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FoodHACCP Newsletter
04/22,2013 ISSUE:544

U.S. Foodborne Disease Rates Rise in 2012
Source :
By (Apr 18, 2013)
ATLANTA—A new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveals the rates of foodborne illnesses in the United States rose in 2012, and rates of infections from Campylobacter and Vibrio increased significantly. Overall, there were a total of 19,531 illnesses, 4,563 hospitalizations and 68 deaths from nine germs commonly spread through foods in 2012.
The data are part of the CDC ;s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet) report. FoodNet is a collaborative program among CDC, 10 state health departments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the Food and Drug Administration, that tracks laboratory-confirmed cases of infection caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157 and non-O157, Sigella, Vibrio and Yersinia.
In 2012, infections from Campylobacter, which is linked to many foods, including poultry, raw milk and produce, rose 14% compared to 2006-2008. They were at their highest level since 2000. Vibrio infections as a whole were up 43% compared with the rates observed in 2006-2008. Vibrio vulnificus, the most severe strain, has not increased. Foodborne Vibrio infections are most often associated with eating raw shellfish.
While progress had been made in the past few years in reducing infections from a dangerous type of E. coli, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157, rates in 2012 went back up. Incidence of STEC O157 infection had decreased to 0.95 per 100,000 population in 2010, but last year went back up to 1.12 per 100,000 population.
“The U.S. food supply remains one of the safest in the world," said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “However, some foodborne diseases continue to pose a challenge. We have the ability, through investments in emerging technologies, to identify outbreaks even more quickly and implement interventions even faster to protect people from the dangers posed by contaminated food."
In 2011, FSIS implemented new and revised industry performance standards for Campylobacter and Salmonella, respectively, to decrease the presence of these pathogens in broiler chickens and turkeys.
"The performance standards FSIS implemented are an important consumer protection measure," said USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, M.D. “These standards are at the core of USDA ;s mission. While tough, they are achievable and a critical tool in our effort to drive down illnesses from these pathogens in Americans each year."
FDA is working closely with its federal and state partners to better understand the root causes of the increase in Vibrio. In addition, the Agency is implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
“New prevention-based rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act will help to reduce foodborne illness in general and new enforcement authorities allow us to take action to keep harmful foods out of the marketplace," said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at FDA.

Food Seized at Kosher Warehouses for Rodent Infestation
Source :
By Kathy Will (Apr 21, 2013)
U.S. Marshals have seized food at a Ridgewood, New York warehouse that manufactures and distributes kosher food products after widespread rodent infestation was found. The FDA investigated the facility and initiated the seizure.
A warrant was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on April 3, 2013. The inspection that discovered the problem took place in late February. FDA investigators found “unsanitary conditions throughout the facility in violation of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act. The conditions included live rodents, a dead, desiccated rodent, an what appeared to be rodent tracks, rodent gnaw holes, and rodent excreta pellets in or near food products. ;
Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA ;s acting associate commissioner for regulatory affairs said, “V.I.P. Foods housed various dried mixes and bases, such as chicken soup base, blueberry muffin mix and bread crumbs; and the conditions inside this warehouse were just deplorable. We will continue to take aggressive action to protect public health. ;
Some of the products are distributed under the name VIP Foods Inc., VIP, V.I.P., or KoJel. The company also distributes products under private labels. No illnesses or adverse events related to the use of these products have been reported to date.

Contaminated water likely cause, says doctor
Source :
By (Apr 21, 2013)
Doctors attending on the victims of Valmikinagar food poisoning said most of those admitted in Victoria and Vani Vilas hospitals had been discharged by Saturday evening.
Victoria Hospital medical superintendent G. Gurushankar said none the remaining victims was critical and they would be discharged by Sunday. Gangadhar Belawadi, head of paediatrics, Vani Vilas, suspected contaminated water in the panaka and buttermilk.
BBMP alerted
Of the 19 children at Vani Vilas, he said that 11 suffered from dehydration and were under observation. “We have already alerted the BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) to search for other possible cases and also intimate Isolation Hospital, ; he said.
Vijay Kumar (26), a painter, said he had one glass each of juice and buttermilk. “In the middle of the night, my stomach started hurting and I developed fever. When my condition worsened in the morning, my family shifted me to a hospital. ;
Hemalatha, wife of B.R. Arun Kumar who has been admitted in Victoria Hospital, who was away, said she rushed back to the city on hearing that her husband had taken ill. A diabetic, Arun Kumar had severe dehydration before being rushed to the hospital.
Saleha Fatima (9) drank juice and buttermilk at 4 p.m. on Friday. Her mother, Ruhi Banu, said she and her daughter were visiting her mother ;s house in Bande Gudisilu. “At 3 a.m., Saleha had high fever and started vomiting. We rushed her to the hospital in the morning. She is now on IV fluids. ;
The panaka and buttermilk, distributed by the Muthu Maramma temple, claimed three lives.

Food poisoning from bacteria found in raw milk, poultry and shellfish on the rise
Source :
By CBS NEWS (Apr 21, 2013)
NEW YORK A bacteria found in raw milk and poultry and another found in shellfish has been linked to higher rates of food poisonings.
Cases of Campylobacter, which can thrive in raw milk and poultry, grew by 14 percent over the last five years, a government study found.
Health officials said it's not clear why Campylobacter cases have increased, or which food or foods was the source of most of the added illnesses.
The study had another piece of bad news: there were jumps in illness caused by a group of bacteria called Vibrio, which are associated with shellfish. There were fewer than 200 Vibrio cases reported last year, but that's a 43 percent increase from about five years ago.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was based on foodborne infections in only 10 states, which is just 15 percent of the American population. But it is seen as a good indicator of food poisoning trends. The CDC refers to it as "the nation's annual food safety report card."
Overall, food poisonings held fairly steady in recent years. There were no significant jumps in cases from most other food bugs, including salmonella and E. coli. But Campylobacter rose, and last year accounted for more than a third of food poisoning illnesses in those states and about a 10th of the deaths.
"The increased number of infections from Campylobacter and Vibrio is troubling," Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal said in a statement. "Although these pathogens cause fewer outbreaks, they are causing significant and sometimes serious illnesses and industry clearly needs to adopt better controls. Targeted controls for chicken and shellfish are needed to reverse the increase in illnesses linked to Campylobacter and Vibrio."
CSPI -- which is a consumer advocacy group focusing on nutrition, health, food safety, alcohol policy, and sound science -- said that other countries have reduced campylobacter by testing poultry and freezing known contaminated specimens. They also called for better controls for shellfish harvesters and shippers.
The CDC report focused on only nine types of food germs, and counted only cases that were lab confirmed. Investigators tallied about 20,000 such cases and 68 deaths in those 10 states. It compared 2012 statistics to reports in the years 2006 through 2008.
Many illnesses never get reported. The CDC estimates that as many as 48 million Americans get sick from contaminated food each year.

