FoodHACCP Newsletter
07/15 2013 ISSUE:556

 

UN sets new standards for food safety
Source : http://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/health/artikel.php?ID=279486&comment=0#com/
By ghanaweb.com (July 14, 2013)
The United Nations food standards body, Codex Alimentarius, has agreed on new standards to protect the health of consumers worldwide.
These include standards on fruit, vegetables, fish and fishery products and animal feed.
A statement signed by Peter Lowrey of the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Media Relations Rome and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Saturday, said Codex also adopted codes on the prevention and reduction of ochratoxin A, a carcinogenic contaminant, in cocoa.
Others are guidance on how to avoid microbiological contamination of berries and on the use of claims for food that is labelled "non-addition of sodium salts" including "no added salt" on food packages, to assist consumers in choosing a healthy diet.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly run by the FAO and the World Health Organisation, sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide.
It said Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.
“One of the important work areas for Codex is setting safe limits and giving guidance along the food chain on prevention or reduction of contamination.
Food can become contaminated by heavy metals, fungal toxins or bacteria and viruses,” it stated.
It said the Commission adopted two important codes: prevention and reduction of ochratoxin A, a carcinogenic contaminant in cocoa and of hydrocyanic acid in cassava.
“Fresh berries can be a healthy part of the diet but are also prone to microbiological contamination and have been associated with several food borne illness outbreaks caused by viruses like Hepatitis A, Norovirus, bacteria (E.coli) and protozoa.
“The new Codex text gives advice to producers and consumers on how to prevent this contamination.
“The Commission adopted a number of commodity standards that will protect consumers from fraud and ensure fair practices in the food trade.
“The standards help buyers and sellers establish contracts based on Codex specifications and make sure that the consumers get from the products what they expect,” the statement said.
The Commission also adopted the revised and updated guidelines on formulated supplementary foods for older infants and young children to ensure the health and nutrition of the vulnerable population group.
Furthermore, the Commission adopted hundreds of safe maximum limits for pesticide residues and veterinary drugs and provisions for food additives.
The statement noted that as animal feed could cause contamination in eggs, meat and milk products, the Commission adopted guidance on how to control the feed and assess the risk of contamination.
It said the Commission also adopted guidelines for National Food Control Systems to assist countries in implementing food control.
“The Commission approved its Strategic Plan 2014-2019, which will guide the work on protecting consumers' health and ensure fair practices in the food trade over the next six years,” the statement said.

‘Food security is good, but what about food safety?’
Source : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/varanasi/Food-security-is-good-but-what-about-food-safety/articleshow/21077404.cms
By timesofindia.indiatimes.com (July 15, 2013)
VARANASI: While the National Food Security Bill (now an ordinance) has been widely debated by political parties and experts, a professor of Banaras Hindu University (BHU) wants to draw attention of policy makers towards proper implementation of Food Safety and Standard Act (FSSA) 2006.
"Why only Food Security Bill is in agenda of political parties, why is the Food Safety and Standard Act 2006 not being highlighted," wondered Anand Chaudhary, associate professor at the faculty of Ayurveda, Institute of Medical Sciences, BHU, Chaudhary.
High drama is on in political circle regarding food security bill that ensures cheap grain for one-third population of the country. Congress is adamant for the bill as game changer and other political parties are considering it as vote bank politics. "As an academician and university teacher, may I ask these policy makers about some facts. Who will take care of implementation of FSSA, which was made to ensure service to the masses (poor as well as prosperous), regarding food available in market, either readymade, ready to eat or raw form," he said. Why policy makers are not ensuring the best services to commoner by strict implementation of provisions of FSSA 2006 amended in 2008, 2010 and 2012 for better services to every section of society. Why they are eyeing only vote bank that may be an easy target?
Expressing concerns regarding Ayurveda in FSSA, Chaudhary said: "I oppose the move of the government in which it permitted sale of honey by mixing antibiotics in a certain concentration. Honey is used as carrier in these permissible substances as food. Honey is a medicine and used in Ayurveda as an adjuvant to potentiate the effects of several Ayurvedic formulations. Antibiotics in honey need further debate from all angles."
"We invite attention of government on a clause of FSSA where it kept Ayurvedic medicinal oil at par to the edible oils. These are not the same. So, the criteria, quality and standard parameter of Ayurvedic oils may not be same as per pure edible coconut and mustard oil, he said. Ayurvedic oils are processed as per principles of Ayurvedic Pharmaceutics with many herbs and minerals. Parameters of these Ayurvedic oils are notified in Ayurvedic Pharmacopiea of India /Ayurvedic Formulary of India separately as medicine.
VOP seeks debate on bill
The Voice of People (VOP), an alliance of 16 civil society organisations from various districts of Uttar Pradesh, with the help of Child Rights and You (CRY), urges the central government to bring the National Food Security Bill after debate and discussion in Parliament.
"The National Food Security Bill is a crucial opportunity to end hunger and malnutrition in India and we hope that this will not be missed. The Right to Food Campaign will continue to protest against a process that stops debate and discussion over an issue that affects millions in the country," said Sruti Nagavashi, executive council member of VOP. She said the VOP is appalled by the undemocratic decision to promulgate an ordinance on food security.
"We are also concerned that the process of implementation and identification of beneficiaries will not be done properly if such a hurried approach is taken," she said adding that there were many shortcomings in the bill, which is now an ordinance. The Bill does not provide any agriculture and production-related entitlements for farmers in spite of the fact that more than 60% of the people in this country were dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods.

