FoodHACCP Newsletter
09/09 2013 ISSUE:564


Warning about frozen berries as hepatitis A cases double
Source :
By Alison Healy(Sep 09, 2013)
Some 15 people are now suspected of having contracted hepatitis A from imported frozen berries while two others are suspected of having contracted the virus from infected people, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) has said. The outbreak has led to a more than doubling of the number of hepatitis A cases in the State this year.
The people who contracted the disease from frozen berries are from all over the State, ranging in age from 25 to 58, and no common link has been established between them.
Yesterday the FSAI said it still had not identified the source of the outbreak and repeated its advice to boil all imported frozen berries for at least one minute before eating. It also urged the food service sector to exercise care in its use of frozen berries. The berries are often used in the production of fruit smoothies, yogurts, desserts and other confectionery.
No withdrawal
The authority has not ordered a withdrawal of imported frozen berries as no common food source has been identified, and the virus has not been detected in any food samples from this State that have been sent for testing.
In mid-July it emerged that five people had contracted hepatitis A from imported frozen berries. The strain of the virus was linked with an outbreak in Italy. There have also been foodborne outbreaks of different strains of hepatitis A linked to frozen berries in Scandinavian countries and across the United States.
FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said the Italian authorities had detected the virus in samples of frozen mixed berry products imported from a number of different countries.
Fresh berries
“Investigations suggest it is unlikely that fresh Irish or fresh imported berries are a cause of the outbreak. However, we suggest that – as with all other fruit and vegetables – fresh berries should be washed thoroughly if they are being eaten uncooked.”
He said success in tracing the source of the outbreak has been hampered by the fact that it could take up to 50 days for the illness to manifest itself. “It is so difficult for people to remember exactly what they ate with any degree of accuracy over the 50-day period in which they might have been infected and this makes it hard to pinpoint a suspect food or batch of food,” he said.
Prof Reilly said the investigations were also hampered by the lack of a laboratory in this State to identify hepatitis A in foods. Suspect food samples were being sent to Italy for testing while a UK laboratory was helping to identify whether strains were related or were likely to come from a common source.
“The situation is far from ideal,” he said. “Ireland urgently needs a food laboratory with the capability to assist us to better understand the molecular epidemiology of foodborne viruses such as hepatitis A.”l

Outbreaks Associated with Drinking Water in the U.S.
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By Linda Larsen (Sep 08, 2103)
Those of us in the United States tend to think of illnesses caused by drinking water as a third world problem. But believe it or not, people in the United States are getting sick after consuming water from public treated systems. The MMWR news synopsis for September 5, 2013 reports that  contamination of untreated ground water in public water systems and private wells, Legionella in building plumbing systems, and deficiencies in the public drinking water infrastructure are all causes of illness.
The numbr of outbreaks in the federally regulated portions of public water systems has declined. But when these outbreaks occur, they sicken many people because so many drink water from the tap. During 2009-2010, the latest year for which finalized numbers are available, there were 33 drinking-water outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sickening 1,040 people, hospitalizing 85, and causing nine deaths.
Legionella caused 58% of the outbreaks and 7% of the illnesses, and Campylobacter accounted for 12% of the outbreaks and 78% of the illnesses. The most commonly identified deficiencies were Legionella in plumbing systems at 57.6%, untreated ground water, at 24.2%, and public water distribution system deficiencies at 12.1%. The report recommends that efforts to identify and correct these deficiencies should be undertaken, and more research is needed to understand the interventions that control growth of Legionella bacteria.

Pet Food Safety Tips from the CDC
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By  Carla Gillespie (Sep 08, 2013)
Pets aren’t the only ones who can get sick from tainted pet food. Humans who handle the food can get sick too. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has some tips to help keep people safe when they are feeding their pets.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection can cause diarrhea, vomiting and fever in pets and humans. If your pet exhibits these symptoms, you can reduce your risk of becoming ill by washing your hands after petting him. Pick up dog waste promptly, seal it in a plastic bag and dispose of it in a closed container. For cats, scoop litter daily and discard waste into a tightly sealed plastic bag.
To reduce your pet’s risk of contracting food poisoning, don’t feed him raw food such as raw dog foods, uncooked meat or poultry or raw eggs. Don’t buy cans of pet food that are dented, or bags that are torn.
To reduce your risk of becoming sick, store pet food away from people food. Don’t use your pet’s food bowl as a scoop for his food, use a clean, dedicated spoon, cup or scoop instead.
After feeding your pet a meal or a snack, wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm, soapy water, long enough to sing Happy Birthday, twice. Because their immune systems are still developing, young children are especially at risk for bacterial infections and children under five should not be allowed to handle pet food or pet treats.
When it’s time to wash your pet’s food bowls, it’s best not to do so in the kitchen sink or bathtub. If there isn’t an alternative, clean and disinfect the sink or tub after you have washed the bowls.

