FoodHACCP Newsletter
06/17 2013 ISSUE:552

Food Safety Tips for Concord's Summer Season
Source : http://concord-nh.patch.com/articles/food-safety-tips-for-concords-summer-season
By concord-nh.patch.com (June 17, 2013)
During this  busy  summer  season  of trips to the beach, vacations, and cookouts, the NH Department   of   Health   and   Human Services’ (DHHS) Food Protection Section wants to remind everyone to follow some  important food safety practices to avoid foodborne illnesses, such as Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli, and Campylobacter.
There  are  an  estimated  76  million  cases of foodborne disease, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,000 deaths each year in the United States.
“Food  is an important part of vacation and holiday gatherings but it needs to  be handled safely, especially during the warmer weather,” said Dr. José Montero,  Director  of  Public  Health at DHHS. “The basic rule is keep hot foods  hot  and  cold foods cold. It sounds like common sense, but often we get  busy  and forget or think someone else is taking care of something. It is everyone’s responsibility to be food safe.”
A  DHHS  video  on  summer  grilling food safety is available on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWDyMOUTrfM. There are some simple precautions everyone should always take to reduce the possibility of becoming sick when preparing food, which include:
Separate: Use a separate cutting board for cooked foods and raw foods especially meat) and always wash them after use. Avoid cross contamination. Wash any utensil after preparing one food item before going on to the next item.
Clean: Always wash hands before touching any food. Wash hands and surfaces often during food preparation and afterward.
Cook: Make sure all meats are thoroughly cooked by using a meat thermometer: turkey, stuffing, and casseroles to 165ºF; veal, beef, and lamb roasts to 145ºF; and ham, pork, ground beef, and egg dishes to 160ºF. When reheating, leftovers should be thoroughly heated to 165ºF.
Chill: Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours. One hour if it is a hot day over 90ºF. The refrigerator should be maintained at 40ºF or lower and the freezer should be at 0ºF or lower. Keep hot foods hot, 140ºF or hotter, and cold foods cold, 40ºF or below. Never defrost food at room temperature. Thaw food in the refrigerator, in a cold-water bath, or in the microwave. When using a microwave, meat must be cooked immediately after. Marinate foods in the refrigerator.
Report: Report suspected foodborne illnesses to the NH Department of Health and Human Services by calling 603-271-4496. Often calls from concerned citizens are how outbreaks are first detected. If a public health official calls you to talk about an outbreak, your cooperation is important, even if you are not ill.
For more information visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture at www.usda.gov or fsis.usda.gov/Education/Grill_It_Safe/index.asp, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at www.cdc.gov, the DHHS website at www.dhhs.nh.gov, or www.befoodsafe.org.