Cyclospora Outbreak – What You Need to Know
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/cyclospora-outbreak-what-you-need-to-know/
By Drew Falkenstein (July 13, 2013)
The Iowa Department of Public Health, CDC and local public health agencies are investigating an outbreak of an intestinal illness caused by Cyclospora (a rare parasite). As of July 12, 45 cases of Cyclospora infections have been reported in Iowa with dozens more in Nebraska and other Midwestern states. It appears linked to eating fresh vegetables.
What is Cyclospora?
Cyclospora is a parasite composed of one cell, too small to be seen without a microscope. The organism was previously thought to be a blue-green alga or a large form of Cryptosporidium. Cyclospora cayetanensis is the only species of this organism found in humans. The first known human cases of illness caused by Cyclospora infection (that is, cyclosporiasis) were first discovered in 1977. An increase in the number of cases being reported began in the mid-1980s, in part due to the availability of better diagnostic techniques. Over 15,000 cases are estimated to occur each year in the United States. The first outbreak in North America occurred in 1990 from contaminated water. Since then, several outbreaks of cyclosporiasis have been reported in the U.S. and Canada, many associated with eating fresh fruits or vegetables. In some developing countries, cyclosporiasis is common among the population and travelers to those areas have become infected as well.
Where does Cyclospora come from?
Cyclospora is spread by people ingesting water or food contaminated with infected stool. For example, exposure to contaminated water among farm workers may have been the original source in raspberry-associated outbreaks in North America.
Cyclospora needs time (one to several weeks) after being passed in a bowel movement to become infectious. Therefore, it is unlikely that Cyclospora is passed directly from one person to another. It is not known whether or not animals can be infected and pass infection to people.
What are the typical symptoms of Cyclospora infection?
Cyclospora infects the small intestine (bowel) and usually causes watery diarrhea, bloating, increased gas, stomach cramps, loss of appetite, nausea, low-grade fever, and fatigue. In some cases, vomiting, explosive diarrhea, muscle aches, and substantial weight loss can occur. Some people who are infected with Cyclospora do not have any symptoms. The time between becoming infected and becoming ill is usually about one week. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days up to six weeks. Symptoms also may recur one or more times (relapse). In addition, people who have previously been infected with Cyclospora can become infected again.
What are the serious and long-term risks of Cyclospora infection?
Cyclospora has been associated with a variety of chronic complications such as Guillain-Barre syndrome, reactive arthritis or Reiter’s syndrome, biliary disease, and acalculous cholecystitis. Since Cyclospora infections tend to respond to the appropriate treatment, complications are more likely to occur in individuals who are not treated or not treated promptly. Extraintestinal infection also appears to occur more commonly in individuals with a compromised immune system.
How is Cyclospora infection detected?
Your health care provider will ask you to submit stool specimens to see if you are infected. Because testing for Cyclospora infection can be difficult, you may be asked to submit several stool specimens over several days. Identification of this parasite in stool requires special laboratory tests that are not routinely done. Therefore, your health care provider should specifically request testing for Cyclospora if it is suspected. Your health care provider might have your stool checked for other organisms that can cause similar symptoms.
How is Cyclospora infection treated?
The recommended treatment for infection with Cyclospora is a combination of two antibiotics, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, also known as Bactrim, Septra, or Cotrim. People who have diarrhea should rest and drink plenty of fluids. No alternative drugs have been identified yet for people with Cyclospora infection who are unable to take sulfa drugs. Some experimental studies, however, have suggested that ciprofloxacin or nitazoxanide may be effective, although to a lesser degree than trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. See your health care provider to discuss alternative treatment options.
How can Cyclospora infection be prevented?
Avoiding water or food that may be contaminated is advisable when traveling. Drinking bottled or boiled water and avoiding fresh ready-to-eat produce should help to reduce the risk of infection in regions with high rates of infection. Improving sanitary conditions in developing regions with poor environmental and economic conditions is likely to help to reduce exposure.
Washing fresh fruits and vegetables at home may help to remove some of the organisms, but Cyclospora may remain on produce even after washing.

Canada Seeks Consumer, Stakeholder Input on Food Safety Rules
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/canada-seeks-consumer-stakeholder-input-on-food-safety-rules/
By Carla Gillespie (July 12, 2013)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) wants consumer and stakeholder input on proposed food safety rules that are part of the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan which, like the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S.,  aims to modernize food safety in Canada. The CFIA will be accepting comments on its website through November 30, 2013.
The act became law in November 2012. Its goals are to: make food as safe as possible for Canadian families, protects consumers from unsafe practices, use tougher penalties for violations that put public health and safety at risk, gain better control over imports, strengthen traceability and create more consistent inspection processes throughout the food industry.
“Ongoing consultations with Canadians allow our Government to engage in meaningful discussion to continue to improve our world-class food safety system,” said Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, in a statement. “Our ultimate goal remains to have a food system that is the best that it can be, and we are confident that the Safe Food for Canadians Action Plan will continue take us there.”
The CFIA is inviting consumer comment on, food labeling, compliance promotion and the proposed regulatory framework for federal food inspection.  And input from stakeholders on outcome-based regulations. the CFIA is seeking stakeholder views on the adoption of this approach in food regulation and inspection.

