FoodHACCP Newsletter
08/26 2013 ISSUE:562


CDC Advice For Food Handlers With Cyclosporiasis
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (AUG 26, 2013)
At least a few of the 610 people in 22 states who have been diagnosed with cyclosporiasis, the infection caused by the rare parasite Cyclospora, are food handlers. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some advice for them: if you have diarrhea, don’t go to work.  This advice applies to food handlers at all times, but is worth repeating as case counts climb.
By state the 610 cases reported so far are as follows: Texas (258), Iowa (156), Nebraska (86), Florida (31) Wisconsin (16), Illinois (11), Arkansas (10), New York City (7), Georgia (5), Missouri (5), Kansas (4), Louisiana (3), New Jersey (3), Connecticut (2), Minnesota (2), New York (2), Ohio (2), Virginia (2), California (1), New Hampshire (1), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (1), and Wyoming (1). At least 43 people have been hospitalized.
Direct person to person transmission or transmission via ingestion of newly contaminated food or water  is unlikely.  But those infected can make others sick by contaminating food or food preparation areas. People with cyclosporiasis shed immature Cyclospora oocysts in their feces that an non-infective. These oocysts become infective in the environment in about a week’s time.
Cyclospora is difficult to grow in a lab environment, according to the CDC’s Cyclospora expert Dr. Barabra Herwaldt.  So there are some things about the parasite that are unknown including the minimum time required for sporulation,  how environmental conditions effect the rate of sporulation and the survival rate oocysts.
What is known is that Cyclospoar can cause illness lasting up to two months. Symptoms include persistant bouts of explosive diarrhea, nausea, loss of appetite and weight loss. If you have these symtoms talk with your doctor about Cyclospora.

Food Safety Today Spreads Awareness to Stop Listeriosis Outbreaks
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By Palm Beach, QLD (PRWEB) (AUG 26, 2103)
Representatives with Food Safety Today ( say they’ve put together a plan to help educate the general public to finally stop the spread of food-born illnesses like listeriosis.
“We’re going to aggressively fight against this by providing extensive training and guidance on how to safely handle food,” said Joanne Ballantyne, owner and director of Food Safety Today.
Ballantyne went on to explain that with the number of people who are affected each year, Food Safety Today could no longer sit by and watch more people stricken with the illness.
Approximately 20-30 people per year are affected by listeriosis in some way.
As a solution, Ballantyne revealed that Food Safety Today is now offering the only nationally recognized food handling course ( for the hospitality, food processing and health and community services sectors.
The best thing about the course, which includes information on listeria, Ballantyne said, can be done by correspondence, online and onsite training for groups.
According to The NSW Food Authority, most at risk should avoid ready to eat foods, such as soft cheese such as brie, blue, fetta, camembert and ricotta, cold chicken or turkey particularly if sliced or diced, such as used in chicken sandwiches.
In addition, Ballantyne said, pre-prepared or packaged salads greens and salads should be avoided.
“Raw seafood such as oysters, sashimi, smoked salmon or oysters (canned oysters are safe), sushi, unpasteurized dairy products including raw goat’s milk and Roquefort cheese, should be avoided,” Ballantyne stressed.
Signs of listeriosis, Ballantyne, said, include flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea that can occasionally lead to septicemia, meningitis and in some cases, miscarriage in pregnant women.
About Food Safety Today
Food Safety Today provides high-quality online and correspondence food handling training for workers in the Retail & Hospitality (SIT codes), Health & Community Services (HLT codes) and Food Processing (FDF codes) industry. Our courses satisfy the requirements set by the NSW Food Authority, Queensland Food Act 2006, Queensland Food Regulation 2006, Victorian Food Act 1984, and Food Standards Australia & New Zealand.
In-house group training is an option for organizations that require a number of employees at a time to take a food handling course. Group training is available for both Level 1 (food handling certificate) and Level 2 (food safety supervisor) – combined FSS course is a one day course at venue.
Training for your food handling certificate or as a food safety supervisor consists of a set of assessment tasks, which include industry-based case studies and short answer questions. Our online courses are 100% online.

Keeping Food-Borne Illnesses at Bay
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By JANE E. BRODY (AUG 26, 2013)
Each year, one in six Americans becomes sick from eating contaminated food. But while outbreaks of food-borne illness linked to processing plants or imported products capture the public’s attention and raise fears about the safety of the food supply, as many as 70 percent of food poisoning cases originate in the kitchen.
People, not products, are the main cause of food-borne illnesses, and they can be avoided by following certain basic principles of food safety.
Unfortunately, some of the best advice, like using disposable paper towels in place of reusable cloths and sponges, butts headfirst against modern efforts to be “green.” Other measures, like discarding leftovers after two days, are antithetical to the “waste not, want not” philosophy I was raised on. (Just before writing this paragraph, I reheated and ate a plate of delicious well-cooked leftovers that I had prepared for a dinner party six days earlier and promptly refrigerated.)
Still, there are many noncontentious steps that can be taken to minimize the risk that anyone will be sickened by the food you buy and prepare.
SHOPPING Seek stores that are clean, well-organized and appear to have high product turnover: you can tell partly by checking the expiration and sell-by dates on the goods. Reject expired products and those in damaged or leaking packages. Don’t buy more perishables than you can use.
Pick up dry products first, then those that should be kept cold or frozen. In warm weather, or if there will be delays getting home, bring a cooler with ice or a freezer pack to keep items cold. Put all raw meats, poultry and fish in separate plastic bags before placing them in the shopping cart. At checkout, have them bagged separately from the dry foods and produce.
STORAGE Separate raw meats, poultry and fish from other foods in the refrigerator, placing them on the lowest shelf, in a bin or on a tray to prevent dripping. Freeze meats that will not be cooked within two or three days. Use eggs within three to five weeks of purchase. In the pantry, place newly bought products behind older ones, which should be used first.
Place thermometers in the refrigerator and freezer, if they are not built in. Make sure the temperatures are at or below 40 degrees in the refrigerator and 2 degrees in the freezer. Defrost all uncooked foods in the refrigerator, the microwave or in a bowl of ice water.
PREPARATION Start by washing your hands with soap and warm water. Pin long hair back or cover it; remove rings and bracelets, and put on a clean apron.
If you should sneeze, have to blow your nose or use the bathroom while working with food, wash your hands again. Half of people harbor the infectious Staphylococcus bacteria in their nasal passages. Also wash if you pet the dog or hand-feed it while preparing food.
Wash all produce, including melons, lemons and limes and fruits that will be peeled, before picking up a knife. If the fruit’s surface contains infectious organisms, they can spread to its flesh when the fruit is cut.
Although some suggest that poultry and meats not be rinsed lest they contaminate the sink, I find that hard to avoid. Instead, I rinse them, then clean the sink with a bleach spray. And I do use clean paper towels to dry raw food.
Work on well-washed cutting boards, using separate ones for produce and raw animal products. I use plastic boards that can be cleaned with a bleach spray or in the dishwasher, but wood is fine as long as all implements and boards are washed immediately after each chore. Never reuse an unwashed knife, plate or board on cooked food that was in contact with raw food without washing it first. Cross-contamination from raw to cooked food is a common cause of food-borne illness.
If making dishes a day or more ahead, cover them well, chill them quickly, and keep them cold until it is time to reheat or serve.
COOKING You can’t always tell if a food is contaminated by its appearance: foods containing harmful organisms can look, smell and taste O.K. A goal of cooking is to destroy most infectious organisms.
It’s best to use a food thermometer and to heed recommended final temperatures when preparing meats, poultry, fish and seafood, and eggs. Whole cuts of beef, veal and lamb should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145 degrees, followed by a three-minute rest off the heat; pork and fresh ham should reach 145 degrees, followed by a three-minute rest (heat precooked ham to 140 degrees).
Ground meats should reach 160 degrees; poultry (whole or ground), 165 degrees and fish, 145 degrees (or until it is opaque and separates easily with a fork). Shrimp, lobster and crab should be cooked until the flesh is pearly and opaque. Clams, mussels and oysters should be cooked until the shells open, and scallops until the flesh is milky white or opaque and firm. Cook eggs until the yolk and white are firm, and cook egg dishes to 160 degrees.
If a recipe calls for raw or partly cooked eggs in a dish that will not be cooked (like eggnog, mayonnaise or Caesar salad dressing), use only pasteurized eggs, which are available in most large markets.
If you taste a dish while cooking, use a clean spoon each time.
If serving foods buffet-style over a period of hours, use hot plates or cold trays. Leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Reheat leftover meats and other animal products to 165 degrees.
CLEANING You don’t have to become a clean freak; some exposure to infectious organisms is necessary for a healthy immune system. But do take steps to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.
Kitchen sponges and dishcloths are notorious for harboring and breeding germs. Wash them often in the dishwasher or in the sink with hot, soapy water, or clean them with a bleach solution. Never wipe the floor with sponges used on countertops and food preparation equipment.Consider investing in a large package of microfiber cloths. Use separate cloths for the floor, counters and to dry utensils. Put soiled cloths in the laundry.
When hand-washing dishes and pots, use very hot water and put them on a rack to air-dry. Damp dish towels can harbor bacteria.
Thoroughly clean the refrigerator, stovetop and countertops often. I use a bleach solution on most surfaces, especially those that come in contact with foods.