The Food Safety Challenge of the Global Food Supply Chain
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/december-2011january-2012/the-food-safety-challenge-of-the-global-food-supply-chain/
By Gary Ades, Ph.D., Craig W. Henry, Ph.D. and Faye Feldstein
As we enter the new year, we were asked by Food Safety Magazine to address the top food safety challenges facing the industry. We believe that the one overriding food industry concern is how to best manage food safety across the global supply chain while ensuring regulatory compliance.
This article is meant to provide the reader with background information as well as action steps that can be taken to mitigate the inherent risks of a global food supply chain.
Why Is This Our Major Concern?
It is no secret that there have been significant media exposure, public health impact and decrease in consumer confidence in recent years due to some significant food safety incidents. This has increased focus on food safety by consumers, the industry, lawmakers and regulatory agencies.
The increased awareness of some of these large-scale foodborne illness and contamination events has resulted from the following:
• Advances and improvements in public health signal detection (PulseNet)[1]
• New regulatory reporting requirements of contaminated food products in commerce (The Reportable Food Registry)[2]
• Improved communication streams and interconnectivity between regulatory agencies domestically and internationally
PulseNet is a system whereby state public health laboratories analyze strains of certain pathogenic bacteria from ill individuals and determine their genetic fingerprint. This is then shared nationally with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), allowing CDC to “connect the dots” when the same genetic fingerprint of an organism is isolated from clinical specimens from geographically dispersed regions.
Then an investigation can ensue to evaluate whether there is a common food or environmental source of this genetically matched strain that made people ill. Several multistate outbreaks have been detected due to PulseNet and this collaboration to improve signal detection.
The FDA Reportable Food Registry, launched in 2009, requires firms to report instances of product contamination, provided they meet certain criteria related to the possibility of serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals. Additionally, the upstream and downstream distribution-supply chain partners may need to submit their distribution and handling information as well. This has resulted in significant recalls related to, among others, hydrolyzed vegetable protein and allergens.
These systems, among others, have contributed to the rising number of food recalls in the past several years, and there is every indication that science and technology, improved signal detection, regulatory oversight and collaboration across borders will continue to expand, making more detection of adulteration and subsequent food recalls in the future a definite possibility.
In addition, an ever-increasing complex global food and ingredient supply has introduced further opportunities for contamination to be incorporated into food products.
What Do I Specifically Need to Be Concerned About?
Within the supply chain, adulteration is the key food safety issue. Adulterated food is food that is generally impure, unsafe or unwholesome. The main federal laws governing adulterated foods are the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. These laws contain separate language defining in very specific terms how the term “adulterated” will be applied to the foods each of these laws regulates. Products that are adulterated under these laws’ definitions cannot enter into commerce for human food use. Under U.S. law, using an ingredient not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is one form of food adulteration. State statutes may also regulate adulterated food produced or sold in the state.
Adulteration can be unintentional or intentional. This includes biological, chemical or physical hazards. Intentional adulteration can be for economic or other reasons, such as food defense. Additionally, other issues such as consistency, quality, availability and price are of concern to all those in a company who are involved with the supply chain.
Further, the global food supply continues to grow in volume and complexity. Imports are expected to continue to grow because of cost concerns (need for lower costs and higher productivity), availability (includes seasonality) and consumer demand for diverse food products.
According to an FDA Report entitled “Pathway to Global Safety and Quality,”[3] between 10 and 15 percent of all food consumed in the U.S. is imported. According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), imports account for nearly two-thirds of the fruits and vegetables and 80 percent of seafood eaten domestically. Seafood and spices are among the most imported food items.
Consumers in the U.S. are accustomed to a wide selection of food products from around the world. The growth of imported products is coming from locations such as Mexico, China, Asia, India and Africa. According to an analysis of food products refused by FDA at the port, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Economic Research Service,[4] “The three food industry groups with the most violations were vegetables (20.6 % of total violations), fishery and seafood (20.1%) and fruits (11.7%). Violations observed over the entire time period include sanitary issues in seafood and fruit products, pesticides in vegetables and unregistered processes for canned food products in all three industries.”
FDA-regulated products come from more than 300,000 facilities in 150 countries. Projected growth rates of imported foods are 5–15 percent per year. Imports will continue to grow because of the rise of emerging markets, the scarcity of natural resources and the increased flow of capital, information and goods across borders. With this increase will come increased complexity for regulators, as the distinction between foreign and domestic products continues to blur and becomes ever more complex. With this complexity comes the challenge of being able to trace the products, ensure that all entities within the supply chain meet their responsibility for food safety and quality and address the ever-growing number and sophistication of those who wish to perpetrate economic fraud or food supply terrorism.
What Has Been or Is Being Done to Address Global Supply Chain Food Safety and Defense?
From a regulatory perspective, several new laws and regulations have been enacted in recent years to help address the safety of the global food supply chain, including the Bioterrorism Act of 2002[5] and the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).[6]
While most of those have been discussed elsewhere in this magazine, we felt that putting this information in one place would aid you in making decisions as well as being able to explain the need for these programs when requesting resources, whether for people, money or departmental cooperation. However, regulations are only as good as the resources to investigate and enforce them.
For example, in fiscal 2010, there were almost 10 million shipments of imported food to the U.S., but FDA was only able to physically examine 2.1 percent of those shipments. Within FSMA, mandatory inspections of food facilities will be based on risk. All high-risk domestic facilities must be inspected within 5 years of enactment and no less than 3 years thereafter. Within 1 year of enactment, FDA must inspect at least 600 foreign food facilities and double those inspections every year for the next 5 years. This would mean that in year six, FDA would have to conduct 19,200 inspections. Will the FDA have adequate resources of money and trained people to do this?
The responsibility for protecting your products, brand and supply chain partners can only rest on a more complete understanding of the following:
• All of the possible hazards across your supply chain
• Mitigation strategies you and your supply chain partners have in place
• Monitoring and verification across the supply chain to ensure the systems are working and are contemporary with the emerging food safety issues as they arise
The following describes the aforementioned acts.
The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 requires FDA to receive prior notice of food imported into the U.S. FDA uses this information in advance of the imported foods’ arrival to review, evaluate and assess the information, and determine whether to inspect the imported food.
The act also requires the registration of food facilities, which means that domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack or hold food for human or animal consumption in the U.S. must register with FDA.
The following information must be submitted to FDA prior to product import:
• Identification of the submitter, including name, business address, telephone number and email address
• Identification of the transmitter (if different from the submitter), including name, business address, telephone number and email address
• Entry type and CBP (Bureau of Customs and Border Protection) identifier
• Identification of the article of food, including:
• FDA product code
• Common or usual name or market name
• Estimated quantity, described from the smallest package size to the largest container
• Lot, code number or other identifier (if applicable)
• For food that is no longer in its natural state, identification of the manufacturer: manufacturer’s name and either 1) the registration number, city and country of the manufacturer or 2) both the full address of the manufacturer and the reason the registration number is not provided (reasons listed in the Compliance Policy Guide for Prior Notice of Imported Food)
• For food that is in its natural state, identification of the grower and growing location address, if known
• FDA country of production
• Name and full address of the shipper, if different from the manufacturer
• Country from which the article of food is shipped or, if the food is imported by international mail, the anticipated date of mailing and country from which the food is mailed
• Anticipated arrival information (location, date and time) or, if the food is imported by international mail, the U.S. recipient (name and address)
• Identification of the importer, owner and ultimate consignee (except for food imported by international mail or transshipped through the U.S.) with name and full address
• Identification of the carrier and mode of transportation (except for food imported by international mail)
• Planned shipment information (except for food imported by international mail)
In response to increased globalization, FDA has expanded its capabilities and regulatory authority. The PREDICT systems,[7] for instance, use novel data analytics from the entire life cycle of a product to better identify and target high-risk products before they enter the country. It is believed that using this better intelligence, admissibility of safe products will be speeded and FDA can focus its investigations on the goods most likely to harm the public.
The FDA FSMA sections include the following:
• Preventive Control Plans. Food manufacturing facilities must develop and implement science-based written plans that evaluate hazards that could affect the safety of food.
• Mandatory Produce Safety Standards. FDA must establish science-based minimum standards for the safe production and harvesting of fruits and vegetables.
• Required Inspections. Mandatory inspections of food facilities are based on risk. All high-risk domestic facilities must be inspected within 5 years of enactment and no less than 3 years thereafter. Within 6 years of enactment, FDA would have to conduct 19,200 inspections of foreign food facilities annually.
• Product Tracing. FDA is required to establish a comprehensive product tracing system to track movement of food products from farm to point of sale or service. The goal being to identify sources of foodborne illnesses earlier and to contain outbreaks more quickly.
• Third-party Certification. Designated imported foods must be certified by a third party with expertise in food safety under the oversight of FDA.
• Certification for High-risk Food. FDA can require that high-risk imported foods be accompanied by a credible third-party certification or other assurance of compliance as a condition of entry into the U.S.
• Increased Inspection Authority. Inspect records of any entity (excluding farms and restaurants) that manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, holds, receives or imports food products.
• Mandatory Recall Authority. This requires a recall based on a “reasonable probability” that an article of food is adulterated, misbranded or will cause “serious adverse health consequences or death” to people or animals.
• Suspension of Registration. FDA can suspend registration of a facility if it is determined that the food poses a reasonable probability of serious adverse health consequences or death. A facility that is under suspension is prohibited from distributing food.
FDA’s new approach rests on four core building blocks:
1) FDA, in close partnership with its foreign counterparts, will assemble global coalitions of regulators dedicated to building and strengthening the product safety net around the world.
2) With these coalitions, FDA intends to develop a global data information system and network in which regulators worldwide can regularly and proactively share real-time information and resources across markets.
3) FDA will continue to expand its capabilities in intelligence gathering and use, with an increased focus on risk analytics and thoroughly modernized information technology capabilities.
4) FDA will effectively allocate agency resources based on risk, leveraging the combined efforts of government, industry and public- and private-sector third parties.
However, given all of FDA’s new initiatives and responsibilities, it appears the agency will be hard-pressed to meet the demands of the globalization of the food supply system because of lack of resources in both people and money.
Who Else Is Helping?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science & Technology Directorate Centers of Excellence (COE) network was developed.[8] The COE is an extended consortium of hundreds of universities that generates groundbreaking ideas for new technologies and critical knowledge, while also relying on each other’s capabilities to serve DHS’s many mission needs.
All COEs work closely with academia, industry, department components and first responders to develop customer-driven research solutions to “on the ground” challenges as well as provide essential training to the next generation of homeland security experts. The research portfolio is a mix of basic and applied research addressing both short- and long-term needs. The COE extended network is also available for rapid response efforts.
Managed through the Office of University Programs, the COEs organize leading experts and researchers to conduct multidisciplinary homeland security research and education. Each center is university- or co-led in collaboration with partners from other institutions, agencies, national laboratories, think tanks and the private sector.
There are currently 12 COEs across the country.
• The Center for Risk and Economic Analysis of Terrorism Events (CREATE), led by the University of Southern California, develops advanced tools to evaluate the risks, costs and consequences of terrorism.
• The Center for Advancing Microbial Risk Assessment (CAMRA), led by Michigan State University and Drexel University established jointly with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fills critical gaps in risk assessments for mitigating microbial hazards.
• The Center of Excellence for Zoonotic and Animal Disease Defense (ZADD), led by Texas A&M University and Kansas State University, protects the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.
• The National Center for Food Protection and Defense (NCFPD), led by the University of Minnesota, defends the safety and security of the food system by conducting research to protect vulnerabilities in the nation’s food supply chain.
• The National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), led by the University of Maryland, informs decisions on how to disrupt terrorists and terrorist groups through empirically grounded findings on the human element of the terrorist threat.
• The National Center for the Study of Preparedness and Catastrophic Event Response (PACER), led by Johns Hopkins University, optimizes our nation’s preparedness in the event of a high-consequence natural or man-made disaster.
• The Center of Excellence for Awareness & Location of Explosives-related Threats (ALERT), led by Northeastern University and the University of Rhode Island, will develop new means and methods to protect the nation from explosives-related threats.
• The National Center for Border Security and Immigration (NCBSI), led by the University of Arizona in Tucson (research co-lead) and the University of Texas at El Paso (education co-lead), is developing technologies, tools and advanced methods to balance immigration and commerce with effective border security.
• The Center for Maritime, Island and Remotes and Extreme Environment Security (MIREES), led by the University of Hawaii and Stevens Institute of Technology, focuses on developing robust research and education programs addressing maritime domain awareness to safeguard populations and properties in geographical areas that present significant security challenges.
• The Coastal Hazards Center of Excellence (CHC), led by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, performs research and develops education programs to enhance the nation’s ability to safeguard populations, properties and economies from catastrophic natural disaster.
• The National Transportation Security Center of Excellence (NTSCOE) was established in accordance with HR 1, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 in August 2007. The NTSCOE will develop new technologies, tools and advanced methods to defend, protect and increase the resilience of the nation’s multimodal transportation. It comprises seven institutions.
• The Center of Excellence in Command, Control and Interoperability (C2I) led by Purdue University (visualization sciences co-lead) and Rutgers University (data sciences co-lead) will create the scientific basis and enduring technologies needed to analyze massive amounts of information to detect security threats.
In light of pending regulations stemming from the FSMA, food and beverage companies must be cognizant of the effectiveness of their suppliers’ food safety and food defense programs. This is especially important for imported products. Companies must develop close interactions with ingredient vendors, packaging providers, brokers, distributors and other partnerships. Preventing contaminated foods from reaching customers’ tables is primarily the responsibility of the vendor. Prior to the FSMA, food and beverage companies voluntarily addressed intentional adulteration of products. Now companies will be required to consider the potential for intentional adulteration as part of their hazard analysis.
Food and beverage companies are increasingly aware of such challenges as they continue to extend supply chains, both domestically and abroad. Having an effective food defense program complements a company’s food safety system and soon must be addressed to comply with the new regulations soon to be published by FDA as mandated by the FSMA. FSMA Section 805 will be added to the FD&C Act (21 U.S.C. § 385), requiring every U.S. importer to perform risk-based foreign supplier verification activities to verify that the food it imports is (a) produced in compliance with the requirements of Section 418 (hazard analysis and preventive controls) or Section 419 (produce standards); and (b) is not adulterated under Section 402 or misbranded under Section 403(w) (allergen labeling).
When it comes to food defense, according to the GAO, the federal government is not efficiently managing or utilizing resources in the defense of the nation’s food system. After the terrorist attacks in 2001, President George W. Bush and Congress initiated polices to protect the food supply. Billions have been spent, but according to Lisa Shames, GAO’s Director of Natural Resources and the Environment, in her testimony before Congress, “There is no centralized coordination to oversee the federal government’s overall progress implementing the nation’s food and agricultural defense policy.” According to this report, a lack of coordination means that “any natural or deliberate disruption of the agriculture or food production systems—including natural disasters, disease outbreaks and food contamination—can present a serious threat to the national economy and human health and can halt or slow trade.” As a result of this report, in part, improved coordination of all relevant federal agencies (FDA, CDC, DHS, EPA, Department of Defense and others), state and local agencies and industry is an overriding theme across the FSMA. A coordination platform already exists within the DHS for collaboration and response to agroterrorism and other disasters and the Food and Agriculture Coordinating Council, including a government component and an industry component with representatives of all stakeholders involved, who are able to share classified information and ongoing efforts by all members to prepare for and mitigate intentional contamination of the food supply.
In September 2009, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published Notice 67-09,[9] which outlines what the agency expects responsible establishments to develop in the way of a food defense plan. Previous FSIS surveys revealed that a very low percentage of establishments had even minimal food defense procedures in place, and in fact, FSIS is conducting another survey in 2011 of amenable establishments.[10]
As a result, the agency is now moving forward with full expectation that every amenable establishment implements a food defense program commensurate with the guidance provided in “Food Defense Plan Security Measures for Food Defense.”[11]
What Is the Significance of Food Fraud, Otherwise Known as Economic Adulteration?
Examples of economic fraud are becoming more and more prevalent. In an article that will be published in the near future, Spink and Moyer[12] define food fraud as a collective term encompassing the deliberate and intentional substitution, addition, tampering or misrepresentation of food, food ingredients or food packaging; or false or misleading statements made about a product, for economic gain. Food fraud is a broader term than either the economically motivated adulteration defined by FDA or the more specific general concept of food counterfeiting. Food fraud may not include “adulteration” or “misbranding,” as defined in the FD&C Act, when it involves acts such as tax-avoidance and smuggling.
Recent examples of food fraud include imported vegetable protein that contained melamine and sickened or killed American pets; milk tainted with melamine in China that killed and injured many children; honey that was banned in Europe because of lead, illegal antibiotics or not being real honey used in the U.S.; incorrectly identified fish species; caviar; fruit juices; olive oil; spices, etc.
What Can I Do to Protect My Product and Brand across the Supply Chain?
While many programs and systems have been developed and implemented with varying degrees of success, we believe it is incumbent on all of the food segments within the U.S. to protect their customers and their companies through their own comprehensive programs. Every step along the food supply chain must be held accountable for what they supply or handle. It is essential to understand and have confidence that your immediate source of supply also has conducted a preventative controls assessment as characterized in the FSMA. Members of the supply chain must have a clear understanding of the production and processing controls necessary as well as have them functionally verified and validated to address the hazards that may be associated with the foods they handle both up and down the supply chain.
Experience has shown that you can’t simply rely on a certificate of analysis (COA), supplier specifications or someone else’s portrayed activities and knowledge. A minor ingredient with functionality in many varied food products, if adulterated, can cause devastating impact to the brand and ultimately public health. The Peanut Corporation of America peanut butter recall is a quintessential example of an ingredient that ended up in thousands of processed products over multiple brands that were recalled over a 6-month period.
What Are the Key Areas to Be Addressed?
The following are five areas that should be addressed in any company’s food safety program:
1. Development of updated, comprehensive specifications
Activities should start with the development of comprehensive specifications. Without well-thought-out specifications, comprehensive purchasing agreements and supplier review programs cannot be developed. Specifications must be developed with input from all applicable departments, including food safety, product development, purchasing, operations, logistics and risk management. Hazards should be identified and addressed. If a proven intervention, such as irradiation for spices, is available, use it.
2. Development of comprehensive purchasing agreements
This is one area that is often overlooked by the food safety professional who might not be involved with the development or review of the agreement. Input from the food safety professional is vital regarding what is required of the supplier to minimize risk. The first area must be that the products comply with all of the federal rules and regulations regarding food or ingredients imported into the U.S. Next, what are the requirements (i.e., frequency, reporting system, planned vs. surprise audits, time to complete corrective actions, etc.) for auditing both by a certified third party and by the purchasing company? Are there indemnification clauses? How will you be assured that they will be paid if the supplier is outside the U.S.? What is the supplier’s program for their suppliers? Will you be notified if the supplier uses a co-packer, changes their suppliers or alters their product in any way? If a COA is required, do you understand what it represents? Is the sampling protocol representative of the lot size? Is the sample being tested from the actual lot that is being sold to you? Who is conducting the tests for the supplier? Does anything in the agreement affect your insurance coverage regarding recalls?
3. Use of accredited third-party audits
Use certified auditing programs such as those certified by the Global Food Safety Initiative. Conduct your own audits of high-risk products on a regular basis. If corrective actions are indicated, make sure that they are done. Use auditors who understand the products that they are auditing and the culture of the location in which the supplier operates.
The frequency of an audit needs to be assessed. In the past, audit frequency was often dictated by the “risk” of the product and historical data of working with the supplier.
Recent situations have shown that the classic risk category assignment alone may not be the sole criterion for the frequency decision. Adulteration for economic fraud may be different in the minds of cultures around the world from what companies in the U.S. are used to dealing with. Therefore, consider how the products are being costed (e.g., percent protein); does this invite economic fraud? Historical information or recent intelligence regarding what suppliers are doing to increase their profits can affect the frequency decision. Conducting your own audits is also very useful. They help to establish relationships. The challenge is the cost of the audit and the resources to conduct it.
4. Preventative controls and testing programs
Using a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based approach, reassess your food safety system in consideration of intentional and unintentional risks as outlined under the FSMA (Section 103). Don’t forget to include food defense in your HACCP evaluations. FDA is expected to publish proposed regulations and later guidance on how to properly identify pertinent hazards and establish preventative controls that are commensurate with current programs and the FSMA. Stakeholders should sample and test incoming products. But testing is not a substitute for a well-developed HACCP program. Develop appropriate sampling programs based on statistical validity and sound sampling methodologies. The challenge is not necessarily biological testing with its inherent challenges of statistical validity, sampling methodology and timeliness of results, but chemical testing. What do you test for? Do you or the laboratories that you use have the experience and capabilities to do the chemical tests? Are they affordable? We have interventions for biological hazards, but not for chemical hazards. Lastly, consider how states like Georgia require testing and reporting of finished products manufactured within the state.
5. Traceability
It is important to develop and implement a traceability program. Today, all establishments amenable to the Bioterrorism Act must be able to track and trace products one step forward and one step backward. A recent study conducted by the Office of the Inspector General in 2008 on “Traceability in The Food Supply Chain”[13] revealed only 5 of 40 assorted food products purchased from retail establishments were traceable throughout the entire supply chain. Thirty-one of 40 were traceable to locations that “likely” handled the product, but not all locations could provide the required lot-specific records. The report went on to state that 59 percent of food facilities they investigated did not meet the FDA’s records requirements for transporters, suppliers and customers.
Under the congressional mandate outlined in the FSMA, Sections 101 and 204, FDA and USDA must establish a product tracing system to improve the effectiveness of tracing food within the U.S. as well as for imports.
Pilot tests are to be carried out by FDA for produce and processed food products that must be reported on by July 2012. It is paramount that the food industry considers how they are currently managing their products’ traceability and how quickly they can access the information through their supply chain. Regardless of pending pilot test results or regulations, stakeholders should be prepared to supply accurate traceability information to FDA and USDA within 48 hours or less of receiving a request. In August 2011, the Institute of Food Technologists hosted a traceability summit.[14] Numerous supply chain stakeholders including FDA attended the meeting. Based upon a review of current industry pilot projects, certain conclusions and challenges were reported (Table 1).
During the summit, stakeholders also defined the goals of traceability, which provide valuable insight into this most complex and difficult task. At a minimum, a product tracing system must enable regulators to determine the point of convergence of products to better assess if product categories, brands or lots may be associated with an outbreak. The system then enables industry to determine if they handled the product and can take necessary actions to remove it from commerce. There was consensus among the participants that improving public health is paramount. However, the benefits to industry of improved traceability should also be considered and articulated.
Lastly, it would be very helpful if stakeholders can supply their traceability information electronically to regulators and other members of their supply chain when called upon to do so.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line for minimizing risk with the global food supply chain is to trust but verify. This starts with a clear understanding of the vulnerabilities both upstream and downstream across your supply chain, and flows to iterative preventive controls and food defense programs that are verified and validated at an adequate frequency. Programs designed to respond to a crisis in a timely and efficient way to protect the brand, the public health and the food industry are key to the planning and preparedness process.
Gary Ades, Ph.D., is president of G&L Consulting Group LLC. He is a food safety professional with over 30 years of experience.
Craig W. Henry, Ph.D., is a recognized food safety specialist and previously served as senior vice president in the Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Department of the Grocery Manufacturers Association and as the executive director of the GMA Science and Education Foundation.
Faye Feldstein had a 10-year tenure at FDA, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, where she was the director of the Agency’s Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response.
References
1. www.cdc.gov/pulsenet/.
2. www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodSafetyPrograms/RFR/default.htm.
3. FDA. 2011. Pathway to global safety and quality.
4. USDA. 2008. Economic Research Service Economic Information Bulletin No. 39.
5. www.fda.gov/regulatoryinformation/legislation/ucm148797.htm.
6. www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FSMA/ucm247548.htm.
7. www.fda.gov/ForIndustry/ImportProgram/ucm172743.htm.
8. www.dhs.gov/files/programs/editorial_0498.shtm.
9. USDA FSIS. 2009. Notice 67-09.
10. www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Slides_030311_KGreen_FSMA.pdf.
11. www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/General-Food-Defense-Plan-9-3-09%20_2_.pdf.
12. Personal communication with John Spink, Michigan State University.
13. oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/oei-02-06-00210.pdf.
14. www.ift.org/knowledge-center/focus-areas/food-safety-and-defense/~/media/Knowledge%20Center/Focus%20Areas/Traceability/TraceabilitySummit082211.pdf.
 