Food Poisoning From Fiddleheads in US and Canada
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 21, 2013)
Each spring, cases of food poisoning from fiddleheads are reported in the U.S. and Canada. Fiddleheads, the unfurled shoots of ostrich ferns, are edible but can cause illness if eaten raw or not thoroughly cooked. To help fiddlehead lovers enjoy them safely, Health Canada has put together some information.
First, not all ferns are edible,  and some, such as foxglove, are poisonous so consumers should take good care if gathering fiddleheads themselves.  Fiddleheads cannot be eaten raw or preserved by canning.
Fiddleheads are served fried or sauteed  or as an ingredient in soups but they must be boiled or steamed first.  To prepare them, wash them carefully and remove as muh of the brown husk as possible.  Boil them for 15 minutes or steam them for 10 to 12 minutes and discard the water. Never add raw fiddleheads to a soup. After they are boiled or steamed, they can prepared as preferred.
Freezing is the only safe way to preserve fiddleheads. To do so, clean them as described above. Boils them for two minutes, throw away the cooking water and plunge them into cold water and drain. Store them in freezer bags for up to a year. Cook frozen fiddleheads as directed above. Never refreeze them after they have thawed.
Health officials don ;t know the exact cause of food poisoning from fiddleheads, but think it is likely a toxin. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea within 30 minutes to 12 hours of ingestion.

Food safety rules worry producers
Source :
By Larry Meyer Argus Observer (Apr 20, 2013)
ONTARIO — Growers, packers and others are questioning how agriculture in this valley can continue under the Food Safety Modernization Act, as nearly all of the water delivered from area reservoirs does not meet the standard of general e-coli contamination.
If the rules of the act are enacted as is, that irrigation water will not be able to be used.
The act was passed by Congress in 2010 to address food safety after a series of incidents of contamination involving cantaloupe and spinach. The Food and Drug Administration drafted a set of proposed rules implementing the new law and those rules are now out for public comment. FDA representatives, along with a team of people from universities and other regulatory agencies have been holding meetings with growers, packers and processors to familiarize them with the proposed rules so they know how they should make comments.
A session on Friday at the Four Rivers Cultural Center was the last of five sessions held in Oregon and Washington and focused on the proposed rules for produce and handling of produce.
The proposed rules set standards for the safe growing, harvest, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables produced for human consumption, but do not include produce not normally consumed in a raw form or grown for personal or on-farm consumption. They also exclude produce that would be commercially processed. Also, any produce that receives processing that reduces microbial contamination would be eligible for exemption.
Growers and packers in the onion industry have been lobbying to have the bulb onions exempted from the rules since they have outer skins that protect them from contamination and are harvested at least two weeks after the last irrigation, which also reduces the potential for contamination at the time of harvest.
Kay Riley, Snake River Produce, complained that all produce covered by the rules were lumped together as one group when there had been statements that rules would be commodity specific.
One set of rules governs water used in growing the crops plus water used during and after harvest.
According to FDA documents, ag water is one identified route of contamination, and the proposed requirements say that all agricultural water must be safe and sanitary quality for its intended use. Another requirement calls for the inspection, maintenance, monitoring and follow-up actions on water sources and water distribution under a producer ;s control, which may be used for growing harvest and packing, including water used for washing and cooling. These inspections are to be done the first of the year.
If more than 235 colony forming units of generic E. coli per 100 milliliter for any single sample is found, the water cannot be used, according to the proposed rule.
Dr. Clint Shock, Malheur Experiment Station, said local irrigation systems are designed for reuse of water, so most irrigation water in the valley is over the 235 CFU limit and most irrigation water will never meet standards. “It doesn ;t make sense, ; he said.
“A general water sample will not work, ; he said. There is a vast difference in water quality as there will be different readings from field to field.
While the proposed rules have a requirement for treatment of contaminated agricultural water, Charles Breen, director of the FDA ;s Seattle District Office, admitted that treatment of ag water is not available at this time. “Treatment is not an option, ; he said.
Breen said producers could establish alternatives to meeting the standard that would still protect food safety, a comment made often during the session.
Riley said the proposed water testing requirements could cost onion growers more than $800,000 a year.
There are also rules pertaining to equipment, tools, building and sanitation, soils, domesticated and wild animals, personnel and sprouts.
Farms with total gross sales of less than $25,000 per year would be exempt from the rules.
Other producers would have different deadlines for meeting the requirements, depending on the amount of their total gross sales.
Breen told the audience to submit their comments and objections. “Tell us what works in your area, ; he said. “We want you to tell us what else works. ;
“There is a lot of passion, ; Breen said during a break. “We don ;t agree that what we are asking is the right thing . . . I appreciate that people really care. ;
The public comment period ends May 16 but may be extended.

Food safety officials seize three tonnes of mangoes
Source :
By (Apr 20, 2013)
COIMBATORE: Food safety officials, in Erode, on Friday seized three tonnes of artificially ripened mangoes sprayed with organophosphate based insecticide, an artificial ripening agent. The compound is toxic and is part of the same chemical family of compounds that are found in various harmful pesticides and even nerve gas agents.
"Based on a tip off, we raided the shops and confiscated the artificially ripened mangoes. They were sprayed with pesticide for quick ripening which is being widely used as a substituent for calcium carbide these days," said G Rameshkumar, designated officer, Food Safety and Drug Administration Department, Erode.

Food-borne Illnesses From Poultry, Milk, Seafood On The Rise
Source :
By (Apr 19, 2013)
Bacteria commonly linked to uncooked poultry, raw milk and seafood from warm coastal waters is causing a rise in food-borne illnesses, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday.
Food-borne illnesses attributed to the bacterium Campylobacter, which typically originates from raw or undercooked poultry and raw milk products, rose by 14% last year compared with five years ago, accounting for more than one-third of all food poisoning illnesses and 10 percent of the deaths at the CDC ;s 10 US monitoring sites.
Though far less common, food-borne illnesses linked to Vibrio, which is associated with shellfish, rose by 43% over 2006-2008 levels.
Overall, there was not a significant increase in the total number of food-borne illnesses from most other food pathogens, including salmonella and E. coli, the CDC said in its report. In fact, the 2012 figures were slightly less than those from 1996-1998. But Salmonella remains the pathogen most often linked to food-borne illness, accounting for 7,800 cases of the 19,531 food-borne illnesses reported at the CDC ;s 10 monitoring stations last year. Campylobacter comes in a close second, followed distantly by Shigella, Cryptosporidium, Escherichia coli, Vibrio, Yersinia, Listeria and Cyclosporidium, the CDC reported.
While Salmonella killed the largest number of people, Listeria was the most deadly, killing 10.74 percent of the 121 infected patients.
The agency ;s 2012 report focused only on these nine types of food germs, and counted only cases that were lab confirmed. Investigators reported about 20,000 such cases, including 4,563 hospitalizations and 68 deaths, at the CDC ;s surveillance network of 10 monitoring sites. These sites capture roughly 15 percent of the US population.
While many food-borne illnesses go unreported, the CDC estimates that as many as 48 million Americans become sick from contaminated food each year. Symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, diarrhea and even death, particularly for those with compromised immune systems.