Ultimate Fail: No Food Safety Plan Means Salmonella Could Land on Customer Plates
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/07/ultimate-fail-no-food-safety-plan-means-salmonella-could-land-on-customer-plates/
By Dennis Keith (July 11, 2013)
As a restaurant inspector, it never ceases to amaze me how cavalier some restaurants are with their food-handling practices. I’ve talked with so many owners who think foodborne illness can never happen to them despite the laundry list of critical violations they racked up on their last inspection.
Unfortunately, it takes an outbreak that results in personal injury to their customers and lawsuits that result in paying major damages, which can often lead to closing the location, before they are willing to make necessary, lasting changes.
Lately it seems that Salmonella has been slipping past ignorant food handlers and right to consumers’ mouths. Many food handlers don’t understand that they probably have Salmonella in their kitchens every day, and if proper food safety procedures are not followed, Salmonella will end up on customers’ plates.
Firefly and Iguana Joe’s are the most recent victims of a Salmonella outbreak. Firefly’s outbreak resulted in at least 294 confirmed illnesses with a possible source being chorizo. Iguana Joe’s currently has a dozen people sick with seven being children.
The source of the Iguana Joe’s outbreak is still unknown, but looking at the restaurant’s last few inspections, the source is probably the lack of basic food safety understanding by its cooks, managers, and owner. When the health department started its investigation, it found 27 violations in 1 inspection. Inspectors went back the next day and found another 29 demerits. Two days later, they returned and recorded 24 demerits and discarded 45 pounds of food. Clearly, Iguana Joe’s doesn’t understand what food safety is, but the restaurant still remained open until the health department returned the next day and identified another 27 violations. Finally, the restaurant was closed. Given the complete lack of respect for the food they are handling there, I’m surprised it has taken this long for an outbreak to happen at Iguana Joe’s. The restaurant eventually received a perfect score, prompting the health department to reopen Iguana Joe’s with no plans for a follow-up.
My favorite case study of a restaurant’s complete disregard for the food it handles is Chili’s from 2003. This Salmonella outbreak resulted in 300 people sickened, including many of Chili’s employees across multiple locations in the area. Not only were the locations closed for periods of time, but the health department also sent an invoice to Chili’s for $32,000 to reimburse them for the time and resources they used during the investigation.
Restaurant food handlers and management need to respect the pathogens that they accept into their kitchens every day. These people are the last line of defense against foodborne illness between the pathogens and their customers. Failing to recognize the consequences results in sick people and restaurant closures, sometimes for good.
Food safety plans should be followed and verified daily to ensure staff are on track. To not have a food safety plan is reckless and irresponsible. Restaurants can look to HACCP principles to develop a plan. All staff should be familiar with the plans, with regular training and internal audits to prove the plan is being followed.
Restaurant owners: Don’t wait until Salmonella slips past your defenses before you begin to develop a plan. Don’t let your restaurant be another Salmonella victim.

Don't judge China food safety on international standards, says official
Source : http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1280274/dont-judge-china-food-safety-international-standards-says-official
By Ernest Kao (July 11, 2013)
China’s status as a developing country should be taken into account when evaluating the country’s food safety standards, said a senior food safety official.
“If we were to take European Union air quality standards and apply them to Beijing, we would fail every day,” Wang Zhutian, assistant to the director at the National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment, told China National Radio on Wednesday.
Wang stressed China was “still developing” and thus needed to base its own food safety standards on “national conditions” rather than blindly following international ones.
He said the country needed to use its own risk assessment methods to establish its own food safety standards because this would be good for the entire food industry.
“I’m not saying we should ignore the standards of developed countries. We can still learn from their advanced assessment methods … and use them as indicators,” he said.
China has been hit by a succession of food problems in the last year – a lengthy list that includes cadmium-tainted rice, copper-sulfate tainted preserved duck eggs, fake mutton made from rat meat, pesticide-laced ginger and recycled cooking oil.
A string of “food forgeries” including eggs, beef, tofu and honey have also made news headlines in recent months.
National food safety standards fell under increasing scrutiny in 2008, after melamine-tainted milk powder affected an estimated 300,000 people - including 50,000 babies, six of whom were eventually killed.
Meanwhile, the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Wednesday announced at a regular news conference that the government was looking to strengthen standards concerning food contaminants, fungal toxins, food additives and food labels.
The overhaul is part of a five-year plan to upgrade the country’s notorious food safety regulations.
According to the plans, first released in June last year, the government will improve national food safety standards by "revamping outdated standards, reviewing and abolishing any contradicting or overlapping standards and working out new regulation", state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.