Hepatitis A: What You Should Know
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/hepatitis-a-what-you-should-know/
By Linda Larsen (June 15, 2013)
The Costco-Townsend Farms Hepatitis A outbreak has sickened at least 97 people in the southwest United States and Hawaii. Hundreds of thousands of bags of the frozen berry and pomegranate mix have been recalled, and many people have had to get a vaccination to prevent acute Hepatitis after eating or handling the product. So what is Hepatitis A?
There are seven types of Hepatitis, all identified by a letter. Hepatitis A is found in the feces of infected people. It is spread by eating or drinking food contaminated with the virus, by international travel and by close personal contact. Hepatitis B and C are found in blood and bodily fluids and aren’t transmitted by food or drink. You can be vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B; the CDC recommends that children should be vaccinated against Hepatitis A at one year, and infants, children, and teens ages 0-18 years should be vaccinated against Hepatitis B. There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C. Hepatitis A vaccinations protect for about 14-20 years in children and at least 25 years in adults.
Hepatitis D can only replicate in the presence of Hepatitis B virus; it is rare in developed countries. Hepatitis E is common in developing countries and is spread through fecal contamination; improving sanitation is an important measure of prevention. Hepatitis F and G, along with TT viruses are less common.
Hepatitis A incidence has declined precipitously in the United States since the vaccine was introduced in 1995. There were about 130,000 estimated cases in the U.S. that year. In 2010, the most recent year for which statistics are available, the estimated number of new infections was 17,000. The multiplier for infections is about 10, meaning that only 10% of cases are reported to public health officials.
You can be vaccinated after exposure to Hepatitis A within 14 days. The Hepatitis A vaccine is given to healthy people between 12 months of age and 40 years. Immune globulin is given to people aged 41 to 59 years, anyone over the age of 60, and persons under the age of 12 months. Anyone with chronic liver disease is given the immune globulin vaccination.
After 14 days, all you can do is monitor yourself for Hepatitis A symptoms, which include yellowing of the eyes and skin, dark urine, clay-colored stools, tiredness, and fever, nausea, and diarrhea. Some people lose their appetite and suffer abdominal cramping. The symptoms usually only last one to two weeks, but some people can be sick for six months. When the virus affects the liver, patients often require hospitalization. Treatment is usually supportive care; your body should clear the virus on its own unless you have underlying health issues.