A Sarbanes-Oxley Act for Food Safety Could Save Lives
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By  Dave Theno (AUG 26, 2013)
This editorial was written in response to Bill Marler’s “Publisher’s Platform: It is Time for a Sarbanes-Oxley Act for Food Safety,” published Saturday, Aug. 24.
Bill Marler and I speak to senior executives of food manufacturing companies and restaurant operators many times each year. We are almost always surprised (yes, even we can be naive sometimes) by how little they know about the status of food safety in their companies. These are people that have risen to senior leadership positions within their organizations by being really good at managing the key controllable elements of their respective businesses.
Every manufacturer knows their labor numbers, productivity metrics, capital improvement project status, and, likewise, every successful restaurant operator knows how they are doing with same store sales, labor, food cost and cash handling.
These senior executives can often recite to a couple of decimal points of precision how their operations are performing against all these metrics. But when we ask them, “How are your companies doing on food safety?,” we get replies such as, “Pretty good,” “Better than last week,” “We got a good health department report,” etc.
As you can see, they have little to no awareness about how their operations are doing regarding protecting the integrity and safety of their products.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act was adopted in an attempt to hold senior leaders accountable for the integrity of the fiscal reporting in their organizations. It actually defines in the documents that you sign that you can go to the slammer for improper reporting. But, at the end of the day, even if you mess up in the fiscal arena, it’s only money that goes missing. No young or old person dies as a result of poor fiscal accountability.
Whether Sarbanes-Oxley actually prevents all criminal financial activity remains to be seen, but it has increased attention to, and accountability for, fiscal matters within the senior management ranks. Spending a little time on an extended leave of absence with the soap-on-a-rope crowd does not sound like a fun sabbatical.
What if we enacted a similar measure for food safety compliance? If the senior leaders in the food industry were held to the same accountability standards that exist for financial reporting, they would most certainly pay greater attention to the metrics that tell them how they are doing in this most critical of functions within their companies.
The old management adage is that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Another is that you get what you demonstrate you want. Assuming these are both true, we simply need to heighten the overall awareness and visibility of food safety to the senior leadership to ensure their accountability for food safety.
In every talk we give, we always tell our audiences that food safety is the one controllable metric that you bet your business on every day you operate. It should have as much focus and attention as any other metric you hold near and dear within your organization. If it doesn’t today, we would ask you to assemble your leadership team and ask them about where it sits within their daily focus. If food safety is anywhere but at the top – or at least on par with the other top metrics – it’s time to remedy the situation.
Maybe it will take a Sarbanes-Oxley-like law to raise accountability for food safety. We’d like to think that if all senior executives stopped and considered that they provide food to children, including their own, their accountability would be greater than it is today. It would be a shame if we have to legislate to ensure that leaders in the food industry be more accountable for food safety, but no doubt it needs improvement.

It is Time for a Sarbanes–Oxley Act for Food Safety
Source :
By Bill Marler (Agust 23, 2013)
Food Safety is the crazy uncle of corporate food production – everyone has one, but no one really wants to talk about it.
Corporate management on average is far more interested in sales and profits and would just as soon ignore those people who talk incessantly about a “culture of food safety,” or “food safety from farm to fork.”
Management is most interested in getting food from the farm to your grocery cart in exchange for as much cash as possible and for as little corporate cost as necessary.  Food safety is overhead, as are the audits that slow the chain of distribution from revealing bad food safety behavior.
True, safe food becomes important when a foodborne illness outbreak happens and the corporate brand is put at risk.  However, on a day-to-day basis, food safety is at best, and most often, simply ignored.
That is why food – most produced here in the U.S. – sickens 48,000,000, hospitalizes 125,000 and kills 3,000 of us yearly.
What if the corporate management of a food manufacturer or retailer was required to personally certify to the public that he or she had established “internal controls” over food safety, and in fact the food produced and sold was safe?
What if an auditor was required to “issue an opinion” as to the accuracy of those controls over food safety, and that in fact the audit was truthful?
Stunning ideas?  Not really!
There is a somewhat recent and apt model for increasing corporate and auditing responsibility that would work quite well to focus attention on good food safety behavior.
Fact – good food safety behavior in the long run protects consumers, which protects the corporate brand.  Not poisoning your customers is actually good for business.
The Sarbanes–Oxley Act known as the “Corporate and Auditing Accountability and Responsibility Act” has set increased standards for all corporate management and auditing firms.  The bill was enacted in 2002 in reaction to corporate and auditing scandals in the 1990’s, which cost investors billions of dollars when share prices of public companies collapsed.
As a result of Sarbanes–Oxley, top corporate management must now personally certify the accuracy of financial information. Management must certify that they are “responsible for establishing and maintaining internal controls” and “have designed such internal controls to ensure that material information relating to the company” is made known.
Sarbanes–Oxley has also increased the responsibility of outside auditors who review the accuracy of corporate financial data. External auditors are now required to issue an opinion on whether management maintained effective internal control over financial reporting and that the financial statements are in fact accurate.
How can the Sarbanes–Oxley Act relate to safer food?
Can you imagine if the president of a food company was actually required to sign off yearly on the company’s food safety “internal controls?’  If that were the case, perhaps food safety would have a direct line of communications to corporate leadership instead of lagging behind marketing and short-term profits.
It would be truly revolutionary to have a food company focused on producing and selling safe food as its core mission.  That would be a “culture of food safety.”
And, what about audits?  What if an auditor had to sign his or her name that the audit was in fact truthful and was not simply a mechanism to move product speedily, not necessarily safely, along the chain of distribution?
An honest audit would be “food safety from farm to fork.”
Does it not seem at least equally important that the food manufacturers or retailers ask our children to put in their bodies have some of the safeguards that investors have in the same corporation?