Foodborne Illness Rates Continue to Fall ; And, that is a Good Thing
Source :
By Bill Marler (Apr 18, 2013)
Work at Marler Clark has been a bit slower in both 2011 and 2012 ; and, that really is a good thing.  Less work translates into less illnesses ; and, that is even a better thing.  Kudos, to our regulators and producers of food for taking a chunk out of my workload.  The trends below are encouraging, yet there is still much to do.
Caveat: I hope that the downtrend in all FoodNet numbers (except Vibrio and Campylobacter) are real and not caused by a lack of surveillance due to cutbacks in Epi investigations and/or a failure to take stool cultures to PFGE.
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published FoodNet data for 2012 today and the numbers are encouraging.  The number of infections and incidence per 100,000 population, by pathogen, were as follows: Salmonella (7,800; 16.42), Campylobacter (6,793; 14.30), Shigella (2,138; 4.50), Cryptosporidium (1,234; 2.60), STEC non-O157 (551; 1.16), STEC O157 (531; 1.12), Vibrio (193; 0.41), Yersinia (155; 0.33), Listeria (121; 0.25), and Cyclospora (15; 0.03).  Yes, Vibrio and Campylobacter are up ; and, that is a bad thing.  We also need to pay more attention to antimicrobial resistance, and we have NARMS watching that.
The estimated incidence of infection was higher in 2012 compared with 2006 ;2008 for Campylobacter (14% increase; confidence interval [CI]: 7% ;21%) and Vibrio (43% increase; CI: 16% ;76%) and unchanged for other pathogens.  In comparison with 1996 ;1998, incidence of infection was significantly lower for Campylobacter, Listeria, Shigella, STEC O157, and Yersinia, whereas the incidence of Vibrio infection was higher.  The overall incidence of infection with six key pathogens, Campylobacter, Listeria, Salmonella, STEC O157, Vibrio, and Yersinia, transmitted commonly through food was lower in 2012 (22% decrease; CI: 11% ;32%) compared with 1996 ;1998 and unchanged compared with 2006 ;2008.
Perhaps folks have been paying attention?

Water contamination: 20 more cases reported
Source :
By (Apr 18, 2013)
The number of people hospitalised due to diarrhoea, vomiting and gastroenteritis, in Jakkalli village of H D Kote taluk, increased to 93. On Wednesday, as many as 20 people were hospitalised after suffering from digestive disorders.
District Health Officer, S M Malegowda, who visited the village on Wednesday, said that water contamination had caused digestive ailments among the people of the village. “The pipeline which was supplying water to the village had broken and has mixed with the drainage, as drainage pipe was located close to the water supply pipeline, ; he said.
Repair works
Since the pipeline is under a cement road, the road had to be dug to carry out repair works. Alternate arrangements, with the help of water tankers, was being made to ensure drinking water supply for the villagers, he said.
However, Malegowda said that the works would be completed soon.
The village has more than 400 houses. The village had first recorded cases of diarrhoea, vomiting and gastroenteritis on April 11. The number of people suffering from digestive ailments had shot to 73 by April 16.
Preliminary investigation by the department of Health and Family Welfare had suspected either food poisoning or water contamination for the disease.
Villagers affected by water contamination are being treated at Hebbalugudde and H D Kote Health Centres.
Water supply in the faulty pipeline has been cut off and repair work is under progress, said Malegowda.
Three cholera cases reported
With three new cases of Cholera reported, the number of people who have been affected from cholera, since April 1, increased to 20 on Wednesday.
All the three cases of Cholera were reported in Mysore taluk, with two cases reported in rural areas of the taluk, while one case was reported within city limits.

FoodNet Surveillance Shows Increase in Campylobacter and Vibrio Infections
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Apr 18,2013)
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have released numbers of the incidence and trends of infection of foodborne illness pathogens from 1996 to 2012. The report, called the Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), shows that for 2012, a total of 19,531 infections, 4,563 hospitalizations, and 68 deaths associated with foodborne disease were reported. (These are the illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths that were confirmed linked to a certain food. Most foodborne illness cases are unreported to the government.)
FoodNet conducts active, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed infections caused by Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) O157 and non-O157, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersenia in 10 sites covering 15% of the U.S. population. The number of infections were as follows: Salmonella 7,800, Campylobacter 6,793, Shigella 2,138, Cryptosporidium 1,234, STEC non-O157 551, STEC O157 531, Vibrio 193, Yersinia 155, Listeria 121, and Cyclospora 15. The highest reported incidence was among children aged under five years for Cryptosporidium and pathogens other than Listeria and Vibrio.
In 2012, the incidence of infections caused by Campylobacter and Vibrio increased from the 2006 to 2008 period. After declines in the early years of FoodNet, Campylobacter infections increased to their highest level since 2000. Associated products that carry the bacteria include poultry, raw milk, produce, untreated water, and animal contact. Vibrio live in marine and estuarine waters. Most of those infections are caused by eating raw oysters, especially during the warmer months.
The incidence of STEC O157 infection, which had declined since 2006, was no longer decreasing in 2012, and now exceeds the previously met Healthy People 2010 target of one case per 100,000 persons. FoodNet estimates that the increase in STEC non-O157 infections reflects the increasing use by clinical laboratories of tests that detect these infections.
The report ;s authors say that there are four limitations of this report. First, health care seeking behaviors might affect the generalizability of the findings. In other words, many people do not visit a doctor when they are sickened with a foodborne illness. Second, many illnesses transmitted through food, such as norovirus, aren ;t monitored by FoodNet because those pathogens aren ;t routinely identified in clinical laboratories. Third, the proportion of illness transmitted by nonfood routes differed by pathogen, so the data in the report don ;t relate to infections from foodborne sources. And finally, in some cases counted as fatal, the infection may not have been the primary cause of death.
Caroline Smith DeWaal, Food Safety Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, released a statement that said, “The increased number of infections from Campylobacter and Vibrio is troubling. Targeted controls for chicken and shellfish are needed to reverse the increase. Other countries have successfully reduced Campylobacter by testing flocks for the hazard and requirement contaminated chicken to be frozen. Clearly, better controls are needed in the U.S. However, the USDA and industry are pushing for changes to poultry slaughter that would increase line speeds and decrease microbial testing. And the FDA should take immediate action to require better controls for shellfish harvesters and shippers ; to bring Vibrio under control.

Food Safety and Bioterrorism Defense May Benefit from Improved Detection Test Developed at MU
Source :
By,  Timothy Wall (Apr 18, 2013)
Nanotechnology used by system may bring jobs and investments to Missouri
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Sales of chicken products in China plummeted recently during an outbreak of a deadly new strain of bird flu. From bird flu to mad cow disease, numerous food scares have made global headlines in recent years. A technique developed by University of Missouri Professor of Engineering Shubhra Gangopadhyay ;s group may make food contamination testing more rapid and accurate. The detection test also could accelerate warnings after bioterrorism attacks.
“Quickly stopping the spread of toxins saves lives, whether those toxins are from natural processes or enemy attacks, ; said lead author Sangho Bok, postdoctoral fellow working under the supervision of Shubhra Gangopadhyay in MU ;s College of Engineering. “Our technique uses nanoparticles to make detection one hundred times more sensitive than the standard method now used, known as ELISA. We have also reduced the time needed to detect a threat to only one hour, compared to four to six hours for ELISA. ;
Currently, Bok ;s testing method detects a toxin that causes food poisoning, a chemical known as Clostriudium botulinum neurotoxin A. Engineers and biologists at MU now seek to adapt the test to detect many other dangerous chemicals.
Beyond helping protect people from deadly toxins, Bok ;s technique may bring jobs and foreign investment to America. Study co-author and MU research professor, Keshab Gangopadhyay, hopes to open a factory in Missouri that will manufacture the nanoparticles used in the detection technique. To achieve this goal, Gangopadhyay founded Nanos Technologies LLC.
“Science, employment and economic development are all tied together, ; said Gangopadhyay. “Food safety testing presents a large market that is growing quickly in developing nations like China and India. MU engineering research helps Missouri tap into that market while creating local jobs and attracting the attention of investors. ;
The study “Femtogram-level detection of Clostridium botulinum neurotoxin immunoassay using nanoporous substrate and ultra-bright fluorescent suprananoparticles, ; was published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.