DeLauro: Merger could threaten U.S. food supply safety
Source :
By Shelton Herald (Sep 08, 2013)
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes part of Shelton, is criticizing a federal government decision to allow a Chinese company to take over a large U.S. pork producer.
U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro
The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has decided to allow China-based Shuanghui International’s purchase of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods to proceed. Smithfield has brands such as Armour and Farmland and is the world’s largest pork producer and processor.
Part of the U.S. Treasury Department, CFIUS reviews transactions that could result in control of an American business by a foreign entity to determine the effect on the national security of the United States.
Economic and public health issues
“I am deeply troubled by the decision to approve this merger and have serious concerns over the negative long-term ramifications of this deal,” said the 12-term Democrat. “Smithfield’s acquisition by Shuanghui raises a host of economic and public health issues, which I raised with regulators during this process.”
DeLauro is a former chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department.
Safety and security of U.S. food system
DeLauro said he looks forward to “discussing with Treasury officials and other regulators the extent to which they analyzed the impact the acquisition will have on the short- and long-term ability of the United States to protect intellectual property rights, as well as the safety and security of the U.S. food supply system.
“This,” she continued, “is unlikely to be the last time a Chinese firm seeks to make a major purchase in our food and agriculture sector and it is critical that moving forward we look at what must be done to protect American farmers and families.”
DeLauro said legislation “may be necessary to ensure these issues are taken into account in the future and, if so, I will work to make sure that happens.”
‘Should alarm consumers’
In earlier comments, DeLauro said the proposed merger is a cause for concern.
“This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers,” DeLauro said. “We know that Chinese food products have been a threat to public health and that Shuanghui was found to have produced and sold tainted pork.”
A press release from DeLauro’s office described her as a longtime advocate for ensuring America’s food supply is safe and affordable for consumers.
Shelton has two members of Congress
The city of Shelton is divided between the Third District, represented by DeLauro, and the Fourth District, represented by fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.
DeLauro lives in New Haven and was first elected to Congress in 1990.

Julia Child was wrong; don't wash your chicken before cooking it
Source :
By CNN, (Sep 06, 2013)
There's a new warning about handling raw chicken, and turns out, most people have been doing it completely wrong.
A video released by food safety researchers and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences at New Mexico State University shows how washing chicken before cooking is actually dangerous.
Many people wash their chicken before cooking, figuring it's the right thing to do. But it turns out that it's not.
Water drops splash and land around the sink, carrying germs and contaminating the surrounding area - on the sink, on the counter, even on the person who's doing the washing.
One study found that the germs can go as far as three feet away.
Another reason not to wash chicken before cooking - it doesn't work.
Studies have shown that you can wash and wash your chicken and harmful bacteria will still be on the surface of your poultry.
So, don't do it because it doesn't work and don't do it because it actually might make you even sicker.
We're talking about bacteria like salmonella and campylobacter.
What you should do instead is cook your chicken and cook it thoroughly, that does kill the bacteria.

For the USDA, Chicken Is Just Politics
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By Wenonah Hauter (Sep 05, 2013)
When you purchase chicken at the grocery store, you might have the perfectly reasonable expectation that the poultry you are buying was raised on an American farm, and that it was inspected by a government official. Well, lower your expectations: If the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gets its way, poultry inspections will be left to the very same people that process the poultry -- corporations -- in a privatized poultry inspection scheme that is bad for workers and food safety. Furthermore, the agency appears to be paving the way for processed poultry imports from none other than China, the birthplace of several egregious food safety scandals.
First, the proposed "Modernization of Poultry Inspection" rule would remove most government food safety inspectors from the poultry slaughter lines and replace them with untrained company employees, allowing processing companies to police themselves. It would also permit chicken plants to increase line speeds to 175 birds-per-minute. The government has, unsurprisingly, received hundreds of thousands of comments from consumers opposed to this change. It is such a bad idea that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a scathing analysis of the pilot project that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is using to justify its proposal to privatize poultry inspection in some 200 poultry plants across the country.
The GAO report, requested by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), chair of the Senate Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Marketing and Agriculture Security, evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and reveals gaping methodological flaws in the pilot project. The GAO also questioned how FSIS could use its flawed evaluation of the pilot project as the basis to propose expanding the privatized inspection model across the entire poultry industry.
By supporting poultry inspection privatization, the Obama Administration is prioritizing poultry industry economic interests over consumers and workers in poultry plants who face faster line speeds and increased safety risks. But the administration doesn't stop there: It recently cleared four Chinese food processors to be able to export poultry products to the U.S., which would be a boon to companies that want to take advantage of China's low-paid work force to maximize profits.
Under the plan USDA is finalizing, the Chinese processors can only process raw poultry that comes from "approved" sources, which are limited to countries such as the U.S., Canada, and Chile. This means raw poultry needs to be shipped to China from those countries for cooking before it can be exported to the U.S.
However, there will be no USDA inspector stationed in the Chinese poultry processing facilities to verify that the Chinese are cooking poultry products from only the "approved" sources, and not using their own poultry for export; and because the poultry will be processed, no Country of Origin label is required, leaving U.S. consumers in the dark.
But what's worse is this action by the USDA is the first step towards allowing China to export their own chicken to the U.S. even though there are serious animal health concerns with avian influenza in China.
It has been no secret that China has wanted to export chicken to the U.S. in exchange for reopening its market for beef from the U.S. (which has been closed since 2003 due to the diagnosis of a cow in Washington State with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.) Once again, trade trumps food safety.
But some things are more important that profits. The safety of the food we feed our families is one of them. These two actions by the USDA serve industry interests -- not the public interest. President Obama should assure that the USDA reverses course and serves consumers, not corporations. Take action today to send this message to the President and the USDA, and ask them not to privatize poultry inspections.
This post originally appeared on Food & Water Watch's blog.

