FoodHACCP Newsletter
10/07 2013 ISSUE:568

 

Official in Malaysia Gives Dangerous Food Safety Advice
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/official-in-malaysia-gives-dangerous-food-safety-advice/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 06, 2013)
A story in the New Straits Times has revealed that a public health official in Malaysia has given citizens some very dangerous food safety advice. Dr. Orthman Warijo, vice-president of the Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association said, “look at the physical appearance of the food to find out if the gravy has become sticky. Sniff the food to determine if it is rotten. Taste the food. If one is confident that the food is edible, then one can proceed. Otherwise, leave it.”
That advice is completely wrong. Pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Clostridium botulinum, and Campylobacter do not change the appearance, taste, texture, or smell of the food. The bacteria that make you sick are invisible, colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Even when there are enough bacteria in the food to produce toxins, the toxins do not affect color, taste, appearance, or aroma. Just 10 E. coli cells can make you very sick; you cannot see that cluster in food. More than 100,000 E. coli cells would fit comfortably on a pin head.
Experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln state, “it is impossible to determine whether a food is contaminated with pathogenic microorganisms without microbiological testing.” In fact, bacteria that cause spoilage of food are not the same bacteria that make humans beings sick. Bacteria that commonly spoil fresh meat, for instance, include Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, and Moraxella.
In addition, Dr. Warijo blamed consumers for getting sick, saying, “victims of food poisoning often blamed food handlers when they themselves ignored safety procedures before eating.” There is no way in the world that a consumer can tell if a food they are eating has been contaminated by deadly bacteria. The only way to ensure that food is as safe as possible is if food handlers purchase safe food, follow good sanitary practices, avoid cross-contamination, cook food properly to a safe temperature, and hold food at a safe temperature. Blaming the consumer is completely irresponsible.

'Look, sniff, taste' to avoid food poisoning
Source : http://www.nst.com.my/latest/look-sniff-taste-to-avoid-food-poisoning-1.369783?localLinksEnabled=false
By nst.com (Oct 05, 2013)
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have been urged to 'look, sniff, taste' food as a safety measure before tucking in especially at functions, eating outlets and school canteens.
Malaysian Public Health Physicians' Association (PPPKAM) vice-president Dr Othman Warijo said the three-step procedure was a campaign by the Health Ministry and was crucial in order to avoid food poisoning.
"Despite appearing simple, the procedure is worthwhile to avoid food poisoning which can even result in death," he said when contacted by Bernama today.   
He said victims of food poisoning often blamed the operator or provider of food when they themselves ignored the safety procedure before eating the food.   
"Look at the physical appearance of the food to find out if the gravy has become sticky. Sniff the food to determine if it has rotted. Taste the food. If one is confident that the food is edible, then one can proceed. Otherwise, leave it," he said.
He said food handlers must ensure adequate storage and cooking facilities to ensure the raw materials were contamination free, adding that they must also be clean and have basic knowledge of preparing food, properly dressed with head and mouth covered, use aprons and gloves and undergo the compulsory Typhoid injection.
On Saturday, four people, died from food poisoning after consuming food at a wedding feast in Tanjung Dawai, Merbok, Kedah.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, 36 pupils of Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Tasek, Simpang Ampat, Penang suffered from food poisoning after eating food from the canteen.
Yesterday, 25 students of Sekolah Menengah Sains Tapah, who were believed to be down with food poisoning, had to sit for their Lower Secondary Assessment at the Tapah Hospital.

Marin County E. coli-HUS Outbreak That Sickened 6 in September Still under Investigation
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/marin-county-e-coli-hus-outbreak-that-sickened-6-in-september-still-under-investigation/
By News Desk (Oct 05, 2013)
In mid September 6 people, including 4 children, in Marin County, Calif., ate something that was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. Four of these E. coli victims were hospitalized, two of them children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Both of these children are out of the hospital, but they will have to live with the long-term risks associated with HUS for the duration of their lives, according to Fred Pritzker, a food safety lawyer who represents people in E. coli and HUS in lawsuits against restaurants, food processors and others.
People in three Marin County cities were sickened: Tiburon (3 cases); Inverness (1 case);San Anselmo (1 case); and San Rafael (1 case).
The outbreak is still being investigated by County of Marin Health and Human Services and the California Department of Public Health.  A specific food source has not been pinpointed, but a local restaurant may be involved.
One tool used in outbreak investigations is pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), a process that finds the DNA fingerprint of bacteria. The DNA fragments from bacterial cells are separated according to size in a gel that is stained so that the DNA can be seen under UV light. This is the fingerprint. If two fingerprints match or are very similar, it is likely that they came from the same source. The PFGE process is explained in the CDC infographic below.