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Food poisonings up from raw milk, poultry bacteria
Source :
By MIKE STOBBE, AP Medical Writer (Apr 18, 2013)
NEW YORK — Bacteria commonly linked to raw milk and poultry is causing more and more food poisonings, health officials said Thursday.
Cases of campylobacter grew by 14 percent over the last five years, a government study found.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report was based on foodborne infections in only 10 states - about 15 percent of the American population. But it is seen as a good indicator of food poisoning trends - the CDC refers to it as "the nation's annual food safety report card."
Overall, food poisonings held fairly steady in recent years. There were no significant jumps in cases from most other food bugs, including salmonella and E. coli. But campylobacter rose, and last year accounted for more than a third of food poisoning illnesses in those states and about a 10th of the deaths.
Health officials said it's not clear why campylobacter cases have increased, or which food or foods was the source of most of the added illnesses.
The study had another piece of bad news: there were jumps in illness caused by a group of bacteria called vibrio, which are associated with shellfish. There were fewer than 200 vibrio cases reported last year, but that's a 43 percent increase from about five years ago.
The CDC report focused on only nine types of food germs, and counted only cases that were lab confirmed. Investigators tallied about 20,000 such cases and 68 deaths in those 10 states. It compared 2012 statistics to reports in the years 2006 through 2008.
Many illnesses never get reported. The CDC estimates that as many as 48 million Americans get sick from contaminated food each year.

Foodborne Illness Still Big Problem, CDC Says
Source :
By Cole Petrochko (Apr 18, 2013)
The incidence of Vibrio infections in 2012 was up 43% over the period from 2006 to 2008 and incidence of Campylobacter infection increased by 14%, according to data from the multi-agency FoodNet surveillance network.
The disease surveillance data also showed that rates of infection with a dangerous Escherichia coli strain known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 were back up to the rates seen in the 2006-to-2008 period, the CDC reported online and in the April 19 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
"That we're still where we were at [several years] ago shows we still have a long way to go" in reducing rates of foodborne infections, said Robert Tauxe, MD, deputy director of the CDC's division of foodborne, waterborne, and environmental diseases, during a press briefing on Thursday.
Although he noted that the aggregate rate of infection from six major foodborne pathogens has fallen from rates in the late 90s, "that number hasn't changed in recent years," he said.
FoodNet is an active, population-based surveillance program that collects data on laboratory-confirmed infections from Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, Cyclospora, Listeria, Salmonella, Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O157 and non-O157, Shigella, Vibrio, and Yersinia in 10 states. The network is a collaboration of the CDC, health departments of the 10 participating states, the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the FDA.
The network identified 19,531 confirmed cases of food poisoning in 2012, including:

  • 7,800 cases of Salmonella
  • 6,793 cases of Campylobacter
  • 2,138 cases of Shigella
  • 1,234 cases of Cryptosporidium
  • 1,082 cases of O157 and non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
  • 193 cases of Vibrio
  • 121 cases of Listeria
  • 15 cases of Cyclospora

Foodborne infections resulted in 4,563 hospitalizations and 68 deaths in 2012. Incidence of infection was highest among patients ages 5 and younger, but hospitalizations and deaths were most common in those ages 65 and older.
Most hospitalizations were the result of Salmonella (2,284) and Campylobacter (1,044), while most deaths were caused by Salmonella (33) and Listeria (13) infections. The CDC noted that "at least 95% of patients with Listeria in each age group with cases were hospitalized."
Rates of Salmonella infection did not changed from the 2006-2008 period to 2012, Tauxe noted, but rates of the serotype Typhimurium decreased by 19% while the Newport serotype increased by 23%. There was no change in rates of Enteritidis infection.
He added that FoodNet's surveillance data was preliminary and an ongoing, changing process. Current analyses are looking at different classes of foods, such as beef trim, ground beef, and ground parts and products of chicken and poultry. The network is also looking into food poisoning attribution as part of its ongoing research.
"Reducing the incidence of foodborne infections will require commitment and action to implement measures known to reduce contamination of food and to develop new measures," the CDC wrote in its report, adding that farmers, the food industry, regulatory agencies, the food service industry, and public health authorities are all important agents in combating foodborne illness.
Consumers also have a role to play in preventing foodborne illnesses through proper food preparation, Tauxe added.
The agency said its research was limited by inclusion of data from nonfood-spread pathogens and absent data on pathogens not specifically monitored by the network. Generalizability of data also was limited. In addition, mortality data may be inaccurate because the foodborne pathogen may not be the primary cause of death.

New Food Safety Policy in offing
Source :
By (Apr 18, 2013)
The government is all set to introduce the Food Safety Policy which will make the local bodies responsible for keeping an eye on the market for substandard products.
The present supervisory body, the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DFTQC), will be relieved of the task of monitoring contamination and sale of substandard goods. Under the proposed policy, which is under consideration at the Ministry of Agriculture Development, it will provide technical support to the municipalities and district and village development committees (DDCs and VDCs).
“We want to stay away from monitoring and limit our role to providing technical support through the new policy, ; said DFTQC director general Jeevan Prabha Lama. “With our limited human and financial resources, we are not in a position to conduct monitoring at both the central and local levels. ; According to her, the department has sent a draft of the policy and proposed action plan to the Agriculture Ministry for its approval.
As per the proposed policy, DDCs and municipalities will monitor warehouses and food selling outlets while the Department of Commerce and Supply (DoCS) will watch manufacturing and transportation. “Both the DFTQC and the DoCS will assist the local bodies to enhance their capacity for monitoring, ; Lama said.
The Department of Agriculture will be responsible for monitoring food quality at the farm level. “Checking the amount of pesticides used and the health status of animals and plants before being harvested will fall under the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture, ; she said.
The Food Safety Policy has also aimed to promote the food business in accordance with the standard set by the World Trade Organisation (WTO). As per the DFTQC, the policy will enforce the WTO ;s Sanitary and Phyto Sanitary (SPS) measures to ensure food hygiene by checking the health of animals and plants on the farm.
In addition, the policy will require that disease-free areas be maintained on farms and inspect food processing and use of pesticides and permitted additives in food preservation.
Meanwhile, market monitoring conducted by the DFTQC in response to growing public complaints about adulterated and substandard food products found 34 unsatisfactory specimens among the 700 examined in the first eight months of the fiscal year.
Last year, about 10 percent of the samples tested by the department were found to be substandard. The DFTQC said that substandard products continued to be sold in the market due to the absence of an effective policy and regulatory mechanism.

