FoodHACCP Newsletter
07/29 2013 ISSUE:558


Government wants private firms to aid more in food safety
Source :
By Stephanie Armour (July 29, 2013)
Food imported into the United States will have to meet the same safety standards as domestic products under a government proposal that would put more responsibility for policing safety on companies and their suppliers.
Importers will have to verify that foreign suppliers have controls to prevent contamination, and the United Stateswill establish a system to recognize organizations that accredit industry-run inspectors, according to two regulations proposed Friday. The rules stem from the $1.4 billion Food Modernization Safety Act, which was passed in 2011.
About 15 percent of the U.S. food supply originates outside the nation’s borders, including 50 percent of fresh fruits and 20 percent of fresh vegetables. The new rules focus on supply-chain management, providing extra consumer protection as the Food and Drug Administration said that it’s only capable of inspecting less than 2 percent of imports.
“We all share the goal and are committed to being sure imported food is as safe as domestic food, and it’s a challenge,” Michael Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for food, said in an interview. “We’re in the midst of a process to make sure there are the right prevention standards that protect consumers and protect the food system.”
The new regulations for importers to meet the safety standards will cost the industry as much as $500 million a year, Taylor later said.
“It’s long overdue,” Ray Gilmer, a spokesman for the Washington-based United Fresh Produce Association, a trade group for the fruit and vegetable industry, said in an interview.
In 2011, the FDA inspected 6 percent of domestic food producers and 0.4 percent of imports. The proposal comes as the frequency of disease outbreaks linked to food imports has risen.
Under the first proposal, importers will have to maintain information about the prevention systems used for their products, and they must keep records that the FDA can review, Taylor said.
The second proposal would have the FDA recognize accreditation bodies based on certain criteria such as competency and impartiality. The bodies, which could be foreign government agencies or private companies, would in turn accredit third-party auditors. Certifications may be used by the FDA to determine whether to admit certain food that poses a safety risk, although it won’t serve as a requirement.
The hope is that the standards may be voluntarily adopted by accreditation bodies that also certify private auditors who inspect food in the United States, Taylor said.
“Together, these are the foundation for a new import safety system,” said Sandra Eskin, director of the food safety campaign at Pew Charitable Trusts, a Washington-based nonprofit group. “The number of imports continues to grow, so this is important.”
The proposals await a 120-day period during which companies, consumers and other groups can ask the FDA for changes before the regulations are made final.
Gilmer said that his organization has been urging the FDA to extend the comment period until all remaining proposals from the Food Modernization Safety Act have been released. “These are complex and interrelated,” he said.
The act, which has been beset by delays, is the biggest change to food industry oversight since 1938. It was prompted partly by recalls of tainted cookie dough, spinach, jalapeños and peanuts that killed at least nine people and sickened more than 700 in 2008 and 2009.
The law gave the FDA more power to police domestic and international producers, carry out inspections and force recalls of tainted products in an effort to steer government oversight toward preventing contamination rather than responding once problems occur.
The Obama administration in January issued the first major proposal stemming from the law when it said domestic producers would have one year to develop a formal plan for preventing the causes of foodborne illness. Those rules would also force produce farms with a “high risk” of contamination to develop new hygiene, soil and temperature controls. Those rules have yet to be made final, and the FDA saidrecently that it’s extending the public-comment period for the proposal until Sept. 16.
“Assuring the safety of imported food is essential to help prevent foodborne illness and protect consumers,” Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute at the Washington-based Consumer Federation of America, said in an e-mail. “We look forward to reviewing the proposals carefully and providing comments to the agency.”
Over the past two decades, the industry has taken on much of the FDA’s role in ensuring that what Americans eat is safe, a Bloomberg Markets magazine report in November showed. The agency has said it doesn’t have the resources to completely oversee the $1.2 trillion in annual food sales.
The quality of private inspections has come under criticism because foodborne outbreaks have occurred despite companies getting high scores on the third-party audits. The private audit system gave sterling marks to a cantaloupe farm, an egg producer, a peanut processor and a ground-turkey plant — either before or right after they supplied toxic food, according to the report.
Food sickens 48 million Americans a year, with 128,000 hospitalized and 3,000 killed, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