Oysters Can Harbor Dangerous Pathogens in Summer Months
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/07/oysters-can-harbor-dangerous-pathogens-in-summer-months/
By News Desk (July 11, 2013)
The warmer coastal water temperature produced by summer weather creates ideal conditions for bacteria that can contaminate oysters, the Washington State Department of Health reminded the public over the Fourth of July weekend.
Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus, two types of bacteria that grow in warm waters and can cause human illness, are known to be carried by oysters, especially in summer months.
Because of this risk, it’s important to keep the following safety tips in mind when harvesting these molluscan shellfish, according to the Department
•Know shellfish harvesting conditions before you harvest. In Washington, consumers can call 1-800-562-5632 or check  WADOH’s maps on its shellfish safety page to see if there are any beach closures.
•Harvest shellfish from the beach as soon as possible after the tide rather than waiting until after they’ve been exposed to the air for a long time.
•Refrigerate or put shellfish on ice immediately after harvesting and keep them cold until they’re prepared and eaten.
“We have great shellfish in Washington and we want people to enjoy them – safely,” said Jerrod Davis, director of the agency’s Office of Shellfish and Water Protection. “By following some simple safety tips, including cooking oysters thoroughly, people can stay healthy this summer.”
Vibrio parahaemolyticus infection is characterized by a gastrointestinal illness that usually lasts around three days, but can be more serious in people with compromised immune systems.
Vibrio vulnificus infection causes vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain in healthy individuals, but can develop into a life-threatening condition in those with compromised immune systems, especially in those with chronic liver disease, when it enters the bloodstream. This condition causes fever and chills, decreased blood pressure (septic shock), and blistering skin lesions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, V. vulnificus bloodstream infections are fatal in about half of cases.
“Antibiotic treatments, cancer therapies and medications to treat heart conditions, diabetes, and acid reflux can cause a higher risk for serious illness,” warns WADOH of Vibrio infections.
Vibrio can be killed by extreme heat. Oysters must be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 15 seconds to ensure death of the bacteria, according to WADOH.
Oysters can also carry biotoxins, which cannot be killed by extreme heat. For this reason, people intending to harvest shellfish should check their local health department’s website for advisories about area risks and closures even if they intend to cook the oysters before consuming them.

Radio Frequency, Convection Cooking Reduces Pathogens in Beef
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/07/radio-frequency-convection-cooking-reduces-pathog.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (July 11, 2013)
HAIFA, Israel—A combination of radio frequency (RF) energy and convection cooking results in similar or better reductions of foodborne pathogens in beef compared to convection only, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology.
Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology investigated safety concerns associated with cooking foods using convection and RF energy techniques. The main goal involved studying the inactivation efficacy of this cooking method against pathogens in ground meat compared to standard convection cooking.
A recent report from the Center for Science and Public Interest (CSPI) indicates ground beef is one of the riskiest meat products in the U.S. food supply, posing a high likelihood of hospitalization from foodborne illness. Ground beef had the highest severity index of 12 meat and poultry categories, and it is also connected to illnesses caused by Clostridium perfringens and Salmonella.
In the Israeli study, researchers used meatballs that were artificially inoculated with Escherichia coli, Salmonella Typhimurium and Listeria monocytogenes, as well as spores of Bacillus cereus and Bacillus thuringiensis. The meatballs were cooked by convection heating for 40 minutes (at 220 degrees Celsius) using energy generated from frequencies in the RF bandwidth (RF cooking, 7.5 minutes) or by combined heating (5.5 minutes), until the center temperature of each sample reached 73 degrees Celsius.
The combined RF and convection cooking resulted in similar or even better effects on selected foodborne pathogens compared to convection only, while the time required for safe cooking was cut down by up to 86%. Results suggest this technology looks promising and safe for ground beef cooking, researchers said.

Leave Salmonella Out of Summer Egg Recipes
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/leave-salmonella-out-of-summer-egg-recipes/
By Deviled eggs and potato salad are summer picnic staples, but they can also be a vehicle for food poisoning if they are left out too long. Bacteria, such as Salmonella, grows rapidly in warm weather and can reach high numbers on food left at room temperature for few hours causing illness.
Salmonella causes more hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. than any other foodborne bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year these Salmonella illnesses result in $365 million in direct medical costs.
Anyone can get Salmonella food poisoning, but older adults, infants, children and people with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, are at increased risk for serious illness. Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis,  include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. They usually appear within 12 to 72 after eating the contaminated food and last four to seven days.
Salmonella can live on the inside or outside of an egg. An egg that has Salmonella on its shell or in its yolk won’t look on smell any different than one that doesn’t.  There are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of  Salmonella poisoning. Keep eggs refrigerated at or below 40° F (4° C) at all times.  Only buy eggs from stores or other suppliers that keep them refrigerated. Throw out cracked or dirty eggs. Don’t keep eggs or other foods  at room temperature for more than two hours. Don’t eat foods made with raw or lightly cooked unpasteurized eggs. Ask if a restaurant uses pasteurized eggs to make its Hollandaise sauce or Caesar salad dressing before ordering. Try using pasteurized eggs  when making foods for parties or picnics.