High Levels of Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria in U.S. Meat
Source :
By (Apr 17, 2013)
WASHINGTON—A new report published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) reveals high percentages of meat sold at supermarkets nationwide contain high levels of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. EWG ;s analysis of data in the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System found store-bought meat tested in 2011 contained antibiotic-resistant bacteria in 81% of raw ground turkey, 69% of raw pork chops, 55% of raw ground beef and 39% of raw chicken parts.
“Consumers should be very concerned that antibiotic-resistant bacteria are now common in the meat aisles of most American supermarkets," said EWG nutritionist Dawn Undurraga, the report ;s principal author. “These organisms can cause foodborne illnesses and other infections.  Worse, they spread antibiotic-resistance, which threatens to bring on a post-antibiotic era where important medicines critical to treating people could become ineffective."
EWG researchers found 53% of raw chicken samples were tainted with an antibiotic-resistant form of Escherichia coli. The extent of antibiotic-resistant E. coli on chicken is alarming because bacteria readily share antibiotic-resistance genes. Of all Salmonella microbes found on raw chicken sampled in 2011, 74% were antibiotic-resistant, compared to less than 50% in 2002.
According to the report, a significant contributor to the looming superbug crisis is the unnecessary antibiotic usage by factory farms that produce most of the 8.9 billion animals raised for food in the United States every year. Industrial livestock producers routinely give healthy animals antibiotics to get them to slaughter faster or prevent infection in crowded, stressful and often unsanitary living conditions.
Pharmaceutical makers have powerful financial incentives to encourage abuse of antibiotics in livestock operations. In 2011, they sold nearly 30 million pounds of antibiotics for use on domestic food-producing animals, up 22% over 2005 sales by weight, according to reports complied by the FDA and the Animal Health Institute, an industry group. Today, pharmaceuticals sold for use on food-producing animals amount to nearly 80% of the American antibiotics market.
“Slowing the spread of antibiotic resistance will require concerted efforts, not only by the FDA and lawmakers, but by pharmaceutical companies, doctors, veterinarians, livestock producers and big agribusinesses," said Renee Sharp, EWG ;s director of research. “It ;s time for big agribusiness to exercise the same restraint shown by good doctors and patients: use antibiotics only by prescription for treatment or control of disease."
Efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address antibiotic abuse in livestock operations consist of only voluntary guidance documents—not regulations that carry the force of law. EWG takes the position that FDA must take more aggressive steps to keep antibiotic-resistant bacteria from proliferating in the nation ;s meat supply. Livestock producers must not squander the effectiveness of vital medicines.
Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) has introduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA), aimed at curbing overuse of antibiotics on farms.
“Consumers need protections on the food they eat now," said Craig Cox, EWG ;s vice president of natural resources and agriculture. “And they need a new farm bill that will help producers reduce their use of antibiotics and level the playing field for farmers and ranchers committed to more sustainable ways to raise livestock."

Learn about food safety in Farmer's Markets
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By Vanessa Alonso (Apr 17, 2013)
With the first Farmer's Market of the year on the Kirksville Square just a few weeks away, Missouri state officials want to make sure certain items will be safe.
The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services will conduct a workshop in Kirksville this coming Monday for producers of foods sold at Farmer's Markets.
The focus of the workshop will be on regulations and exemptions, food safety and sanitation and processing of non-exempt foods.
The event is free to any vendors in northeast Missouri.
"If you are considering to sell, not just in Adair County, but any other Farmer's Markets in the area, I would encourage you to attend. There are four of these workshops throughout the state. This is the only one that would occur in our part of the state," said Stewart Blessing of the Adair County Health Department.
Once again the workshop will be held Monday from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Northeast Regional Office of the Missouri Department of Conservation in Kirksville.
If you want more information about this event contact your local health department.

Breaking news story - Brussels says nearly 5% of EU beef contaminated with horsemeat
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By Keith Nuthall (Apr 17,2013)
The continuing threat posed by the European Union ;s (EU) horsemeat labelling scandal has been made clear by a European Commission survey whose results were released yesterday (Tuesday). They show that 4.66% products in a sample of 4,144 beef products tested positive for horse meat.
The national breakdown of statistics showed that France had the worst problem ; with 47 out of 353 beef products including horsemeat. Denmark, with nine out of 99 also had an above average number of beef products containing horsemeat. No horsemeat was detected in any sampled sourced from the UK.
The Commission also announced that 0.51% of samples tested contained the banned drug phenylbutazone. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has already declared that this contaminant is not a health risk, so EU health Commissioner Tonio Borg said: “Today's findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety. Restoring the trust and confidence of European consumers and trading partners in our food chain following this fraudulent labelling scandal is now of vital importance for the European economy given that the food sector is the largest single economic sector in the EU".
EU food safety experts are to meet on April 19 (Friday) to decide if further monitoring should be staged. Meanwhile, Commission officials are reviewing EU food safety laws and are expected to propose reforms that include common minimum penalties punishing food fraud offences. These, said a Commission note, “should take into account the financial gain made out of such fraud. ;

European agencies call for improved drug testing in horsemeat
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By Glenye Cain Oakford(Apr 17,2013)
Two European Union safety agencies have concluded that residues of the painkiller phenylbutazone from horsemeat found in mislabeled meat products “is of low concern for consumers ; because it is unlikely to cause toxic effects, the European Food Safety Authority has announced.
But the EFSA and the European Medicines Agency called for improved monitoring and reporting of drug residues in slaughter animals.
The European Commission requested advice from the EFSA and the EMA after countries in Europe and the United Kingdom discovered undisclosed horsemeat in a number of products labeled as beef or other meat. Further testing of some of those samples revealed the bute residues.
Bute, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory, often is prescribed to horses for a variety of ailments, and the European Union has banned it in slaughter animals, but anti-slaughter advocates have long contended that slaughter-bound horses ; veterinary records often are unknown, untraceable, or easily falsified.
The EFSA and EMA jointly recommended “introduction of a reliable identification system for horses ; as well as improvements in reporting test results. In making its assessment of consumer exposure to the drug, the two agencies reviewed EU member states ; horsemeat tests over eight years and also considered consumers ; horsemeat consumption habits from surveys in 22 member states.
Bute has been linked to a rare blood disorder, aplastic anemia, and other bone marrow diseases. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. banned its use in some dairy cattle and noted that the National Toxicology Program considered the drug a carcinogen.
The EMA considered setting maximum residue limits for bute in food products back in 1997 but concluded that it was “not possible. ; The EFSA and EMA reiterated that position this week, saying that “it is not possible to set safe levels for phenylbutazone in food products of animal origin and therefore its use in the food chain should remain prohibited. ;

Housewives are the target of food safety campaign
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By (Apr 16, 2013)
As the summer months close in, housewives are being targeted by the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority ;s food safety awareness drive, as likelihood of food risks increase as the weather hot ;s up.
The summer drive will focus on all essential precautions against food poisoning, cross-contamination and other food-related problems.
Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA Mohamed Jalal Al Reyaysa said that in view of the principal role of women in preparing and serving foods to their families, it was important to make sure they know how to deal safely with foods.
“Awareness is key to a food-safe community. The likelihood of food risks begins right at the stage of shopping. It is important to buy foods from reliable sources, ; he explained.
“Reading the food labels and checking the ingredients and expiry dates are the first crucial step, followed by the proper methods of keeping food stuffs in the shopping cart, ; he added, noting the danger of mixing food with detergents or other cleaning agents.
Frozen and refrigerated foods should be purchased last and consumers are being urged to avoid buying perforated or defective cans/tins or food packages.
“Transporting foods is the next step in which things can go wrong completely if adequate care is not taken to reach home soon after shopping is over, ; Al Reyaysa said.
At home, cooked and raw foods must be stored separately in order to avoid cross-contamination. It is also important to cool down hot foods before placing them in refrigerators as hot foods can increase the temperature and ruin the affect other stored items.
Allow adequate air flow inside the refrigerator by leaving a space between each food item. Do not refreeze meat once it ;s defrosted, and cooked food should be kept in the refrigerator for more than five days.
“There is a wide spread misconception that washing meat or poultry will help remove the microbes and bacteria. In fact, wrong ways of washing them can lead to well. Keeping the kitchen and all the cooking accessories clean is also crucial in pre-empting food-borne illnesses. Using paper napkins is more advisable than clothe pieces or sponge, as the latter are ideal breeding grounds for microbes and bacteria, due to their wetness and (the) food residues in them, ; Al Reyaysa cautioned.