The poison pill in India's search for cheap food
Source :
By (July 29, 2013)
Nearly a decade ago, the Indian government ruled out a ban on the production and use of monocrotophos, the highly toxic pesticide that killed 23 children this month in a village school providing free lunches under a government-sponsored programme.
Despite being labelled highly hazardous by WHO, a panel of government experts was persuaded by manufacturers that monocrotophos was cheaper than alternatives and more effective in controlling pests that decimate crop output.
India, which has more hungry mouths to feed than any other country in the world, continues to use monocrotophos and other highly toxic pesticides that rich and poor nations alike are banning on health grounds.
Although the government argues the benefits of strong pesticides outweigh the hazards if properly managed, the school food poisoning tragedy underlined criticism such controls are virtually ignored on the ground.
According to the minutes, the 2004 meeting conducted by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee, the Indian government body that regulates pesticide use, concluded that: “The data submitted by the industry satisfies the concerns raised...Therefore, there is no need to recommend the ban of this product.”
Just weeks before the school tragedy in Bihar state, the Indian government advised farmers via text message to use monocrotophos to kill borer pests in mandarin fruits and rice.
The WHO has cited a 2007 study that about 76,000 people die each year in India from pesticide poisoning. Many of the deaths are suicides made easy by the wide availability of toxic pesticides.
In the school tragedy, police suspect the children’s lunch was cooked in oil that was stored in a used container of monocrotophos.
The Indian government has issued 15 pages of regulations that need to be followed when handling pesticides, including wearing protective clothing and using a respirator when spraying. Pesticide containers should be broken when empty and not left outside in order to prevent them being re-used.
But in a nation where a quarter of the 1.2 billion population is illiterate and vast numbers live in far-flung rural districts, implementation is almost impossible.
According to the WHO, swallowing 1,200 milligrams, less than a teaspoon of monocrotophos, can be fatal to humans. In 2009, it called for India to ban the product because of its extreme toxicity.
Indian government officials refuse to address WHO’s findings directly. “We have to take decisions depending on our need, our priorities, and our requirements. No one knows these things better than us,” said a government source.
For India, providing more food to its people is a national priority. According to the World Bank, nearly 400 million people in the country live on less than $1.25 per day. Nearly half its children under five are malnourished.
The Bihar school where the children died was participating in the government’s midday meal programme, aimed at giving 120 million school pupils a free lunch and encouraging education. India is also close to implementing an ambitious plan to provide cheap food to 800 million people. Central to these efforts will be higher crop yields and managing costs.
According to government officials and manufacturers, monocrotophos is cheap and is also a broad spectrum pesticide that can only be replaced by four or five crop or pest-specific pesticides.
Monocrotophos is banned by many countries, including the US, the European Union nations, China, and among India’s neighbours, Pakistan. Sri Lanka only allows monocrotophos use for coconut cultivation. The government has tried to introduce legislation for “more effective regulation of import, manufacture, export, sale, transport, distribution and use of pesticides” but the bill has languished in parliament since 2008.

Cyclospora Outbreak Update – What You Need To Know
Source :
By Bruce Clark (July 28, 2013)
The CDC reports as of July 25, 2013, CDC has been notified of 321 cases of Cyclospora infection in residents of multiple states and one city, including Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Florida, New York City, Wisconsin, Georgia, Missouri, Arkansas, Connecticut, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio. Illinois and Kansas have also notified CDC of one case each that may have been acquired out of state but in the United States.
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 in the United States each year. The first recorded Cyclospora outbreak in North America occurred in 1990 and was linked to contaminated water. Since then, several cyclosporiasis outbreaks 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.  See, for past outbreaks related to Cyclospora cayetanensis.
Where does Cyclospora come from?
Cyclospora is spread when people ingest water or food contaminated with infected stool. For example, exposure to contaminated water among farm workers may have been the original source of the parasite 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, and 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. Symptoms generally appear about a week after infection. If not treated, the illness may last from a few days up to six weeks. Symptoms may also recur one or more times. 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 may ask you to submit stool specimen for analysis. 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.

