FoodHACCP Newsletter
07/08 2013 ISSUE:555


Campylobacter Infections Can Have Long-Term Health Effects
Source :
By  Carla Gillespie (July 7, 2013)
Raw milk Campylobacter outbreaks have sickened at least 47 people in three states over the last four months. Those who became ill suffered symptoms including fever, abdominal cramping, vomiting and diarrhea, which is sometimes bloody for one to three weeks. And for some of them, the illness didn’t end when these symptoms subsided.
That’s because Campylobacter infection occasionally results in long-term complications such as reactive arthritis which  causes painful swelling of the joints and Guillain-Barré syndrome, which is characterized by the sudden onset of paralysis that can last weeks, months or years.
“Drinking raw milk or eating products made from raw milk can expose you to a variety of pathogens that can result in anything from a few days of diarrhea to kidney failure and death. People need to think carefully about those risks before consuming raw dairy products from any source, and people need to know that the risks are especially high for young children,” said Trisha Robinson, a foodborne illness epidemiologist with the state health department in Minnesota where, this week, at least six people were sickened by raw milk tainted with Campylobacter.
Campylobacter is a pathogen that is transfered via the fecal-oral route, meaning those who develop Campylobacter infections have ingested microscopic amounts of animal feces. Pasteurization kills Campylobacter and other bacteria that cause disease, but raw mik is not pasteurized.
In Alaska, Campylobacter in raw milk from a cow-share program on the Kenai Peninsula sickened 31 people in March and five more in a second outbreak in May. Four of those patients developed reactive arthritis.  In addition to swelling, redness, heat, and pain in the joints, reactive arthritis causes redness and inflammation of the eyes and inflammation of the urinary tract.

Food poisoning cases linked to dirty chicken RISE despite demands for supermarkets to improve hygiene
Source :
By Sean Poulter (July 07, 2013)
Food poisoning cases linked to infected chicken are rising despite demands that supermarkets and farmers stop putting customers at risk.
An estimated 580,000 people each year are falling ill with stomach upsets caused by campylobacter, the UK’s most common cause of food poisoning.
As many as 18,000 are so ill that they need hospital care while about 140 people die each year from the bug.
New figures published by the Food Standards Agency reveal the number of cases has been rising every year for the past four years, despite the watchdog making tackling food poisoning its number one priority.
Trials on farms to increase security and limit any chances of the spread of the bug have failed to bring down the number of birds carrying the infection.
At the same time, a number of warnings to supermarkets to make sure the birds on their shelves are clean appear to have failed to protect public health.
A 2009 study revealed that two thirds of all fresh chicken on shelves is contaminated with the potentially lethal food poisoning bug.
The latest evidence about the number of cases in humans suggests this situation has not improved.
A draft copy of the annual report by the FSA's chief scientist, Dr Andrew Wadge, reveals the officially recorded number of campylobacter cases in humans last year was 72,571, an increase of 0.4 per cent from 2011.
It is thought the actual number of cases is eight times higher, taking the total to 580,568, because the vast majority of sufferers do not go to their GPs.
The FSA and its advisers hoped that putting in place improved hygiene controls and biosecurity measures on chicken farms would reduce the number of infected birds.
Its strategy, which was designed to reduce the number of contaminated chicken on farms by 50 per cent by 2010, has been a hopeless failure.
In his report, Dr Wadge says: ‘Early indications from these projects suggest that compliance with these biosecurity interventions, as determined at a periodic audit, has not yet resulted in the campylobacter reductions that were predicted.’
Successive chief executives at the FSA have lambasted supermarkets for not doing enough to cut campylobacter contamination in the chicken they sell.
Its then chief executive, Tim Smith, wrote to the chief executives of all the supermarkets in 2010 demanding action. This failed to bring about the desired result and Mr Smith is now the group technical director at Tesco.
Following a failure to improve the situation, his successor, Catherine Brown, issued a new call for action in January this year, saying tackling campylobacter in chicken was her top priority.
Miss Brown called supermarket bosses to a meeting to discuss how to tackle the problem while she has hinted that stores may be required to remove chicken from sale unless they can guarantee the bug has been removed.
She said it ‘unacceptable’ that two-thirds of chicken carry the disease, while a fifth are ‘highly contaminated’ at the time of purchase.
However, yet again there is no evidence of any major drive by the supermarkets to protect customers, beyond introducing non-drip packaging.
The Government watchdog is now considering drastic measures to clean up chicken and protect consumers.
These include killing the bugs by either washing the meat with lactic acid or the use of blast freezing.
A survey by Which? found 60 per cent of shoppers would be ‘unlikely’ to buy chicken that had been sprayed or washed with a mild acid.
The FSA research said consumers would rather that the food industry provides clean and safe food, rather than treating it to disinfect it.
Its study found more people would prefer to buy a chicken that had not been treated with lactic acid than one that had – 44 per cent versus 38 per cent.
Dr Wadge’s report estimates that there are around one million cases of food poisoning from all sources each year, resulting in 20,000 hospital admissions and contributing to around 500 deaths.
The cost to the UK economy in terms of treatment and lost days of work is put at £1.8billion a year.
Norovirus, which has been linked to oysters, salmonella, listeria and e.coli are the other major causes of illness.
The number of officially recorded cases of listeria, which is particularly linked to soft unpasteurised cheese, rose from 164 in 2011 to 184 in 2012.
The disease is relatively rare but poses a particular risk to pregnant women, unborn babies and the elderly. As many as one third of sufferers admitted to hospital die from complications.

Costs of food safety proposals causing concern
Source :
By (July 07,2013)
AKRON — Expected costs from proposed federal rules to make the nation’s food system safer are causing concern among some farmers and state agriculture officials.
The proposals are part of the Food Safety Modernization Act approved in 2011, the Akron Beacon Journal reports ( The legislation is among changes within the Food and Drug Administration aimed at making the nation’s food system safer by pinpointing where contamination occurs.  Officials are still determining how to implement the law, and regulations won’t be finalized for several years. But one northeast Ohio farmer says he will no longer grow vegetables for local tables because the proposed requirements would cost too much.
Don Bessemer, who runs a farm within the city of Akron, says he has closed his Bessemer Farms market that sold to local retailers.
“We don’t want to quit, we were forced out of the business,” Bessemer said.
Bessemer says he has turned to soybeans because the law doesn’t apply to commodity crops grown for uses like oil. The law focuses mostly on produce like lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, green onions and fruits that are usually eaten raw and often are at the center of nationwide recalls due to contamination.
Farmer Chris Saal says he will continue his Walnut Drive Gardens business in Portage County’s Suffield Township. But he acknowledges that the expected costs are a concern for farmers.
Saal said he already has aggressive safety standards and hopes he won’t have to make many changes.
Sereana Dresbach, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture, says the rules are still proposals. The public can comment until at Sept. 16 and adopted rules likely won’t begin until 2015 and would be phased in over several years.
Dresbach favors a safer U.S. food system, but says Ohio would have to double the agriculture department’s food safety budget to enforce the rules as proposed.
“Sure it sounds good, but how do we pay for it?” Dresbach said.
Dresbach wants rules that are flexible enough to adjust for states that have good working practices and that give states the ability to grant local variances.
The proposed rules also may be a financial burden that some produce growers can’t overcome, she said.
Farms likely will be required to hire an auditor to inspect their operations for about $5,000 per audit, with some farms possibly requiring several audits.
The FDA estimates the cost of implementing the rules will be about $4,700 a year for very small farms, $13,000 for small farms and $30,500 for large farms. Size is determined by a farm’s annual business.
Farms selling less than $25,000 of produce annually and those selling directly to the public without going through a third party would be exempt. FDA estimates about 79 percent of all U.S. produce farms won’t have to comply. The agency’s figures show the rules are expected to save 1.7 million Americans from food-borne illness annually.
But Bessemer estimates the proposed requirements would cost him at least $100,000 to comply and another $30,000 a year for inspections. Farrners would have to maintain records on trucks transporting the produce and employees handling it, among other things.
But Doug Doohan, a professor of horticulture and crop science and leader of the fresh fruit and vegetable safety team at the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, says many farms already submit voluntarily to audits or inspections required by companies buying their produce.
He says most audits probably would be prompted more by customers than by regulators, but he urges all farmers to take advantage of the public-comment period to voice their concerns.

