrates to rubber-stamp it, and if they don't agree, then the premises can be reopened
'It's not a power we take lightly and in the past we have tried to work with businesses rather than use it straight away.
'If we do use it, though, an emergency notice has to be put up explaining what's happened.
'The four or five-star places are usually quite happy to put their stars on the door.
'They don't have to display them, but if they're not there you might wonder why, and they are all available to see on the website.
'The way the system works, the idea is that we will go in to a place and take immediate remedial action with them if necessary, then the score stays with them for at least three months before they are reassessed.
'Businesses ask: "If I sort the problem out now, can I keep my higher star rating?"
'But we don't do that, it would make the system meaningless if we allowed people to start making changes like that. The score is the result of the inspection as we saw it at that time. A lot of the public are still unaware of the ratings system.'
The ratings for all premises are available to search online.
For more information go to ratings.food.gov.uk where there is also an app available to download for your smartphone.

E. coli in Raw Milk Cheese ; Is it time for aging longer than 60 Days?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/e-coli-in-raw-milk-cheese-is-it-time-for-aging-longer-than-60-days/
By Bill Marler (Apr 02, 2013)
I have written about about this issue before – The Raw Milk Beat Goes On: A Look at the Literature and the 60-Day Raw Milk Cheese Aging Rule – UPDATE.
But, there are stories behind why the FDA is considering lengthening the time for cheese to age.
On November 4, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert to consumers and health professionals about an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The alert was based on epidemiological evidence linking at least 25 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in those states to a cheese product called .;Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda Cheese” that the defendant manufactured and distributed to Costco Warehouses.  Costco offered the cheese product for sampling and sale at the .;cheese road show” held at certain Costco Warehouses, including the location at Christown Spectrum Mall in Phoenix, Arizona, from October 5 to November 1, 2010.
Further investigation by the CDC and various state and local health agencies demonstrated that 38 E. coli O157:H7 cases from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in the outbreak shared an indistinguishable DNA fingerprint pattern.  The fingerprint pattern has never been seen before in the PulseNet database, which is the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories.
In a remarkable move, U.S. marshals and Food and Drug Administration agents raided Bravo Farms and seized the gouda, along with piles of edam and blocks of white cheddar on January 27, 2011.  Investigators seized more than 80,000 pounds of cheese with the intent of disposing of it as garbage.  This development is remarkable because the FDA so rarely feels compelled to actually visit a food manufacturing facility and impound potentially contaminated food items.  Typically, the manufacturer has long since disposed of the implicated food at the FDA.;s request.  It takes a rare combination of egregious manufacturing conditions and a lack of cooperation to induce such FDA action.  With Bravo Farms, federal authorities reported:
1.Plant buildings and structures are not of suitable size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations for food-manufacturing purposes. Employees must travel from the in-process area directly through the finished product areas without sufficient controls to prevent cross-contamination, and uncovered in-process materials are transported outside of the building, exposed to the open environment.
2.Adequate measures under the conditions of manufacturing and handling are not being taken to destroy or prevent the growth of undesirable microorganisms particularly those of public health significance, to prevent the food from being adulterated within the meaning of the Act. The firm lacks the controls necessary to assure that cheese manufactured from raw (unpasteurized) milk is aged for the minimum requirement of 60 days.
3.Equipment containers and utensils used to convey, hold, or store raw materials, work-in-progress, rework, or food, are not handled and maintained during manufacturing or storage in a manner that protects against contamination. The firm utilizes the same equipment for young (unaged) cheese and aged cheese, without assuring proper cleaning and sanitization to prevent cross contamination.
4.Effective measures are not being taken to exclude pests from the processing areas and to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests. At least fifty (50) flies were observed in the processing areas of the firm, a rabbit was seen leaving the room in which packaging material for finished is stored, and gaps were observed around doors leading into the processing area.
5.The facility is not constructed in such a manner that drip or condensate does not contaminate food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials. Condensate was observed directly over an uncovered vat of in-process cheese.
6.Employees are not washing hands thoroughly and sanitizing if necessary to protect against contamination with undesirable microorganisms in an adequate hand-washing facility before starting work, after each absence from the work station, and at any other time when the hands may have become soiled or contaminated. An employee was observed dipping his hands in the utensil sanitizing bath and the proceeding to mix in-process cheese with his bare hands, and an employee scratched his chin under his beard cover and then mixed the milled cheese with his bare hands without washing or sanitizing his hands.
Additionally, 15 of 24 cheese samples collected tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in children and the elderly.  The samples came from four different types of Bravo Farms cheese, including cheddar, edam, gouda, and jack.  And one sample, a cheddar cheese, tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.  As a result of the multiple positive samples for pathogenic bacteria representing approximately four (4) months of production, on November 22, 2010, the California Department of Food and Agriculture imposed a quarantine on all types, varieties and flavors of cheese manufactured, handled, or packaged by Bravo Farms, LLC and ordered a recall of all cheese distributed by Bravo Farms, LLC. See Food and Drug Administration Records; see also Arizona Department of Health Services Records; see also New Mexico Department of Health Records; see also California Department of Food and Agriculture Records.