After Listeria Outbreak, CA Cantaloupe Growers Began Mandatory Food Safety Program
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/after-listeria-outbreak-ca-cantaloupe-growers-began-mandatory-food-safety-program/
By Carla Gillespie (June 15, 2013)
The cantaloupe that caused the deadly Listeria outbreak of 2011, wasn’t grown in California, but that outbreak prompted California growers to develop a mandatory food safety program that was in effect during this year’s growing season.  Although California produces 75 percent of all cantaloupes sold in the U.S., there has never been a foodborne illness outbreak associated cantaloupe grown in California, and the growers there want consumers to know that they are trying hared to keep it that way.
“Beginning this year, California cantaloupe farmers and shippers of all sizes will be operating under the only mandatory food safety program that requires government audits of all cantaloupe production activities,” said Steve Patricio, a California melon producer and chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board (CCAB), which represents all cantaloupe producers in the state. “The CCAB food safety program invites government auditors to inspect all aspects of operations including growing, harvesting, packing and cooling to ensure a set of science-based standards is being followed.”
The CCAB, which has operated under direction of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) since 1988, ia an industry leader in food safety that developed best practice measures after a Salmonella outbreak linked to imported melon 20 years ago. Over the winter, members unanimously voted to add a mandatory program using United States Department of Agriculture trained CDFA auditors to verify that food safety practices are being following by all cantaloupe producers.
“CCAB is using government auditors instead of private inspection companies to ensure accountability, uniformity and consistency of audits throughout the California cantaloupe industry,” explained Patricio. “Under the program, handlers will be required to be in 100 percent compliance with food safety audits which includes 156 checkpoints.”
The role of third-party auditors was key in the 2011 outbreak. Just weeks before the outbreak, which sickened 146 people and killed 35, the farm received high marks on an inspection from a third-party auditor. This prompted an investigation into the third-party auditing system that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses to oversee growing and processing facilities. The report, published by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, showed that third-party auditors often don’t conduct audits according to FDA
A program that uses CDFA auditors is meant to avoid problems associated with growers hiring private auditors. “These programs make a lot of sense in today’s fiscally challenging times because they represent a public-private partnership in which government provides a truly independent, third-party inspection service with funding provided by industry rather than the taxpayers,” aid Karen Ross, Secretary of CDFA.
The new program will meet or exceed requirements in the Food Safety Modernization Act when it is implemented. Eventually, consumers will be able to identify California cantaloupes produced under the CCAB program through a certification seal.

Broward County, Florida Issues Boil Notice for E. coli in Water
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/broward-county-florida-issues-boil-notice-for-e-coli-in-water/
By Linda Larsen (June 14, 2013)
Broward County has issued a boil water notice for its water customers, since E. coli has been found in the municipal system. The cities affected by this notice include the City of Dania Beach, the City of Hallandale Beach, the City of Hollywood, and Broward County WWS customers in service area 3A and 3BC. That affects parts of Dania Beach, Hollywood, Miramar, West Park, Pembroke Park, and Pembroke Pines including the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
Do not drink the water without boiling it first. Bring all water, including the water you use to wash your hands and use in the kitchen, to a rolling boil. Let it boil for one minute, then let it cool before using it. Bottled water can be used instead of tap water if you prefer. Only use boiled or bottled water for drinking, making ice, preparing food, and washing dishes until further notice.
You can see a map of the affected area at the Broward County web site. Some strains of E. coli bacteria can cause serious infections with symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, which may be bloody, and headaches. These infections are especially dangerous for the elderly, infants, young children, and people with chronic illnesses and compromised immune systems. If you experience any of these symptoms, see a health care provider immediately.

Seafood safety tips
Source : http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=236871
By VERENAISI RAICOLA (June 14, 2013)
Fish and shrimps contain high quality protein and other essential nutrients and are an important part of a healthy family diet.
We have often been told that a well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and aid in children's proper growth and development. As with any type of food, however, it is important to handle seafood safely in order to reduce the risk of food-borne illness, often called food poisoning. Follow these basic food safety tips for buying, preparing, and storing fish and shellfish so that you and your family can safely enjoy the fine taste and good nutrition of seafood.
These are a few tips from the US Food and Drug Administration on buying fish and seafood that's vital to keep in mind when shopping.
Buy Right
Fresh fish and shrimp
Only buy fish that is refrigerated or displayed on a thick bed of fresh ice that is not melting preferably in a case or under some type of cover.
Fish should smell fresh and mild, not fishy, sour, orammonia-like.
A fish's eyes should be clear and bulge a little. Whole fish and fillets should have firm, shiny flesh and bright red gills free from milky slime.
The flesh should spring back when pressed. Fish fillets should display no discolouration, darkening or drying around the edges.
Shrimp flesh should be translucent and shiny with little or no odour.
Some refrigerated seafood may have time/temperature indicators on their packaging, which show if the product has been stored at the proper temperature. Always check the indicators when they are present and only buy the seafood if the indicator shows that the product is safe to eat.
Frozen seafood
Frozen seafood can spoil if the fish thaws during transport and is left at warm temperatures for too long. Don't buy frozen seafood if its package is open, torn, or crushed on the edges.
Avoid packages that are positioned above the "frost line" or top of the freezer case.
Avoid packages with signs of frost or ice crystals, which may mean the fish has been stored a long time or thawed and refrozen.
Eating raw seafood—what you need to know
It's always best to cook seafood thoroughly to minimise the risk of food-borne illness. However, if you choose to eat raw fish anyway, one rule of thumb is to eat fish that has been previously frozen.
Some species of fish can contain parasites, and freezing kills any parasites that may be present.
However, be aware that freezing doesn't kill all harmful micro-organisms. That's why the safest route is to cook your seafood.
An important note about oysters:
Some oysters are treated for safety after they are harvested. That information may or may not be on the label. However, these oysters should still not be eaten raw by people at risk for food-borne illness. The post-harvest treatment eliminates some naturally occurring pathogens, but it does not remove all and this can cause illness.

Health and Food Safety Concerns Compel Advancements in the Animal Feed Additives Market in Brazil, Finds Frost & Sullivan
Source : http://www.sacbee.com/2013/06/13/5494674/health-and-food-safety-concerns.html
By Frost & Sullivan (13 June 2013)
A burgeoning population with higher disposable incomes and a growing taste for pork, beef, poultry and other such products has given a boost to the Brazilian animal feed additives market. Market growth will continue as the development of new additive ingredients adds value for customers.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (http://www.food.frost.com), finds that the Brazilian animal feed additives market earned revenues of $1.30 billion in 2012 and estimates this to reach $1.59 billion in 2018. The research covers enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, mycotoxin adsorbents, prebiotics and probiotics.
"Rising consumer awareness on the technical and clinical benefits of feed additives and its impact on meat quality has sustained the adoption of animal feed additives in Brazil," said Frost & Sullivan Chemicals, Materials and Food Research Analyst Mariana Guercia. "End-user emphasis on health and food safety too spurs demand for quality meat products, encouraging innovation in animal feed additives."
However, increasing awareness has also prompted several consumer groups to voice concerns over the use of certain additives, thereby curbing the prospects of many feed additive manufacturers in the country. Further, established vendors face intense competition from Asian suppliers, leading to reduced margins. Investments have taken a hit as several manufacturers remain hesitant to venture into a market flooded with low-cost products. The escalating costs of raw materials and fertilizers compound this challenge.
"The substitution of traditional ingredients such as wheat and corn with new raw materials will be a crucial step towards boosting revenues," suggested Guercia. "Vertical integration, forward and backward, can help optimize the supply chain and earn higher profits. Likewise, horizontal integration will enhance the product line."
Customer service and technical support are other significant factors influencing brand recognition, particularly as customer bargaining power in Brazil increases.
"Focusing on the large, untapped amino acids segment through effective pricing, quality, and customer assistance strategies will enable vendors to carve a niche for themselves in the market," noted Guercia. "Meanwhile, the mycotoxin adsorbent, prebiotic and probiotic segments will witness brisk expansion, although at present their use is minimal."
If you are interested in more information on this research, please send an e-mail to Francesca Valente, Corporate Communications, at francesca.valente@frost.com, with your full name, company name, job title, telephone number, company e-mail address, company website, city, state and country.
Analysis of the Brazilian Animal Feed Additives Market is part of the Food and Beverage Ingredients Growth Partnership Service program. Frost & Sullivan's related research services include: Shelf-life Food Additives Market in Brazil. All research services included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends evaluated following extensive interviews with market participants.
About Frost & Sullivan
Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today's market participants.
Our "Growth Partnership" supports clients by addressing these opportunities and incorporating two key elements driving visionary innovation: The Integrated Value Proposition and The Partnership Infrastructure.
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For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organization prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies?