CDC Joins Investigation into Deadly Listeria Outbreak
Source :
By (July 05,2013)
Five people in four states, including one who died, being infected with the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes has the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) worrying about potentially contaminated cheeses that were distributed nationwide.
According to the CDC,  the ongoing investigation indicates that Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses made by Wisconsin’s Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company is the likely source of the deadly outbreak. Crave Brothers recalled the cheese products on July 3.
Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio each have reported one case associated to the outbreak strain. Two cases were confirmed in Minnesota, including the death case.
All five ill persons were hospitalized. One illness in a pregnant woman resulted in a miscarriage.
The Listeria outbreak is the subject of a continuing and collaborative investigation is involving local and state health agencies along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Atlanta-based CDC.
Crave Brothers, based in Waterloo, WS, distributed their cheese products through retail and food service outlets. The company also fulfilled customer orders by mail order.
Consumers who purchased any of the recalled cheeses should not eat them and should throw away any remaining cheeses, according to CDC. It said the warning is especially important for pregnant women, older adults, and persons with weakened immune systems, who are at the highest risk for infection and serious outcomes.
The nation’s premier public health laboratories says about 800 laboratory-confirmed cases of listeriosis are reported each year in the United States, and typically 3 or 4 outbreaks are identified and reported to CDC annually. It says some foods that have been linked to outbreaks in recent years are Mexican-style soft cheeses, imported ricotta salata cheese, whole cantaloupe, raw sprouts, and precut celery.
Listeria is feared for its relatively high fatality rate, especially among those populations CDC is warning during the current outbreak. Listeria outbreaks involving ready-to-eat meats in Canada and cantaloupe in the U.S. ended with deaths of 30-40 percent of those infected.
In the current investigation, CDC says public health investigators are using DNA “fingerprints” of Listeria obtained through testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.
They are using data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.
Among persons for whom information is available, dates that illness was diagnosed range from May 20, 2013 to June 17, 2013. All five ill persons were hospitalized. Ill persons range in age from 31 years to 67 years, with a median age of 58 years, and 80 percent are female.
Clinical specimens that were collected after June 22, 2013 might not be reported yet due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 3 weeks.
In interviews, ill persons answered questions about foods consumed and other exposures in the month before becoming ill. All five ill persons reported consuming a soft cheese. Information about specific cheeses consumed is available for four of the ill persons.
Of those, three either definitely or probably ate Les Frères cheese made by Crave Brothers before getting sick. Investigation of specific types of cheeses consumed by other ill persons is ongoing, according to CDC.
Laboratory tests conducted by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture on samples of Les Frères and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses made by Crave Brothers from two retail stores indicate the presence of the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes. Further testing and confirmation of the results are pending.
FDA is conducting an inspection at Crave Brothers’ processing facility, in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, to determine the exact cause of contamination.
Meanwhile Friday, the upscale Austin, TX-based Whole Foods retail chain announced it was recalling all the potentially contaminated Crave Brothers cheeses that it sold, as did Kroger Stores.

Sharjah ready to deliver food safely during Ramadan
Source :
By (July 05, 2013)
SHARJAH: Sharjah Municipality (SM) has completed illumination and decoration of streets and squares besides intensifying its food inspection campaigns ahead of the start of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
The municipality has announced the completion of all necessary arrangements in preparation of the Holy Month, including intensified campaigns targeting markets, shops and establishments that are involved in the preparation and distribution of food items and decoration of streets.
Acting Director-General of SM Riad Abdullah Eilan said surprise visits to food establishments would be part of the campaign to keep markets free from harmful substances that are unfit for human consumption, thus ensuring public health and safety.
He asserted that food control inspectors would do the rounds of markets, restaurants, kitchens and popular supermarkets, besides establishments dealing in food production and distribution. The aim is to ensure their adherence to health conditions and the application of stipulated standards in the supply and storage of food.
Eilan explained that in this regard, the municipality’s inspection teams - in campaigns that begin from six every morning - are already making sure that power connections to refrigerators and coolers are not discontinued during the night in supermarkets.
The importance of proper foodstuff storage at required temperatures will also be stressed among consumers right through the summer, he added.
Aesthetics, food
He went on to say that the municipality had completed decorating the streets and main squares in Sharjah with geometric patterns of light to welcome Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr. The decorations incorporate Islamic drawings and patterns exuding the spirituality and deeper meaning of the Holy Month, he stressed.
Also part of the municipality’s Ramadan line-up of activities — in co-operation with the Sharjah Charity Association (SCA) - is the installation of a huge tent for serving breakfast throughout the month at the municipal workers’ housing headquarters located in the city’s Industrial Area III.
The civic body will also hold religious lectures in several languages for the benefit of workers besides cultural contests where prizes can be won.
In addition, football matches will be staged between teams of municipal departments and sections with a view to enhancing communication and interaction between employees during the Holy Month, Eilan said.

Food & Water Watch Concerned About Contaminated Meat from Australia
Source :
By Linda Larsen (July 04, 2013)
Food & Water Watch has issued a statement saying that six months after they sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack about how the Australian Export Meat Inspection System (AEMIS) led to an increase in import rejections of unsafe Australian meat, the problems have not improved. A new letter has been sent about this matter.
Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “we’re calling on Secretary Vilsack to start the process to revoke the equivalency status of Australia’s privatized inspection system. The latest import rejections for visible fecal and ingesta contamination point to a failed system. USDA recognized this privatized inspection model in 2011 in its haste to backdoor a privatized inspection system here in the United STates. What the Australian experience has shown is that turning over meat inspection to the companies to police themselves does not work.” Feces and ingesta are sources of pathogenic bacterial contamination that can make you sick.
There has been an increase in the number of import rejections at U.S. ports-of-entry since the implementation of Australia’s privatized inspection system. Unfortunately, the Australian system is patterned after the HACCP-based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) being piloted in hog slaughter plants in the U.S. Since 2006, FSIS has given equivalency status to foreign beef, mutton, and goat slaughter inspection systems based on the HIMP pilot project, which food safety experts have criticized as being ineffective. In addition, FSIS has not conducted a final review of the HIMP project.
According to Food & Water Watch, FSIS has been basing the equivalency determinations on a “flawed inspection model that renders those determinations flawed as well, leaving U.S. consumers vulnerable to unsafe imported meat products.” The European Union is also expressing concern over Australian meat imports operating under AEMIS and may insist on third party audits of meat imports from Australia.