Small farm owners fear new food safety rules could put them out of business
Source :
For years, Peg Morse and her family have run an apple orchard and blueberry and vegetable fields stretching over 200 acres of gently rolling hills in Wrentham.
But like many small farmers and agricultural processors, Morse is finding the peaceful landscape and sounds of farm machinery invaded this fall by a more discordant thought: costly new food safety regulations that many say could drive up the cost of farming substantially and even put many small farmers out of business.
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Farms say the regulations are also certain to drive up prices to consumers, in some cases causing commodities to double.
"It makes you think about how much longer you want to be doing this," said Morse, who with her husband John operate the Big Apple Farm, which has been in the family for more than 60 years.
With new rules proposed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, The Big Apple would likely face expensive water testing requirements, paperwork and other changes covering not only its fields and orchards but its farm store, which washes fruit and serves up specialties like candy-coated apples.
"There's a lot of paperwork," Peg Morse said, adding that meeting the regulatory requirements could require as many as three or four additional full-time workers. The new rules would also require stepped-up water sampling and testing.
Morse said she and her family believe in and practice food safety.
"We drill our people in hand washing and cleanliness," Peg said.
But John says the regulations currently being proposed are over the top.
"It seems like they want to sanitize the whole country," he said. "It's not going to happen."
The Food Safety Modernization Act, which was signed into law in 2011, signals a shift from a food safety system that largely responds to incidents involving illness and contamination to one whose goal is prevention.
The Food and Drug Administration was empowered to adopt regulations both on farms and on processing centers.
Proponents say the government historically has put too little emphasis on preventing food-borne illness, and that the new law and other new rules will give a better chance of preventing such outbreaks in the future.
They argue that the potential consequences of food impurities, such as salmonella-tainted peanut butter that sickened hundreds in 2009, make higher standards essential.
Many argue against exemptions for small farms, saying the possibility of contamination is as dangerous there as on factory farms and processing plants.
But the proposed regulations, which include more stringent testing of irrigation and wash water and restrictions on handling fertilizer and manure, are drawing howls from farmers and farm organizations.
In response, the FDA has extended the deadline for commenting on the new rules until Nov. 13.
The proposed regulations would have a major impact on farms in New England, most of which are small and are unable to spread regulatory costs over a large volume of product, said Richard Bonanno, president of the New England Farm Bureau Federation.
"The FDA has already admitted that the new rules could put some farmers out of business," said Bonanno, who calls some of the new rules "unreasonable."
Under the proposal, farms with gross produce sales of $25,000 or less would be largely exempted from the new rules, and those who sell anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 would be exempt from most parts of the regulations if more than 51 percent of their sales were to a qualified retailer.
But under the rules, the FDA could also revoke a farm's exemption and force a small farmer to comply with the regulations, Bonanno said.
A complicating factor for many farm operations, like the Morses', is that many small farms and orchards must combine farming operations with food processing operations, such as baking pies, canning jellies and other post-farm products, to remain profitable.
Processing operations would also be tightly regulated, bringing with them their own costs.
For the Morses, the cost of the new rules could be substantial.
The proposed new irrigation and water testing standards alone could cost the farm more than $20,000 per year, they say.
Currently, the Morses test water once a year. The new rules would require weekly testing of each and every water source the Morses use.
Since they draw from three irrigation ponds and two wells, John Morse sets the cost of testing, alone, at $400 per week.
There are lots of other changes, too, he says.
The farm will have to replace its wooden apple picking boxes with plastic ones, upgrade its machinery and change the way it applies fertilizer.
Proposed rules require nine months between the time manure is applied to a field and harvest time. With New England's short growing season, such a rule doesn't make sense, Bonanno says.
The Morses say they're worried about the new rules and how they would affect not only their business but their customers. All the added expenses would have to be paid by someone, and most likely would be passed on to the consumer.
"We might have to charge $12 for a bag of apples we now charge $6 for," John said. "Who's going to pay that?"
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Ma., is concerned about small farmers and wants to hear from constituents on the proposed rules according to a statement released by his office.
"Congressman Kennedy is deeply committed to the smaller farms that form the base of New England's agricultural industry," the statement read. "While we have not received many constituent inquiries or complaints about the Food Safety Modernization Act, we encourage anyone with concerns to contact our office."
The Farm Bureau's Bonanno cautions that if more stringent rules force local farms out of business, it means more imported produce in local stores - imported produce that is often not subject to the same high standards used in U.S. agriculture.
The proposed FDA rules would also affect imports, but local producers are skeptical that any U.S. regulation of foreign produce would be effective.
Bonanno's organization is urging farm families to send in comments concerning the new rules so that the FDA will receive feedback on its rules' potentially destructive effects.
But farmers are also hoping that consumers will become educated on the topic and add their voices.
"Consumers should want to express themselves on the importance of food safety the same as the rest of us," Bonanno said. "But they also might want to caution the FDA not to overregulate farmers to the extent their local food sources are taken away."