Outbreak of foodborne parasite spreading across US
Source :
By Lisa Flam, TODAY (July 25, 2013)
As the number of people sickened by a parasite that causes intestinal illness rose to 285, Dr. Nancy Snyderman offered this simple yet vitally important advice on TODAY Thursday: Wash your hands and wash your produce.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating an outbreak of cyclospora infection, which has affected people in at least nine states from New Jersey to Texas. Ten people reportedly have been hospitalized because of the parasite, and most cases have occurred since mid-June through early July.
“The cyclospora parasite can be nasty, causing flu-like symptoms that can last up to a month, and doctors say this outbreak is spreading,” said Snyderman, NBC’s chief medical editor.
Although the source of the outbreak has not been identified and it is not known whether the cases are connected, Snyderman said the infection is most commonly contracted by eating tainted fruits and vegetables. With so much produce being imported across states lines and from other countries, she urged consumers to check the origin of their produce and clean the fruits and veggies thoroughly.
“You’re not going to get this, most likely, from your local farmer’s market,” she told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “A lot of times, these things come from other countries, so read those product labels well. Even when you get those pre-washed greens, don’t believe it. Wash them again.”
Lauer asked if an ill person could spread it to another, but Snyderman said hand-washing should take care of that potential problem. “Once you wash your hands and rid yourself of it, it’s not a problem,” she told him.
The symptoms range from loss of appetite and fatigue to nausea and diarrhea, Snyderman said. There is “not a high death rate but people who are sick are really sick,” she said.
Only a specific test can confirm the diagnosis, Snyderman said, noting that the symptoms could be the sign of other illnesses. There is one antibiotic that is effective against the parasite, she said.
Dr. Shawn Mitchell, of Premier Urgent Care in Colleyville, Texas, told TODAY: “People need to be concerned but there is no need to panic widespread.”
With news of the outbreak, some people are wondering whether the parasite has struck their family.
In Keller, Texas, Paul Littlejohn believes grapes may have caused his illness, and he went to his doctor when his symptoms persisted. “He said, ‘Yeah, there is an intestinal bug going around, and so you probably have that,’” he said.
As one Connecticut mother shopped for produce, she too wondered whether the parasite was to blame for her daughter’s recent illness. “My daughter was at pediatrician yesterday for severe stomach cramps and nausea,” she told TODAY.

15 states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut report stomach parasite
Source :
By Dr. Sapna Parikh (July 26, 2013)
NEW YORK (WABC) -- More than 321 people in several states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, have come down with a stomach bug that could be linked to foodborne illness.
Top health officials continue searching for the source of the multi-state outbreak. The stomach bug has sickened 285 people in nine states since June.
The latest map from the CDC shows most cases in the central United States, but there's at least one confirmed case each in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.
The infection is called cyclosporiasis, caused by the Cyclospora parasite that often leads to watery diarrhea if ingested.
"People can get bloating, vomiting, low grade fevers as well and if it's not diagnosed you can get a fatigue syndrome afterwards," Dr. Steven Gordon, Chairman Infectious Disease at the Cleveland Clinic, said.
Unlike typical food poisoning, symptoms of cyclosporiasis take a week to start and last for more than a month.
"A human has to drink or eat contaminated food or water that's contaminated with infective oocyst of this parasite," Gordon said.
The Cyclospora parasite is commonly found in tropical countries, putting travelers at risk, but most outbreaks in the U.S. have been linked to produce imported from those regions - basil, raspberries, mesclun lettuce and snowpeas. If diagnosed, a cyclosporiasis infection can be treated with antibiotics.
Health officials are still trying to figure out if the infections are all caused by the same food source and, if so, what is it.
An ongoing investigation by the Iowa Department of Health indicates that fresh vegetables, not fruit, may be the source.
Until they figure out which vegetable, the message, as always, is to thoroughly scrub and wash all your fresh produce.
It's not clear if washing alone will kill the Cyclospora cysts, but it can lessen the number of cysts and other bacteria, and it's the best we can do.
For more information, please click here to visit the Centers for Disease Control online.