Use by dates in your supply chain, safety & prosecution
Source :
By Sarah Hanson and Jessica Burt (July 04, 2013)
The case of Torfaen CBC v Douglas Willis Ltd is to go to the Supreme Court next week, 9 July 2013. The case concerns the interpretation of what constitutes the offence of selling food after the date shown in a "use by" date relating to it under 44(1)(a) of the Food Labelling Regulations 1996.
It will be interesting to see whether there is a strict interpretation of the words or whether there is a need to consider the rationale for a use by date (namely the prevention of unsafe food being sold to the public).
The Divisional Court in this case held; "The presence of a use by date on food is prima facie evidence that it required a use by date, so the defendant has an evidential burden to show that it did not."
Jonathan Kirk QC and Iain Macdonald of Gough Square Chambers who will be appearing for the Appellant local authority and FSA in the Supreme Court next week presented to The Food Law Group at CMS offices and examined the issues thrown up by this case. They discussed whether the Divisional Court position represented a departure from the 'golden thread' of establishing the burden of proof in criminal cases.
However, if the Supreme Court finds that the criteria of the offence extends beyond the basic interpretation of its wording this should cause local authorities further pause for thought in their prosecutions and require them to consider, as part of that prosecution, whether there is an actual likelihood that the food constituted an immediate danger to human health.
With the advent of the Food Information Regulation 1169/2011 and draft UK Food Information Regulations 2013, subsequent interpretations of this offence will import the 'deeming' of food being unsafe if it is sold after its use by date. What constitutes "deemed" is not defined. It is therefore not clear whether this will be a rebuttable presumption or not. General Food Regulation 178/2002 that sets out food safety requirements at article 14 allows the rebuttal of a 'presumption' at 14(6); where there is evidence that unsafe food is part of a batch that the entirety of that batch is unsafe 'unless evidence is provided to the contrary.' However, this is not specifically stated in respect of 'deemed'. Nevertheless, 'deemed' is also referred to at 14(7) in respect of food being safe where it is compliant with "specific Community provisions ... insofar as the aspects covered by [those] provisions are concerned". In this instance, if a safety issue were to arise despite compliance in those areas, being 'deemed' is likely to be a rebuttable presumption.
In practice, the likelihood of a prosecution should always be reduced if food businesses are able to show enforcement officers appropriate food safety compliance; clear, substantiated hazard analysis critical control point audits, risk assessments and labelling policies that are complied with and regularly reviewed and checked. Where any prepacked supplies are received and use by dates altered, written consent for this practice must be obtained from the primary producer, any subsequent label be compliant on necessary dates and treatments and it is recommended this practice has detailed safety testing to support it. Full documented checks attesting to safety should be maintained and regularly reviewed.

Stay Food Safe This Fourth of July
Source :
By Linda Larsen (July 04, 2013)
Several organizations are publicizing food safety for the Fourth of July holiday. The non-profit group Partnership for Food Safety Education has released several videos called Ugly Bug to remind consumers to cook chicken to 165 degrees F, to cook burgers to 160 degrees F, and to avoid cross-contamination by using clean plates to hold cooked food. has released information about food safety as well. Always clean the grill before you cook, and wash your hands frequently before preparing food, during preparation, and before you eat. Don’t use the same utensils for cooked and raw foods. Always use a food thermometer to determine when food is cooked; you can’t use other methods, such as visual or textural cues to tell that food is safe to eat. Never let perishable foods sit out longer than two hours at room temperature (one hour if the air temperature is above 90 degrees F), and refrigerate leftovers promptly.
And the USDA is pairing up with the Ad Council, the FDA and CDC, launching new public service advertisements (PSAs) as part of the national Food Safe Families campaign. Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety said, “safe food handling is just as important at the grill as it is in the kitchen to help reduce the risk of foodborne illness.” Research conducted by the International Food Information Council has found that many consumers think their cooking practices are safe, when “in fact they’re not following the recommended safe food handling and preparation guidelines,” according to Peggy Conlon, President and CEO of the Ad Council.
The new PSAs follow the story of “Maria”, a TV chef on a fictional cooking show called “Recipes for Disaster”, who makes common food safety mistakes while preparing food. Her missteps are highlighted to help consumers learn how to avoid those mistakes and avoid potentially deadly food poisoning

Have a Happy Fourth of July, with No Foodborne Illness Fallout
Source :
By Cookson Beecher (July 04, 2013)
When it comes to food safety, hosting a Fourth of July cookout is different from hosting a winter holiday meal, for a variety of reasons. To begin with, summer cookouts are typically held outdoors, the food table is often set up outside, the sun is shining down, and people are in a festive mood. Once the food has been eaten, your guests usually go off to enjoy other endeavors — swimming, volleyball, or croquet, just to name a few seasonal favorites. That means that the food that has been set out is often “out of sight, out of mind.”
But food should only be left out for about two hours after it’s been prepared, and only an hour if the temperature is 90 degrees or higher. The reason for that is that if there is any bacteria in the food, it will start to multiply rapidly at temperatures in the “danger zone” — between 40 and 140 degrees F. You definitely don’t want any of the food you’re serving to be harboring foodborne pathogens such as E. coli or Salmonella, which can trigger symptoms such as abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, or even death.
As the host or hostess, you also need to keep in mind that young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone who has health problems are the most vulnerable to food poisoning. So if you’re hosting the event, do make sure that the food hasn’t been left out without keeping it at the proper temperatures. (You can always put the food back into the refrigerator or into a cooler and pull it out when guests come back for seconds.)
See Food Safety News’ past cookout safety coverage for more tips on keeping summer meals safe. For safe cooking temperatures, FSN has provided a meat-specific list.
Along the same vein, the Fourth of July sparks get-togethers that bring family and friends together. The person grilling the food is the star of the show. But don’t let anyone pressure you to pull the meat, poultry or fish off the grill before it’s thoroughly cooked. Yes, people are hungry and want to eat as soon as possible — and sometimes the line to the grill can get pretty long. Kids can start fretting, and adults can start showing signs of impatience. No matter, take some deep breaths, stand your ground and make sure that each and every item on the grill is cooked to the proper temperature. (Of course, Uncle Harry may insist on a rare burger. That’s his choice. But don’t let anyone but you make food safety choices for the children and other vulnerable guests.)
This year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Ad Council joined forces to encourage safe food preparation over the Fourth. Their food safety tips,”from the founding fathers,” can be found on the left.
And, yes, using a thermometer to check the temperature of the grilled meats, poultry and fish is essential. Don’t run the risk, for example, of thinking that you can tell if a burger is cooked well enough by checking to see that it’s brown in the center. According to USDA research, one out of every four hamburgers turns brown inside before it has been cooked to the safe internal temperature of 160 degrees F.
Hamburger leads the popularity contest for what goes on the grill during the summer. According to a consumer poll,  91 percent of Americans gave a thumbs-up to ground beef as the top choice for grill favorites. Coming in next with 85 percent is beef again. Yes, steak is always popular. Also coming in at 85 percent is chicken, followed by hot dogs at 84 percent.
Here’s a toast to food safety, and to a wonderful Fourth of July!