California Cantaloupe Producers Self-impose Food Safety Rules
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/06/california-cantaloupe-producers-implement-food-safety-rules/
By Gretchen Goetz (June 13, 2013)
California’s cantaloupe producers will face a new set of food safety rules this season — rules they are imposing on themselves.
In an unprecedented move for the state’s produce industry, California cantaloupe handlers have elected to adopt a mandatory food safety plan as part of an effort to restore consumer confidence in the cantaloupe market, which has suffered following two nationwide foodborne illness outbreaks linked to these melons in the past two years.
In 2011, a Listeria outbreak that sickened 147 people in 28 states and killed 33 was linked to cantaloupes from Colorado. The following year, Salmonella linked to a farm in Indiana sickened 261 people in 24 states, killing 3.
While neither of the outbreaks was linked to California cantaloupes, sales of the melon have dropped significantly nationwide, an effect that has hit the Golden State hard. A full 75 percent of the cantaloupes consumed in the U.S. are grown in California.
Now California cantaloupe producers intend to give consumers a reason to trust their product.
“Beginning this year, California cantaloupe farmers and shippers of all sizes will be operating under the only mandatory food safety program that requires government audits of all cantaloupe production activities,” said Steve Patricio, a California melon producer and chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board (CCAB), which represents all of the state’s cantaloupe producers.
The new standards for the state’s cantaloupe producers include 156 checkpoints, all of which must be met in order for a handler to pass the program’s audits, which will be conducted by inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
“CCAB is using government auditors instead of private inspection companies to ensure accountability, uniformity and consistency of audits throughout the California cantaloupe industry,” said Patricio in a Wednesday press release.
A list of California cantaloupe handlers subject to these mandatory audits is available on CCAB’s new website, www.californiacantaloupes.com. A copy of the audit checklist and more information about the new cantaloupe food safety program, including the guidance document, can also be found on the site.
Earlier this year, a national cantaloupe safety program called the National Cantaloupe Guidance was launched after a year of development by industry, scientists, consumers and regulators. The Guidance offers best practice recommendations for cantaloupe producers.
For more background on the California cantaloupe food safety program and the National Cantaloupe Guidance, see Food Safety News’ past coverage:
CA Writes Food Safety Standards for Cantaloupes
Produce Industry Groups Release Cantaloupe Safety Guidance

Summer Food Safety
Source : http://www.paramuspost.com/article.php/20130613105742975
By Mel Fabrikant (June 13, 2013)
Warm weather may be perfect for picnics and outdoor barbecues but Paramus Health Officer Judith Migliaccio wants to warn residents that special steps should be taken during the summer months to keep perishable food free from bacteria that can multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness.
A few suggestions from the partnership for Food Safety Education are as follows:
• Always wash your hands with soap and warm water before handling any food.
• Marinate food in the refrigerator, not the countertop, and never use the leftover marinade from raw meat or poultry on cooked food.
• Never put cooked food from the grill back onto the same plate used to carry the raw food unless you’ve first washed it with warm, soapy water.
• When the outside temperature is above 90 degrees food should never sit out longer than one hour before being refrigerated.
• Fill all the empty spaces in a cooler with ice or cold packs in order to keep everything colder.
In addition, Board of Health President, Dr. Holly Driscoll would like to remind Paramus residents that diets rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases as well as provide necessary minerals and fiber. This time of year local produce is readily available. It’s low in calories, filling and easily worked into your daily eating habits. Ask your local grocery or market produce manager for healthy recipe suggestions.
For more food safety tips go to www.foodsafety.gov.

Most Consumers Don’t Wash Their Hands Correctly
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/most-consumers-dont-wash-their-hands-correctly/
By Linda Larsen (June 13, 2013)
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that only 5% of consumers wash their hands correctly. Scientists trained 12 college students in the field of data collection. They then observed 3,749 people washing their hands in public toilets.
The observers found that 15% of the men and 7% of women didn’t wash their hands at all. Only 50% of men and 78% of women used soap. People were less likely to wash their hands if the sink looked dirty, and more likely if a sign telling people that hand washing is a good idea was hanging above the sink. And for some reason, more people wash their hands during the day than at night.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that hand washing is crucial to avoid spreading foodborne illness and other infections. If some of those people observed in this study were waiters or food preparers, they could have spread Hepatitis A, Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria monocytogenes, or Campylobacter to patrons.
To wash hands correctly, get them wet under warm water, then scrub them together with lots of soap,  for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to clean dirt from under your fingernails and wash wrists, palms, and backs of your hands. To keep track of the time you spend scrubbing your hands, one  recommendation is to sing the song “Happy Birthday to You” twice.
Always wash your hands before preparing or eating food and after going to the bathroom or changing diapers. If soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizers are the next best thing. Make sure to use the recommended amount of sanitizer and rub your hands together until hands are dry. But remember that hand sanitizers aren’t as effective when there is visible dirt on your hands.

Derecho, Power Outage and Food Safety Tips
Source : http://reston.patch.com/articles/derecho-power-outage-and-food-safety-tips
By Beth Lawton. (June 12, 2013)
Local weather forecasters are looking at a major network of storms that could spawn a derecho (high speed straight-line winds) and damaging rain late Wednesday and Thursday across Northern Virginia.
The following are resources to use as you prepare for the storm.
For more on this week's coming storms:
•Derecho Potential: Major Storm Could Bring 'Limbs and Trees Down,' Power Outages to Northern Virginia
•Northern Virginia Storm Safety: Social Media Accounts to Follow or Fan
Emergency Supplies
•For a list of suggested emergency supplies you should collect for your family, visit the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Ready Virginia page.
•Remember to account for your pets in your family plan—have extra food and water on hand for them and make an evacuation plan that includes them in the event you need to leave your home.
Food Safety
•An electrical power outage will affect the safe storage of refrigerated and frozen foods. Perishable food such as meat, poultry, seafood, milk and eggs that are not stored properly refrigerated or frozen may cause illness if consumed. In order to protect these foods from spoilage, follow these guidelines from Fairfax County.
•The federal resource foodsafety.gov has a chart detailing how long specific foods remain safe when the power goes out. See: Refrigerated Food and Power Outages: When to Save and When to Throw Out
•Make sure you stock up on canned and non-perishable foods and water.
Communication and Power Outage Tips:
•Save important phone numbers to your phone or write them down, especially your power company.
•Make sure you have a battery-powered radio.
•Follow these social media accounts, blogs and other resources from your mobile device.
•View additional tips from Dominion Virginia Power and NOVEC
•Dominion Virginia Power outages and downed wires: Call 1-866-DOM-HELP (1-866-366-4357) to report power outages, even if you think your neighbor has already done so. Dominion has an interactive power outage map you can check out, too.
•NOVEC (Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative) outages and downed wires: call 1-888-335-0500 or 703-335-0500 and view outage reports here.
•Stay away from downed wires as they may be live with electricity, even if they aren’t actively sparking.
•Do not use candles as they may pose a fire threat. Stock up on batteries for your flashlights before the storm hits.
•Be sure to operate generators safely.

EU Report Reveals Food-Safety Alerts Declined in 2012
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/06/eu-report-reveals-food-safety-alerts-declined-in.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (June 12, 2013)
BRUSSELS—In 2012, almost 50% of notifications related to food and feed rejections at European Union borders were due to the risk they posed to food safety, according an annual report released June 11 on Europe’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF).
In 2012, the number of RASFF notifications reached a total of 8,797, representing a 3.9% decrease compared to 2011. Of those, 3,516 were original notifications (40%) and 5,281 were follow-up notifications (60%). The figures represent a 7.8% decrease in original notifications and a 1.2% decrease in follow-up notifications. A total of 526 alert notifications reporting on serious risks found in products on the market, which marked decrease of 14% compared to 2011.
Of the 3,516 original notifications transmitted in RASFF in 2012, 332 concerned feed (9.4%) and regarding food contact materials, 299 notifications were counted (8.5%). The figures are in line with what was reported in 2011. 2,885 original notifications were related to food.
The report highlighted two key food-safety issues. In September 2012, the Czech food-safety authority informed RASFF of persons suffering from methanol poisoning after having consumed "on tap" spirits. In this instance, the adulteration of spirits had devastating consequences and resulted in 36 fatalities. The Czech authority used the RASFF channel to swiftly inform and update its EU partners on its investigations and on the measures it had taken.
Since RASFF is primarily a platform to exchange information on food safety issues, both the Czech methanol and the horsemeat scandal have raised a legitimate need to exchange information on cases of food fraud which is an emerging phenomenon. To address this, the Commission's 5-point action plan aims to close the gaps identified in the wake of the horsemeat scandal includes setting up a procedure for the rapid exchange of information and alerts in cases which may constitute food fraud.