EU: Test show no safety issues with horsemeat .
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By Associated Press (April 16, 2013)
BRUSSELS  -- More than 7,000 tests across the European Union have shown that nearly 5 percent of the food products labeled as beef contained horse meat, but there is no danger to public health, officials said Tuesday.
The tests showed that the veterinary anti-inflammatory drug phenylbutazone, or bute, was present in about .5 percent of the horse meat, the EU said in a statement. Bute is banned for human use because in rare cases it causes severe side effects, but veterinary experts say there is little risk from consuming small amounts of the drug in horse meat.
"Today's findings have confirmed that this is a matter of food fraud and not of food safety," European Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said in the statement. He said restoring consumer confidence was vital, and promised to propose in the coming months tougher fines for the fraudulent labeling of food.
He also pledged to develop measures "to strengthen the controls along the food chain."
The scandal broke in mid-January, when Ireland's food safety watchdog announced that it had discovered traces of horse DNA in burger products sold by major British and Irish supermarkets. The mislabeled products came from Irish processor Silvercrest Foods, which withdrew 10 million burgers from store shelves.
Irish officials first blamed an imported powdered beef-protein additive used to pad out cheap burgers, then frozen blocks of slaughterhouse leftovers imported from Poland - an indication of the complexity of the food-supply chain that was about to be revealed to an alarmed European public.
Subsequently, traces of horse meat turned up across Europe in frozen supermarket meals such as burgers and lasagna, as well as in in fresh beef pasta sauce, on restaurant menus, in school lunches and in hospital meals.
Millions of products were pulled from store shelves in Britain, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and supermarkets and food suppliers were told to test processed beef products for horse DNA.
The results announced Tuesday by the European Commission were drawn from 7,259 tests carried about by national authorities in the 27-country EU.
The statement said that 4,144 DNA tests on beef products for the presence of horse meat were conducted; 193 samples - 4.66 percent - tested positive. And 3,115 samples were tested for bute; 16 samples - 0.51 percent - showed traces of it.
Meanwhile, in the Netherlands on Tuesday, a meat processing plant and wholesaler suspected of mixing undeclared horse meat with beef was declared bankrupt by one judge and the owner went to another court in a bid to halt a huge recall that has crippled his business.
Dutch authorities are recalling 50,000 tons of meat sold as beef across Europe because its exact source cannot be established and it may contain horse meat. The company at the center of the accusation says that authorities are overreacting and the recall is unnecessary.
A court in the eastern Dutch city of Den Bosch declared owner Willy Selten's plant bankrupt. He then went to a separate hearing to try to stop the recall.

Food Safety Modernization Act Far More Costly Than Supporters Claimed
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By Hans Bader (Apr 16, 2013)
“Proposed FDA safety rules frustrate tree fruit farmers, ; reported The Washington Post. As the FDA puts “in place a massive overhaul of the nation ;s food safety system, ; due to the Food Safety Modernization Act, “Few groups have expressed more frustration than tree fruit farmers, who grow apples, pears and a variety of other produce. They complain that the FDA ;s approach, in some ways, defies common sense. ; The 2010 law is proving far more costly than its supporters promised it would be in order to get enacted. The “Food Safety Modernization Act would impose only modest costs on farmers, or so we kept being assured when it passed in 2010. ; But many orchard growers now face tens of thousands of dollars in costs, notes the Cato Institute ;s Walter Olson. As he notes, the law ;s unexpected costs have caused a furor in some farming communities, and the Town of Brooksville recently became the “ninth in Maine to pass symbolic ‘food sovereignty ; resolution [See Jordan Bloom, The American Conservative; Food Renegade (Dan Brown of Blue Hill)]. ;
“The FDA has issued two proposed rules to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act enacted in 2011. ; [Brian Wolfman, Public Citizen, including details and links; The Packer] “The costs to fruit and vegetable growers for complying with the newly proposed produce safety regulation have been estimated at more than $30,000 annually for large farms and about $13,000 per year for smaller farms. ; [The Grower] As Olson observes, this could be an enormous burden for some farmers: “How much do typical US farm households make in a year, you may wonder? According to U.S. government figures (here and here, for example) a large proportion of smaller family farms make little or no profit, and are instead supported by the off-farm earnings of family members. ;
Liberal newspapers trumpeted the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act, while ignoring its potential harms to innovation, small business, and the availability of unconventional foods. CEI ;s  Greg Conko, who studies biotech and food safety regulation, earlier explained how the bill ;s expensive and cumbersome red tape might thwart “firms from developing innovative new processes and practices that could deliver real food safety improvements. ; Earlier versions of the bill backed by left-leaning interest groups were even worse, and would have driven “out of business ; many more “local farmers and artisanal, small-scale producers of berries, herbs, cheese, and countless other wares, even when there is in fact nothing unsafe in their methods of production. ; The version of the bill ultimately enacted was less extreme, but even it could “leave tens of thousands of small and mid-sized farms and food stands to be crushed under the weight of rules designed for some of the world ;s largest food processors, ; Conko observed.

U.S. and Canadian Governments Issue Statements on H7N9 Flu Virus
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By Kathy Will (Apr 15, 2013)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States and the Public Health Agency of Canada have each released a statement about the H7N9 bird flu in China. Public health officials are trying to reassure citizens that the flu is not a serious threat at this time.
The CDC states that no sustained person-to-person spread of the H7N9 virus has been found at this time. This non-human virus does have the potential to become a pandemic if it were to evolve, but the virus doesn ;t have that capability for now. Public health officials in the U.S. are developing a candidate vaccine virus to make a vaccine if it is needed. The CDC has posted a Traveler ;s Health Notice for anyone traveling to China.
Canadian health authorities say that the strain of avian influenza causing illness in people in China hasn ;t been identified in birds in Canada. They add that the risk posed to humans by avian influenza in birds is generally low, and there is no risk of catching the flu virus by eating affected poultry. Canada does not import raw poultry or raw poultry products from China.  A Travel Health Notice has been posted on the website to provide advice to anyone traveling to China.
Public health officials in both countries say it is important to eat meat and poultry that is fully cooked and served hot. Don ;t eat any eggs in China that are not hard-cooked, and don ;t eat or drink dishes that include the blood of any animal. The CDC advises visitors to China to avoid food from street vendors, avoid live bird of poultry markets, and don ;t touch birds, pigs, or other animals when in that country.
The World Health Organization released a summary on Saturday, April 13, 2013 that says a total of 49 confirmed cases of H7N9 have been reported by the Chinese National Health and FAmily Planning Commission. Of that number, 11 people have died, and most of the cases are considered severe. The cases have been reported from Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang provinces and Beijing and Shanghai municipalities in Eastern and Northern China. That summary states that there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission at this time, but there are two possible family clusters that suggest “limited human-to-human transmission ; may occur when there is close contact in families. They also state that at this time, there is no information to indicate international spread of the virus. No travel or trade restrictions are recommended at this time.