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Listeria, But Need To
Source :
By Bill Marler (July 4, 2013)
An Introduction to Listeria
Listeria (pronounced liss-STEER-?-uh) is a gram-positive rod-shaped bacterium that can grow under either anaerobic (without oxygen) or aerobic (with oxygen) conditions. [4, 18] Of the six species of Listeria, only L. monocytogenes (pronounced maw-NO-site-aw-JUH-neez) causes disease in humans. [18] These bacteria multiply best at 86-98.6 degrees F (30-37 degrees C), but also multiply better than all other bacteria at refrigerator temperatures, something that allows temperature to be used as a means of differentiating Listeria from other contaminating bacteria. [18]
Called an “opportunistic pathogen,” Listeria is noted to cause an estimated 2,600 cases per year of severe invasive illness. [26] Perhaps not surprisingly then, “foodborne illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes has raised significant public health concern in the United States, Europe, and other areas of the world.” [3] As one noted expert observed, summarizing the history of these bacteria and their significance for public health,
Although L. monocytogenes was recognized as an animal pathogen over 80 years ago, the first outbreak confirming an indirect transmission from animals to humans was reported only in 1983, in Canada’s Maritime provinces. In that outbreak, cabbages, stored in the cold over the winter, were contaminated with Listeria through exposure to infected sheep manure. A subsequent outbreak in California in 1985 confirmed the role of food in disseminating listeriosis. Since then Listeria has been implicated in many outbreaks of food-borne illness, most commonly from exposure to contaminated dairy products and prepared meat products, including turkey and deli meats, pâté, hot dogs and seafood and fish. [4]
Given its widespread presence in the environment and food supply, the ingestion of Listeria has been described as an “exceedingly common occurrence.” [18]
The Incidence of Listeria Infections
Listeria bacteria are found widely in the environment in soil, including in decaying vegetation and water, and may be part of the fecal flora of a large number of mammals, including healthy human adults. [4, 18] According to the FDA, “studies suggest that 1-10% of humans may be intestinal carriers of Listeria.” [14] Another authority notes that the “organism has been isolated from the stool of approximately 5% of healthy adults.” [18] Overall, seasonal trends show a notable peak in total Listeria cases and related-deaths from July through October. [3]
Ingested by mouth, Listeria is among the most virulent foodborne pathogens, with up to 20% of clinical infections resulting in death. [3] These bacteria primarily cause severe illness and death in persons with immature or compromised immune systems. [13, 18] Consequently, most healthy adults can be exposed to Listeria with little to any risk of infection and illness. [4, 11]
A study published in 1995 projected Listeria infection-rates to the U.S. population, suggesting that an estimated 1,965 cases and 481 deaths occurred in 1989 compared with an estimated 1,092 cases and 248 deaths in 1993, a 44% and 48% reduction in illness and death, respectively. [25] In comparison, a USDA study published in 1996 estimated that there had been 1,795-1860 Listeria-related cases in 1993, and 445-510 deaths, with 85-95% of these attributable to the consumption of contaminated food. [28] Listeriosis-related mortality rates decreased annually by 10.7% from 1990 through 1996, and by 4.3% from 1996 through 2005. [3]
Among adults 50 years of age and older, infection rates were estimated to have declined from 16.2 per 1 million in 1989 to 10.2 per 1 million in 1993. [25] Perinatal disease decreased from 17.4 cases per 100,000 births in 1989 to 8.6 cases per 100,000 births in 1993. [25] Neonatal infections are often severe, with a mortality rate of 25-50%. [4]
According to the CDC’s National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases:
Listeriosis was added to the list of nationally notifiable diseases in 2001. To improve surveillance, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists has recommended that all L. monocytogenes isolates be forwarded to state public health laboratories for subtyping through the National Molecular Subtyping Network for Foodborne Disease Surveillance (PulseNet). All states have regulations requiring health care providers to report cases of listeriosis and public health officials try to interview all persons with listeriosis promptly using a standard questionnaire about high risk foods. In addition, FoodNet conducts active laboratory- and population-based surveillance. [7]
In 2006, public health officials from 48 states reported 1,270 foodborne disease outbreaks, with a confirmed or suspect source in 884 of the outbreaks (70%). [8] Only one of the outbreaks with a confirmed source was attributed to Listeria, with this outbreak involving eleven hospitalizations and one death. [8] The next year, of 17,883 lab-confirmed infections, the CDC attributed 122 to Listeria. [9] In 2009, there were 158 confirmed Listeria infections, representing an incidence-rate of .34 cases for every 100,000 persons in the United States. [10] Such data revealed an incidence-rate of 0.27 cases per 100,000 persons, a decrease of 42% compared with 1996—1998. [10] But, according to CDC’s Technical Information website, it is estimated that there are 1,600 cases of Listeria infection annually in the United States, based on data through 2008. [7]
The 2009 numbers represented a reported 30% decrease in the number of infections compared to the 1996—1998 rates of infection. [10] Although the nature and degree of underreporting is subject to dispute, all agree that the confirmed cases represent just the tip of the iceberg. [6, 13] Indeed, one study estimates the annual incidence rate for Listeria to be around 1,795-1,860 cases per 100,000 persons, with 445-510 of the cases ending in death. [28]
Finally, in a study of FoodNet laboratory-confirmed invasive cases—where infection is detected in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, amniotic fluid, placenta or products of conception—the number of listeriosis cases decreased by 24% from 1996 through 2003. [33] During this same period, pregnancy-associated disease decreased by 37%, while cases among those fifty years old and older decreased by 23%. [33]
The Prevalence of Listeria in Food and the Environment
Listeria is a common presence in nature, found widely in such places as water, soil, infected animals, human and animal feces, raw and treated sewage, leafy vegetables, effluent from poultry and meat processing facilities, decaying corn and soybeans, improperly fermented silage, and raw (unpasteurized) milk. [18, 23, 27]  Foods commonly identified as sources of Listeria infection include  improperly pasteurized fluid milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened varieties, such as traditional Mexican cheeses, Camembert and ricotta), ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, and cooked, ready-to-eat (RTE) sliced meats—often referred to as “deli meats”. [18, 21, 23, 28] One study found that, over a five-year period of testing, in multiple processing facilities, Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from 14% of 1,080 samples of smoked finfish and smoked shellfish. [16]
Ready-to-eats foods have been found to be a notable and consistent source of Listeria. [14, 21] For example, a research-study done by the Listeria Study Group found that Listeria monocytogenes grew from at least one food specimen in the refrigerators of  64% of persons with a confirmed Listeria infection (79 of 123 patients), and in 11% of more than 2000 food specimens collected in the study. [21] Moreover, 33% of refrigerators (26 of 79) contained foods that grew the same strain with which the individual had been infected, a frequency much higher than would be expected by chance. [21] A widely cited USDA study that reviewed the available literature also summarized that:
In samples of uncooked meat and poultry from seven countries, up to 70 percent had detectable levels of Listeria [13].  Schuchat [23] found that 32 percent of the 165 culture-confirmed listeriosis cases could be attributed to eating food purchased from store delicatessen counters or soft cheeses.  In Pinner [21] microbiologic survey of refrigerated foods specimens obtained from households with listeriosis patients, 36 percent of the beef samples and 31 percent of the poultry samples were contaminated with Listeria.
The prevalence of Listeria in ready-to-eat meats has not proven difficult to explain. [26, 29] As one expert in another much-cited article has noted:
The centralized production of prepared ready-to-eat food products…increases the risk of higher levels of contamination, since it requires that foods be stored for long periods at refrigerated temperatures that favour the growth of Listeria. During the preparation, transportation and storage of prepared foods, the organism can multiply to reach a threshold needed to cause infection. [4]
The danger posed by the risk of Listeria in ready-to-eat meats has prompted the USDA to declare the bacterium an adulterant in these kinds of meat products and, as a result, to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for the presence of this deadly pathogen. [7, 29]
A USDA Baseline Data Collection Program done in 1994 documented Listeria contamination on 15.0% of broiler-chicken carcasses [30]. Subsequent USDA data-collection did not test for the prevalence of Listeria in chicken or in turkeys. [31, 32]
Transmission and Infection
Except for the transmission of mother to fetus, human-to-human transmission of Listeria is not known to occur. [18] Infection is caused almost exclusively by the ingestion of the bacteria, most often through the consumption of contaminated food. [18, 21, 23] The most widely-accepted estimate of foodborne transmission is 85-95% of all Listeria cases. [23, 28]
The infective dose—that is, the amount of bacteria that must be ingested to cause illness—is not known. [4, 18, 26] In an otherwise healthy person, an extremely large number of Listeria bacteria must be ingested to cause illness—estimated to be somewhere between 10–100 million viable bacteria (or colony forming units “CFU”) in healthy individuals, and only 0.1–10 million CFU in people at high risk of infection. [4, 18, 26] Even with such a dose, a healthy individual will suffer only a fever, diarrhea, and related gastrointestinal symptoms. [4, 18].
The amount of time from infection to the onset of symptoms—typically referred to as the incubation period—can vary to a significant degree.  Symptoms of Listeria infection can develop at any time from 2 to 70 days after eating contaminated food. [4, 5] According to one authoritative text,
The incubation period for invasive illness is not well established, but evidence from a few cases related to specific ingestions points to 11 to 70 days, with a mean of 31 days. In one report, two pregnant women whose only common exposure was attendance at a party developed Listeria bacteremia with the same uncommon enzyme type; incubation periods for illness were 19 and 23 days. [18]
Adults can get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria, but babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. [4, 24] The mode of transmission of Listeria to the fetus is either transplacental via the maternal blood stream or ascending from a colonized genital tract. [24] Infections during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious health problems for the newborn. [18, 24]
Incidence of Listeria infection in HIV-positive individuals is higher than in the general population. [17, 18] One study found that:
The estimated incidence of listeriosis among HIV-infected patients in metropolitan Atlanta was 52 cases per 100,000 patients per year, and among patients with AIDS it was 115 cases per 100,000 patients per year, rates 65–145 times higher than those among the general population. HIV-associated cases occurred in adults who were 29–62 years of age and in postnatal infants who were 2 and 6 months of age. [17]
Pregnant women make up around 30% of all infection cases, while accounting for 60% of cases involving the 10- to 40-year age group. [18]
Those Most Susceptible to Infection
Several segments of the population are at increased risk and need to be informed so that proper precautions can be taken. [19,20, 27] The body’s defense against Listeria is called “cell-mediated immunity” because the success of defending against infection depends on our cells (as opposed to our antibodies), especially lymphocytes called “T-cells.” [12] Therefore, individuals whose cell-mediated immunity is suppressed are more susceptible to the devastating effects of listeriosis, including especially HIV-infected individuals, who have been found to have a Listeria-related mortality of 29%. [12, 17, 18]
Pregnant women naturally have a depressed cell-mediated immune system. [18, 24] In addition, the immune systems of fetuses and newborns are very immature and are extremely susceptible to these types of infections. [24] Other adults, especially transplant recipients and lymphoma patients, are given necessary therapies with the specific intent of depressing T-cells, and these individuals become especially susceptible to Listeria as well. [7, 18, 27]
According to the CDC and other public health organizations, individuals at increased risk for being infected and becoming seriously ill with Listeria include the following groups:

  • Pregnant women: They are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy.
  • Newborns: Newborns rather than the pregnant women themselves suffer the serious effects of infection in pregnancy.
  • Persons with weakened immune systems
  • Persons with cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease
  • Persons with AIDS: They are almost 300 times more likely to get listeriosis than people with normal immune systems.
  • Persons who take glucocorticosteroid medications (such as cortisone)
  • The elderly [11, 20, 21]

Symptoms of Listeria infection
When a person is infected and develops symptoms of Listeria infection, the resulting illness is called listeriosis. [4, 11, 18] Only a small percentage of persons who ingest Listeria fall ill or develop symptoms. [18] For those who do develop symptoms as a result of their infection, the resulting illness is either mild or quite severe—sometimes referred to as a “bimodal distribution of severity.” [13, 28]
On the mild end of the spectrum, listeriosis usually consists of the sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, vomiting, and other influenza-type symptoms. [18, 28]  Along these same lines, the CDC notes that infected individuals may develop fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. [11] When present, the diarrhea usually lasts 1-4 days (with 42 hours being average), with 12 bowel movements per day at its worst. [18]
Most healthy adults and children who consume contaminated food experience only mild to moderate symptoms. The infection is usually self-limited, since, in healthy hosts, exposure to Listeria stimulates the production of tumour necrosis factor and other cytokines, which activate monocytes and macrophages to eradicate the organism.  Few people with normal immune function go on to have more severe, life-threatening forms of listeriosis, characterized by septic shock, meningitis and encephalitis. [4]
As already noted, when pregnant, women have a mildly impaired immune system that makes them susceptible to Listeria infection. [19] If infected, the illness appears as an acute fever, muscle pain, backache, and headache. [18, 24] Illness usually occurs in the third trimester, which is when immunity is at its lowest. [18] Infection during pregnancy can lead to premature labor, miscarriage, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. [24, 28] Twenty-two percent of such infections result in stillbirth or neonatal death. [18]
Newborns may present clinically with early-onset (less than 7 days) or late-onset forms of infection (7 or more days). [3] Those with the early-onset form are often diagnosed in the first 24 hours of life with sepsis (infection in the blood). [3, 18] Early-onset listeriosis is most often acquired through trans-placental transmission. [18, 24] Late-onset neonatal listeriosis is less common than the early-onset form. [4, 18, 24] Clinical symptoms may be subtle and include irritability, fever and poor feeding. [24] The mode of acquisition of late-onset listeriosis is poorly understood. [18, 24]
Diagnosis and Treatment of Listeria Infections
Because there are few symtpoms that are unique to listeriosis, doctors must consider a variety of potential causes for infection, including viral infections (like flu), and other bacterial infections that may cause sepsis or meningitis. [4, 18, 19]
Early diagnosis and treatment of listeriosis in high-risk patients is critical, since the outcome of untreated infection can be devastating. This is especially true for pregnant women because of the increased risk of spontaneous abortion and preterm delivery. Depending on the risk group, rates of death from listeriosis range from 10% to 50%, with the highest rate among newborns in the first week of life. [4]
Methods typically used to identify diarrhea-causing bacteria in stool cultures interfere or limit the growth of Listeria, making it less likely to be identified and isolated for further testing. [18] On the other hand, routine methods are effective for isolating Listeria from spinal fluid, blood, and joint fluid. [4, 18] Magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) is used to confirm or rule out brain or brain stem involvement. [18]
Listeriosis is usually a self-limited illness—which means that a majority of infected individuals will improve without the need for medical care. [4, 11, 14, 18] But for those patients with a high fever, a stool culture and antibiotic-treatment may be justified for otherwise healthy individuals. [4, 18] Although there have been no studies done to determine what drugs or treatment duration is best, ampicillin is generally considered the “preferred agent.” [18] There is no consensus on the best approach for patients who are allergic to penicillins.[18]
Invasive infections with Listeria can be treated with antibiotics. [18] When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus or newborn. [18, 24] Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.
Complications of Listeria infection
For those persons who suffer a Listeria infection that does not resolve on its own, the complications (or sequelae) can be many. [4, 28] The most common is septicemia (bacterial pathogens in the blood, also known as bacteremia), with meningitis being the second most common. [4, 18] Other complications can include inflammation of the brain or brain stem (encephalitis), brain abscess, inflammation of the heart-membrane (endocarditis), and localized infection, either internally or of the skin. [18]
Death is the most severe consequence of listeriosis, and it is tragically common. [3] For example, based on 2009 FoodNet surveillance data, 89.2% of Listeria patients ended up in the hospital, the highest hospitalization rate for pathogenic bacterial infection. [10] In persons 50 years of age and older, there was a 17.5% fatality rate—also the highest relative to other pathogens. [10, 18]
The Economic Impact of Listeria Infections
The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) published its first comprehensive cost estimates for sixteen foodborne bacterial pathogens in 1989. [22]  Five years later, it was estimated that, in 1993, there were 1,795 to 1,860 Listeria infections that required hospitalization, with 295-360 of these cases involving pregnant women. [28]  Based on these estimates, the medical costs that Listeria infections had caused each year were said to run from $61.7 to $64.8 million, including those individuals who ultimately died as a result of their infections. [28] For these same acute cases, productivity costs were estimated to run from $125.8 to $154.4 million a year. [28] The productivity costs associated with Listeria-related chronic illness was estimated to be an additional $38 million a year. [28] In sum, “[e]stimates of total costs for the 1,795 to 1,860 cases of listeriosis range from $232.7 million to $264.4 million annually.” [28]
In 2000, USDA updated the cost-estimates for four pathogens:  Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes. [28a] The 2000 estimates were based on the CDC’s then newly-released estimates of annual foodborne illnesses, and put the total cost in the United States for these four pathogens at $6.5 billion a year. [28a] For Listeria specifically, it was estimated that costs amounted to $2.3 billion per year, based on 2,493 cases, which involved 2,298 hospitalizations and 499 deaths. [28a]  More recently, in 2007, it was estimated that the worldwide cost of all foodborne disease was $1.4 trillion per year. [6]
Real Life Impacts of Listeria Infection
Because Listeria infection is most severe in elderly persons, pregnant women and newborns, the symptoms of infection vary greatly.