Michigan E. coli Cases Linked to Farm Rich Frozen Food Products
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/02/michigan-e-coli-farm-rich-2013_n_2999519.html
By Kelly Knaub (Apr 02, 2013)
(LANSING, Mich.) -- Two E. coli 0121 cases stemming from a Farm Rich Frozen Food Products recall have been reported in Michigan, according to health officials.
As of March 29, 24 people have been infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli 0121 in 15 states, including two people in Michigan, reports the Michigan Departments of Community Health and Agriculture and Rural Development.
Rich Products Corporation issued a recall of several Farm Rich frozen products on Mar. 28 including mini pizza slices, mini quesadillas with cheese and chicken, philly cheese steaks with cheese and mozzarella bites.
MDCH and MDARD are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, United States Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug administration and other state and local public health partners on this active investigation, according to the departments.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

McDonald and E. coli; Thirty Years Later
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/mcdonalds-and-e-coli-thirty-years-later/
By Bill Marler (Apr 01, 2013)
A few weeks ago I was giving a talk at the Association of Health Care Journalists conference in Boston.  My talk was primarily an overview of where food safety has come since the Jack in the Box E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in 1993.   I introduced an article I found in 1993 at the beginning of the Jack in the Box litigation.  The article, .;Hemorrhagic colitis associated with a rare Escherichia coli serotype.” New England Journal of Medicine. 1983 Mar 24; 308 (12): 681-5., was the report of two outbreaks of an unusual gastrointestinal illness that affected at least 47 people in Oregon and Michigan in the first half of 1982. The illness was characterized by severe, crampy abdominal pain, initially watery diarrhea followed by grossly bloody diarrhea, and little or no fever. It was associated with eating at restaurants belonging to the same fast-food restaurant chain in Oregon and Michigan.  This report described a clinically distinctive gastrointestinal illness associated with E. coli O157:H7, apparently transmitted by undercooked meat.
I made the point in my talk that I learned that .;the same fast-food restaurant chain” was in fact McDonald.;s and that I was not aware that it had been publicized at all at the time.  Apparently, making such a statement in a room full of journalists was the right thing to do, as someone promptly .;tweeted” me the March 23, 1983 article by the now retired Daniel Q. Haney of the Associated Press.   Haney had written .;Fast Food Illness Traced To Rare Bacteria,” in March 1983, and I had missed it in my 1993 research. Apparently, so it appears, did everyone else. Or, worse yet, it was simply ignored. Reading the article 30 years later makes me wonder how often we miss the important things:
A mysterious intestinal ailment that first struck diners at a fast-food chain is a new found disease caused by rare bacteria, and it has spread across the United States, researchers say.
The first major outbreak appeared last year among 47 people who ate at McDonald.;s restaurants in Michigan and Oregon.
A report on their inquiry into the disease, directed by Dr. Lee W. Riley, was published in Thursday.;s New England Journal of Medicine.