Playing Chicken with Food Safety
Source : http://consortiumnews.com/2013/10/05/playing-chicken-with-food-safety/
By Michael Winship(Oct 05, 2013)
The other day there was this guy in a chicken suit on Pennsylvania Avenue protesting outside the White House. Silly, but the reason the chicken and other demonstrators had crossed the avenue was to deliver a petition of more than half a million names, speaking out against new rules the U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to put into effect – bad rules that would transfer much of the work inspecting pork and chicken and turkey meat from trained government inspectors to the processing companies themselves.
Talk about putting the fox in the henhouse! The revised regulations also call for a substantial speeding up of the disassembly line along which workers use sharp knives and often painful, repetitive hand motions to cut up and clean carcasses of dirt, blood and other contaminants that can cause infection and sickness.
Not only will this increase in speed – by 25 percent or more — raise the chance of injury, it makes it easier to miss anything wrong – even deadly — with the meat. To compensate for that, the rules also call for an increase in the use of antimicrobial chemicals sprayed on the meat — but those sprays may actually damage the health of the workers.
Inspectors and meat packing employees report instances of asthma, burns, skin rashes, sinus trouble and other respiratory ailments, some of them severe. What’s more, when complaints were made about health or hygiene, the response from employers often came in the form of threats and reprimands.
According to the Agriculture Department, their plan will increase food safety, but early last month, the Government Accountability Office – the GAO — reported on a years-old pilot program for some of these new rules and determined that the data on which they were based was, in the words of The Washington Post, “incomplete and antiquated.” One study used data that was more than 20 years old.
The Agriculture Department says the new rules will save the federal budget $30 million annually, but compared to the more than $256 million it will save the poultry industry every year, that’s chickenfeed.
In reality, as Tom Philpott, the food and agriculture correspondent for Mother Jones magazine, succinctly put it: “The Obama administration has been pushing a deregulatory sop to a powerful industry based on a shoddy analysis.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that “each year roughly one in six Americans (or 48 million people) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die of food-borne diseases.” Every state in the Union has seen an outbreak in food-borne illness over the last decade; men, women and children made sick by E.coli, salmonella and other pathogens in everything from meat to produce, cereal, even peanut butter.
The progressive website Truthout notes that “Americans are 110 times more likely to die from contaminated food than terrorism … at an annual cost to the economy of nearly $80 billion.”
And yet, when Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act almost three years ago, designed to toughen standards, the representatives of the food industry – spending tens of millions in campaign contributions and lobbying money — went after it with a vengeance, delaying and watering the final version down so much that the Food and Drug Administration can barely function, its own inspectors unable to fulfill their duties. (The situation was made even worse by the government shutdown.)
In 2011, the FDA inspected only six percent of domestic food producers and less than half a percent of imported food – and this at a time when more and more of our food – including two-thirds of our fresh fruits and vegetables – is coming from overseas.
Additional pressure on Congress and state legislatures comes from our old friend ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, funded by Koch Industries and other corporations – including, recently, Google and Facebook – as well as conservative organizations, to draft legislation designed to benefit big business no matter the cost to the rest of us.
In an introduction to its so-called “agriculture principles,” ALEC announced, “The proper role of government involvement in agriculture is to limit and remove barriers for agricultural production, trade and consumption throughout our innovative food system.”
Safety restrictions should “incorporate a least restrictive approach,” it says, while at the same time ALEC encourages high-tech, high-yield farming and calls out against  “unnecessary additional restrictions on the use of antibiotics in animal agriculture.”
ALEC boasts about the safety and quality of our food system – the highest in the world, it says – but at the same time designs and pushes legislation designed to prosecute and crush journalists, whistleblowers and animal rights activists who would secretly infiltrate the food industry to expose shoddy practices and unsafe, unsanitary conditions that threaten the nation’s well-being.
These so-called “ag-gag” bills criminalize those who would report abuse. If such laws had existed a century ago, a muckraker like Upton Sinclair would never have been allowed to report the sordid practices of the meat packing industry that led to his book “The Jungle” and saved who knows how many from tainted food, sickness and death?
Add to this the controversy over growth-enhancing drugs and hormones, the danger of genetically modified foods, the cruelty of big business factory farms: how can measures like these sound like good ideas to anyone other than those who would put profits above public health? It’s called “runaway capitalism,” and the time has come to stop this free-market fundamentalism gone amok.
It’s enough to make you sick.