  • In older adults or immunocompromised individuals, septicemia (Listeria bacteria in the blood stream) and meningitis are the most common indicators of illness.
  • In pregnant women, a mild, flu-like illness can be followed by miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth.
  • In newborns, bacteremia (Listeria bacteria in the blood stream) and meningitis are the most common indicators of Listeria infectio

Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria
Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria is an emerging and increasing threat to human health. [1, 4] Physicians are increasingly aware that antimicrobial resistance is increasing in foodborne pathogens and that, as a result, patients who are prescribed antibiotics are at increased risk for acquiring antimicrobial-resistant foodborne infections. [1] Indeed, “increased frequency of treatment failures for acute illness and increased severity of infection may be manifested by prolonged duration of illness, increased frequency of bloodstream infections, increased hospitalization or increased mortality.” [3]
The use of antimicrobial agents in the feed of food animals is estimated by the FDA to be over 100 million pounds per year. [4]  It is estimated that 36% to 70% of all antibiotics produced in the United States are used in a food animal feed or in prophylactic treatment to prevent animal disease. [3, 4, 18] In 2002, the Minnesota Medical Association published an article by David Wallinga, M.D., M.P.H. who wrote:
According to the [Union of Concerned Scientists], 70 percent of all the antimicrobials used in the United States for all purposes—or about 24.6 million pounds annually—are fed to poultry, swine, and beef cattle for nontherapeutic purposes, in the absence of disease. Over half are “medically important” antimicrobials; identical or so closely related to human medicines that resistance to the animal drug can confer resistance to the similar human drug. Penicillin, tetracycline, macrolides, streptogramins, and sulfonamides are prominent examples. [33]
The use of antibiotics in feed for food animals, on animals prophylactically to prevent disease, and the use of antibiotics in humans unnecessarily must be reduced. [1, 25] European countries have reduced the use of antibiotics in animal feed and have seen a corresponding reduction in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans. [1, 4]
The Prevention of Listeria infection
Given its widespread presence in the environment, and the fact that the vast majority of Listeria infections are the result of consuming contaminated food or water, preventing illness and death is necessarily (and understandably) a food safety issue.
L. monocytogenes presents a particular concern with respect to food handling because it can grow at refrigerator temperatures (4°C to 10°C), temperatures commonly used to control pathogens in foods. Freezing also has little detrimental effect on the microbe. Although pasteurization is sufficient to kill Listeria, failure to reach the desired temperature in large packages can allow the organism to survive. Food can also be contaminated after processing by the introduction of unpasteurized material, as happens during the preparation of some cheeses. Listeria can also be spread by contact with contaminated hands, equipment and counter tops. [4]
The use of irradiation to reduce Listeria to safe levels in foods has many proponents. [26] As noted by an eminent CDC researcher, Robert V. Tauxe,
Ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs, have already been subjected to a pathogen-killing step when the meat is cooked at the factory, so contamination is typically the result of in-plant contamination after that step. Improved sanitation in many plants has reduced the incidence of infection by half since 1986, but the risk persists, as illustrated by a large hot dog-associated outbreak that occurred in 1999. Additional heat treatment or irradiation of meat after it is packaged would eliminate Listeria that might be present at that point. [26]
The CDC provides a comprehensive list of recommendations and precautions to avoid becoming infected with Listeria, which are as follows:
· Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature. For a list of recommended temperatures for meat and poultry, visit
· Rinse raw vegetables thoroughly under running tap water before eating.
· Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
· Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
· Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
· Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include:
· Meats
o Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (e.g., bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
o Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
o Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Foods that do not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.
· Cheeses
o Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, “MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.”
· Seafood
o Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is a canned or shelf-stable product. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” These fish are typically found in the refrigerator section or sold at seafood and deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned and shelf stable tuna, salmon, and other fish products are safe to eat.
Recommendations to keep food safe:
· Be aware that Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
· Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
· Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.
· Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
· Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:
o Hot Dogs – store opened packages no longer than 1 week and unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
o Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. [11]
Additional preventive steps and precautions can be found on the websites of most State Departments of Health, including, for example, the Minnesota Department of Health. [20] There is also excellent information to be found at the Extension Service website of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at University of Florida. [27]
Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese Linked to Listeria
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (July 3, 2013)
Health officials investigate Listeria outbreak linked to cheese
Pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems most at risk
The Minnesota Departments of Health and Agriculture are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on a multi-state outbreak investigation of listeriosis linked to eating Les Frères cheese made by Crave Brothers Farmstead Classics Cheese, a Wisconsin producer. The investigation is ongoing but there are related cases in at least three other states.
Two people in Minnesota so far have become ill. Both were older adults. They became ill in early June. Both were hospitalized and one died.
The Department of Agriculture is testing samples of the cheese and early results indicate presence of Listeria; confirmation is pending.
Health officials are warning consumers who may have purchased these cheeses: Les Frères, Petit Frère, Petit Frère with Truffles and still have it in their refrigerators to not eat it until more information becomes available from the investigation. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture has advised grocery stores and distributors to pull and not sell the products until further information is available.
Listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. The disease affects primarily older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and persons with weakened immune systems. Approximately 4 to 10 cases of listeriosis are reported in Minnesota each year. Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Infected pregnant women may experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn. Symptoms often begin 3 weeks after infection, but it could take anywhere from 3 to 70 days.

Cookout food safety tips
Source :
By Erin Brookshier (July 03, 2013)
With big summer holidays, like July 4th right around the corner, many of us are rushing out the grocery stores to grab food for a cookout. If you're planning a cookout for anytime this summer, the last thing you want is for someone to get sick. We went straight to the experts to get the facts on this one. Registered dietitian, Brooke Mercedes, gives us some tips on how to keep food safe during those hot summer cookouts.
She starts with chicken salad, which she says is a dish to watch out for at outdoor cookouts.
"I think this is one of the most dangerous items. It's mayonnaise based plus it has the meat in it as well," says Brooke.
You might be surprised to know, Brooke says after just one hour above 40 degrees, it's not safe to eat anymore.
Another popular item we often take to cookouts or picnics are deli meats. There are a couple of factors that can determine how long these items are safe in the refrigerator after the event. Brooke says if it's unopened it will last for up to two weeks, but once the seal is broken it's only good for four to five days.
When the cookout or picnic is over and there is leftover food, Brooke says you have to act quickly with anything you want to keep.
"If you're putting things in the refrigerator, you have two hours from the time you set it up to get it to the correct temperature," she says. "Then after that you want dishes no more than two inches deep. And after four days, you're done."
Some good advice for us all to remember as we head fill up our carts at the grocery store this week.