From the patients.; stool samples, doctors isolated a very rare form of bacteria called E. coli O157:H7. Then they found the same bacteria in a frozen hamburger patty stored at a processing plant. The meat had been kept from a batch that was shipped to the Michigan restaurants.
Steve Leroy, a McDonald.;s spokesman, declined to comment on the federal report.
.;It.;s hard to predict what.;s going to happen,” Riley said. .;If it.;s like any other food-borne illness, if the original source is not immediately eliminated, then it.;s possible that it will stay in the food cycle for a long time to come.”
I decided to reach our to both Dr. Riley and Mr. Haney.  I found Dr. Riley at Berkley and Mr. Haney on Facebook, through a reporter I met on Twitter.  Both Dr. Riley and Mr. Haney were kind enough to answer a few questions.
In 1983 Dr. Riley was a a CDC epidemiologist sent to investigate the E. coli outbreak in Oregon.  He was one of the authors of the NEJM article.  At that time, Mr. Haney was a general assignment reporter for AP in Boston with a special interest in science and medicine, so he would cover interesting reports from the NEJM.
Dr. Riley recalls that .;we at CDC at the time were very ‘excited.; about this E. coli because up to that time, we knew of only three classes of E. coli that caused diarrhea and none of them caused bloody diarrhea or HUS [Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, a kidney disease brought on by severe E. coli infection].”  Dr. Riley also said he believed that .;this strain of E. coli had always been around but it was not recognized until the US entered the era of mass production and distribution of hamburger meat to be served at fast-food restaurants – a lot of hamburger patties needed to be consumed to generate a recognizable outbreak.”
Mr. Haney recalled that he wrote two versions of the story – one for the morning publication and one for the evening.  He recalled thinking at the time that this bug had the potential to create future harm.  That the bacteria .;could settle in the nation.;s food chain if the source of the organism was not found soon.”
Ten years later, being in Boston, Mr. Haney looked on as the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak garnered national attention.  Dr. Riley recalled thinking that the E. coli problem was not going to disappear anytime soon.  He felt that .;this E. coli strain had become entrenched in the food animal reservoir and that the increasing animal husbandry practice of producing meat from cattle raised in concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) had only exacerbated the problem.”
For me, I still wonder how much more could have been done to prevent the explosion that was the Jack in the Box outbreak.  Had Dr. Riley.;s NEJM article been publicized more widely would more have been done in the intervening decade?  What if other reporters had covered E. coli more in depth in the 1980s?
Clearly, at least as it relates to ground beef, the beef industry, restaurants and government have made great strides in preventing E. coli illnesses and outbreaks.  As I have said before, in the decade after Jack in the Box, 90 percent of  my law firm.;s revenue came from E. coli cases linked to hamburger – that percentage in now near zero.  Interventions at slaughter and increased cook temperatures and times, along with E. coli O157:H7 being considered an adulterant by the USDA/FSIS, have all helped.
But, E. coli has now found its way into foods as varied as spinach, lettuce, cookie dough, apple juice and cheese, and it has become an ever-increasing problem at waterparks and petting zoos.  And, unfortunately, those cases have become a bigger and bigger part of what I do each day.