U.K. to Announce Review of Food Safety Over Horsemeat
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By Kitty Donaldson (Apr 15, 2013)
U.K. Environment Secretary Owen Paterson will order a review of food safety following the horsemeat scandal, one of his deputies said.
In written statement to Parliament in London today, Agriculture and Food Minister David Heath said Paterson would “announce a strategic review of the incident and its implications for the food chain. ;
The investigation will be “wide-ranging, to restore and maintain consumer confidence in the food chain and the responsibilities of food business and practice through the wider food chain, including: audit, testing, food authenticity, food safety and health issues, ; Heath said.
European authorities are continuing to investigate concerns that foods advertised as containing beef contained undeclared horsemeat. Last week, the Dutch government announced a recall of 50,000 metric tons of beef. Tesco Plc, the U.K. ;s largest supermarket operator, said in February it ;s examining “all aspects ; of its supply chain after horse was discovered in some products.

Farmers Market Vendors, Managers Get Up To Speed on Food Safety ABCs
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By Cookson Beecher (Apr 15, 2013)
No one wants customers to get sick.
That was the message that University of Vermont Extension food safety specialist Londa Nwadike used to start off her recent webinar presentation about food safety tips for farmers market vendors and managers.
With an eye toward the benefits of following good food safety protocol at markets, Nwadike was quick to point out that food safety can be a good marketing tool.
Visual cues are important when attracting consumers. If, for example, a farmers market vendor has a clean and neat appearance, uses gloves or tongs, and follows visible food safety practices such as cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and utensils, customers will notice.
“It helps instill confidence, ; she said.
In an e-mail to Food Safety News after the webinar, Nwadike said farmers can use a range of strategies to let customers know that food safety is important to them. These could include displaying a sign in their booth saying something like: “Ask me about my food safety practices, ; or, “Proud to use good food safety practices. ; Going one step further, she said vendors could even post a sign listing some of their food safety practices. If they have food safety certifications such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) or if they follow any non-mandatory regulations, she said, they could post that information as well.
Giving a few more reasons why following food safety practices is important for vendors, Nwadike said it offers a good measure of protection from being sued, as would likely happen to a vendor if a customer became ill from food from that stand.
When looking at protecting the farmers market as a whole, she said that if one vendor doesn ;t use good food safety practices and someone should become ill, it would bring a bad name to the entire market, or perhaps even to farmers markets in the entire state.
She also said that it helps assure customers that product quality and safety, as well as their health, is important to a vendor.
Harold Stone, entrepreneurial farmer and founder of Stones Thoreau near Davenport, Nebraska, would agree with Nwadike on the importance of following good food safety practices. In an email to Food Safety News, he said he grows fruits and vegetables, and that he has purchased the old pharmacy in town in order to turn it into a year-round farmers market and commercial kitchen for value-added products and rural enterprise — “to create jobs in this food desert. ;
And, yes, food safety is a “must ; in these entrepreneurial endeavors.
“Growing and processing healthy food is a service we provide to our community of 300, ; he said. “That ;s why proper food handling, from the field to the farmers market to the commercial kitchen is an essential part of what we do to keep our community healthy. ;
He describes food safety webinars and courses as “a significant line of defense, ensuring that our food systems — from field to table — provide all of the nutritional value we need — without the potential health risks that come through uninformed food-handling practices. ;
What about food safety stats for farmers markets?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 6 people are sickened by foodborne illness every year. But Nwadike pointed out that cases of food poisoning are generally “highly under-reported. ; Many people who experience symptoms as diarrhea and stomach upsets usually don ;t go to the doctor. And it ;s only when enough people get sick from what might be the same food item that health officials try to trace the problem back to the source.
In the case of any foodborne illnesses that might be linked to a farmers market, Nwadike said it doesn ;t often show up on the media ;s radar screen, primarily because it doesn ;t affect enough people at one time.
“But there can definitely be a foodborne illness from a farmers market, ; she said, pointing out that there have indeed been cases linked to farmers markets.
Describing the demographics that are more vulnerable to food poisoning, Nwadike said it ;s the young, old, pregnant and those with compromised immune systems.
“If your product is geared to people in these groups, you must be extremely careful, ; she said.
Stone, the farmer and farmers market entrepreneur from Nebraska, would agree with that wholeheartedly.
“Seniors comprise a larger percentage of the population in rural communities, and Davenport, Neb., mirrors that statistic, ; he said. “Older people often have less resistance to foodborne disease, and it is essential that our food be of highest standards to serve this susceptible population. ;
Beware the ‘temperature danger zone ;
Temperature is extremely important, said Nwadike. The danger zone is from 40 to 140 degrees F. And from 60 to 110 degrees F, bacteria can reproduce rapidly.
That ;s a good temperature range to keep in mind, she said, because at most farmers markets, that ;s usually what the temperature range is during the day.
Bottom line: it ;s important to limit the time the food is in the danger zone to stop bacteria from growing. And just as importantly, food must not only be kept at the right temperatures while at the market, but also when it ;s being transported and stored.
Hot prepared foods must be kept at 135 degrees F, although 140 degrees F is better yet, she said. Cold perishables such as dairy products and potato salads need to be kept at 32 to 40 degrees. And frozen foods (meals) must be kept at less than 15 degrees. (Each state has its own regulations, so vendors will need to check with their Agriculture or Health departments on this.)
Foods typically sold at room temperature — whole produce, most baked goods and canned goods, for example — should be kept at temperatures lower than 80 degrees F.
Food quality also comes into the picture, Nwadike said, pointing out that keeping foods at these recommended temperatures doesn ;t just keep them safe but also keeps them fresh.
All of this adds up to one of the tried-and-true food safety basics: “The most important thing to have is a thermometer, ; Nwadike said, pointing out that you can get one for $5 at any grocery store. Checking food temperatures during the day is important to make sure the food is still in the safe temperature range.
Transferring harmful bacteria from one product to another can happen in all sorts of ways, the most obvious being when raw meat or poultry comes into contact with fresh produce. That can happen if the foods are put into the same bag, but it can also happen if the bag, itself, is harboring harmful bacteria.
That ;s why Nwadike recommends that any time a bag is reused — whether by the farmer or the consumer — that it be clean.
“Remind your customers to clean their bags, especially if they had raw meat in them, she said.
It ;s also important to wash, rinse and sanitize surfaces, equipment and utensils between uses. That means a farmer should have dish pans, soap, warm water and a sanitizer on hand.
Personal hygiene
Good personal hygiene is a good marketing strategy, Nwadike said, pointing out that a vendor ;s clothes and hands should be clean.
As for shaking hands with a customer? Nope, don ;t do it, she advised, simply because you don ;t want to run the risk of getting bacteria from a customer ;s hand onto your own. Don ;t pet dogs or other animals, and don ;t touch soiled produce or utensils.
As for touching money, well, that ;s another challenge, especially if you ;re the only one at the booth. A good strategy to avoid touching the produce in cases like this is to put your hand (or have the customer put his or her hand) into a plastic bag, gather the produce, and then turn the bag inside out. Using tongs is another strategy.
And, of course, wash your hands often.
Another tip about avoiding cross-contamination when selling perishable foods is to always have a barrier (gloves, for example) between them and the vendor ;s bare hands.
In her reply to a question from Food Safety News after the webinar, Nwadike said it ;s important for farmers market managers and vendors to know that they still need to wash their hands and use good practices if they are wearing gloves.
“We need to emphasize to vendors that they need to change their gloves if they have touched something potentially ‘dirty, ; just as they would need to wash their hands if they were not wearing gloves, ; she said, adding that this is also relevant information for people who work in food processing facilities.
Another tip for vendors:  Do not eat at the booth, because your hand is coming into contact with your mouth, and you don ;t want to run the risk of transferring bacteria from your mouth to your hands.
Farmers market customers love to sample the food, and vendors see this as a good marketing strategy simply because many times, customers buy what they ;ve sampled.
Some states allow sampling; other states don ;t. Vendors will need to check with their state agriculture or health departments or with their county Extension office to find out specific requirements and regulations.
Nwadike suggests preparing samples such as cheese in a sanitary way ahead of time, when possible; although this, of course, isn ;t practical for fresh fruit. And while at the market, servers need to keep a barrier between the samples and their bare hands. In addition, the samples should be covered to protect them from airborne contamination.
Temperature is also important when it comes to samples. Nwadike advises vendors to put out just small amounts of samples at a time and, if they ;re perishable, not to keep them at room temperature any longer than two hours. The rest should be kept either cold or hot, according to the temperature requirements for that specific food item.
Also, it ;s good to spread out the samples enough that a customer doesn ;t touch any sample but the one he or she is selecting. And use disposable single-use items such as toothpicks.
Any fresh fruits or vegetables should be washed before cutting and offering them as samples. When using utensils such as knives and cutting boards, vendors should bring along some clean water to wash these items after they ;ve used them.
When it comes to samples of prepared foods, it ;s important to list the ingredients so people with food allergies will know if they should avoid them.
Also, the food that ;s being sold should be displayed separately from the samples.
And while state regulations vary on this, vendors making prepared foods should use only ingredients from safe sources. For example, the milk should be from a licensed producer and the meat should have been inspected.
What about these food items?
Meat and poultry. Meat and poultry are more regulated than other foods sold at farmers markets, so it ;s important that vendors know about their state ;s licensing requirements.
As with produce, keeping these products at a safe temperature when storing, transporting or while at the market is important.
For the customers ; sake, Nwadike said, it ;s very important to include safe handling instructions on the labels.
Here are some guidelines for foods by category:
Eggs: Always a popular item, eggs should be kept at at least 45 degrees F or lower, although states have varying    regulations on this.
As a good marketing strategy, vendors should label the egg carton with their address. They should also make sure that the cartons — whether they ;re the farm ;s or recycled ones that customers bring to the market — are clean and don ;t have “drippings ; from cracked eggs.
Dairy: Vendors need to check with their state regulations about licensing, labeling and temperature requirements.
Produce: Different states have different requirements about produce, and the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 has led to the writing of a proposed set of new produce rules. The rule of thumb for cut greens and lettuce is to keep them chilled at 41 degrees F or lower — all the way through the food chain.
Ready-to-eat foods: Again, vendors need to check on licensing, labeling and temperature requirements.
When reheating cooled foods, they should be heated to 165 degrees and then “hot held ; at least 140 degrees until they ;re served.
“It ;s important that these foods be reheated to a high enough temperature to kill bacteria, ; Nwadike said, following up that advice with the importance of having a handwashing station at the booth.
Cold ready-to-eat foods should be kept at 41 degrees F or lower.
And in all cases, clean food-grade packaging is a must.
Baked goods: Vendors need to follow labeling requirements, which may involve including information about the name of the vendor, the ingredients and the quantity of the ingredients in the order of the volumes used.
Jams, jellies and canned goods: Again, vendors need to check on the licensing requirements in their states. Some require that these products be made in a commercial-grade kitchen; others allow them to made at home.
But how expensive is all of this to implement?
While some market farmers say that abiding by food safety requirements can be too expensive for the small-scale farmer, Nwadike said that most of the equipment farmers need for transporting, preparing and displaying their food safely is relatively inexpensive. For example, a food carrier that keeps foods hot is can run at about $200, and can be cheaper online. A food cooler can be bought for $20, coolant ice packs for $3 and ice for $2.
Once at the market, hot food can be kept hot with some Sterno cans — enough cans strategically placed to heat the entire pan. When it ;s breezy or windy, aluminum foil wind guards can be placed around the cans to keep the heat from dissapating. And in all cases, the temperature of the food needs to be checked at intervals to make sure the Sterno is still doing the job. Other heat sources can be a deep fryer ($30), an electric or gas grill for meat ($25), and an electric hot plate ($20).
As for keeping the booth and the food clean, three dishpans or buckets ($2 or $3 each) are recommended. Dish soap, dish rags, bleach and chlorine wipes should be handy.
The webinar ;s slides show other affordable equipment that farmers market vendors can use.
In an interview after the webinar, Joe Buckley, owner of Buckley ;s Home Grown, who also manages the farmers market at The Pass Market, which he described “as south in Mississippi as you can get, ; said he would highly recommend the webinar to other farmer market managers so they can share the information with their market vendors.
“You can ;t afford not to follow good food safety practices, ; he said.
When asked about the importance of keeping foods cool enough where he lives, Buckley laughed and said that it was so hot when he was picking greens and lettuce that day that he had to have ice in the sink because even the tap water wasn ;t cold enough.
“Temperature is important, ; he said. “You have to keep food at the right temperature. ;
In an e-mail to Food Safety News after the webinar, Mary Peabody of the University of Vermont Extension, Community & Economic Development, said, “As we see the number of farmers markets increase throughout the country and the number of small scale farms increasing their production of value-added foods and prepared foods, we need to be especially careful to maintain the safety and quality of the products that are being sold. ;
What about out on the farm?
Although Nwadike ;s presentation focused on food safety practices for farmers markets, she also provided Food Safety News these on-the-farm tips after the webinar:
Growers selling their produce at farmers markets should make sure that they are following any state or local requirements for produce safety, including clean irrigation and wash water and safe use of any biological soil amendments, such as manure.
“In the absence of any regulations, they should still be following best practices to ensure a safe product for their customers, ; she said. “And they should also use similar best practices as farmers market vendors, including worker health and hygiene, keeping their equipment clean, and having cleanable packsheds. ;