Keep your baby’s food safe
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/keep_your_babys_food_safe
By Sarah Sleziak Johnson (Oct 04, 2013)
Michigan State University Extension wants your whole family to have safe food.  This means that when feeding a baby, you need to be thinking about food safety.  The elderly, people with compromised immune systems and young children, like babies, are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness.  Make sure that when you are feeding a baby you practice food safety.
Here are some tips to handle and store baby food safely from the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
•Use a food thermometer to be sure reheated solid foods reach an internal temperature of 165° to ensure bacterial have been killed.
•When using a microwave to reheat food, stir the food during heating to produce an even heat and to avoid hot or cold spots.
?Allow food to cool, covered, until it is the right temperature to serve.
•Defrost foods safely:  in the refrigerator, cold water or the microwave.
?Foods defrosted in the microwave should be cooked immediately as the cooking process has already begun.
?Food defrosted in cold water requires running water at 70 F.
•Leftovers must be discarded because they have been contaminated by the baby’s saliva.
°ŠUsing a clean spoon, take only a portion of the food from the jar or container of baby food and place it in a clean bowl.
•Heat only the portion of food removed from the jar.
•Refrigerate unserved portions in the refrigerated at 40 F or below.
?Label the jar with the date is was opened.
These tips are not just for parents, but are also for grandparents, babysitters and childcare providers.  The tips can help to reduce the risk of food poisoning of small children.  Keeping the children in your care healthy is important.  Follow these tips to keep baby’s food safe and make sure that you’re keeping your food safe too.

35 with Salmonella: Link – Hacienda Don Villo
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/35-with-salmonella-link-hacienda-don-villo/
By Bill Marler (Oct 04 ,2013)
Food Safety News reports according to the Grundy County Health Department, 35 people are ill after eating at Hacienda Don Villo, a Mexican restaurant in Channahon, IL.
The county’s health administrator Phil Jass told Food Safety News that although patient samples are still being tested, some have tested positive for Salmonella, including one restaurant employee.
At least one person has been hospitalized, Jass said. The Channahon-Minooka Patch reported that one victim with a confirmed case of Salmonella was in the hospital for four days.
Hacienda Don Villo closed on Sept. 25, two days after the first illness was reported. It has since been cleaned and employees have been re-trained in proper food handling.
Jass said that the restaurant owner has been very cooperative and closed Hacienda Don Villo voluntarily. He said it will reopen once employees have had two stool samples test negative for Salmonella.

CSPI Alarmed over Possibility of Undetected Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/10/cspi-alarmed-over-possibility-of-undetected-outbr.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Oct 04, 2013)
WASHINGTON—A consumer group on Friday expressed concerns that the partial shutdown of the federal government could impede the ability of food-safety agencies to identify an outbreak of foodborne illness.
"The impact of this shutdown of federal agencies could be heartbreaking," Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), said in a statement today. "An outbreak may already be happening but without the skills of federal public health investigators, it could continue without an appropriate public health response."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) play crucial roles in tracing such outbreaks. But all three agencies have had to put many employees on furlough, constraining their food-safety activities.
With the agencies operating under such constraints, DeWaal worries that the government will fail to investigate or solve outbreaks or do so later than usual to the detriment of consumers. More than half of the CDC employees who oversee the foodborne illness tracking database PulseNet have been sent home, PBS reported Thursday.
"In the best of times, these investigations are complex and hard to solve. But it is truly reckless to continue this government shutdown, and leave consumers and the food industry unprotected," DeWaal said.

What’s up with Canada and E. coli?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/whats-up-with-canada-and-e-coli/
By Bill Marler (Oct 04, 2013)
The Public Health Agency of Canada, along with its health and food safety partners, is investigating 25 cases of E. coli O157:H7 illness; 12 in British Columbia, 10 in Alberta and 1 each in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec.  These individuals became ill between mid-July and mid-September.  There has been one reported death.
Certain contaminated cheese products manufactured by Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm in Salmon Arm, British Columbia, have been identified as the source of the illnesses. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has issued a Health Hazard Alert warning the public not to consume the affected product. Should additional products be recalled as part of the ongoing food safety investigation, the CFIA will immediately inform the public.
The Middlesex-London Health Unit officials in southwestern Ontario say laboratory tests have linked three cases of E. coli O157:H7 to recalled Compliments brand Super 8 Beef Burgers.   However, a spokesman for Ontario’s health ministry said Thursday there have been six confirmed cases of illness in that province associated with the beef in question. Of the six people, four were hospitalized; of the four, one is still in hospital. All are recovering, the ministry said.  The onsets of the six cases of illness in Ontario were between Aug. 16 and Sept. 15.
The recall of the burgers began on Wednesday and covers eight-ounce burgers that were sold frozen in packages of six (with a UPC code of 0 55742 37055 3).  The burgers were distributed in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, and sold through Foodland, Sobeys, FreshCo and Price Chopper stores.