Students storm grand sheikh's office over mass poisoning ..
Source : http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/students-storm-grand-sheikh-s-office-over-mass-poisoning
By egyptindependent.com
Some 500 Egyptian students broke into the headquarters of the country's top Islamic university on Tuesday to demand the resignation of its president following a mass food poisoning on campus, a security official said.
Around 460 Al-Azhar University students were hospitalized on Monday after eating at a cafeteria on campus, according to the Health Ministry. Most of the students were discharged Tuesday morning.
Students said the incident was a sign of neglect by the president of Al-Azhar, a thousand-year-old mosque and university that draws students from across the Sunni world.
In response, the students broke into the headquarters of Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb, the top religious leader of Al-Azhar, to demand the resignation of university President Osama al-Abd.
The university issued a statement on Tuesday warning students not to "exploit" the mass food poisoning, saying that such incidents have occurred at other universities.
Protests on issues ranging from national politics to local grievances have become far more common here since the overthrow two years ago of autocratic president Hosni Mubarak.
The statement said that an initial investigation by the toxicology unit of Ain Shams hospital in Cairo revealed that contaminated food was responsible for the mass food poisoning.
President Mohamed Morsy visited some of the ill students at a hospital in the Cairo suburb of Nasr City on Tuesday morning.
A statement from the president's office said Morsy, an Islamist, was "personally following" the students' health.
A senior official from the Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Brotherhood, echoed the demands of the university students.
Essam al-Erian said the university's leadership was responsible for "disasters" like Monday's incident.
Egypt's prosecutor ordered an investigation into the incident on Tuesday.

OIG Audit Finds Beef Not Adequately Tested for E. coli
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/oig-audit-finds-beef-not-adequately-tested-for-e-coli/
By Kathy Will (Apr 2,2013)
The Office of Inspector General of the USDA recently reviewed FSIS testing of boxed beef that is processed into ground beef or mechanically-tenderized steaks to see if the processes are adequate and used effectively to determine the sources of E. coli contamination. They found that FSIS needs to re-evaluate its methodology, since all boxed beef product is not adequately tested. Downstream processors grind boxed beef without sampling it for E. coli. In addition, grocery stores, butcher shops grind their own beef but FSIS does not sample and test trim at these facilities. E. coli 0157:H7, along with six STEC bacteria (Shiga toxin producing E. coli) are considered adulterants in raw beef.
The report details twelve recommendations in response to five findings, including planning to modify PHIS, developing a plan to implement a testing program for beef that is ground in retail establishments, and performing a risk assessment on tenderized product.  FSIS agreed with all of the recommendations.
FSIS has several E. coli sampling programs for components of ground beef, but the OIG found that inspectors don.;t sample enough beef, and that the facilities inspected do not have adequate records for traceback in case of an outbreak. Large slaughter houses package intact cuts, such as sirloins or chuck steak, into large boxes. The processing facilities that receive these boxes assume these cuts will stay intact, but downstream processors may grind that meat or mechanically tenderize it, which will introduce pathogenic bacteria into the center of the product. The products have the USDA mark of inspection, so the downstream processors assume that the beef is not contaminated.
The OIG found that 80% of the plants they visited did not test boxed beef that was processed into ground beef. None of the facilities that mechanically-tenderized the beef used product that FSIS tested for E. coli.
In addition, the government.;s new Public Health Information System (PHIS) had significant problems with data migration and profile errors. The report states, .;FSIS inspectors did not receive any notification from the system directing them to pull any E. coli samples for about 50 million pounds of ground beef that was produced over about five months.”
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released a statement about the audit saying, .;this report identifies numerous shortcomings that directly affect the public. It reinforces the clear need to label mechanically tenderized beef products rather than continue to place the health of consumers at risk. I find it staggering that the OIG identified a nearly 82 percent inaccuracy rate for the establishments in the Public Health Information System that they sampled.”