Food safety probe uncovers violations
Source : http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/society/78736/food-safety-probe-uncovers-violations.html
By vietnamnet.vn(July 10,2013)
Nguyen Nhu Tiep, director of the National Agro – Forestry – Fisheries Quality Assurance Department at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development revealed the information at a meeting in Ha Noi yesterday.
His information was based on recent inspections from 30 cities and provinces throughout the country.
Tiep also revealed that the A, B and C standards in the food quality rankings of food producing businesses, the C ranking (lowest quality) was still very high, with 25 per cent of all inspected agricultural and seafood processing plants and nearly 65 per cent of slaughterhouses recording a C ranking.
In response to the situation, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said the C-ranked businesses must be strictly dealt with to prevent any illegal profits from being made.
The Plant Protection Department also revealed that out of 17,037 samples of imported foods inspected by the department this year, over 290 fruits and vegetables were found to contain pesticides and other chemicals beyond permissible levels.
Nguyen Xuan Hong, director of the Plant Protection Department said the department had recently completed its work analysing the safety of fruit and vegetables grown in Viet Nam.
The results revealed that grapes tend to be the fruit most in jeopardy, while rau muong (water morning glory) and rau ngot (sauropus androgynus, or sweet leaf) are the two riskiest types of vegetables.
In particular, a recent inspection of 25 samples of sweet leaf in Ha Noi and HCM City revealed that 87 per cent of the samples still contained residues of chemicals used to protect crops.
The rampant use of special fertillisers aimed to grow fruit much faster, was another issue of great concern at the meeting.
Hong said that using plant stimulants, made in China, was illegal because no enterprise has legally registered to import this kind of product.
Hong said in response to the situation, that towards the end of the year, a list of substances and chemicals which are permitted in Viet Nam will be made public to prevent the far ranging use of chemicals on plants.
Minister Phat said that towards the year-end, the agricultural authorities need to focus its inspections on the use of crop protection chemicals, fertilisers and the operations of slaughterhouses.
He added that employing an independent agency to carry out the supervisions and inspections in these three areas might help to bring about some changes.
Phat also said that areas with a history of producing unsafe food needed to be identified for closer control while inspections should focus on dodgy fruit and vegetables.

Vomiting could be symptom of pesticide poisoning
Source : http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/health/vomiting-could-be-symptom-of-pesticide-poisoning-1.1207547?utm_content=1.1207547&utm_medium=RSS&utm_source=Feeds&utm_campaign=Vomiting_could_be_symptom_of_pesticide_poisoning&localLinksEnabled=false&utm_term=UAE_news_RSS_feed
By Mariam M. Al Serkal Senior Reporter (July 10, 2013)
Dubai: Authorities have warned residents that symptoms of pesticide poisoning may be confused with that of food poisoning, and that anyone experiencing a sudden fit of vomiting and chest pain should immediately contact the food control and pest department.
Khalid Sharif, director of food control department at Dubai Municipality, on Wednesday announced that cases of pesticide poisoning cases usually occur in the summer when residents fumigate their homes against bedbugs and other pests.
“We need to develop an effective preventive system with the coordination of several concerned departments, and we should intensify our efforts to curb the illegal use of chemicals both by raising awareness and enforcing stringent measures,” he said.
The statement was made after an 11-year-old died last week and two families who lived in a Sharjah residential tower became ill after they were allegedly exposed to a toxic pesticide that was sprayed in their neighbour’s house.
Sharif explained that many poisoning cases that were first suspected to be food-related were eventually found to have been caused by the negligent use of pesticide.
“Previously, reported cases were initially diagnosed as food poisoning because it is hard to identify the source of the toxin based on clinical symptoms such as vomiting. And we normally blame the last meal as the suspected cause of illness,” he said.
Bobby Krishna, food control expert at the municipality, pointed out that deaths occur when neighbours are unaware of fumigation taking place and stay in their rooms. The exposure then leads to a severe onset of vomiting and even death, particularly among children who cannot tolerate even small levels of such lethal toxins.
“During the summer months, we would usually receive several notifications from hospitals regarding cases of suspected food poisoning, often with severe vomiting, among several members of the same family. But during our investigations, we found that there was nothing in the food history of the person that could be attributed to bacterial poisoning,” said Krishna.
The common reported symptoms included sudden onset of vomiting, chest burn and severe abdominal cramps.
“However, none of these cases had a fever or diarrhoea, which are classic symptoms of bacterial food poisoning or infections,” he said.
Basheer Hassan Yousuf, senior food safety specialist at the food control department, stressed that food poisoning cases would result in a large number of people getting ill, who have all eaten the same food from the same food outlet. “The number of chemical poisoning cases in Dubai has dropped to almost nil, and we have not had any reports this year. But, we still need to keep telling people not to use aluminium phosphide, commonly known as the bomb,” he added.