Concern over food safety
Source :
By THO XIN YI(July 26, 2013)
ONE of my greatest concerns about living in Beijing is food safety.
A few people – both locals and expats – have advised me to be cautious when eating out.
While the general rule of avoiding roadside stalls and dining at reputable eateries applies, how can we tell if the restaurants use safe ingredients and not gutter oil (reprocessed waste oil)?
A few days ago, I walked past a makeshift food stall, which offered economy rice for the lunch crowd, at the side of a commercial building.
A passer-by was overheard telling her companion: “Let’s not buy here. You never know where the food comes from.”
In this country where food scandals are unearthed every now and then, people have every reason to question the quality of the food they consume.
And their worries are not just limited to cooked food served by hawkers and restaurants, but also the food products available in the market.
Tainted baby formula, fake eggs, fake honey, rat meat being sold as mutton and the recent case of 46-year-old chicken feet that made shocking headlines all over the world leave a bad impression on consumers.
Where is the conscience of the culprits?
Until today, many parents still prefer to buy imported baby milk powder for their children.
Some consumers even resort to inspecting their food with food safety tests, according to a report by BBC.
A Beijing-based company offers a variety of kits for food products, including milk, water, fruits and vegetables, oil, honey, meat and others.
The kits are said to be able to detect the presence of substances like melamine in milk, pesticide in farm produce, residual chlorine in water and clenbuterol, a growth promoting chemical found in meat.
Then there is also the option of choosing certified organic products, which come with a label that differentiate them from their counterparts on the shelves in the supermarkets.
In Beijing, a group of expats and artists took matters into their own hands by setting up the Beijing Farmers’ Market in September 2010.
They began by inviting small organic farms with a long history in Beijing to participate.
From slightly more than a hundred visitors, the market (also known as Country Fair) now beckons several thousand ardent followers.
Held at different locations every Saturday and Sunday, it provides the platform for consumers and producers who grow organically to meet directly.
Fruits, vegetables, poultry, milk, meat, rice wine, artisan food like French-styled cheese made with local milk, sustainable products and handicrafts are offered by 30 farmers and vendors.
Beijing Farmers’ Market coordinator Chang Tianle said most of the farmers at the market were not organic certified.
One of the reasons that put them off is the high cost.
“A news report said 15% of the price you pay for an organic product goes to the certification.
“Bigger farmers want to be certified organic because they are required to if they want to sell their products in supermarkets.
“Also, they do not have close contact with consumers, so they need the certification to build the trust,” she said.
Chang added that the farms need to have each of their crops certified organic, which is not financially viable for small family farms.
“In addition, the public trust in the organic certification is low in China. Even if a farm pays the high price, it doesn’t necessarily get the trust it is supposed to get.
“Therefore, sometimes it is a business decision for the farmers not to get certified. They don’t find it worthwhile to spend so much and get so little in return,” Chang opined.
The foundation of the relationship between the farmers, consumers and market organiser is built on trust.
“The customers get to know the farmers directly through the market and some have also visited their farms. Therefore, the farmers do not need someone else to tell the customers that they can be trusted,” Chang said.
While the customers shop at the Beijing Farmers’ Market for food safety reasons, Chang said the market is fuelled by the belief that organic agriculture is more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
By supporting local growers, consumers are also reducing food mileage.
“The produce also tastes better as they are fresh and ripe.
“The products themselves speak of their quality,” she said.
Chang added that similar markets are available in other parts of China as well, including in Shanghai, Tianjin, Xi’an, Chengdu and Sichuan.
> Tho Xin Yi ( plans to order the food safety test kits to make sure the milk she has been buying from the supermarket is free of contaminants.

Indian police arrest principal in food poisoning case
Source :
By By Reuters (July 25, 2013)
Indian police on Wednesday arrested the headmistress of a school where 23 children died after eating a meal laced with pesticide in one of India's deadliest food poisoning outbreaks in years.
The woman, who had been missing for more than a week, was detained while on her way to court to surrender, said Sujit Kumar, superintendent of police in Saran district in the eastern state of Bihar.
The children fell ill within minutes of eating a meal of rice and soybean-potato curry in their one-room school on July 16, vomiting and convulsing with stomach cramps. Many died, some on the floor of a hospital where they went for treatment, within hours of consuming the food. 
Forensic tests showed the meal was contaminated with monocrotophos, a lethal pesticide banned in many countries. Police have said the headmistress is key to solving the mystery of how the pesticide ended up in the food.
Police have been searching for the woman since she fled the district where the school is located. Kumar said she had been hiding in the district.
The free school lunch was part of India's mid-day meal scheme that covers 120 million children and aims to fight malnutrition and encourage school attendance. The program had already drawn widespread complaints over food safety.

Cyclospora: 11 States, 285 Ill, No Source Determined
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (July 25, 2013)
Iowa, Nebraska, Texas, Wisconsin, Georgia, Connecticut, New Jersey, Minnesota, Ohio. Illinois and Kansas.
The CDC reports that as of July 24, 2013 (5pm EDT), CDC has been notified of a total of 285 cases of Cyclospora infection reported from 11 states. The number of cases identified in each state is as follows: Iowa (138)†, Nebraska (70)†, Texas (66)†, Wisconsin (3), Georgia (2), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1)‡, Kansas (1)‡, Minnesota (1), New Jersey (1), and Ohio (1).
Most of the illness onset dates have ranged from mid-June through early July.
At least 18 persons reportedly have been hospitalized in three states.
No food items have been implicated to date, but public health authorities are pursuing all leads. Previous outbreak investigations have implicated various types of fresh produce.
It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.
No common events (e.g., social gatherings) have been identified among the case patients.
Additional cases are currently under investigation and will be included on this page as states confirm them.
† Total may include some international travel-associated cases (interviews pending)
‡ Includes one case that was likely acquired in a neighboring state involved in the outbreak