Hawaiian Health Officials Determined to Find E. coli Source
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/04/hawaiian-health-officials-are-determined-to-find-e-coli-source/
By James Andrews (Apr 02, 2013)
Though health investigators in Hawaii might not find the source of Oahu.;s ongoing E. coli outbreak until the outbreak is over, they are still confident they will track it down, state disease investigation branch chief Michele Nakata told Food Safety News Monday.
Epidemiologists have found that the nine confirmed outbreak victims have some difficulty recalling their food history, which is often one of the first questionnaire routes taken by investigators trying to narrow down potential outbreak sources.
Eight of the victims live on various parts of the island, while the ninth was on vacation from Canada, which suggests the source might be a food product distributed across the island. Given that clue, the investigation team decided to dig deeper into victims.; shopping history by reviewing purchases logged on club cards from various grocery stores.
The hope is that if they can compare the purchase histories from each affected household, investigators might uncover a common food item worth tracking down and testing.
.;It.;s pretty labor-intensive and may not result in an answer, but we.;re going to pull up all those records and try,” Nakata said.
One adult and three children have been hospitalized as a result of their infections. Those three children each developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a potentially fatal kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections.
The health department has found that two other people on the island had E. coli O157:H7  infections that did not genetically match up with the cluster of nine — nor did they match one another.
Investigators are still awaiting lab test results for a potential 10th cluster case.
Nakata said the specific genetic pattern of the cluster strain is relatively rare, having only been isolated eight other times on the national epidemiology database, PulseNet. It has most commonly been involved in Hawaiian E. coli illnesses in the past.
For the time being, Nakata.;s team remains confident they will eventually uncover the source this time around.
.;The outbreak is concerning to us,” Nakata said. .;Even if we can.;t confirm the source until after the fact, it gives us a chance to make sure it doesn.;t happen again.”

Local facilities recognized for food safety excellence
Source : http://www.fortmorgantimes.com/fort-morgan-local-news/ci_22915398/local-facilities-recognized-food-safety-excellence
By Fort Morgan Times staff (Apr 02, 2013)
Members of the Northeast Colorado Board of Health last week helped recognize several food service facilities across northeast Colorado for their commitment to food safety.
The Northeastern Colorado Excellence in Food Safety award was developed this past year as an incentive program aimed at recognizing facilities inspected by the Northeast Colorado Health Department that practice excellent food safety.
Morgan County's 2012 recipients included Brush Nutrition Project and Santiago's.
"Preventing foodborne illness is a challenge and takes a commitment from everyone involved," said Carmen Vandenbark, NCHD's director of environmental health. "This award is meant to recognize those that go above and beyond every day to ensure that their establishment is exceptional. We want to show our appreciation to the management and staff of these facilities for their commitment to proper food handling and preparation techniques."
According to Vandenbark the awards were presented to facilities in three different categories: full-service facilities, defined as a facility conducting food preparation, cooling, reheating, and hot and cold holding of potentially hazardous foods; limited-service facilities, defined as a facility conducting food preparation, limited cooling, reheating, and hot and cold holding of potentially hazardous foods; and non-profit/public service facilities, defined as a facility that operates as a public school, senior center, or other public entity.
The criteria used to select those facilities that were exceptional included things such as maintaining current staff and manager food safety training, having no presumptive foodborne illness or violations involving food temperatures, cross contamination, or personal hygienic practices in the past 12 months, demonstrating that cleanliness and effective sanitization are an important practice in their daily operation, and showing a willingness to correct violations in a timely manner and cooperate with inspectors.
In Logan County Sterling Regional Med Center met the criteria in the full-service category, Burger King in the limited-service category, and Caliche School in the public service category. Other award winners in northeast Colorado included:
Logan County: Caliche School, public service; Burger King, limited-service; and Sterling Regional Med Center, full-service.
Phillips and Sedgwick counties: Ovid Senior Center, public service; El Buen Sazon, full-service.
Washington County: Woodlin School, public service; Trinity Services I LLC #1, full-service.
Yuma County: Farm House Market, full-service; Yuma District Hospital, full-service.
For more information about the food program contact NCHD at (970) 522-3741 or visit us online at nchd.org. To learn more about food service inspections and ratings of facilities click on the Restaurant Inspections link on the department website.
In other news the board:
Accepted the February financial reports.
Discussed the 2013 Board of Health meeting agenda, which is posted online at nchd.org;
Updated the bank signature cards to reflect new board members.
 

 


                  

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