How Did a Hepatitis Virus Get Into Organic Berries?
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-simon/hepatitis-a-outbreak_b_3424476.html
By Michele Simon. (June 12, 2013)
Stalled Federal Import Safety Rules Results in More Illness
The latest example of how even health-conscious eaters are not immune from food-borne illness outbreaks came last week with a recall of organic frozen berries contaminated with Hepatitis A. The products were sold under the brand name of Townsend Farms at two large chains: Costco stores in the west and Harris Teeter stores.
The latest count from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is 87 people infected in eight states: Arizona, California Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington. Of these, 36 have been hospitalized.
According to the CDC, Hepatitis A "usually occurs when an infected food handler prepares food without appropriate hand hygiene." However, the source of this particular strain is still unclear, except that it probably did not originate in the United States.
This outbreak raises several important questions about our food system.
Are Companies Duping Consumers With "Farm-Washing"?
According to the fine print on the back label, shown on food safety attorney Bill Marler's blog, the fruit came from around the world: Chile, Argentina, and Turkey. The pomegranate seeds processed in Turkey appear to be the culprit. (Marler is suing Townsend on behalf of the victims and just sent the company this demand letter.)
But you couldn't tell the international origins from the front of the packaging labeled "Organic Antioxidant Blend," with the bucolic image of Townsend Farms and its warm and fuzzy tag line: "Since 1906, Field to Farm to Family."
It seems at least one victim of the outbreak was fooled by the imagery. According to CBS News, Geoff Soza of California ate "a healthy breakfast of thawed frozen berries and Greek yogurt every morning" but while "celebrating his 30th wedding anniversary in Yellowstone National Park," the 64-year-old wound up in the hospital instead. At one point, things looked so serious that the words "liver transplant" were uttered by a doctor.
Soza seemed shocked to learn his favorite berries were not from the Oregon farm depicted on the packaging. According to the story:
Healthy and health-conscious, the Sozas always inspect their foods and select organic produce. They were surprised to learn that some of the fruit from Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., was from outside the United States. But the packaging convinced the Sozas the fruit was all-American because it bears the slogans "Grower. Processor. Distributor." and "Field to Farm to Family, since 1906."
Soza's wife put it plainly: "It was our distinct impression that these are raised under U.S. standards, especially organic food standards." (More on this later.)
I asked Mark Kastel, co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog group, if he thought the Townsend label was confusing as to the product's origins. "Yes, it's deliberately deceptive, to make you think you're buying local fruit from the farm up the road. There are many examples of this. Often companies with the word "farm" in their name don't even do any growing themselves, they just contract with farms, sometimes from all over the world. Or they just buy from brokers in the farms or an anonymous source."
How does this connect to food safety risks? While small, local farms are not immune, the difference is in the magnitude of the impact: With a small farm, any adverse impacts are only felt locally, but with globalization, the potential hazards are spread far and wide, and to a much larger population.
Also, about the antioxidant claim on the package: Registered dietitian Andy Bellatti tells me it's pretty meaningless. "All whole, plant-based foods contain antioxidants. So, any combination of fruit can be 'an antioxidant blend' and what matters most is diversity of antioxidants, not just from berries."
Can We Trust Organic Labels on Imported Foods?
Among the most frequent questions I get regarding organic is "what about imported food; can we trust the standards in other countries?" The Townsend berries sports the USDA organic seal, indicating that even though the mix contains imported fruit, it still conforms to the high U.S.-based organic standards.
As Food Safety News explains, imported foods are evaluated by organic certifying agencies approved by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
Townsend Farms products are certified as organic by both Oregon Tilth, a private third party certifier, and the Washington State Department of Agriculture. But how is it that berries grown in Turkey, Chile and Mexico can get packaged in Oregon and certified as organic by the standards of the U.S. Department of Agriculture?
The short answer to that question lies in the fact that firms worldwide have the ability to certify farms according to the standards set forth by the USDA. As long as a proper authority can verify a farm operates according to organic standards once a year, that farm can become USDA-certified organic whether it's outside Indianapolis or Istanbul.
OK, but can we trust these foreign certifiers? Some watchdog groups such as Center for Food Safety and Cornucopia Institute have greater confidence in U.S. farms and U.S.-based organic certification than from imports. These groups and many others have grave reservations about particular countries with an increasing presence in the U.S., particularly China and India.
How Many Sick People Will It Take to Get Feds to Act?
Most importantly, this serious outbreak underscores once again how the stalled food safety regulations, as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (enacted in 2011), are adversely impacting public health.
The law, which numerous groups pushed hard for, mandates significant upticks in foreign inspections by the Food and Drug Administration, although how those increases will be funded remains a serious question. Additional import safeguards include giving FDA authority to require certification for food coming from certain countries as a condition of admission to the U.S.
But the required regulations for how these preventive measures would be implemented have been overdue for more than a year now. In April, a federal court agreed with the Center for Food Safety's lawsuit that the Food and Drug Administration has failed to adhere to statutory deadlines for final regulations.
The judge ordered FDA to work with CFS to submit a new timeline for the rules, which the court would then require FDA to follow. George Kimbrell, senior attorney with Center for Food Safety, says this process is currently underway, which is the good news:
Congress required FDA to dramatically improve import safety. The firm, timely deadlines for new import regulations underscored how overdue and urgently-needed the improvements are. The court should soon set new deadlines for the regulations, and FDA will finally do the job Congress required of it and protect the American public from continued outbreaks.
The bad news is that while FDA continues to drag its feet, Americans continue to get sick. Whether it's Hepatitis A in imported berries, listeria in imported cheese, or salmonella in imported papayas, our regulators have a lot more work to do to safeguard the food supply. Let's hope it won't take more illnesses to get them to take action.

'Are you ready to cook safely?'
Source : http://www.rochdaleonline.co.uk/news-features/2/news-headlines/80802/are-you-ready-to-cook-safely
By rochdaleonline.co.uk (June 12, 2013)
Public Health England is supporting the Food Standards Agency’s (FSA) Food Safety Week that runs from 10-16 June. This years theme is: 'Are you ready to cook safely?'
In a recent survey, the FSA found that 80% of those questioned carried out one or more food behaviours that put them at risk of food poisioning.
Dr Ken Lamden, the Public Health England regional lead for gastrointestinal diseases said: “Food poisoning is a miserable experience and so easily avoided. People should not worry unduly about food poisoning, as there are some simple steps that can be taken to avoid getting ill. Just storing, handling and cooking food properly will minimise the risk.
“Avoiding cross-contamination is also extremely important, that is preventing bacteria from spreading between foods and from contaminated surfaces or utensils. Make sure you store raw meat covered and at the bottom of the fridge, below and away from ready-to-eat food. Never use the same chopping board for raw meat and ready-to-eat foods without washing the board and knife thoroughly first.
“Clean hands in the kitchen are also vital in the fight against food poisoning; while food must also be kept at the right temperature. Food that needs to be chilled should be kept in the fridge, and check that it’s running at the right temperature - between 0°C and 5°C. Storage above this range can allow bacteria to grow or harmful toxins to form. Also, on a picnic, don’t take food out of the fridge until the last minute and use a cool bag to keep it chilled until ready to eat.
“Some types of food poisoning can also be spread from person-to-person through contact with people who have the infection. This is why it’s extremely important for people to wash their hands thoroughly after using the toilet and/or before handling food.”
The FSA advice is:
Cleaning
• Hands are one of the main ways in which germs are spread. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water before cooking and after touching the bin, going to the toilet, handling pets or handling raw food.
• Wash or change dish cloths, tea towels, sponges and oven gloves regularly and let them dry before you use them again. Dirty, damp cloths are the perfect place for bacteria to breed.
Cross contamination
•Cross contamination occurs when harmful germs are spread between food, surfaces and equipment. Help to prevent this by removing clutter that you don’t need and washing worktops before and after cooking.
•Always use a chopping board. Wash the board and other utensils in hot, soapy water when you’ve finished using them and in between preparing raw foods (meat, poultry, eggs, fish and raw vegetables) and ready-to-eat food. Better still, use a separate chopping board for each.
Chilling
•Make sure your fridge is set below 5°C, using a fridge thermometer to check. This is to prevent harmful germs from growing and multiplying.
•Don’t overfill your fridge. This allows air to circulate and maintains the set temperature.
•Store raw meat and poultry at the bottom of the fridge and properly wrap or cover it to avoid raw juices contaminating other foods.
Cooking
•Cook food thoroughly until it is steaming hot in the middle. This will kill any harmful bacteria that may be present.
‘Use by' dates
•‘Use by’ dates are found on perishable products, such as dairy, meat and fish, and are based on scientific testing to determine how long these foods will stay safe. After that date, food could be unsafe to eat even if it is stored correctly and looks and smells fine.
•‘Best before’ dates are used on foods that have a longer shelf life and tell us how long the food will be at its best. After that date it is normally safe to eat, but its flavour and texture might have deteriorated.
To acces the kitchen check tool:
http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/kitchen-check/kitchen-check1/tool

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Townsend Farms in Hawaii
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/class-action-lawsuit-filed-against-townsend-farms-in-hawaii/
By Suzanne Schreck (June 11, 2013)
A class action lawsuit was filed yesterday in Hawaii against Townsend Farms, the company whose “Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend” frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix has been identified as the source of a hepatitis A outbreak among residents of several Western states.  The lawsuit was filed by Seattle-based Marler Clark, the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of foodborne illness, on behalf of named plaintiffs Jenabe and Motoko Caldwell and all other Hawaii residents who received hepatitis A vaccination or immune globulin injections to prevent hepatitis A infection after eating the Townsend Farms frozen berry blend.  The lawsuit is also brought on behalf of all individuals who required testing for hepatitis A after consuming the Townsend Farms product.
According to the complaint, Jenabe and Motoko Caldwell purchased Townsend Farms Organic Anti-Oxidant Blend frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix at a Costco store in Kahului, Hawaii on April 13, 2013.  Both named plaintiffs received immune globulin injections after becoming aware that the frozen berry and pomegranate seed mix they had purchased was being recalled for potential hepatitis A contamination.  The hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin injections administered prophylactically can prevent or reduce the symptoms of hepatitis A infection if given within 14 days of exposure.