What Should You Know About Diabetes and Foodborne Illness?
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By Beth Krietsch (Sep 05, 2013)
Similar to any individual living with a weakened immune system or compromised body systems due to chronic disease, those with diabetes-related complications may be susceptible to increased risk and impact of foodborne illnesses.
One reason those with diabetes may suffer increased impact of a foodborne illness is because diabetes-related complications may delay an individual’s natural response to infection. It can also lengthen the process of recovering from a foodborne illness compared to someone without diabetes.
The most well-known complications of diabetes are related to vascular disease and frequently impact the eyes, kidneys and blood flow to the extremities. Gastrointestinal problems are also fairly common and may impact digestion by keeping food in the stomach longer.
“When those types of things happen, that’s when they’re going to be at a higher risk,” said Dr. Christopher Braden, director of the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The immune system of someone with diabetes may not appropriately recognize harmful bacteria or pathogens, which can increase the risk of developing infection. Likewise, gastrointestinal and kidney problems may lead to a longer illness duration and healing process if the individual does develop an infection.
High glucose levels can directly affect the immune system through suppressing the functioning of white blood cells, so a person having difficulty regulating glucose levels may have a higher risk of contracting a foodborne illness.
“Someone with a very hard time controlling their glucose levels could have a higher risk because of the direct effect of the glucose on the blood cells,” Braden said.
It is important to keep in mind that, even among those with diabetes, the risk of foodborne illness lies on a spectrum. A person living with diabetes for quite a long time and who is on dialysis will be at a much greater risk for a foodborne illness than another individual who does not have this level of diabetes-related complications, Braden said.
For someone with diabetes, the presence of a foodborne illness may have a huge impact on blood glucose levels due to the way the illness impacts what an individual can or cannot eat at the time. Thus, it is important for those with diabetes to prepare a sick-day plan for reacting appropriately upon becoming ill, said Matt Petersen, managing director of medical information at the American Diabetes Association.
This plan includes basic but important factors such as having electrolytes on hand, checking glucose levels more frequently, and knowing when to call the doctor. For example, when diarrhea and a fever are both present or if dehydration sets in.
“If people with diabetes are ill, they have a lot of issues to factor in,” Petersen said. “Especially if they are using insulin.”
Many of the same food-safety considerations for individuals without diabetes apply to those with diabetes such as handling, cooking and cleaning food properly. But those with diabetes should be more cognizant of these ideas and ready to call a doctor when they become sick, said Dawn Sherr, practice manager at the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
“The big thing is making sure to prevent foodborne illness and doing whatever you can to avoid contracting a foodborne illness,” Sherr said.

Chobani Problems May Be Caused by Mold
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Sep 04, 2013)
The FDA is now looking into the Chobani yogurt recall. Chobani pulled its product from store shelves after consumers reported bad tasting yogurt and containers that were bloated and hissing. Others have said the yogurt is more watery than usual. The recalled products have a code of 16-012 and expiration dates from September 9 to October 7, 2013.
Mold is a food safety issue when on any product where it’s not intended, such as blue cheese. Soft products such as yogurt must be discarded when mold is present. According to several news outlets, some people have reportedly become sick after eating the yogurt. Those people have posted on Chobani’s Facebook page. More than 500 comments on that page began on August 31 and continue through today.
A search of the FDA’s web site has revealed nothing about this issue. Chobani says that if the yogurt you buy has any problems, or if you purchased product with the above code and expiration dates, discard it and contact them for a replacement coupon. If you or anyone you know has experienced the symptoms of food poisoning after eating a Chobani product, contact your health care provider. We’ll update this story as more information is released.