Call to plug loopholes in Food Safety Act
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By (Apr 15, 2013)
More than 40 packaged drinking water manufacturing units here, which are approved by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), are now either on the verge of shutting down or have leased out their plants.
These units, each of which have spent at least Rs. 1 crore in capital investment and another Rs. 1 lakh every year for BIS certification, are being undercut by companies that exploit loopholes in Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006, according to Coimbatore Region Packaged Drinking Water Manufacturers Association.
Certain companies avoid use of the words ‘packaged ; or ‘mineral ; drinking water to avoid meeting any standards even though they supply the same product given by those adopting these words, Association Secretary D. Suresh Kumar told The Hindu here on Saturday.
By using the words ‘herbal ; or ‘flavoured ; water, which have been categorised as traditional food products under the FSSA and exempt from standards, the companies are able to supply drinking water cheaply and undercut others that follow all norms.
“Such firms typically set up an RO plant in a rented house premises and spend just around Rs. 2 to 3 lakh.
“There are at least 30 such plants operating in Tirupur alone. ;
The public are not aware of the distinction between these approved and unapproved companies and often buy the cheaper products, he says.
He said that of the 108 members of the association, 15 have leased out their plants and 27 have become sick and are likely to close down.
The association, he says, has lodged complaints with the Commissioner of Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, the statutory body that enforces the FSSA, and the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) asking them to close the loopholes.
Mr. Suresh Kumar says they will be stepping up their campaign with the Central Government and create awareness among the public.
If no action was forthcoming, he said that these companies had little choice but to surrender their BIS certification as following these norms was proving futile.

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