Yum China sales recovering from food safety, bird flu concerns
Source : http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/sns-rt-us-yum-results-20130710,0,3470055.story
By Lisa Baertlein (July 10, 2013)
KFC parent Yum Brands Inc on Wednesday reported a smaller than expected decline in June sales at established restaurants in China, showing signs of recovery after sales were drastically hit by a food safety scare and a bird flu outbreak.
The company posted an estimated 10 percent drop in June sales - a smaller decline than in May when sales began to moderate. June results from China, the company's most important business unit, will be recorded in the current third quarter.
The June sales decline was less than the 12.2 percent fall expected on average of 20 analyst estimates compiled by Consensus Metrix. The fast-food operator gets more than half of its overall sales in China, where most of its nearly 6,000 restaurants are KFCs.
In May, Yum's China sales fell an estimated 19 percent.
"China sales are recovering as expected. The extensive media surrounding Avian flu in China has subsided and same-store sales at KFC are clearly improving," Chief Executive David Novak said in a statement.
"As KFC sales continue to recover, we expect to have solid momentum in China heading into 2014," Novak said.
The company, whose other fast-food chains include Taco Bell and Pizza Hut, expects China restaurant sales to start growing in the fourth quarter.
Shares of Yum were up 0.5 percent in extended trade at $72.75 after closing at $72.36 on the New York Stock Exchange.
FOOD SAFETY ISSUES
Yum has dealt with food safety scares and disease outbreaks in China before and analysts are cautiously optimistic that its business in the world's fastest-growing major economy will recover as quickly as it has in the past.
The latest blow came at the end of 2012, when the discovery of excessive levels of antibiotics in chicken from two of Yum's suppliers prompted government food safety agencies to probe the company's supply chain. Yum was not fined by food safety authorities, but it suffered a widespread backlash in the mainstream media and on Weibo, the China equivalent to popular U.S. social media site Twitter.
In April, just as those issues began to wane, reports about a new bird flu outbreak in the country picked up steam.
The World Health Organization on July 4 said it has been informed of 133 laboratory-confirmed cases, including 43 deaths, of the novel H7N9 bird flu virus in China.
Yum earned $281 million, or 61 cents per share, for the second quarter - down from $331 million, or 69 cents per share, a year earlier.
Excluding items, second-quarter earnings were 56 cents per share, 2 cents better than the average analyst estimate compiled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
While the official end to the fast-food chain's overall quarter was June 15, Yum's China quarter ended on May 31.
Yum reiterated its prior forecast for a mid-single-digit, full-year decline in earnings per share.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Editing by Bernard Orr)

Food and Drugs administration slaps notices on 7 self-help groups in Mormugao
Source : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-07-10/goa/40491048_1_midday-meals-food-and-drugs-administration-food-poisoning-incident
By timesofindia.indiatimes.com (July 10, 2013)
PANAJI: Seven self-help groups (SHGs) in Mormugao, which provide midday meals to various schools in the taluka, were slapped with notices by the Food and Drugs administration (FDA) on Tuesday for minor lapses. Sanitation outside the SHGs' kitchens used for cooking the midmeals was not on expected lines. During the surprise checks conducted between 6am and 11am at nine SHGs in Mormugao, food safety inspectors of the FDA observed that proper soak pits were not provided to discharge waste and raw food items had not been stored properly. A team of food safety officers comprised Nelson Fernandses, Shivdas Naik, Niranjan Naik and Shraddha Kuttikar.
FDA's director Salim Veljee said checks were conducted inorder to check out the facilities and practices used by the SHGs for cooking midday meals such as patal bhaji, sheera and pulav. "We wanted to inspect the conditions of their kitchens while the midday meals were cooked," he said.
All SHGs with contracts to provide midday meals are required to obtain a licence from the FDA. But sources in the FDA said that recurring incidents of food poisoning among students in schools after eating midday meals indicate that SHGs are not adhering to cleanliness standards while preparing meals.
Last month, a food poisoning incident at Mallikarjun high school in Canacona left 86 students ill after they ate pao bhaji served as midday meal. Results of laboratory tests of the food items confirmed the presence of E-Coli bacteria.
In a bid to keep up the pressure, the FDA inspectors will continue its drive to conduct surprise checks in other talukas as well so that food poisoning incidents are not repeated, Veljee said.

New Fort Myers service helps businesses comply with strict food safety laws
Source : http://www.news-press.com/article/20130709/ENT07/130709010/New-Fort-Myers-service-helps-businesses-comply-strict-food-safety-laws
By news-press.com (July 09, 2013)
Two guys with south Florida offices that include Fort Myers are going to help businesses comply with the complicated new rules of the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Bill Taulbee and Christopher Tritt launched a service offering food contamination and recall expertise to all levels of food-related businesses that are governed under the new federal law, the firm announced Monday.
The firm, Taulbee, Tritt & Associates, part of Lykes Insurance, can help food-industry businesses figure out how to change their procedures to prevent food contamination, how to report it when it does happen, and what do during a food recall. The firm will also show clients how to maintain a required food-safety plan.
The Food Safety Modernization Act, which is in the public-comment process, requires the U. S. Food and Drug Administration to focus more on foodborne contamination prevention in an effort to reduce the occurrences of illness among consumers. The law also holds the food industry and importers more accountable for ensuring their food is safe.
The FDA says it is “the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years.”
 “Food recalls, either voluntary or by order of the FDA, can have a significant impact on business expenses, overhead costs and third-party liabilities,” Tritt said in a news release. “That’s why food-related businesses under the governance of the Food Safety Modernization Act need a proactive plan of compliance and risk mitigation, rather than suffer the potential of significant losses after the fact.”
About 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne diseases, according to recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the first quarter of 2013 alone, 133 food companies experienced recalls due to contamination of bread, flour products, vegetables, frozen entrees and bagged fruit. Episodes of contamination impact a wide range of businesses and their senior managers in the food delivery chain.