Mandatory California cantaloupe audits kick in
Source : http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/shipping-profiles/New-state-food-safety-rule-kicks-in-211066831.html
By Vicky Boyd (June 11, 2013)
Although the new, mandatory California cantaloupe food safety rule became effective earlier this year, retailers and consumers won’t notice anything outwardly different about California cantaloupes this season.
“There won’t be stickers on each cantaloupe once they’re certified, and you won’t be seeing that in the stores this season,” said John Gilstrap, manager of the Dinuba-based California Cantaloupe Advisory Board.
What growers and handlers will notice are required inspections by California Department of Food and Agriculture personnel trained to U.S. Department of Agriculture standards.
The beefed-up inspections are part of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, which last year became the first state marketing order to approve a mandatory food safety program.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture signed off on the program with only a few changes before the start of this season, Gilstrap said.
The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board includes a food safety certification program that requires inspection to a set of best practices and science-based handling metrics.
Growers and handlers must pass a checklist of 156 points with 100% compliance. If they don’t, they have to go back, make corrections and be reinspected.
In addition, the rule requires handlers to have a traceback system.
Handlers who buy or accept cantaloupe from growers who do not follow approved best practices, haven’t been inspected or don’t have a traceback system will be in violation.
The marketing order also makes it an unfair trade practice not to comply.
The food safety plan is based on the Food and Drug Administration’s guidance for cantaloupe.
With input from Western Growers, University of California extension research specialist Trevor Suslow and food safety scientists at risk management firm Intertox, the board tailored the FDA recommendations to fit California conditions.
Should retail customers require food safety inspections by a private third party, Gilstrap said handlers would have to undergo additional audits.
“We hope someday that retailers will accept the California audit and not require them to have any others,” he said.
Assessment pays for program
The certification program is funded by handler assessments of 2 cents per 40-pound carton.
The cantaloupe board just launched its website, www.calcantaloupes.com, which contains the program’s guidelines and performance metrics and the names of all handlers who must comply.
Gilstrap said a list of certified handlers won’t be published on the site until after the season ends to avoid possibly putting handlers of later-season fruit at a competitive disadvantage.
“These people have been producing a safe product for a long time,” he said.
There has not been a single foodborne illness linked to California cantaloupe, he said.
“We decided this was the best way to handle it,” Gilstrap said.
“Everybody is starting out pending (certification). Until we have a season of audits, people won’t be certified. Audits will be going on this season, but there won’t be certified California cantaloupe in the stores.”
Westside Produce, Firebaugh, Calif., has made food safety its top priority for years, said Jim Malanca, senior vice president.
Company president Steve Patricio serves as chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board and its food safety committee. Patrichio also serves as chairman for the advisory committee for the Center for Produce Safety and sits on Western Growers’ food safety committee and the Produce Marketing Association’s foods safety committee.
Even before the mandatory rule, Patricio said many Westside handlers had been following voluntary food safety guidances for years.
“California, in general, has been at the forefront of this for years because food safety and quality go hand in hand,” he said. “We were recommending best practices and dealing with commodity-specific food safety guidances for close to two decades, so it’s certainly not new for anyone in Northern California.”
Malanca said Westside Produce already has hosted food safety inspectors from major retailers who want to conduct their own inspections, and it has passed a third-party audit this season.
Rod Rosales, marketing director for Devine Organics LLC, Fresno, Calif., said representatives from the grower-packer-shipper have been attending meetings to make sure they’re up to date on the new rule.
As a handler of organics, he said the company already had adopted many of the procedures within the new marketing order.
“We’re a little bit ahead of the curve because we do organic,” he said. “There are some test procedures that are being required that we’ve been following because we are organic.”
Top of mind
Brian Wright, sales manager for Del Mar Farms, Patterson, Calif., said food safety is top of mind of buyers with whom he deals.
“It’s one of the first things they ask,” he said.
They also inquire about GFSI (global food safety initiative) audits and product traceability, he said.

“We embrace it,” Wright said. “If you don’t have it, you really can’t be in the business. It’s just a necessity.”
Del Mar Farms passed its third-party Primus food safety audit a few weeks ago, and he said the next step will be state field audits beginning in July with the harvest.

Food safety agency seeks to repair its risk assessor reputation
Source : http://www.euractiv.com/specialreport-risk-hazard-policy/food-safety-agency-revamp-reputa-news-528450
By euractiv.com (June 11, 2013)
SPECIAL REPORT / More than a decade after it was established, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) still struggles to persuade consumers that it is a credible risk assessor working for the public good and not unduly influenced by corporate lobbyists.
A recent scandal exposing EFSA's links with the agro-chemical sector have led the agency to strengthen rules related to conflicts of interests and show greater openness to various stakeholders.
The EU established EFSA in 2002 after a series of food-related alerts, including the chicken dioxin scare and mad cow disease, which shook public confidence in food safety during the 1990s.
The General Food Law, passed in 2002, was meant to provide a comprehensive framework to ensure that the European food regulatory system was based on reliable science. One of the key elements was the functional separation of "risk assessment" and "risk management" activities, which led to the establishment of EFSA as an EU agency providing independent scientific advice to policymakers on risks associated with the food chain.
"Confident consumers are the cornerstone of a competitive economy, and the EFSA has an important role to play in boosting this confidence," said European Commission President José Manuel Barroso at the 2005 inauguration of EFSA's new headquarters in Parma, Italy.
As a consequence, EFSA’s key activity is scientific "risk assessment", a specialised field of applied science that involves reviewing scientific data and studies in order to evaluate the risks associated with certain products or substances.
Meanwhile, EU policymakers – the European Commission, Council and Parliament – have retained control over the the "risk management" part, which includes policy responses, as well as prevention and control measures to address emerging risks.
With mad cow disease still fresh in their memory, policymakers sought to root risk management decisions in the precautionary principle, which allows politicians to make discretionary decisions in matters where scientific knowledge is lacking, with a view to protecting the public from exposure to potential harm.
This means that EFSA officials might be asked to answer scientific questions from the European Parliament or the member states, and provide the public with scientific information.
Conflict of interest
But while the public has rarely criticised the risk management track record of politicians, EFSA has received repeated flak for a perceived lack of credibility in its risk assessment processes.
Health and environment NGOs in particular have pointed to close corporate links amongst EFSA's network of over 500 experts. One of the biggest rows has centered on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs), with NGOs claiming that EFSA had been unduly influenced by industry. EFSA has routinely found no human health risk from GMO consumption while dismissing studies indicating the opposite as of "insufficient scientific quality".
A recent controversy also includes EFSA's definition of endocrine disruptors, which led the anti-pesticides NGO PAN Europe to send an open complaint to Health and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Tonio Borg, accusing EFSA of creating loopholes for industry.
Unfortunately for EFSA, some of the criticism has had more than a grain of truth.
In May last year European Parliament lawmakers urged EFSA to tighten safeguards against potential conflicts of interest amongst its staff after Diána Bánáti, then the chairperson of EFSA's management board, failed to mention that she was also a member of ILSI-Europe, a body funded by the food and agro-chemical industry.
Bánáti eventually resigned from EFSA and announced that she would join ILSI-Europe on a permanent basis but the damage had been done, seriously putting into question EFSA's reputation as an independent body.
New conflicts of interest rules
To address the issue, EFSA unveiled new rules in March last year for its in-house staff, as well as its outside experts, including specified lists of activities that would preclude scientific experts from serving on advisory panels.
Scientists previously employed by industry must now have a two-year "cooling-off" period before they can sit on EFSA’s scientific panels and scientists who receive more than 25% of their research funding from industry face other restrictions on the roles they can undertake at the authority, for example.
Former staff - but not scientific advisers - must notify EFSA of all new employment for two years after their departure, and EFSA can ask them to refrain from working with the authority in their new job for one year.
Ragnar Löfstedt, professor of risk management and the director of the King’s College Centre for Risk Management in London, told EurActiv in an interview that he finds EFSA “highly professional”. His collegues also shared that view, Löfstedt added.
“EFSA, of course, has been and is attacked by a number of NGOs. It is very unfortunate that some individuals have not been clear and transparent in terms of declaring their interests… But as a risk-assessment agency, EFSA is seen as credible,” the professor said.
Public involvement
Through its advisory forum, EFSA works in cooperation with the national food safety authorities on scientific data collection and monitoring, and communications activities.
EFSA also holds regular meetings with organisations representing consumers, industry, environmental NGOs and other stakeholders.
To ensure public involvement and transparency EFSA has recently had an online public consultation on its draft opinion on the food additive aspartame and a follow-up stakeholder meeting.
Research Director at the International Prevention Research Institute Philippe Autier who took part in EFSA's stakeholder meeting told EurActiv that he "sincerely" believed EFSA was doing the right thing to ensure transparency.
"I’m pretty sure that some of the points and opinions raised during the meeting will be evaluated by the EFSA panel on aspartame and incorporated in the final report," Autier said.
"Otherwise, I do not see why EFSA would have had the public consultation and organised the conference. Under the current circumstances, it is the best EFSA can do. It's up to anyone to make his own perception of the EFSA report and the opinions they received," the research director added.
The challenge now for EFSA will be to convince the general public of its renewed sense of integrity. But that may take a while.