Food Safety Microbiology Testing Increases 40% in 5 Years to $2.9 Billion Worldwide
Source :
By (July 25, 2013)
A new publication from Strategic Consulting, Inc., “Microbiology Testing in the Global Food Industry” puts the 2013 market value of worldwide microbiology testing for food safety at $2.9 billion. The report details the food microbiology testing practices, volumes, methods and products used by food producers around the world, based on detailed interviews with more than 450 food production facilities in 19 countries including the U.S., China and India.
The food microbiology testing market is healthy and robust, driven by an increasingly global food supply and focus on safe food. According to a new report from Strategic Consulting, Inc., a leading information resource in food safety testing and industrial diagnostics, the market value of food microbiology testing will reach $2.9 billion in 2013—an increase of 40%, or $832 million, in the past five years.
Food Micro, Eighth Edition: Microbiology Testing in the Global Food Industry (Food Micro—8) tracks and compares test volumes, market values and methods used, and forecasts future volumes and market values through to 2018 for food microbiology testing by food producers around the world. The data is based on primary research interviews with more than 450 food producers in 19 countries, including the U.S., China and India.
Three key factors are driving increases in microbiology testing around the world. The volume of food commodities produced is growing, due mainly to increases in population. Second, the rate of food microbiology testing per unit of commodity is increasing, driven by factors such as new regulations, fear of recalls and process economics. Third, the average cost per test conducted is increasing as the overall market shifts from lower-cost, traditional food microbiology tests to newer, higher-cost test methods that are being developed to shorten the time required to get actionable results.
Over the past decade, food processing companies have made investments in plants, equipment, and training for food safety testing. The investments, and resulting improvements, are not consistent in all parts of the world, however the increasing globalization of the food supply continues to drive changes and improvements. Major foodborne outbreaks like the one in Germany in 2011, when more than 4,000 people became ill and 50 people died due to E. coli O104:H4, as well as the increased media attention paid to food safety issues, as seen recently in reports of contamination of food in China, increase the pressure on food companies and retailers to make continued investments in food safety.
Food Micro—8 is based on detailed primary research with 450 food plants around the globe, including 140 interviews in the Asian countries of China, India, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. According to Tom Weschler, president of Strategic Consulting, “Given Asia’s 4.1 billion population and growing importance in the global food trade, it is clearly a critical region to understand with regard to current and forecasted food microbiology testing practices.”
The Report shows that food microbiology testing is reasonably spread around the world, but testing practices within geographic regions vary significantly. Europe conducts the greatest volume of food microbiology tests at 299.4 million tests, but projects the slowest future growth in test volumes and market value. Asia is currently responsible for just 29.0% of total test volume, but has the greatest potential for growth, particularly in pathogen testing.
Food Micro—8 provides detailed breakdowns by microorganisms, food segments (meat, dairy, fruit/vegetable and processed foods) and geographic regions, and summarizes key trends and concerns in food microbiology testing. The data is based on primary research interviews with more than 450 food producers in 19 countries, including the U.S., China and India. An appendix with profiles of 17 of the primary diagnostic companies in the food microbiology testing market is included.
To download a detailed prospectus for Food Micro, Eighth Edition: Microbiology Testing in the Global Food Industry (Food Micro—8) visit

Health watchdog to step up supervision of food processing units
Source :
By (July 25, 2013)
After the Center for Consumption Study and Consultation (CESCON) announced test results that proved rice noodles contained Tinopal--a fluorescent whitening agent used in detergents, the public have openly raised their concerns.
Nguyen Tan Binh, Director of the Department of Health in Ho Chi Minh City and Huynh Le Thai Hoa, Head of the City Food Safety and Hygiene Division, told reporters that health watchdogs will now increase supervision of food producers.
Binh said that from June, food inspectors will conduct spot checks on food manufacturers across the City.
Inspectors will take samples for testing and substandard food will be destroyed and violators will face strict penalties.
Next week, a meeting between food watchdogs and businesses will be convened in which food producers will pledge not to adulterate edible consumer goods with toxic additives and preservatives while processing.
Health agencies have announced a harsh penalty on manufacturers who violate health regulations and businesses are encouraged to mark brand name on packages to reassure consumers.