Customers of Westside Market in NYC Exposed to Hepatitis A
Source :
By  Linda Larsen (AUG 23, 2013)
The New York City Health Department is warning customers of Westside Market at 2589 Broadway in New York City that they may have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. Anyone who ate chopped, ready-to-eat fruit from that facility either purchased from the store or delivered or catered between August 9 and August 22, 2013 should be vaccinated as a precaution. If you have already had hepatitis A or had the two necessary vaccinations you are covered.
The exposure happened 1 to 14 days ago, so the window for vaccination is still open. You can visit your doctor to receive either immune globulin or the hepatitis A vaccine. Free vaccinations are being offered at MS 258: Community Action School at 154 West 93rd Street in New York at these times: 8/23/13: 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm; 8/24/13: 10:00 am to 2:00 pm; 8/25/13: 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm; 8/26/13: 2:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
A food handler who works at that store has been diagnosed with the disease. Fruits involved include those packaged in plastic containers and sold in the refrigerated case immediately to the left as you enter the store. The affected products are watermelon, cut into halves and quarters; peeled whole pineapples; and shelled and cut coconut. Hepatitis A is spread by eating food contaminated with traces of fecal matter form an infected person. The food will look, smell, and taste perfectly clean.
Westside Market is cooperating with the Health Department. They said they sell about 100 ready-to-eat fruit containers every day.
People develop symptoms of a hepatitis A infection 15 to 50 days after exposure; the average is 30 days. Vaccination within 14 days of exposure can prevent the illness. Symptoms of this infection include yellowing of the eyes and skin (jaundice), fever, nausea, diarrhea, light-colored stool, dark-colored urine, tiredness, loss of appetite, and abdominal cramps. Inflammation of the liver is a complication of this disease, which usually requires hospitalization.

Chinese state councilor urges NZ to improve food safety
Source :
By (AUG 22, 2013)
Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi on Thursday urged New Zealand to improve food safety after toxic bacteria were found in imported dairy products from the island country's dairy giant Fonterra.
"[We] hope the New Zealand side will appropriately handle food safety issues, including the safety of dairy products, exported to China and substantially ensure Chinese consumers' interests," Yang said as he met with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully.
McCully is paying a formal visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
During the meeting with Yang, McCully said New Zealand will take strict measures to step up regulatory oversight of the dairy industry and regain the confidence of Chinese consumers with concrete action.
New Zealand attaches great importance to the relationship with China, McCully said.
Fonterra has been the subject of two international food safety alerts revealed this month, with the worst case being whey protein concentrate shipped to customers at home and abroad contaminated with bacteria that can cause botulism.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that a shipment of Fonterra-made lactoferrin was stopped in China in May after Chinese authorities found it contained excessive levels of nitrates. Lactoferrin made by rival New Zealand firm Westland Milk Products was also the subject of a recall in China this month for the same reason.
During Thursday's meeting, Yang hailed the development of bilateral ties in recent years.
China and New Zealand should view the bilateral relationship from a strategic and long-term perspective, and tap the immense potential for cooperation in more areas to further advance their relationship, said the Chinese state councilor.
The two sides also exchanged views on regional and international issues of mutual concern.

European food safety testing market worth $4,068.8 million by 2018
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (AUG 17, 2013)
In Europe, the outbreak of foodborne illnesses has increased the concern for food safety amongst consumers, government, regulatory bodies and food manufacturers. European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has imposed food safety regulations that specify the maximum limit for the contaminants that may be a potential risk to the consumers. All the food producers have been made responsible to ensure safety of food. They practice HACCP system in the food safety testing to minimize the risk of food contamination that imposes testing of finished products and food ingredients during all stages of food production. The food safety regulations is also driven the globalization of food supply and increasing concern for contamination and consumption of genetically modified food.
The foodborne outbreak of E. coli in Germany has resulted stringent enforcement of food safety regulations. In 2012, pathogens testing in food samples dominated the safety testing market, as pathogen contamination has been responsible for maximum cases of food poisoning and food recalls. Salmonella testing dominated the market during the same period. E. coli is projected to be the fastest growing pathogen testing segment in the European market.
The European food safety testing market is projected to reach $4,068.8 million by 2018. In 2012, Germany was the largest food safety testing market followed by UK and France. Testing of fruit and vegetables for pathogen testing dominated the market. In 2012, rapid testing method was dominated by PCR-based methods, followed by immunoassay-based methods.
The leading players in the food safety testing market include SGS SA (Switzerland), Intertek (UK), Bureau Veritas (France), and Silliker (US). These market players have been focusing on application of rapid testing methods that provide quick & accurate qualitative & quantitative results on contaminants. Introduction of new products & services, and mergers & acquisitions in new markets have been the most preferred strategies adopted by the leading market players to sustain in the market.

Chicken hatchery linked to U.S. Salmonella outbreak
Source :
By Tim Sandle (AUG 22, 2013)
A Salmonella outbreak which has led to more than 300 people becoming ill, across the U.S., has been linked to a hatchery in New Mexico that sells live baby chickens, ducks and other poultry by mail.
Privett Hatchery in Portoles, New Mexico, has been identified as a source of the outbreak of a bacterial infection called Salmonella Typhimurium. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the hatchery contamination has infected 316 people in 37 U.S. states.
The CDC has reported that there have been 51 hospitalizations as a result of people coming into contact with infected poultry, between March 4 and July 28, 2013. The outbreak has affected people from 87 years old to less than one year old; however, 59 percent of infections have occurred in persons 10 years old or younger.
The CDC state that it is likely that the children played with or handled the baby birds and did not wash their hands afterward. Most of the other people have become sick through consuming the infected poultry, Nature World notes. USA Today adds that many have bought baby chickens and other poultry to keep as pets or raise the birds for eggs or meat from the area.
Commenting on the issue, Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, said: "I want to emphasize how cooperative the hatchery has been in helping to identify the source of this outbreak by working with officials from numerous agencies. Privett Hatchery was willing to conduct multiple tests. he Department wants to remind parents not to keep live baby poultry in their homes. Any time anyone handles baby ducklings or chicks, they need to wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella."
Food poisoning caused by Salmonella bacteria causes tens of thousands of cases in most countries every year. Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness lasts four to seven days. It is hoped that medics will one day be able to control or prevent gastrointestinal infection by varying the chemical balance in the human body.