Costco-Townsend Farms Hepatitis A in California Prompts Lawsuits
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/costco-townsend-farms-hepatitis-a-in-california-prompts-lawsuits/
By Carla Gillespie (June 11, 2013)
California has been hard hit by the hepatitis A outbreak associated with frozen mixed berries sold at Costco which now includes 87 people in eight states, according to the lastest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In California, 38 people have been sickened by the virus that contaminated the frozen berry mix  sold as Townsend Farms brand Organic Antioxidant Blend at Costco stores and Organic Antioxidant Berry Blend at Harris Teeter stores. Some of them have filed lawsuits.
The Californians who are part of this outbreak are all adults and are from 16 cities. All of them reported eating Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend purchased from Costco before becoming ill, according to California public health officials.  Seventeen of them have been hospitalized.
Hepatitis A is a virus that causes inflammation of the liver. Symptoms, which can take two to seven weeks aftter exposure to develop, include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, fever, dark urine, clay-colored stools and yellow skin or eyes. Two of the people who filed lawsuits in California,  a 51-year-old woman from Lakewood and a 36-year old man from Placentia, experienced these symptoms.
There is a vaccine for hepatitis A that can prevent illness if taken within 14 days of exposure. Anyone who ate the berries recently should contact a health care provider about getting a vaccination. In Los Angeles county, free vaccination clinics continue through this week.

Council looks to review food safety bylaws
Source : http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/news/8779137/Council-looks-to-review-food-safety-bylaws
By LAIRD HARPER (June 11, 2013)
South Taranaki eateries could soon be required to display food safety gradings when the council begins reviewing several bylaws.
The South Taranaki District Council's policy development committee voted yesterday to approve public consultation on creating five new bylaws and tweaking five others.
The food safety bylaw will offer diners a more-informed choice, while encouraging all businesses to excel, the council says.
Environmental health officer Doug Scott said the proposal includes an A, B and D grading system, as well as requiring 50 per cent of all food workers to complete a "recognised course in food hygiene".
At present, the council gives only a pass or fail assessment.
"Any premises receiving a D grade may be closed at the discretion of an authorised officer," he said.
Mr Scott said they avoided offering up a C grade because they "wanted a distinct separation between getting a bad grade and a good grade".
"We want everyone to have an A grade."
The proposed bylaw has been welcomed by Black & White Cafe co-owner Dorothy Nicholson.
Mrs Nicholson said the public had a right to know which eateries were up to standard and which were well behind.
"I'm 100 per cent behind this idea," she said.
"There is no such thing as perfection but people have to strive, and should want, to be up with the best of them as opposed to being a D down the other end of the scale."
Mr Scott said the more stringent approach would put them in line with the food bill currently before Parliament, without waiting for it to pass.
"The bill seeks to provide an efficient, risk-based regulatory regime that places the primary duty on persons trading in food to ensure that what is sold is safe and suitable," he said.
Mr Scott said of the 120 eateries under his watch only two or three would currently fall into a D grade.
Submissions on the draft bylaws are open from July 11 to August 10.
THE FACTS
Bylaws being reviewed Speed limits Keeping of animals in urban areas Cemeteries Public swimming pools Eltham heavy traffic flow New bylaws proposed Solid waste Waste water Water supply Food safety Tattooist, beautician and body piercers

Levels of Mycotoxins in Certain Foodstuffs Exceed EU Limits
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/06/levels-of-mycotoxins-in-certain-foodstuffs-exceed.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (June 10, 2013)
GRANADA, Spain—Researchers in Spain analyzed several commercial apple juices for the presence of patulin, a type of toxin produced by fungi, and found more than 50% of the samples contained levels that exceeded maximum limits set by European law, according to a study published in the journal Food Control.
The researchers from the University of Granada and the University of Valencia also discovered a sample of rice with more mycotoxins than permitted. They also found the harmful substances in beers, cereals and products made from them, such as gofio flour.
Mycotoxins top the list of the most widespread natural contaminants in foodstuffs at the global level. They are toxic and carcinogenic substances produced by fungi, which reach the food chain through plants and their fruit.
Researchers from the University of Granada have used their own method of 'microextraction and capillary electrophoresis' to analyze concentrations of a kind of mycotoxins, patulin, in 19 batches of eight brands of commercial apple juice. They differentiated between conventional juice, organic juice and juice designed specifically for children. The maximum levels of patulin established by the European Union are 50 micrograms per kilogram of product (μg/kg) for fruit juices and nectars, 25 μg/kg for compotes and other solid apple products and 10 μg/kg if those foodstuffs are aimed at breast-fed babies and young children. Some samples of conventional apple juices had as much as 114.4 μg/kg, and one batch labeled as baby food had 162.2 μg/kg, more than 15 times the legal limit.
Patulin is produced by several species of fungi of the Penicillium, Aspergillus and Byssochylamys varieties, which are found naturally in fruit, mainly apples. They are transferred to juices during processing because of their solubility in water and stability.
The neurotoxic, immunotoxic and mutagenic effects of this substance have been confirmed in animal models. "Even then, it is not one of the most dangerous mycotoxins for health and it is included in group 3 within the categories laid down by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)," the researchers said.
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies mycotoxins and other compounds in four groups according to their carcinogenic potential for humans: 1 (carcinogenic), 2 (probably or possibly carcinogenic), 3 (not classifiable as carcinogenic, although it has not been proven that it is not) and 4 (probably not carcinogenic).
Some mycotoxins, such as aflatoxins, are in group 1 and can be found in dry fruit, such as peanuts and pistachios, and cereals. The researchers also have detected concentrations of this compound above the permitted levels in a sample of rice and informed the relevant authorities. Other toxins from fungi, such as fumonisins and ochratoxins, are also included in group 2. They are found in maize, other cereals and even beer.
Researchers from the University of Valencia have used a new technique called HLPC-LTQ-Orbitrap to detect the presence of fumonisins and ochratoxins in samples of beer in Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Ireland, Poland and Spain. The study is also published in the journal Food Control.
"They are minute quantities, although we cannot determine whether they are important because beer is one of the drinks which is not directly included in European law on mycotoxins," the researchers said.
"What this study does show is that merely controlling the raw material—barley, in this case—is not enough, and that these toxins are present throughout the technological process, where it has been proven that mycotoxins that are legislated for can become hidden by joining wit glucose, so this needs to be taken into account for future research."
The same team has also analyzed 1,250 samples of cereal-based products from Spain, France and Germany to see whether there are differences between organic and conventional foodstuffs in the case of fumosins. They found samples of gofio flour, commonly used in the Canaries, had concentrations of this mycotoxin in quantities greater than 1,000 μg/kg, the limit established by European law. A few years ago, the same researchers also identified a consignment of wheat flour with concentrations of ochratoxin above the permitted level.
The results of the study of cereal-based foodstuffs show that almost 11% of the organic products examined contain fumosins, whereas in conventional products this percentage is reduced to around 3.5%.

Keep food safety in mind when grilling
Source : http://www.messagemedia.co/millelacs/community/health/article_c1a18f70-cd2c-11e2-a5ab-001a4bcf6878.html
By messagemedia.co (June 10, 2013)
Follow these tips from the Minnesota Department of Health for safety while grilling this summer:
Handle Food Safely
•    Always wash your hands before and after handling food.
•    Keep the kitchen, dishes and utensils clean.
•    Always serve food on clean plates.
•    Harmful bacteria present in raw meat and poultry and their juices can contaminate safely cooked food. To prevent foodborne illness, don't use the same platter and utensils for raw and cooked meat/poultry.
Keep Hot Foods HOT, Cold Foods COLD
•    Keep meat and poultry refrigerated until ready to use.
•    After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it at 140°F or warmer until served. Keep cooked meats hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack. Cooked meat can be kept hot in a warm oven (approximately 200°F), in a chafing dish, or on a warming tray.
•    In hot weather (above 90°F), food should never sit out for more than one hour.
•    Refrigerate any leftovers promptly in shallow containers.
Marinating
•    Marinate to tenderize or add flavor.
•    Marinate food in the refrigerator, not on the counter.
•    If marinades are to be used as a sauce for the cooked meat, either reserve a portion of the marinade before putting raw meat and poultry in it, or boil it before using on cooked meat to destroy any harmful bacteria.
Precooking
•    Precooking food on a stove is a good way to reduce grilling time. Make sure that the food goes immediately on the preheated grill to complete cooking.
Cook Thoroughly
•    Fresh and frozen raw meat, poultry and fish should be cooked hot enough to kill the bacteria, parasites and viruses that may be in the product. The temperatures shown below are recommended for home preparation of food. Always use a meat thermometer to check temperatures. Color is not a reliable indicator of doneness.
•    FOOD SAFE INTERNAL TEMPERATURE: Poultry or fowl, whole or parts, 165°F; Ground poultry or fowl, 165°F; Ground beef, veal, pork, lamb or venison, 160°F; Fresh beef, veal, pork, lamb, or venison, 145°F; Fish and shellfish, all kinds, 145°F; Eggs, Until yolk and white are firm; Egg dishes, 160°F.
Reheating
•    When reheating fully cooked meats, grill to 165°F.

 

 


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