151 Ill in U.S. with Hepatitis A Linked to Pomegranate Seeds
Source :
By News Desk (July 25, 2013)
At least 151 people are now known to have been sickened by hepatitis A linked to frozen pomegranate seeds since March of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. 
The numbers of illnesses by state are as follows: Arizona (22), California (74), Colorado (27), Hawaii (8), New Mexico (9), Nevada (6), Utah (3), and Wisconsin (2). The two cases reported in Wisconsin arose from exposure to the contaminated product in California.
The imported frozen pomegranate seeds — sourced from Turkey — that are thought to be the outbreak source were sold in a frozen berry mix distributed by Townsend Farms of Fairview, OR and sold at Costco and Harris Teeter stores, and were distributed as frozen pomegranate kernels by Scenic Fruit of Gresham, OR. Only customers who purchased the seeds in the mixed berry product at Costco — which sold it in Western states — have reported illness to date.
Of those sickened, 85 (56 percent) are women. Patients range in age from 1 to 84 years old; 10 of those sickened were under age 18. None of the under-18 patients were among the 66 people hospitalized as a result of their infections.
Illness onset dates range from March 31, 2013 through July 9, 2013.

 Cyclospora Outbreak Highlights Differing Epidemiology Philosophies
Source :
By James Andrews (July 25, 2013)
As state and federal officials continue working to pinpoint the source of the June Cyclospora outbreak that sickened at least 275 people in the Midwest, one prominent epidemiologist has criticized the investigation’s speed and effectiveness.
Given the relatively large number of people sickened, the outbreak should have been solved “weeks ago,” according to Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota and former state epidemiologist of Minnesota.
Osterholm told Food Safety News that he fears investigators at the state and federal level are taking their time with the investigation because the outbreak appears to have ended. All of the reported illnesses began in mid-to-late June or the first days of July, suggesting that the cause of the outbreak was likely a fresh produce item that had since expired and is no longer on the market.
But Osterholm said that a lull in cases does not necessarily mean an outbreak doesn’t pose any more threat.
“We’ve had outbreaks in the past when a contaminated item comes out of the farm and it ends, but then a second product is harvested and causes additional illnesses,” he said.
Osterholm’s criticism highlights the difference in philosophies on epidemiological investigations when compared with the viewpoint of Iowa state epidemiologist Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, who said that officials in the affected states are working diligently to find the cause of the complex outbreak.
They have narrowed the likely source down to several vegetables, but they don’t want to risk identifying the wrong product, she told Food Safety News.
One of the biggest hurdles with this investigation, Quinlisk said, is that it’s an outbreak of Cyclospora, a pathogen with a relatively long incubation period of several days to two weeks. Because public health officials rely on meal history interviews to narrow down the suspected source, identifying a source gets increasingly difficult as time passes.
“There’s a great delay between the time people ate the food, got sick, took the time to go to the doctor, got the right laboratory tests performed and reported the infection,” Quinlisk said. “These exposures occurred in early June. If I asked you today what you ate on the 7th of June, you can sort of see the problem. People honestly just don’t remember.”
The other problem with Cyclospora is that it’s associated with fresh produce, and those who eat fresh produce often eat a wide variety of it — possibly in a salad — and not just one or two items. Quinlisk said it will be extremely difficult for investigators to narrow down their list of vegetables much farther, considering all items on it are eaten commonly, and sometimes together in the same meal.
Quinlisk said officials have also performed “cluster investigations,” comparing meal histories of groups of people who dined at the same restaurants or attended the same events around the window of exposure. Still, the investigation is coming up short.
Quinlisk hopes now that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can pool data from Iowa, Nebraska and Texas, the “power in numbers” approach might open up some new leads. Sometimes the epidemiology becomes clearer when investigators see regional eating patterns, she said.
Osterholm, however, said that the amount of time taken to solve the investigation “shouldn’t be tolerated.”
“I’m confident the source should and will be found and we should make sure more products from wherever it came from do not make it into the food system,” he said. “I’m not saying these things because I want to disparage or publicly disagree with any specific public health officials. But those of us who have spent a lifetime in public health can see when an investigation is languishing and not finding answers and it really does potentially pose risks to the public’s health.”
Quinlisk argued that coming out early and naming a possible product without tracing back its origin could harm the entire industry economically and cause unnecessary panic among consumers who weren’t at risk.
 “We’re sure the contaminated product is no longer on the market,” Quinlisk said. “But if I were to go to the media and say that cucumbers were the source, even if I explicitly said it was only in June, people would stop eating cucumbers. We don’t want to say something that could be misunderstood or misrepresented.”