Food safety at top of China menu
Source : http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/economics/food-safety-at-top-of-china-menu
By thenational.ae (July 09, 2013)
Everyone must eat, but food is central to Chinese culture in fundamental ways that means the expression "Have you eaten?" is a standard greeting still for many Chinese.
Chinese people love to talk about food and pretty much all commerce seems to take place around some banquet table or other. A super-safe government job is even known as an "iron rice bowl".
So it is no surprise the government is worried about the raft of scandals about safety in the food industry, ranging from the use of the industrial chemical melamine in infant formula, which killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 sick in 2008, to the use of toxic "gutter", or reused, cooking oil. Along the way we've had exploding watermelons and poisonous peanuts.
"People are taking food safety very seriously now. As far as the government is concerned, they have also started taking it seriously in terms of promotion this year," says Wu Heng, who founded the popular Zhichuchuangwai food safety website in 2011 and who writes food safety articles for China News Weekly magazine.
About 10 government departments and ministries under the state council, or cabinet, keep an eye on food safety in China, and there has been streamlining.
"Food is essential, and safety should be a top priority. Food safety is closely related to people's lives and health, economic development and social harmony," says the Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
"We must create a food safety system of self-disciplined food companies with integrity, effective government supervision and broad public support to improve overall food safety," adds Mr Keqiang, who is also the head of the government's taskforce on food safety.
In March, the central government set up a new agency called the food and drug administration, which increases the power of the government in overseeing food safety.
In May, the People's Supreme Court had a press conference explaining how the law would be applied for food-safety criminal cases. It said it would hand down death sentences to serious offenders in "gutter oil" cases to try and stop the use of recycled cooking oil by restaurants and food processors.
Sharon Palmer is the food director at PerkinElmer's analytical sciences and laboratory services division, which is the part of the company responsible for environmental and food detection technology.
She says the major food companies are working hard to do more than the basic requirement.
"What we see from China from the larger producers are going over and above the regulations. The regulations move slowly but the larger brands are going over the regulations on chemical contaminants," she says
"There is a huge burst for smaller processors to learn how to improve their food safety. Government regulators recognise the need to improve and streamline things, to provide better oversight from the tractor to the table," says Ms Palmer.
Most analysts date the beginning of the food safety debate as a constant issue in the media to the melamine scandal in September 2008, when six children died and a further 294,000 were made ill from drinking milk contaminated with the chemical melamine. Nearly 52,000 more were hospitalised. The chemical was added to watered-down milk, generally by small suppliers, to give it the appearance of high-protein levels.
Infant formula is a major case in point.
More than 70 per cent of Chinese mothers rely on baby formula rather than breast milk to feed their babies, as they believe they do not provide enough milk.
"Many in the industry see the melamine scandal as the straw that broke the camel's back," says Ms Palmer.
The increase in the use of social media means there is nowhere for unscrupulous food producers to hide because as soon as a suspect product is revealed, it goes viral on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo service or WeChat.
"There are so many small food suppliers with five to 10 employees, thousands of companies which don't know the regulations or the technology around food safety," says Ms Palmer.
The milk powder scandals have spurred major consolidation in the dairy industry. Last month, China's largest dairy producer, China Mengniu Dairy, announced a HK$12.5 billion (Dh5.92bn) deal to buy Yashili International, a local infant-formula maker.
In terms of ensuring food safety it's going to take a long time, and Chinese consumers in the meantime will rely on imported food and big brands.
The president of PerkinElmer China, Nam-Hoon Kim, says the desire for better food safety is one of the major aspects growing the company's expansion there. PerkinElmer has built a centre of excellence in Shanghai; it is developing software there and a whole host of services all related to the China market. About 1,000 of the company's 7,500 employees are in China.
Mr Kim says food safety accounts for 40 to 45 per cent of the firm's business there and it has a solid working relationship with the food safety watchdog.
"Environmental business is growing very rapidly in the last three to five years. The environmental issue is a critical subject and it is growing very fast. It is going to happen in multiple dimensions on the food supply chain. Don't forget, China is the biggest food supplier - Korea imports 30 per cent of food ingredients from China. Japan imports food products from China," he says.
Analysts see the big influx of foreign companies as a positive to helping with food safety, but ultimately, foreign firms are not going to be able to save the Chinese market, says Mr Wu.
"The government should take action on contaminated soil. Farmers don't have the motivation to do anything, as they still get paid to sell poisonous rice," he says.
"The government needs to subsidise the farmer and spend time and money on the problem."
The bureaucracy also needs to be streamlined - with so many agencies responsible for food safety, it is easy for different departments to pass the buck.
Most people are not in any position to really do anything about food safety. The media and relevant departments give tips on how to recognise poisonous food or fakes.
"But we're missing the point. As consumers, it's not up to us to have to recognise fakes. What consumers can do is improve the accountability of the government and show their dissatisfaction and tell the government they want to buy safe food," says Mr Wu.
One step that people are taking, he says, is growing their own food - people in big cities such as Beijing or Shanghai are growing food on their balconies, or buying organic food at a higher price.
Working against the government's efforts to tackle fraud and safety issues is the fact that climbing food prices means suppliers are cutting costs in various ways, such as mislabelling and using cheaper ingredient product substitutions.
Some multinationals, such as the world's biggest food company Nestlé, adopt a varied approach. Nestlé uses imported milk powder for baby milk formula, but uses tightly controlled local products for its other dairy products.
Yesterday, Bloomberg reported Danone, another giant food producer, said it would cut prices for its main infant-formula products in China by as much as 20 per cent.
The move came after the government started an investigation into possible price-fixing by overseas producers.
The French company will cut prices of all its Dumex-branded products in the Asian country by between 5 and 20 per cent, starting today, it said.
High prices charged by companies including Danone, Mead Johnson Nutrition and Nestlé were the subject of a national development and reform commission investigation, the official People's Daily reported on July 2, citing the agency.