Food safety restricts food trucks from campus
Source :
By Lauren Chapman (Sep 04, 2013)
Food trucks, one of the newest trends to hit Muncie, won’t be on campus anytime soon.
“There is no place on campus where we would permit food trucks operated by outside vendors to park and serve food,” said Joan Todd, executive director of public relations, in an email. “It is very challenging to keep food trucks up to the food safety code requirements.”
Campus policy specifically aims to reduce the risk of liability by insuring that all food and beverages sold and provided on university property must be supplied by Ball State Dining or catering services, she said.
Puerta’s Mexican Food and Catering, Slop on Top and Carter’s Nearly World Famous Hotdogs are all available in the Village and monitored by the Delaware County Health Department.
Food trucks, or mobile food establishments, have to be well inspected as a result of their temporary nature, said Josh Williams, Delaware County Health Department administrator.
“Mobile food establishments have to go through a certain protocol,” he said. “We inspect them the first time that they operate, and then sporadically when they’re on public property.”
The health department visited Puerta’s new truck three times in the past three months. However, there is no set number of times the food trucks have to be inspected, and factors like complaints could cause them to be inspected more often.
“The mobile food establishments are inspected more often than retail because their setup is so temporary,” Williams said.
All food trucks are held to the same standards as retail food establishments, such as waste water disposal, type of sink and sanitation. Williams said food trucks, like other restaurants, are inspected and regulated on the county level.
Because of the confines of a mobile restaurant, an added requirement is that all the parts of a stationary restaurant have to become mobile, said Ricardo Garcia, assistant manager of Puerta’s food truck. The health department has to approve everything from water heaters to grills to refrigeration.
Even though Williams said these regulations are difficult to achieve, food trucks and carts are increasing in popularity. Since mobile food establishments have to register for events in Delaware County, he said they have seen a lot of food truck participation this season at large events like the county fair or RibFest.
Garcia said getting his truck together took three months.
“The food truck business is developing in Muncie, very slowly,” Garcia said. “It’s a great startup, but you’ve got to be safe and clean.”
In Marion County, food trucks are restricted to certain areas of downtown Indianapolis and are not allowed to sell food from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., unless on private property. In Muncie, however, that time limit doesn’t exist, Williams said.
“As long as you’re not selling in a residential neighborhood, you can sell as late as you want,” Garcia said. “Carter’s hotdogs, Slop on Top — we’re all out there until 3:30 to 4 in the morning.”
Even though they can’t be on campus, Garcia said the new addition to Puerto Vallarta is a success.
“We get the same kind of business in a restaurant, if not more in the food truck,” Garcia said.

Small Farmers In New England Fear New Food Safety Rules
Source :
By Emily Corwin (Sep 04, 2013)
Back in January, the Food and Drug Administration issued two proposed food safety rules to prevent tainted food from entering the food supply.
According to these 1,600 pages of rules, farmers who don't qualify for exemptions must monitor and document water quality, freezer temperatures, encroaching wildlife and any other possible sources of contamination. But some small farmers are worried their businesses will be killed by paperwork and expensive monitoring systems required by the law.
At the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest, Caroline Smith DeWaal says small farmers are overreacting.
"These are common-sense safety measures they need to be taking anyway," DeWaal says."
DeWaal, who is food safety director for CSPI, has been fighting for produce safety reform for more than 15 years. But, she says, Congress didn't get on board with a new law until the food industry decided to back it. She says that happened after a big E. coli-tainted spinach outbreak in 2006.
"The outbreak actually resulted in people not buying or eating spinach not only the fall that it happened, but for many years afterward," she says."
DeWaal says commercial growers and grocers see real revenue loss after big outbreaks. That's why they've been fighting for these new food safety rules.
But small farmers — especially in New England — tell a different story.
At his farm just outside Montpelier, Vt., Joe Buley says he's terrified. He grows cucumbers that he turns into gazpacho and chilled cucumber dill soup.
Buley says the cost of complying with the FDA's new rules would stifle his ability to grow, and could put younger farmers out of the business altogether.
"There's gonna be an enormous amount of documentation, which is going to require an enormous amount of administrative time, or fairly expensive software and monitoring equipment," says Buley.
Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA, says most farmers who sell less than $500,000 of product each year are at least partially exempt.
"Together, those exemptions exempt from these new produce safety rules 110,000 of the 190,000 produce operations in this country — that's almost 60 percent," Taylor says.
The problem is all the exceptions to the exemptions, especially for small farmers who don't just farm, but say, turn a cucumber or tomato harvest into soups and sauces. Buley says it's doing things like storing or processing produce that can disqualify farmers from those exemptions.
"You've gotta dig a little deeper into the fine print," he says. "You're going to find you're exempt, except. And the except is gonna nail you. You're gonna get it."
But for all the anxiety the new rules have stirred up among small farmers, the FDA still lacks funding from Congress to enforce them. Without that funding, farmers like Buley, who want to sell to mainstream supermarkets, may find it's grocery stores anxious about lost revenue — not the feds — who are demanding they comply.