Westside Market Customers urged to get Vaccinated for Hepatitis A
Source :
By  Bill Marler (AUG 22, 2013)
Customers who ate chopped, ready-to-eat fruit from Westside Market at 2589 Broadway between August 9 and August 22 may have been exposed to hepatitis A, according to New York City Health Department officials.  A food handler at Westside Market reported a case of Hepatitis A, and now customers of the market are urged to get a vaccination as a precaution.
The disease is spread by eating food that has been contaminated with traces of fecal matter from an infected person.
The fruits, which included watermelon, pineapples and coconut, were sold in plastic containers. Fruits involved include those packaged in plastic containers and sold in the refrigerated case immediately to the left as you enter the store and includes watermelon cut into halves and quarters; peeled whole pineapples; and shelled and cut coconut.
People can visit their regular doctor to receive this shot.
The Health Department will offer free hepatitis A vaccinations starting Friday at MS 258: Community Action School located at 154 West 93rdStreet New York, NY 10025 at the following times:
Friday, August 23: 2pm -8pm
Saturday, August 24: 10am -2pm
Sunday, August 25: 2pm -6pm
Monday, August 26: 2pm-8pm
(Those with insurance, please bring your insurance card with you)
People who were exposed but have already received two doses of hepatitis A vaccine sometime in their life do not need another shot; all others should be vaccinated.
Pregnant women are urged to consult with their doctor to discuss whether to receive vaccine or a different preventive treatment.
Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos, Chi-Chi’s and Carl’s Jr.
If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Our View: Food safety rules would hurt small Maine farms
Source :
By (August 21, 2013)
Regulations designed to stop contamination in huge factory farms don't make sense here.
The vast fields of strawberries in California and spinach in Arizona bear little resemblance to the small family farms of Maine. But federal regulations proposed to limit foodborne illness treat them too similarly, and would put undue strain on small businesses that have been a Maine success story in the last decade.
The Food Service Modernization Act was signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. The law is now in the rulemaking phase, as the Food and Drug Administration works out the more detailed regulations that will govern food safety at farms. A top FDA official was in Augusta Monday for a forum on the proposed regulations, which focus on the ways produce is typically contaminated -- through compromised water, soil and agricultural implements, and proximity to animals ("Farmers wary of new food safety rules," Aug. 20).
According to the FDA, there were 131 outbreaks of contaminated produce from 1996 to 2010, leading to more than 14,000 illnesses and 34 deaths. In 2011, there was a multistate outbreak of listeriosis that infected 147 people in 28 states, resulting in 33 deaths. The source was Jensen Farms in Colorado, which supplied cantaloupes to national retailers such as Walmart, Kroger and Safeway.
It is easier for contamination to occur at larger farms, with their complex, massive, mechanized operations. The diligent oversight and stringent rules these operations require don't apply to smaller farms that sell at roadside stands and local markets. But under the FDA's proposal, that won't always be the case.
The regulations as written allow for exemptions based on total sales. But as Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, owner of Ricker Hill Orchards, pointed out at the meeting, it might not take much for a modest farm to exceed the minimum. Compliance for these farms has been estimated to cost as much as $30,000 a year, a significant amount in an industry with small profit margins. Partial exemptions are availablebut those too would prove costly.
Any unnecessary costs would stunt the growth of the industry that is headed in the right direction. The latest five-year census from the U.S. Department of Agriculture -- the next one is due in 2014 -- showed a 13 percent increase in the number of farms in Maine from 2002 to 2007, as well as a 33 percent increase in sales. In the last few years, farmers markets have become viable economic and social institutions in communities across the state.
The FDA, which is taking comment on the regulations through Nov. 15, should change the proposal to better reflect the realities of agriculture. The minimum sales level for exemptions could be raised, or the kinds of sales could be treated differently. Farms could be differentiated based on method of operation, rather than sales. There is no reason the rules can't both guard against illness and protect small farms.

Food safety tops public's concerns
Source :
By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (August 21, 2013)
Illegal additives, poor hygiene and unsafe materials in the manufacturing process were the major concerns of the public in 2012, while private and multinational companies were the major sources of the worry, a new report says.
The report on Chinese public opinion and crisis management studied 1,593 of the 5,000 major "public opinion events" last year in an effort to find the characteristics and trends of the events, government agencies' response to them, and public feedback.
The report - produced by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory and Crisis Management Center of Shanghai Jiao Tong University - recorded 113 large public opinion events related to food safety.
That number was up 74 percent from 2011.
"The country has been facing various crises of public opinion. At the same time, the emergence of new-media tools has been pushing public opinion more frequently than before, especially those concerning food safety, education and healthcare," said Xie Yungeng, an expert on public opinion and new media at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Private companies were most often mentioned in food safety scandals in 2012, accounting for 53.2 percent of the total compared with 43.1 percent in 2011, followed by multinational companies, accounting for 17.4 percent.
In February 2012, frozen dumpling producer Zhengzhou Sinian Food Co in Henan province suffered a loss of public confidence after a customer found an adhesive bandage inside a glutinous rice dumpling.
In April, preserved fruits sold by several big-brand stores, including snack chains Laiyifen and Baiweilin, were found to be processed in unsanitary factories and had excessive additives. All are private companies.
In December, the Shanghai Food Safety Office said excessive amounts of antibiotics were found in eight batches of raw chicken samples taken from a KFC supplier from 2010 to 2011, triggering public outrage.
China's food industry suffered a crisis of confidence in 2008, when milk powder produced by a company in Hebei province was found illegally laced with melamine. The chemical additive led to the deaths of six children and sickened 300,000 others.
Even so, recurring scandals in the food industry in recent years suggest that lessons were not learned from the 2008 scandal.
Earlier this month, New Zealand diary giant Fonterra said clostridium botulinum, a kind of toxin, was found in its whey protein, which other companies buy to produce baby formula and sports drinks.
After that, Chinese producers who used contaminated materials from New Zealand began to recall products, the latest blow to Chinese consumers' confidence in milk powder products.

Nationwide Tally For Cyclospora Cases Now at 618
Source :
By (August 21, 2013)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported seven more Cyclospora infections on Tuesday, boosting its outbreak total to 598. The number of affected states rose to 22, with the latest illness onset listed as July 31. In its latest update, CDC stated that most of the cases were reported from mid-June through mid-July.
South Dakota and Wyoming are the two new states on the list, each with one illness.
Texas, way out front in the number-one spot, reported 267 cases in its latest update, 20 more than CDC’s total for the Lone Star State. Adding those cases to the CDC total puts the national total at 618.
Cyclospora cases in Iowa and Nebraska have been linked to a bagged lettuce mix from a producer in Mexico, but it’s still not clear if cases in other states are part of the same outbreak. At least 40 people have reportedly been hospitalized so far.
On Aug. 12, FDA released information regarding the traceback investigation of Taylor Farms de Mexico salad mix and the company’s decision to suspend as of Aug. 9 “production and shipment of any salad mix, leafy green, or salad mix components from its operations in Mexico to the United States.”Cases in this outbreak are defined as laboratory-confirmed Cyclospora infection in a person with onset of illness since June 2013 and no history of travel outside of the U.S. or Canada during the 14 days prior to onset of illness.
Cyclospora is a single-celled parasite that can cause diarrhea, vomiting and nausea several days to weeks after exposure. It is most commonly associated with imported fresh produce.

ExpertRECALL Releases Quarterly Index for Second Quarter
Source :
By Linda Larsen (AUG 21, 2013)
Stericycle ExpertRECALL has released its quarterly index for the second quarter of 2013, with key findings about recalls announced by companies, the USDA, and the FDA. Once again, undeclared allergens are a top trend for both USDA and FDA recalls, and those numbers continue to rise.
In the second quarter of 2013, 65% of recalls from the USDA were for an undeclared allergen. Sixty percent of FDA recalls were for allergens, an increase of 34% over the first quarter of 2013. The government is addressing this issue. In April 2013, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued new instructions for inspectors on how to verify that establishments are accurately labeling the eight most common food allergens (fish, eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, wheat, and shellfish) which cause 90% of all food allergy reactions.
Mike Rozembajgier, vice president of Stericycle ExpertRECALL, said in a statement, “allergens continue to be a top recall trend that we see quarter after quarter. Manufacturers should make sure that they are reviewing labels and formulations related to a company’s Allergen Control Program before an inspector arrives onsite. Class I recalls put consumers at the highest risk, meaning quick action is critical for companies to protect both their consumers and their own reputations.” Of the 116 companies that faced a recall in the first quarter, 45 of those facilities had more than one recall; one company had 26 recalls in this time period.
Most of the USDA and FDA recalls were labeled as Class I, which  means there is a high probability that eating the recalled product could cause serious illness, injury, or death. Seventy percent of USDA recalls were categorized as Class I events, while 36% of FDA recalls were categorized as Class I.
But there is good news in this report too. The number of USDA recalls is down 30% in this quarter, resulting in the lowest number of recalls in the last year and a half. Foodborne pathogens decreased significantly from nine recalls last quarter to three recalls this quarter, down about 66%. In addition, Salmonella, Listeria, and E. coli accounted for almost 25% of the recalls initiated, which is down from 65% of all recalls in the first quarter.