Canning Produce This Summer? Avoid Botulism
Source :
By Linda Larsen (July 24, 2013)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is offering home canners tips to keep the food they prepare safe from botulism. While home canning is a great way to preserve produce from your garden, you need to follow specific food safety rules so the food you prepare doesn’t make someone sick.  If foods, especially low-acid foods such as vegetables, are improperly sealed or are not heated to a high enough temperature to kill the spores while processing, the bacteria will grow in the food and produce the toxin.
Clostridium botulinum, the bacteria that causes botulism poisoning, is a very hardy bacteria that is found in garden soil. It grows under anaerobic, low-acid conditions (without oxygen), so food sealed in cans is its preferred growth medium. It produces botulism toxin, a potent nerve agent that can paralyze and cause death. Symptoms of botulism poisoning include double vision, blurred vision, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry, mouth, muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms usually appear 18 to 36 hours after eating contaminated food, but they can occur as early as 6 hours or as late as 10 days after exposure.
The bacteria and the toxin it produces does not necessarily change the taste, texture, smell, or appearance of food. Home canned vegetables are the most common cause of botulism outbreaks in the U.S., although cases have been caused by garlic stored in oil, baked potatoes cooked and stored in foil, and foods prepared sous vide (sealed in plastic and poached).
Food safety experts recommend that non-acidic foods such as green beans, corn, soups, and meat must be processed in a pressure canner, not a boiling water bath. The pressure canner can raise the temperature of the food to 240 degrees F, which is hot enough to kill botulism spores. High acid foods, such as pickled produce, jellies, jams, and fruit can be safely processed in a boiling water bath. To be perfectly safe, low acid home-canned foods should be boiled for 10 minutes before eating.
Make sure you examine the jars of home canned food (and any canned food, for that matter) before you eat it. If the container is leaking, bulging, or swollen, throw it out. Discard it if the container is damaged, cracked, or abnormal in any way. If the can or jar spurts liquid or foam when opened, throw it away. Finally, if the food is discolored, moldy, or has a bad smell, get rid of it. Never taste home-canned food to see if it’s safe. And if any suspect food spills, clean the spill with a diluted bleach solution of 1/4 cup bleach to 2 cups of water.

E. coli Illnesses in Kids From 8 States Stump Health Officials
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (July 24, 2013)
E.coli illnesses in children from eight states have health officials stumped. All of the children and two adults from a total of nine states have been diagnosed with E.coli O26 infections since May, but state health officials, working in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), were unable to determine a single, common source of the illnesses.
In Broome County, NY lab tests have confirmed that two cases, including a 3-year-old boy, are match of the same E.coli O26 strain.  Both of those people were hospitalized and released. Three more cases have yet to be confirmed through lab testing.
“New York state is typing the E.coli and did PFGE and the isolates from Broome County and they match. Whether there is an exact match for the eight other states is unclear at this point,” Claudia Edwards, Broome County Public Health Director told Food Poisoning Bulletin.
PFGE is Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) is test performed to find the bacteria’s “genetic fingerprint.” These results are shared on a public health network allowing health officials to see if people have been sickened by the same bacteria.
This particular cluster of illnesses seem to be targeting children. According to Edwards, seven of the nine cases that were reported outside New York were pediatric. Some of the other states with cases include California, Missouri, Georgia, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.
“We don’t know what the potential exposure is,” said Edwards. Some but not all cases were associated with Nathaniel Cole Park

Cyclospora Strikes 275 – Source a Mystery
Source :
By Bruce Clark (July 24, 2013)
The CDC reports a total of 275 cases of Cyclospora infection have been reported from nine states. The number of cases identified in each state is as follows: Iowa (127)†, Nebraska (68)†, Texas (65)†, Wisconsin (4), Georgia (2), Connecticut (1), Illinois (1)‡, Kansas (1)‡, and New Jersey (1).
Most of the illness onset dates have ranged from mid-June through early July.
At least 10 persons reportedly have been hospitalized in three states.
No food items have been implicated to date, but public health authorities are pursuing all leads. Previous outbreak investigations have implicated various types of fresh produce.
It is not yet clear whether the cases from all of the states are part of the same outbreak.
No common events (e.g., social gatherings) have been identified among the case patients.
Additional cases are currently under investigation and will be included on this page as states confirm them.
† Total may include some international travel-associated cases (interviews pending)
‡ Includes one case that was likely acquired in a neighboring state involved in the outbreak

Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria in Hudson River
Source :
By Kathy Will (July 22, 2013)
A study published in the Journal of Water and Health has found that the Hudson River in New York contains antibiotic-resistant bacteria from untreated sewage water. The bacteria are resistant to tetracycline and ampicillin and were detected at all 10 sampling sites along the river. This study was the first to document widespread distribution of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the Hudson River Estuary (HRE) and to demonstrate a link between the abundance of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and levels of sewage-associated bacteria in an estuary.
The heaviest concentrations of these dangerous pathogens were in Yonkers and near La Guardia airport, where sewage water is being released into the river. About 27 billion gallons of waste water is released into the Hudson ever year. Hurricane Sandy may also have played a part in this issue, since heavy rains force treatment plants to send combined-sewer overflow (CSO) into rivers.
Another study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria were found in 16 U.S. rivers at 22 sites. Selection for these organisms comes form natural production of antibiotics from soil organisms, runoff from animal feed or crops, and waste products. Public health officials recommend that no one swim in the Hudson River, or eat fish pulled from its waters. There are also problems with mercury, PCBs, dioxin, and cadmium in fish from the Hudson.

Food Poisoning Outbreaks Increase in Scotland
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (July 22, 2103)
Food poisoning outbreaks are on the rise in Scotland, according to new data from Health Protection Scotland. During the first quarter of this year there were 98 outbreaks, that sickened 2,015 people.
The number of outbreaks represents a 40 percent increase over the 70 outbreaks reported during the first quarter of 2012 and a 51 percent increase over the 65 outbreaks reported during the first quarter of 2011. In 2010, 178 food poisoning outbreaks were reported.
Norovirus was the leading source of illness causing 95 out of 98 of the outbreaks. Salmonella and scombrotoxin each caused one and officials were unable to determine the source of one outbreak.
Norovirus is also the most common cause of food poisoning in the U.S. and Canda. In the U.S., it causes about 21 million illnesses and contributes to about 70,000 hospitalizations and 800 deaths.
The virus is highly conatgious and hard to kill so it is easily spread form person to person or from touching a surface and infected person has touched or eating food an infected person has prepared. Symptoms of Norovirus infection include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

Horse DNA Found in Meat Pies From Latvia
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (July 22, 2013)
Horse DNA has been found in meat pies from Latvia sold throughout the United Kingdom, according to the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Horse meat was not listed as one of the ingredients in the frozen pies and they have been removed from the market.
The recalled products were made by Galdin Klajies in Latvia and distributed in the UK to small retail shops specializing in foods from Eastern Europe by Monolith UK Ltd. They were sold in  200g packages with a description on the label reading ‘pie with minced meat.’ Monolith tested the product and found that it contained  more than 1 percent of horse meat. The products are now being tested for phenylbutazone (bute), an anti-inflammatory drug used commonly in horses that poses a health risk to humans.
Monolith has informed its customers and withdrawn all supplies, but some consumers may still have the product in their freezers and should not eat it. The recalled batch has a “best before” date of 22 January 2014.
A European horse meat scandal, which began in January when health officials in Ireland announced that they had found horse and pig DNA in products that were supposed to contain only beef, had seemed to be over.  The FSA has spent months testing thousands of products throughout the United Kingdom to determine how widespread the problem was.

CDC Releases Update to Solve the Outbreak App
Source :
By Kathy Will (July 21, 2013)
The CDC recently released an update to Solve the Outbreak, the popular, free iPad app that puts the user in the shoes of a member of the Epidemic Intelligence Service. The app was introduced in February of this year, and this update added more outbreaks.
In this interactive app, you get to decide what to do: Do you quarantine the village? Talk to the people who are sick? Ask for more lab results? Spill the beans about the outbreak to the public? The better your answers, the higher your score. You earn points to rise to the top rank of Disease Detective. You will have to solve several outbreaks to reach this rank.
Today, my 13-year-old daughter used the app. Her response was extremely positive.
“I was surprised how fun this app was,” said my daughter. “There are thirteen badges in all: Trainee, Novice, Apprentice, Assistant, Specialist, Senior Specialist, Investigator, Lead Investigator, Assistant Chief, Chief, Master, Deputy Disease Detective, and Disease Detective. You can also complete achievements, like Smarty Pants and Public Health Nerd. If you love to solve cases, I would truly recommend this game. I had a lot of fun solving the outbreaks… now it’s your turn!!!”




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