USDA Has No Plans to Withdraw Poultry Rule
Source :
By Gary Truitt (Sep 04, 2013)
The Government Accountability Office has issued a report that criticizes the way USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has handled pilot projects that led to a proposed rule to make changes to poultry inspections. Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen says that will not prompt USDA to withdraw the rule. Hagen notes GAO did not suggest withdrawing the rule. She also points out that the rule is based on more than the pilot projects analyzed by the GAO and adds that this is about public health. According to Hagen – we’ve got to reverse the trend on salmonella – and this is a big step toward it. According to the GAO – stakeholders didn’t have adequate information to comment on the rule because of USDA’s lack of evaluation and disclosure. Hagen says the comment period is closed – but says the proposal will go through further drafting before it is sent to the Office of Management and Budget.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand – who chairs a Senate Ag Subcommittee – requested the GAO study. She said USDA didn’t thoroughly evaluate the performance of pilot projects to change the system of poultry inspection before concluding that an inspection system based on the pilot projects would ensure equivalent – if not better – levels of food safety and quality than currently provided at plants not in the pilot project.
Wenonah Hauter – Food and Water Watch Executive Director – says the GAO confirmed her group’s fears that FSIS doesn’t have the scientific bases to justify privatizing poultry inspection. Hauter says it’s time to take a look at the poor management of FSIS, withdraw the flawed rule and restore the funding in the fiscal year 2014 budget to keep independent and trained FSIS inspectors on the job.
The National Chicken Council defends the proposal – saying it’s all about making food safer. The group believes the poultry inspection system should be modernized and notes FSIS plans to present updated analyses with the final rule in a manner that will facilitate public understanding of the information used to support the rulemaking.

Questions arise about proposed food-safety rule
Source :
By Christine Souza (Sep 04, 2013)
Editor's note: This is Part 5 of a series of stories about how proposed federal food-safety rules could affect California farmers and ranchers.
When does a farmer become a food processor?
That question—and uncertainty about how to answer it—confronts both farmers and processors as they consider the proposed "preventive controls" rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed the rule earlier this year, along with a separate rule for raw produce, and will accept comments on the rules until mid-November.
The proposed rule on preventive controls for human food applies to those who "grow, harvest, pack, or store a commodity." In general, the rule also would apply to facilities currently required to register with FDA, such as manufacturers, processors, warehouses, storage tanks and grain elevators.
"In talking with farmers, processors and food-safety specialists, it's obvious that there's confusion about how the produce and preventive-control rules may overlap," said Josh Rolph of the California Farm Bureau Federation Federal Policy Division. "The preventive-control rule also contains a number of exemptions and limitations. The rule is not at all cut-and-dried, and that makes it extremely frustrating for growers, processors and many commodity organizations as well."
For example, according to Sonia Salas, director of science and technology for Western Growers, the FDA considers coring lettuce in the field to be processing and, as a result, the operation falls under the preventive-controls rule.
"Coring lettuce has been typically considered part of harvest activities, so that would not make sense for some operations that only deal with that type of activity," Salas said. "We are drafting comments and asking that the FDA be clearer with the definitions and consider certain activities that are still within the harvest definition."
Jenny Scott, senior advisor in the FDA Office of Food Safety, acknowledged there is confusion over where the proposed regulations for produce and preventive controls might overlap. To try to provide guidance, she cited a few specific examples:
•Slicing and dicing of any agricultural commodity is considered manufacturing and processing, and automatically puts that operation into the "farm-mixed-type facility" category. Unless an exemption applies, the facility would be subject to FDA requirements for Hazard Analysis and Preventive Controls. There are exemptions for very small facilities—FDA has proposed three options for how that term would be defined—and for certain other facilities.
•A nut-handling facility such as an off-farm dehydrator, huller or sheller is considered a processor and would be covered by the preventive-controls rule. The facilities would be required to have a food safety plan for how they handle those nuts, unless an exemption applies.
•The FDA considers the drying of grapes to be processing, because it creates a new commodity. But if the only potentially covered activity that a grape grower does is drying grapes to make raisins, and the farmer meets the definition of a small or very small business, the farmer would be exempted.
•The growing and harvesting of tomatoes is generally subject to the produce safety standards, but there is an exemption for produce that receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microbial pathogens, such as tomatoes for canning. A tomato processor falls under the preventive-controls rule. The only exemption for canning is for low-acid canned foods, such as green beans.
Once a processing facility determines it is covered under the proposed rule, the rule requires hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls similar to Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points systems developed by the food industry. Some facilities would be required to implement a written food safety plan through the evaluation of food safety hazards and to implement controls to minimize or prevent hazards. Monitoring and recordkeeping are also required.
FDA would evaluate the plans and continue to inspect facilities to make sure the plans are being implemented properly. Depending on the size of the facility and the activities of that facility, Salas said, some would be required to comply with only modified requirements.
Tom Vogel, director of food safety for the Dried Fruit Association of California, said because the information provided by FDA is not commodity-specific, it is difficult to navigate.
"I don't think the information out there is clear and it is not targeted to specific commodities," Vogel said. "We've developed a specific brochure for dehydrators, hullers and shellers, because those are the folks who are being enveloped in this program who haven't been in the past. Five years ago, an almond huller wasn't considered to be a food processor and now it is."
In response to outbreaks of salmonella in 2001 and 2004 traced to raw almonds, the Almond Board of California and U.S. Department of Agriculture created a mandatory program requiring all raw almonds to be sterilized through pasteurization. Based on the existing program and the proposed FSMA rules, family-operated Hilltop Ranch Inc. in Ballico recently upgraded to a new pasteurizer for its own almonds and those it processes for other growers.
"The almond industry as whole is way ahead of the FDA as far as the Food Safety Modernization Act. We've already implemented all of the necessary controls to guarantee that almonds are a safe, healthy food to eat," said David Long of Hilltop Ranch.
California League of Food Processors President and CEO Rob Neenan said California food processors are already subject to rigorous regulation and inspection and most already have HACCP plans in place, plus a wide range of practices and controls to ensure product quality.
"Our main concerns are that FDA seeks as much input as possible from stakeholders, provides a reasonable time frame for compliance and works with industry to refine the regulations to address problems that arise with implementation," Neenan said.
To determine whether a farm facility would be covered by the FSMA preventive-controls rule, go to