Salmonella Could Be Beef Industry’s New Biggest Challenge
Source :
By Sam Robinson (AUG 21, 2013)
This article was originally published on August 2 by The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting as part of a series titled “Cracks in the System.”
Salmonella-tainted ground beef could be the biggest challenge facing the industry, said a leading beef researcher.
Scientists have realized they may have misidentified the source of Salmonella in beef cattle. They now realize it may be in the lymphatic system of cattle, making it harder to prevent than E. coli.
As recently as March 2013, Salmonella Typhimurium in ground beef was linked to more than 20 human illnesses in six states.
In September 2012, nearly 50 people in nine states became ill from eating ground beef tainted with Salmonella Enteritidis, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“It was always our working assumption that E. coli interventions should be controlling Salmonella,” said James Marsden, professor of animal science at Kansas State University. “E. coli is transferred from the beef hide to the carcass and works its way through the system. We thought this is what Salmonella did as well.”
Marsden has been writing about the topic for the industry blog, “MeatingPlace.”
“Incidences of E. coli have dropped sharply over the past 10 years, but Salmonella isn’t dropping, which is perplexing,” Marsden added. “And some strains of Salmonella that have been observed in beef are drug-resistant strains, so they pose a public health problem.”
Researchers at Texas Tech University now believe that, unlike E. coli, Salmonella is in the lymphatic system of cattle.
“In 2010, the industry was in a position to start asking questions,” said Guy Loneragan, professor of animal science and lead researcher at Texas Tech University. “We started looking at the lymph nodes, which are internal and exempt from current-prevention techniques.”
USDA standards for Salmonella in ground beef
The rate of Salmonella-positive tests for ground beef increased each year from 2009 to 2011, according to a 2011 report from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the food-safety branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The agency has been testing for Salmonella in meat since 1996 when it implemented a plan to test for pathogens and hazards.
The scope and rate of sampling ground-meat products is different than those used for intact products such as whole chickens and turkeys. Any processing plant that produces at least 1,000 pounds of ground beef per day is subject to Salmonella testing.
Processing plants are then prioritized for sampling based on the number of days since its last testing, results of that testing and the product. The groups are then prioritized based on the number of human-health pathogens identified in the sample from prior testing. CDC determines the top 20 human pathogens.
If an egg facility has a Salmonella-positive test, eggs are not automatically recalled. They then do tests on the eggs. If the eggs are positive, they issue a recall. If not, then no recall. If ground beef tests positive for E.coli, it is recalled whether or not there are any illnesses. If ground beef tests positive for Salmonella, it is not automatically recalled. It is only recalled if there is a human illness.
As of May 2013, processors were required to submit 325 grams of ground meat for testing. This is the same amount required for E. coli testing. The amount had previously been lower.
Marsden, the Kansas State expert, said that USDA recalls beef with any level of E. coli because it considers E. coli an adulterant. When the agency finds Salmonella, it doesn’t issue a recall because Salmonella is not classified as an adulterant.
“If USDA decides it is an adulterant, that changes everything,” he said. “That would put this on the front burner and will cause problems for the industry.”
Marsden said there have been citizen requests to USDA to declare Salmonella an adulterant, but the agency has yet to do so.
A new paradigm in Salmonella-beef research
An exploratory study in 2010 found that, during certain times of the year, there was more Salmonella in the lymph nodes of cows. Specifically, the summer and fall and certain Southern regions had higher rates of Salmonella in the lymph nodes. Loneragan, from Texas Tech, believes this could be the avenue by which ground beef is contaminated with Salmonella.
“This is important because lymph nodes are infinitely linked to beef, to ground chuck which is muscle, fat, lymph nodes and veins,” said Loneragan.
Loneragan’s team is looking at what can be done pre-harvest to reduce Salmonella. He said what can be done in a beef packing plant is limited.
“There are many lymph nodes, and it is not practical or achievable to remove them,” said Loneragan. “We have downstream measures and we have upstream measures. Downstream measures would include irradiation or pasteurization. We are focusing upstream, on the live animal.”
Marsden agrees with this view. “It is impossible to remove all the lymph nodes – it isn’t an option,” he said.
Salmonella vaccinations and a diet that includes probiotics or direct-fed microbials are being used to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in cattle.
Loneragan said that while research is preliminary, the findings are encouraging and warrant further consideration.
Pharmaceutical companies which manufacture animal probiotics are also looking into this topic. One company recently funded a study at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
The study was conducted by Amanda Conder, graduate student, and supervised by Rebecca Atkinson, a professor in animal science. Conder was not allowed to share which company funded the research due to a confidentiality agreement.
Conder’s study looked at levels of probiotics fed to cattle in a feedlot environment and the impact on the weight gain of the animal and levels of E. coli, Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens, another pathogen. Specifically, she was trying to determine the cost-effectiveness of using a probiotic for pathogen reduction.
“There are benefits to feeding cattle for 30 days prior to slaughter with direct-fed microbial (probiotic) supplementation at the low- and medium-dose level,” she concluded..
Flies could play a major role in the transmission of Salmonella in beef cattle. Salmonella may live in flies and other insects associated with cattle, swine and poultry operations, Loneragan said.
There are more flies in warmer weather and in warmer locations. This could be the link to a higher rate of Salmonella found in summer and fall seasons and in Southern locations and will continue to be researched.
“Right now, we have a textbook understanding of this, but that is overly simplistic and it is not sufficient to explain the observed ecology,” said Loneragan. “We need to provide a better understanding of Salmonella in livestock populations and this will help us develop more effective controls.”
Beef cattle producers would need to assume responsibility for Salmonella prevention, if Loneragan’s research pans out.
“Producers have to understand that [Salmonella] is already in the animal when it arrives at the feed lot,” said Loneragan. “This cannot be addressed in the slaughter facility; it has to be upstream. The owners may be shipping cattle that have Salmonella in them.”
Atkinson, the animal science professor at Southern Illinois University, said producers could also alter their current transportation methods to reduce stress in cattle. Stress can trigger lymph system activity.
As for vaccines, the costs to a producer have not yet been determined. Probiotic costs could be about $2 per animal for the duration of time it is in a feed lot.
Options for reducing Salmonella
Reduction of Salmonella, not elimination, is the goal, Marsden said, adding that he believes it would be very difficult to get to zero cases of Salmonella or E. coli.
Due to the drug-resistant nature of Salmonella in ground beef, there are few post-slaughter prevention options.
“You would need some form of pasteurization to eliminate it, or irradiation, but I am not a big advocate for it. Consumers are against it. Irradiation has been a dead issue for a few years, but there was discussion about doing it again in a more acceptable manner. It is a possible solution,” Marsden said.
Another possible post-harvest solution would be to treat the ground beef with ammonium hydroxide. This practice of treating ground beef received mostly negative national media attention in 2012.
Ammonium hydroxide is used by Beef Products, Inc., a South Dakota ground-beef processor, in making lean finely textured beef, sometimes referred to as “pink slime.”
“I have done research with BPI for 10 years, and while their main concern was E. coli, we did look at Salmonella as well,” said James Dickson, professor of microbiology and animal science at Iowa State University. “Ammonium hydroxide does control E. coli and Salmonella in ground beef. It doesn’t eliminate it, but it does substantially reduce it.”
Ground beef trimmings were treated with Salmonella, E. coli and other pathogens during Dickson’s research. The ammonium hydroxide-treated beef displayed lower levels of pathogens. Further, when the treated beef was mixed with untreated beef, the new mix also displayed lower levels of pathogens.
Dickson’s research was funded by Beef Products Inc., but he says that didn’t influence the findings.
“Some people have said I have a conflict of interest when reporting what I found since BPI paid for my research,” Dickson said. “I didn’t feel any pressure to say or find anything. In fact, BPI was adamant that I publish the findings no matter what I found. That is unusual in this industry. Most companies want you to sign a confidentiality agreement agreeing not to publish anything.”
Ongoing research and public education
“If meat is prepared properly, Salmonella is neutralized,” Marsden noted. “It can be in steaks and roast, not just in ground beef. But if it is all cooked right, it can be managed.
“We need to continue the pre-harvest research to reduce this in cattle. USDA is looking at this from a public health point of view. If we start to see outbreaks associated with drug-resistant Salmonella, USDA will act,” he added.
“People do eat beef less than well-done. They have done a good job educating the public about Salmonella in chicken and pork, but not in beef,” he said.
Loneragan’s lymph-node research was initially funded as part of a Salmonella working group by the National Cattleman’s Beef Association beef check-off program. The check-off program is a producer-funded marketing and research program.
He later received a grant from the USDA Agricultural Research Service, with additional check-off funding for the 2010 study.
The most recent study was funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant, more beef check-off money and private industry support.
Research on Salmonella in beef is much more recent than E. coli. E. coli was declared an adulterant by USDA in 1993, giving the industry time to study and understand the E. coli transmission and to work on solutions.
“You have to think about where we are at the moment with E. coli, and it is 20 years after a major outbreak,” Loneragan aid. “We are two-and-a-half years into this, and we have already come a long way, but it has been a short time. We have more to learn. We have only just begun to look at the ecology of Salmonella. We need to think about a three-year process to explore this.”
The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting is an independent, nonprofit newsroom devoted to coverage of agribusiness and related topics such as government programs, environment and energy. Visit them