New UN food safety and nutrition standards will benefit consumers
Source : http://www.healthcanal.com/public-health-safety/40574-new-un-food-safety-and-nutrition-standards-will-benefit-consumers.html
By Gregory Härtl (July 08 ,2013)
Codex Alimentarius Commission adopts new limits on fruit, vegetables and fish, salt and fat labelling, hygiene and carcinogenic contaminants
ROME - The UN food standards body Codex Alimentarius has agreed on new standards to protect the health of consumers worldwide. These include standards on fruit, vegetables, fish and fishery products and animal feed.
Codex also adopted codes on the prevention and reduction of ochratoxin A, a carcinogenic contaminant, in cocoa, guidance on how to avoid microbiological contamination of berries and on use of claims for food that is labelled “non-addition of sodium salts” including “no added salt” on food packages to assist consumers in choosing a healthy diet.
The Codex Alimentarius Commission, jointly run by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), sets international food safety and quality standards to promote safer and more nutritious food for consumers worldwide. Codex standards serve in many cases as a basis for national legislation, and provide the food safety benchmarks for international food trade.
At its annual meeting, held in Rome this year, Codex celebrated its 50th anniversary. The session was attended by 620 delegates from 128 member countries and one member organization, one observer country and 41 international governmental and nongovernmental organizations, including UN agencies.
Safe limits on contamination
One of the important work areas for Codex is setting safe limits and giving guidance along the food chain on prevention or reduction of contamination. Food can become contaminated by heavy metals, fungal toxins or bacteria and viruses.
This year the Commission adopted two important codes: prevention and reduction of ochratoxin A (a carcinogenic contaminant) in cocoa and of hydrocyanic acid in cassava, both important products for developing countries.
Fresh berries can be a healthy part of the diet but are also prone to microbiological contamination and have been associated with several foodborne illness outbreaks caused by viruses (Hepatitis A, Norovirus), bacteria (E.coli) and protozoa. The new Codex text gives advice to producers and consumers on how to prevent this contamination.
Fair practice in food trade and protecting consumers’ health
The Commission adopted a number of commodity standards that will protect consumers from fraud and ensure fair practices in the food trade: fresh and processed fruit and vegetables (e.g. avocados, chanterelles, pomegranates, table olives, date paste, and tempe) and fish and fishery products (smoked fish, abalone). The standards help buyers and sellers establish contracts based on Codex specifications and make sure that the consumers get from the products what they expect.
The Commission also adopted the nutrient reference values on sodium and saturated fatty acids, which are nutrients associated with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), to be included in the Guidelines on Nutrition Labelling. This is part of Codex’s ongoing efforts to promote healthy dietary practices and address the increasing public health problem of diet-related NCDs.
The Commission also adopted the revised and updated Guidelines on formulated supplementary foods for older infants and young children to ensure the health and nutrition of the vulnerable population group. Furthermore, the Commission adopted hundreds of safe maximum limits for pesticide residues and veterinary drugs and provisions for food additives.
Guidance on control for food and animal feed
As animal feed can cause contamination in eggs, meat and milk products, the Commission adopted guidance to countries on how to control animal feed and assess the risk of contamination. The Commission also adopted guidelines for National Food Control Systems to assist countries in implementing food control.
Into the future
Because of the volume of trade and need to harmonize national standards, the Commission agreed to create a new Codex Committee on Spices and Culinary Herbs, which will be hosted and chaired by India.
The Commission approved its Strategic Plan 2014-2019, which will guide the work on protecting consumers’ health and ensure fair practices in the food trade over the next six years.

 

 


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