Schumer pushes dairy safety, training at Cornell
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By Dave Sherry (Sep 03, 2013)
Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., discussed his plan to make Cornell University a center for excellence in dairy safety.
"We do have some food safety centers of excellence in other areas, but we don't in dairy, and today I'm suggesting and am going to put my efforts into making Cornell the national center for dairy safety in America," Schumer said.
He says Cornell has the strongest dairy program in the state and deserves the recognition and opportunity to lead the nation in safety protocol.
"Cornell is the essential cog in the wheel of our upstate agriculture industry and now we can take all the good work you do in New York State and spread it on a much more national level," he added.
Schumer says cooperation between the university and the federal government could establish concise safety measures.
"It would facilitate joint research ventures between the government and Cornell, it would see that Cornell's groundbreaking research is brought much more quickly to the national stage and the federal regulators who set standards for dairy safety techniques and best practices could learn a thing or two from all of you," the Senator said.
With food-borne illness and worker safety concerns always at the forefront, Schumer believes that it's necessary to have an organization lead the way in protecting this multibillion-dollar industry.

Science Can Never Rest in the War Against Emerging Pathogens
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By Dan Flynn (Sep 03, 2013)
The war on emerging pathogens isn't like any others. The war on drugs might well end with a new approach. The war on terrorism might eventually wind down. But the war on emerging pathogens is different. It will never end.
This conclusion is showing up fairly often in the scientific literature this year, from authors Ying Wu and George F. Gao, writing in Nature, to David M. Morens and Anthony S. Fauci writing in the PLOS Collections. All end with the same conclusion.
"Indeed, our war on emerging pathogens may never end," conclude Wu and Gao in their article entitled, "War on emerging pathogens is intensifying in 2013."
Or, with more words of explanation, Morens and Fauci wrote: "While it has become possible to eradicate certain infectious diseases (smallpox and the veterinary disease rinderpest), and to significantly control many others (dracunculiasis, measles and polio, among others), it seems unlikely that we will eliminate most emerging infectious diseases in the foreseeable future."
In "Emerging Infectious Diseases: Threats to Human Health and Global Stability," published by PLOS, the authors from the National Institutes of Health paint a serious, if not scary, picture that the world faces from emerging pathogens: "The inevitable, but unpredictable, appearance of new infectious diseases has been recognized for millennia, well before the discovery of causative infectious agents.
"Today, however, despite extraordinary advances in development of countermeasures (diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines), the ease of world travel and increased global interdependence have added layers of complexity to containing these infectious diseases that affect not only the health but the economic stability of societies."
Not all emerging pathogens will use food and waterborne transmission sources, but enough do to make emerging pathogens every bit as important a food-safety issue as epidemiology or surveillance.
The college textbook definition for emerging pathogens includes any bacteria, virus or parasite that, through rapid evolution, overwhelms human defenses to cause illness or death. E. coli O157:H7 was an emerging pathogen for the 20 years before it busted out and began causing dozens of outbreaks each year.
And, just like then, there is now a new list of emerging pathogens being tracked by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Pathogens that have been newly recognized in the past two decades are: Acanthamebiasis, ?Australian bat lyssavirus, Babesia, atypical, ?Bartonella henselae, ?Ehrlichiosis, Encephalitozoon cuniculi, Encephalitozoon hellem, ?Enterocytozoon bieneusi, Hendra or equine morbilli virus, ?Human herpesvirus 8, ?Human herpesvirus 6 and?Parvovirus B19. And those on the re-emerging list include Enterovirus 71, Clostridium difficile, ?Mumps virus, Streptococcus, Group A ?and taphylococcus aureus.
Acanthamebiasis is found in fresh water and soil, Australian bat lyssavirus is a lot like rabies, and Babesia is a blood parasite. As for the re-emerging pathogens, a vaccine could eliminate mumps, but doctors tell patients they may not ever shake Clostridium difficile, which is often acquired during hospital stays.
Yet for thousands of scientists that work on emerging pathogens, both at the elite institutions and on research campuses across the country, most of the research sounds fairly normal. Take Dr. Anita Wright's research, for example.
She is an associate professor at the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute. Wright is among those in academia working to help the oyster industry in Apalachicola, FL, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.
Her research involves the species of Vibrio that makes people sick when they eat raw or undercooked oysters. Wright is looking for a post-harvest treatment for reducing or eliminating Vibrio without killing the oysters. She is also working with oysters in their natural estuarine habitat to find out how Vibrio infects shellfish in the first place.
Wright's research is pretty typical of most of the work that goes on at UF's Emerging Pathogens Institute (EPI), which is just one of the elite network of research laboratories around the country that have enlisted in this never-ending war.
With the state's unique geography, UF established the institute to help protect its agriculture and tourism industries from new diseases.
Working out of a dozen BioSafety Level 2 labs – for handling bacteria and viruses that cause mild human diseases – and four of the more serious BSL 4 labs – for indigenous or exotic agents which may cause serious or potentially lethal disease after inhalation – EPI's research has led in such areas as West Nile virus, dengue fever, H1N1 swine flu and citrus greening.
And EPI's work on pathogens transmitted by food has also been among its major projects, involving E. coli O157: H7, Salmonella and Campylobacter.
Among the other major centers in the war on emerging pathogens are the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute (GHEP) at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, the Institute for Emerging Pathogens and Immune Diseases at the Kirk School of Medicine at USC in Los Angeles, and the Center for the Study of Emerging and Reemerging Pathogens at Rutgers.
Some astounding research occurs at these institutions, and it often goes virtually unnoticed. For example, after 9/11, the virus that caused the flu pandemic of 1918 was right up there with smallpox and anthrax as possible biological agents that could be weaponized.
But that's not been a concern since 2009 because the annual flu vaccine now protects against the virus that killed 675,000 Americans in 1918, thanks to the work of Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, the institute director at Mount Sinai.
GHEP is internationally recognized for expertise in RNA virus research and the molecular pathogenesis of influenza, HIV, dengue and Ebola viruses and hepatitis.