China relationship is still strong - MPI boss
Source :
By Nigel Stirling (July 03, 2013)
Appropriately enough one of the last acts of Wayne McNee as director-general of the Ministry for Primary Industries is a trip to China.
McNee admits the ministry has tested its relationship with its Chinese counterpart in recent months.
Failure to front up straight away after finding the toxic substance dicyandiamide (DCD) in milk products last year was followed several months later by New Zealand meat being blocked from Chinese ports because of confusion over accompanying documentation.
NZ meat companies also continue to face delays in getting licences for plants to export to China from the Beijing-based regulator, AQSIQ.
McNee commissioned a report on the meat documentation fiasco which is due to be released shortly.
He admits more thought could have been put into how and when it informed food safety-sensitive China that non-harmful levels of DCD had been found in NZ milk products.
McNee says the first priority was to assess whether the DCD residues posed a risk to human health.
Only then did the ministry believe it was in a position to inform customers and foreign regulators several months later.
"One of the learnings will be get the information out there more quickly once you have ascertained whether there is a risk or not. But you need to understand that risk first," McNee says.
A report for the State Services Commission earlier this year called on the ministry to "think harder about how it uses its regulatory and other interventions" to help achieve the Government's goal of doubling primary exports by 2025.
"For example, the ministry's regulatory and enforcement role means it is well placed to provide assurance to consumers that products are what they claim to be," it said.
McNee acknowledges the role of regulators is being reshaped after the discovery of horsemeat in Europe's beef supply chains earlier this year.
At about the same time hundreds were being arrested in China for "meat-related offences" including one criminal gang making vast profits passing off mink, fox and even rat meat as mutton.
"We are bound to find other things in product that is not a food safety risk but they will raise questions of what they are calling now food integrity.
"There is definitely more risk on how governments and industries communicate with consumers in those sorts of situations," McNee says.
But is the ministry heeding these messages?
A register of infant formula brands being produced in NZ and sold in China was only recently announced after a Chinese diplomat called for more transparency.
Media reports for months have highlighted the risks from bogus operators taking cover under the explosion in the number of NZ brands now in the Chinese market.
McNee denies the delay is evidence MPI isn't getting to grips with its responsibility to be more than just a food safety policeman.
He says MPI had been working with the regulator in Beijing for some time before the announcement of the brand register.
"We are as worried as the Chinese authorities are about reputation.
"We want to make sure that product that is being sold as NZ product genuinely is."
McNee is confident MPI retains a "very good" relationship with its Chinese counterpart. He doesn't believe fallout from the DCD affair contributed to the blockade on NZ meat.
But is MPI taking its relationship with AQSIQ for granted?
Could it be making better progress on meat plant registrations or find itself less flustered by developments in the booming Chinese infant formula market if it had more feet on the ground?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NZ Trade and Enterprise have 130 people in China. MPI has one. That's out of a payroll of 2000.
McNee says MPI's lone representative in Beijing will at some point be joined by a policy specialist. A third person of a more technical bent could also soon follow.
He says MPI, with MFAT and NZTE, is reassessing its deployment in Asia and the Middle East.
"Those parts of the world are becoming more important from a trade perspective and we need to have another look at whether we are adequately resourcing them."
McNee is bailing out half-way through his five-year term to head up the dairy genetics company, LIC.
He worries the recent hiccups in the trading relationship with China could obscure worthwhile achievements at MPI under his watch, in particular new collaboration with primary industries to identify the biosecurity risks of greatest concern.
These Government Industry Agreements were fast-tracked after a report found better communication between MPI and the kiwifruit industry may have prevented PSA cutting a swathe through the nation's vines.
Tellingly though asked to name the biggest challenge for his successor at the helm of this sprawling organisation, McNee comes back to a familiar theme. "The way our exports are changing, and understanding what the implications are ... a tenfold increase in meat exports to China in two years is a huge change."

Foodborne illnesses often follow outdoor picnics, gatherings
Source :
By (July 02, 2013)
As the Independence Day holiday nears, Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) reminds Iowans to keep food safety in mind at picnics and barbecues.
“When large gatherings like holiday-related picnics and meals happen, we typically hear about people getting ill with diarrhea and vomiting from foodborne illnesses,” said IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk. “Most of these illnesses are caused by foods that are improperly cooked or stored.”
Especially during warm weather, food safety begins at the grocery store.
“When shopping, buy cold foods like meat, poultry and dairy products last, right before checkout,” Quinlisk said. “Plan to drive directly home from the grocery store so the food doesn’t sit in a hot car any longer than necessary. You may also want to take a cooler with ice or insulated grocery bags to transport perishables home — especially if your drive home is more than half an hour.”
Once home, place cold foods like meat, poultry and dairy products in the refrigerator right away.
To make sure you, your family and friends have a healthy holiday, remember the following tips:
• Cook all meats thoroughly, especially ground meats like hamburgers and sausages like bratwursts. Use a meat thermometer to ensure the middle of the meat has reached a temperature that will kill the organisms that can make us sick. Cook chicken to 165 degrees, ground meats like hamburger to 160 degrees, and whole meats like steaks or pork chops to 145 degrees.
• Marinate foods in the refrigerator — not on the kitchen counter or outdoors. In addition, if you plan to use some of the marinade as a sauce on the cooked food, set aside a portion before adding the raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Don’t reuse marinade as this can recontaminate the food.
• Cook thoroughly and immediately after “partial cooking.” If you partially cook food in your kitchen to reduce grilling time, do so immediately before the food goes on the hot grill.
• Keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Whether in your car or on the picnic table, illness-causing bacteria can grow in many foods within two hours and during the summer heat, that time is cut down to within one hour.
• Don’t reuse platters or utensils. Using the same platter or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood allows bacteria from the raw food’s juices to spread to the cooked food. Instead, have a clean platter and utensils ready at grill-side to serve your food.
• Have a way to wash your hands prior to eating. For example, if picnicking, bring soap and water or hand wipes so that everyone can clean their hands before they eat.
For more information on preventing foodborne illness, go to

Most Food Poisoning Outbreaks Linked to Restaurants, Delis
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (July 02, 2013)
Most food poisoning outbreaks are caused by food prepared at restaurants or delis according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study, which looked at outbreak data from 1998 to 2008, found that 68 percent of foodborne illness outbreaks were linked to restaurants or delis. And another 7 percent were associated with food prepared at a catering or banquet facility.
Recently there have been a number of food poisoning outbreaks associated with restaurants. In late June, a Salmonella outbreak prompted health officials to close Iguana Joe’s restaurant on W. Lake Houston Parkway in Atascocita, Texas. Several people who ate at the restaurant contracted Salmonella poisoning, some of them were hospitalized. A Salmonella outbreak associated with the restaurant at the Holiday Inn Bordeaux in Fayetteville, North Carolina sickened 103 people between mid May and early June.
In mid-June, an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak associated with Los Burritos Mexicanos restaurant in Lombard, Illinois  sickened at least 10 people. At least one child developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of E. coli infections that leads to kidney failure and other health problems. There were also HUS cases in E.coli outbreaks associated with the Bar-B-Q Shack in Toccoa, Georgia and the Coco Loco restaurant in College Station, Texas and the Ambassel Restaurant and Bar located in Seattle, Washington.