Iceland ad discrediting Food Safety Authority banned
Source :
By Dan Griffin (AUG 21, 2013)
A newspaper advert for supermarket chain Iceland has been banned in the United Kingdom after it was found to have discredited the Food Safety Authority of Ireland.
The ad, headed “Food you can trust”, claimed a test used by the FSAI which detected horse DNA of 0.1 per cent in two Iceland burgers was not accredited. It also stated, “No horsemeat has ever been found in an Iceland product”.
A complainant contacted the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to say the ad was misleading in claiming no horsemeat had ever been found in an Iceland product and, secondly, that it denigrated the FSAI.
The ASA upheld the latter complaint but rejected the claim the ad was misleading. The FSAI welcomed the decision.
The advertising authority said the FSAI carried out two tests before publishing its findings and although the first test did not use accredited methodology, the second tests did.
“We therefore understood that the claim ‘The testing method used by the FSAI was not an accredited test’ referred only to the initial tests and not the second – accredited – set of tests,” the ASA said.
Furthermore, it found unaccredited tests used an established methodology “commonly used in North America”, a fact the ad did not make clear.
“The overall impression created by the ad was that the FSAI had not taken due care to ensure the accuracy or validity of the tests used,” the ASA said. “We understood that was not the case. We concluded the ad discredited the FSAI.”
As a result, the ad, which appeared in the i newspaper, must not appear again in its current form, the ASA said, adding, “we told Iceland to ensure their advertising did not discredit or denigrate organisations in future”.
Separately, the ASA found the ad’s claim that no horsemeat had been found in Iceland products was not misleading, saying it drew a legitimate distinction between horsemeat and horse DNA.
“The level of horse DNA found in two of their burgers was so low that it was regarded as ‘trace’ levels which were likely to have been caused by accidental carry-over,” it said.
The FSAI said it was unaware of who made the complaint but welcomed the ASA’s decision to uphold it. “The FSAI is pleased that the ASA upheld the complaint that our test results were valid,” a spokeswoman said.
She added: “When the ad was published, we raised the matter with Iceland who agreed to cease using it.”

Local farmers fight new food safety law
Source :
By Adam Sullivan (AUG 21, 2013)
In an emotional public hearing on the campus of Dartmouth College, farmers and consumers from across the region spoke out against the Food Safety Modernization Act. Officials from the Food and Drug Administration were on hand to listen.
"We are very committed to the idea that a one size fits all regulation does not work," said Michael Taylor of the FDA.
The proposal targets two key areas; produce safety and processing facilities. Small farms which sell less than $500,000 worth of goods a year would not have to comply with the new regulations.
"Follow the money, follow the money," Jake Guest said.
Guest owns the Killdeer Farm in Norwich, a farm that teeters right on the edge of that $500,000 threshold. He says the change will have a huge impact on farms in the Northeast. And as consumers decide where to spend their money, the big outfits are watching closely.
"The buy local movement has actually substantially cut into their bottom line," Guest said.
The Norwich farmer says increased regulations on water quality, manure usage and even added paperwork will be an added cost that could bring smaller farmers to the tipping point.
"They are talking about weekly testing of water; that is ridiculous," Guest said. "They are talking about tens of thousands of dollars."
Money that those at the hearing say will have little effect on huge farming operations out West, responsible for recent bouts of E.coli and other bacteria entering the country's food chain.
Guy Comtois is a farmer and state representative from New Hampshire.
"They will absorb these costs no problem at all and move on like it never happened. We, on the other hand, are stuck with these problems," Comtois said.
An unofficial show of hands was a clear indication that Comtois' point had strong agreement. But FSMA had at least one supporter, Gabrielle Meunier of South Burlington whose son was hospitalized for seven days because of bad food.
"Foodborne illness does exist. It exists everywhere and as I said... the vast majority goes undiagnosed," Meunier said.
The law requires that the final regulations for FSMA be ironed out by the summer of 2015. It's expected to take a couple of years after that for farmers to come into full compliance.
"I applaud them for having a hearing where we can actually voice our concerns and make our voices felt, so at least we can feel like we did something," said Bob Pomykala, a farmer from Grand Isle.
"We know people are passionate about their food, they are passionate about their local food systems. We want to work with the community to make this work well for food safety as well for these local food systems," Taylor said.
The FDA is holding a series of public meetings so those directly affected by the law have the chance to voice their concerns before it's implemented.