Creating public awareness about food safety stressed
Source :
By (Sep 03, 2013)
Speakers at a meeting said Monday creating public awareness about food safety is very important and a social movement against food adulteration should be initiated immediately.
They said national and regional surveys on food adulteration and food safety should be carried out and a series of programmes should be taken to focus on the negative effect of formalin on public health.
They were speaking at a ceremony of signing memorandum of understanding (MoU) at the CIRDAP auditorium in the city.
Two MoUs were signed at the ceremony. The first one was among Directorate of Fisheries (DoF), Bangladesh Shrimp and Fish Foundation (BSFF) and Rotary Int'l Dist 3281 Bangladesh and Rotary Int'l Dist 3282 Bangladesh. DoF Director General Syed Arif Azad, BSFF Chairman Syed Mahmudul Haq and Rotarian Ghulam Mustafa, district governor (Int'l dist 3281), signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations.
The second MoU was signed between BSFF and ATN Times. BSFF Chairman Syed Mahmudul Haq and ATN Times Director Joya Ahsan signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisations.
Both of the MoUs were signed to launch a social movement to combat threats to food safety.
Dhaka University Dept of Mass Communication and Journalism associate professor Robaet Ferdous discussed the role of media in waging a social movement for combating threats to food safety.
He said: "Media should play an active role in unveiling the food safety and the reality of the impact of food adulteration. It can draw attention of the policy makers, set agenda to create public awareness."
"Investigative and follow-up reports can detail on the activities on the masterminds responsible for this offence. TV talk shows with the experts can play a significant role in educating people relating to the harmful effects of food adulteration."
"A comprehensive media advocacy plan is an integral part to put forward an effective movement to create awareness among the people, policy makers and civil society," he also said.
Syed Mahmudul Haque said: "The purposes of the social movement that we are trying to build up under these MoUs would, therefore, firstly try to mobilise the society to bring in pressure on the government, to legislate appropriate standards and testing protocols for all food items together with an affective enforcement mechanism."
He also said: "At the same time we must also bring in pressure on the supply chain stakeholders to comply with all standards."

Quality control: 425 food outlets sealed over hygiene in a year
Source :
By Anwer Hussain Sumra (Sep 03, 2013)
LAHORE.: The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) has sealed 425 eateries and factories across  the  city and imposed heavy fines for unhygienic conditions, improper sanitation and substandard food quality in one year.
According to an independent report, the food outlets sealed included local as well as foreign franchises operating in the city selling fast food, ice creams and restaurants serving  local  and  international cuisines.
The report said that unhygienic conditions and substandard food had resulted in 66,510 consumers getting food poisoning during the year.
The Punjab Food Authority became functional in July 2012.
The authority recruited food safety officers and assistant food safety officers having with degrees in food technology.
Nine teams were constituted to carry out food safety awareness campaigns, including educating and sensitising food vendors about personal hygiene, food quality and labelling requirements.
The teams inspected 6,000 food outlets and eateries to serve them improvement notices with a timeline to upgrade their kitchens according to hygiene standards set by the authority. Out of these, 2,500 owners got registered with the authority for licences.
The authority charged for licences in three categories; Rs5,000, Rs10,000 and Rs.50,000.
The PFA also introduced rapid test kits to provide onthe-spot testing facilities for a number of food items.
The third party validation report conducted by General Monitoring  Directorate  and Evaluation Planning  and Development  Board  recommended that the licensing system needed to be made more efficient.
It suggested that the option for online application for a licence should also be provided.
The report suggested increasing the staff strength at the PFA. The report recommended that the jurisdiction of the PFA be extended to all districts of the province and to imported food items to ensure food safety.
The report also suggested that the PFA purchase kits for testing a wider range of food products.
The report said that the authority should approach the Health Department regarding incorporation of data related to food poisoning cases.
PFA  Director  General  Asad Islam  Mahni  said  the  PFA had also inspected the Lahore railway  station  and  served improvement notices to food vendors.
He commended the work of officials of the PFA.  He said they were dedicated to the task of ensuring food quality.