Keep it safe on July 4th with these cookout food safety tips
Source :
By (July 02, 2013)
The Allegheny County Health Department is offering food safety tips for July 4th holiday cookouts and picnics.
The key to preventing food poisoning is good personal hygiene, along with temperature control and adequate cooking of potentially hazardous foods, according to health officials.
Washing hands is not only important before preparing foods but also between handling raw and ready-to-eat foods to prevent cross-contamination or the transfer of bacteria. Washing with soap and warm water is best, but if they won’t be available on outings take antibacterial towelettes or lotion.
Meat, poultry and seafood should be cooked thoroughly and the best way to know if these foods have been cooked enough is to check their temperature with a meat thermometer.
Safe cooking temperatures are 145 degrees for all whole cuts of meat, with a three-minute rest time before carving or consuming; 145 degrees for seafood; 160 degrees for all ground meats, including hamburgers; and 165 degrees for poultry. Hot dogs and other processed or precooked meats such as kielbasa should be reheated to 160 degrees.
Those who don’t have a meat thermometer should follow these guidelines but remember they’re not as reliable as temperature as an indicator of doneness: beef and pork should be grilled until all the pink is gone, poultry until there is no red in the joints and fresh fish until it flakes with a fork.
Use different plates to carry raw meats and cooked meats to and from the grill so bacteria-laden juices left on the plate from raw meat don’t come in contact with and contaminate cooked meat.
Food safety tips for picnics also are available by visiting

Salmonella incidence declines in most meat types
Source :
By John Maday, Managing Editor, Drovers CattleNetwork(July 01, 2013)
A new progress report from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) compiles results of salmonella testing on 30,686 samples from eight meat and poultry classes in 2012. The report shows a reduction in positive tests in most cases, although there was a slight increase in the incidence of salmonella on steer and heifer carcasses. According to the report 1.1 percent of samples from slaughter steers and heifers tested positive in 2012 compared with 0.5 percent from samples in 2011. Positive tests on market cows and bulls declined from 0.8 percent in 2011 to 0.0 percent in 2012.
In 2012, 14,665 ground beef samples were analyzed and 1.9 percent tested positive for salmonella, compared with 2.4 percent positive from 13,161 samples in 2011 and 2.2 percent positive from 9,256 samples.
The incidence of salmonella is higher in poultry than in beef, but the report shows declines there as well. In 2012 FSIS analyzed 10,933 salmonella samples from young chicken establishments. The total percentage of positive samples was 4.3 percent, down from 6.5 percent, 6.7 percent, 7.2 percent, and 7.3 percent in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008, respectively.
For ground chicken, the agency analyzed 1,376 samples in 2013 and found a total of 28 percent positive, down from 30.9 percent in 2011.
Among market hogs, 1.3 percent tested positive in 2012 compared with 3.3 percent in 2011.
The full report is available online from FSIS.

Foodservice suppliers require food safety
Source :
By Tom Burfield (July 01, 2013)
No foodservice operator wants to risk his reputation — or his businesses — by selling fruits or vegetables that make customers sick. That’s why many independent restaurateurs and just about all chain buyers are real sticklers when it comes to food safety.
Food safety always has been top of mind for foodservice operators, said Ernst Van Eeghen, director of marketing and product development for Church Bros. LLC, Salinas, Calif.
“But right now, it’s the foundation of everything,” he said.
Food safety is the first thing foodservice buyers ask about, Van Eeghen said.
“What we’re seeing is more frequent inquiries and requests from all of our channel partners,” agreed Vince Choate, director of marketing for Hollandia Produce LLC, Carpinteria, Calif.
Food safety extends to the restaurant, Choate said, and “goes all the way down to the person serving you dinner.”
“Food safety and traceability are on the forefront today,” echoed Dan Acevedo, director of business development for West Pak Avocado Inc., Murrieta, Calif.
Foodservice operators want to know about the food safety processes their suppliers implement, he said.
Customers of Limoneira Co. in Santa Paula, Calif., assume the product the company sells is safe, said John Chamberlain, director of marketing.
Though Limoneira doesn’t necessarily brag about it, he said, the company is the only citrus grower in the U.S. that is GlobalG.A.P. certified.
Some smaller restaurants in particular prefer to deal with local growers who may or may not have an adequate food safety program, said Jeff Olsen, president of the Chuck Olsen Co., Visalia, Calif.
On the other hand, buyers for chain restaurants typically inquire about food safety when they place their orders, he said.
It’s becoming more difficult for local growers to adhere to the latest food safety standards, Van Eeghen said.
The fact that Church Bros. is vertically integrated puts the company in a strong position to ensure food safety, he said.
“We control everything — seed varieties, growing locations, harvesting and processing,” he said. “Because we control everything ourselves, we have an environment of complete transparency — the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.”
Maintaining a top-notch food safety program is costly, Chamberlain said.
“You’ve got to have expensive audits done to your orchards all the way through the process,” he said.
That includes packinghouses and involves a great deal of training and adapting procedures so the company is actually doing what is required to meet GlobalG.A.P. certification standards.
Limoneira invested 10,000 labor hours to achieve its GlobalG.A.P. certification, he said.
“I would recommend every restaurant that buys produce go look at their produce company’s building and make sure they understand what they do to protect the customer,” Lusby suggested.

Outdoor Food Safety Tips for Your Summer Barbecue
Source :
By Lauren Williamson,  Bree Shirvell(July 01, 2013)
The sunny days of summer bring hot temperatures, outdoor gatherings and unfortunately an increased risk of food poisoning.
Warm temperatures provide a perfect environment for bacteria and other pathogens in food to multiply rapidly and cause foodborne illness. Soon more people will be cooking outside and the safety controls that a kitchen provides — thermostat-controlled cooking, refrigeration, and washing facilities — are usually not available.
Don’t let foodborne illness be an uninvited guest to your summer meal – here are some tips to keep you and your family safe this summer.
1. Clean your hands and surfaces often. Wash your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.  Headed to the beach or park? Pack moist towelettes or hand sanitizer for times when soap and water aren’t available. Wash your cutting boards, dishes, utensils and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next food. Clean your grill before and after each use.
2. Separate raw food from ready-to-eat foods. Cross-contamination during preparation, grilling and serving food is a prim cause of foodborne illness. Wash plates, utensils, and cutting boards that held raw meat or poultry before using them again for cooked food (such as raw versus cooked hamburgers and hot dogs). When packing the cooler chest for an outing, wrap raw meats securely; avoid raw meat juices from coming in contact with ready-to-eat food.
3. Cook foods to safe temperatures.  Food safety experts agree that food is safely cooked when it is heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. The only way to know this is by using a food thermometer; you can’t judge doneness by color alone. Cook your burgers to an internal temperature of at least160°F, poultry to 165°F. Defrost and marinate all foods in the refrigerator, and cook your meat completely at your picnic site –partial cooking of food ahead of time allows bacteria to survive and multiply to the point that subsequent cooking cannot destroy them.
4. Chill foods within a certain timeframe. Never let raw meat, poultry, eggs, cooked food or cut fresh fruits or vegetables sit at room temperature more than two hours before putting them in the refrigerator or freezer (one hour when the temperature is above 90°F). It might not be safe to eat food left out of refrigeration for more than one to two hours. If you have any doubts, throw it out.
For more food safety tips, including how long you should keep leftovers, please visit
Happy grilling!


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