Health Warnings Accompany Raw Milk Sales In Arkansas
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (AUG 21, 2013)
Raw milk sales began in Arkansas on Friday. But health and agriculture officials in that state want consumers to know about the risks associated with drinking milk that has not been pasteurized.
Under a new law, consumers can buy raw milk on the site where it was produced if they are willing to assume all risk and with the understanding that neither the farm nor the cows producing the milk will be subject to investigation by state health officials.
Raw milk can harbor dangerous bacteria that can cause serious, sometimes life-threatening illness such as E. coli, Listeria and Campylobacter. “Raw milk is probably riskier to drink than probably any other raw food, primarily because with any others you can wash lettuce, apples and cantaloupe, with milk you have to accept it where it is,” Dr. Glen Baker, of the Arkansas Department of Health  told KARK 4 News this week.
The producers must label the milk as raw and post signage on the farms that reads: “This product, sold for personal use and not for resale, is fresh whole milk that has NOT been pasteurized. Neither this farm nor the milk sold by this farm has been inspected by the State of Arkansas. The consumer assumes all liability for health issues that may result from the consumption of this product.”
The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension service has prepared a four-page analysis of raw milk risks. It covers the new law, risks, foodborne illnesses associated with raw milk and liability issues.

Salmonella Outbreak Source Privett Hatchery, Portales NM
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (AUG 20, 2013)
Live poultry from Privett Hatchery is the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 316 people in 37 states, most of whom are children, according to the New Mexico Department of Health.  A strain of Salmonella found in an environmental sample taken from the Portales, NM poultry hatchery matches the strain found in those sickened, health officials say.
The Salmonella infections have been linked to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live baby poultry from the hatchery. At least 51 people have been hospitalized.
Sixty percent of those sickened are children under 10. Children are disproportionately affected in outbreaks associated with live poultry as their immune systems are not fully developed. They are also less likely than adults to wash their hands properly and more likely than adults to put their fingers in their mouths and to snuggle or kiss the small birds. Health officials caution those who tending young poultry flocks to keep kids under 5 from handling young birds and to supervise older children handling the birds and washing their hands afterward.
“I want to emphasize how cooperative the hatchery has been in helping to identify the source of this outbreak by working with officials from numerous agencies. Privett Hatchery was willing to conduct multiple tests,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, in a statement. “The Department wants to remind parents not to keep live baby poultry in their homes. Any time anyone handles baby ducklings or chicks, they need to wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella.”
In its announcement of the outbreak, the N.M. state health department described Privett Hatchery as “a leading innovator on the national level for years in helping to reduce the level of Salmonella in live baby poultry that are sold to the public.” The hatchery has taken the following steps to prevent further illnesses: poultry from the pen where the positive environmental sample was taken has been removed from sale,  commercially developed vaccinations including the outbreak strain of Salmonella is given to all of the birds at the hatchery, eggs are decontaminated before entry into the hatchery, protocols for cleaning and disinfecting the hatchery and associated equipment have been implmented, structural improvements to the facilities have been made and procedures that better control the movement of employees between buildings to prevent cross-contamination are being used.

Maine Farmers Worried About Costs of New Food Safety Rules
Source :
By A.J. Higgins (AUG 19, 2013)
Representatives of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration got more than an earful from Maine farmers today during a scheduled listening session in Augusta that focused on proposed rules for implementing the federal Food Safety Modernization Act. The act was passed by Congress two years ago, after a multi-state foodborne illness outbreak killed 30 people who had consumed tainted cantaloupes. Maine farmers say they support food safety rules, but object to some proposed policies they claim are unnecessary and potentially devastating to small growers. A.J. Higgins has more.
Congress added the Tester Amendment to the federal Food Safety Modernization Act in an effort to address the concerns of small farmers, who feared that compliance with new food safety requirements would being added costs. But many of the more than 100 Maine farmers who gathered in Augusta were hardly reassured by the presentation from Michael Taylor, the Deputy Commissioner for Food Safety at the Food and Drug Administration.
"This so-called Tester Amendment exempts from the produce safety standards growers who have less than $500,000 a year in annual sales, at least half of which is direct-to-consumer or retail," Taylor said.
The FDA official's listening sessions are among the required public events that accompany a court-ordered Nov. 30 deadline for publishing all the proposed rules mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act - sometimes referred to as FSMA. Congress ordered the new standards as part of a massive overhaul of the country's food safety laws, an attempt to prevent future cases of food contamination.
Proponents of the act say nearly 48 million people are sickened with food poisoning every year, resulting in a national cost of about $78 billion in lost wages, productivity and medical expenses. But the act's critics - and there are many - claim that the regulations are grinding small farmers beneath the heel of policy changes crafted mostly in the interests of large agri-business.
Dave Colson, the agricultural services director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, says he's worried about the implications for Maine farmers who will have to bear out-of-pocket costs to comply with the rules, which he says just aren't needed.
"Our supply chain for many direct market farms is a short enough period of time that it does not necessarily support the growth of pathogens, and that the food is often consumed within a short enough period of time that the regulations aren't necessary," Colson said.
Colson says the act creates uncertainty for small Maine farmers who are unsure about the record-keeping required to qualify for an exemption under the policy. Furthermore he says, the definitions of scale are confusing.
Maine 1st District U.S. Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, who was also present for listening sessions, points to FDA estimates that even a medium-sized farm with annual gross sales of $250,000 to $500,000 would have to spend $13,000 a year in compliance costs. And farms with sales over $500,000 could see increases of more than $30,000 a year.
"One-size-fits-all rules will put New England farmers out of business," Pingree said. "The size of regulation must match the amount of risk, and the loss of hundreds of farms cannot be an unintended consequence of the food safety rules."
State Rep. Brian Jones, of Freedom, agreed with Pingree, and told Taylor and other FDA representatives that Maine should be guided by policies that reflect the realities of the local market.
"I challenge you to point out one case of locally-produced, locally-marketed and locally-consumed product that has led to a fatality in the state of Maine," Jones said. "My guess is that you're more likely to be struck by lightning than die from locally-produced produce in the state of Maine."
But Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Walter Whitcomb, a former legislator himself, says Maine is still part of a nation-wide system that cannot be segregated from regulation.



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