Food Safety Regulations for A Healthy Labor Day Barbecue
Source :
By Dina Exil (Sep 02, 2013)
Labor Day celebrations are about having fun and celebrating with friends and family, but what about remaining safe.
If you're hosting a Labor Day barbecue, remember these food safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Properly preparing and cooking food reduces the risk of food poisoning.
Labor Day celebrations are about having fun and celebrating with friends and family, but what about remaining safe.
If you're hosting a Labor Day barbecue, remember these food safety tips from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Properly preparing and cooking food reduces the risk of food poisoning.

Consumer Groups Sue EPA for Withdrawing Clean Water Act Rule
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 02, 2013)
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Center for Food Safety, Environmental Integrity Project, Food & Water Watch, and Iowa Citizens for Community filed a lawsuit last week against the Environmental Protection Agency for withdrawing a rule that would have allowed the government to collect information from factory farms. The rule would have required CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, to comply with the protective standards of the Clean Water Act.
There are about 20,000 CAFOs in the United States, and they produce three times as much waste as humans. EPA does not require those facilities to meet waste management and treatment requirements, even though the animal waste released into the environment contains pathogens, heavy metals, antibiotics, and hormones.
In 1972, the Clean Water Act mandated that the EPA regulate CAFOs. The rule, called CWA Section 308, was supposed to force the EPA to start gathering pertinent information from those facilities. The government does not have basic data about factory farms, including information on their size, location, and waste management practices. Industry opposed the rule, so EPA withdrew it without justification.
EPA officials now state that they will gather that information from state and federal agencies, instead of directly from CAFO owners and operators. But recent government reports say that state agency CAFO data is “inconsistent and inaccurate and does not provide EPA with the reliable data it needs.” In addition, “no federal agency collects accurate and consistent data on the number, size, and location of CAFOs,” according to HSUS.
The consumer groups have strong words for the EPA. Jonathan Lovvorn, senior vice president and chief counsel for animal protection litigation at HSUS said, “the animal agriculture industry has benefited from EPA’s lack of information for decades, and has successfully opposed efforts to increase transparency. This certainly is not good for animals, humans, or the environment; it is only good for massive industrialized farms.” George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety said in a statement, “with the withdrawal, EPA continues to pursue a CAFO pollution control policy that can only be described as willful ignorance. As long as EPA continues to turn an unlawfully blind eye towards this industry, our waterways and communities will never be safe.”

Food & Water Watch on FSIS Audit of Chinese Poultry Safety System
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Sep 02, 2013)
Last week, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service approved certain Chinese chicken processing facilities to export product to the United States. Their audit says that China’s processed poultry inspection system safety system is equivalent to the U.S. system. The report states that “the Central Competent Authority (CCA) has adequately addressed all previously identified concerns. Therefore, the People’s Republic of China’s processed poultry inspection system meets the equivalence components for FSIS equivalence criteria.”
The People’s Republic of China can now certify a list of establishments that are eligible to export heat treated and cooked poultry products to the U.S. The caveat is that this will be allowed as long as raw poultry is sourced from countries that FSIS has determined to have a poultry slaughter inspection system equivalent to the U.S. system, since China’s does not at this time. An audit to determined if China can export its own chicken to the U.S. is underway and will be completed soon.
Food and Water Watch has released a statement from Wenonah Hauter, their Executive Director, about this decision. She said, “it’s common practice for government agencies to release information they hope to sneak past consumers on Friday afternoons before a holiday weekend.”
Hauter says that her agency objects to several loopholes in the audit report. First, there will be no USDA inspector in the Chinese poultry processing facilities to verify that the poultry is coming only from “approved sources”. In other words, there is no way to check if the Chinese facilities are importing raw poultry or using their own.
Second, Hauter states that the Chinese food safety system is still riddled with serious deficiencies. For instance, in July, a factory in Kunming was using pond water used for washing feet to make rice vermicelli. And an investigation in July revealed that ice served at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in China had 13 times more bacteria than toilet water. The Council on Foreign Relations says that China doesn’t systematically sample its food products for safety and regulation, and the country’s system has fewer and lower food safety standards than the rest of the world.
Finally, because the poultry is processed, Hauter says there will be no label on the finished product telling consumers that the meat is imported from China. No Country of Origin labeling required.
Food & Water Watch is also concerned about the bird flu, which has been a huge problem in China. Hauter concludes, “today’s audit report reveals yet again that USDA is willing to allow trade to trump food safety.”



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