The Shutdown: Our Food Safety, Health and Welfare at Stake
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kristin-wartman/the-shutdown-our-food-saf_b_4036886.html
By Kristin Wartman (Oct 03, 2013)
While Congress battles it out over health care reform, the resulting government shutdown will have far-reaching impacts on food safety, environmental protections, food production and farming. It also has serious implications for the health and nutrition of many Americans. Depending on the duration of the shut down, it could be nothing less than catastrophic for a great number of people.
For those same Americans to whom the Republicans are so opposed to providing adequate health care, the shutdown will also affect their already limited ability to access healthy foods, further harming their health. This will be especially true for those most in need -- namely the nine million pregnant women and new mothers who rely on the Women, Infants, and Children program (WIC).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) says that states will be able to fund WIC for a week and beyond that additional funds may be available through October, however, the USDA warns that state agencies "may still face funding shortfalls associated with FY 2014 obligations during the shutdown."
WIC is a critically important program that provides healthier food options for pregnant women and new mothers who are poor, have medical problems, or are considered to be at "nutrition risk." WIC also provides important health referrals to the nine million people who currently rely on the program. And when considering the negative long-term effects that poor nutrition has in utero and in young children, the true costs of cutting funding for WIC have not been accounted for.
Which brings us back to health care. Many politicians fail to see that the state of the economy depends in large part on the state of health among all Americans. American health is on a downward trend and by cutting crucial food funding for the poor, especially pregnant women and new mothers, we will only exacerbate this trend.
The shut down also means that the USDA's communications offices are now closed. So, if important information about food safety comes to light, we probably won't know.
USDA databases that provide import market information for farmers will also be closed. Modern Farmer reports that, "Markets rely on reports from the USDA to set the price of soy, wheat, corn, beef, etc. Without an October report traders would be adjusting prices in the dark and farmers would be selling without knowing the real value of their crops."
Small family farmers will also be affected since many are dependent on loans from the USDA and delays on loans will likely cost many their farms -- as many as 1,400 small farmers are likely to lose their farms as a result of the shutdown, according to Rural Foundation Advancement International.
Other agency shutdowns that will affect our food system include:
•The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which is essentially completely shut down except for current work on Superfund sites. This means the EPA will stop monitoring air pollution and pesticide use.
•The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which will eliminate much of its food-safety checks, including "routine establishment inspections...monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making."
•The National Institutes of Health (NIH), which has stopped taking new patients for clinical research and its hotline for medical questions is closed.
•The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which has stopped its flu program and says that it will have a "significantly reduced capacity to respond to outbreak investigations." The CDC has also stopped providing "support to state and local partners for infectious disease surveillance."
And while the USDA will continue to inspect meat, dairy, eggs and food imports with 87 percent of its employees still working, the agency has also said that if a violation is indeed found it may not have the resources to fully investigate. The USDA plan also warns that, "A lengthy hiatus would affect the safety of human life and have serious adverse effects on the industry, the consumer and the Agency."
The FDA, which is responsible for inspecting the majority of the food industry, will not be functioning in this capacity during the shutdown. Typically, the FDA inspects 80 food facilities a day and files reports on those in violation of health codes. This means an end to important investigations and reports, like the one that brought a peanut facility to a close last year after a salmonella outbreak.
It's beginning to look like what Republicans have wanted all along: To eliminate social programs to help the poor and scale back on regulations particularly when it comes to the environment and our food supply. But what kind of country would that look like? Currently four out of five Americans live in danger of falling into poverty and are struggling with joblessness.
These Americans are reliant on social programs like WIC or food stamps (which will continue to be funded at least through October) and without this help many will be forced to decide between medications, rent, or food.
Every American would be best served by understanding that the health of Americans comes first and defunding social programs, regulatory agencies, and independent research will only further undermine America's deteriorating health, which in the end, will cost us a lot more than a failing economy.

Yum Yum restaurant tops in food safety
Source : http://www.bdlive.co.za/life/health/2013/09/19/food-expiration-labels-are-misleading
By bdlive.co.za (Oct 03, 2013)
Yum Yum Chinese Restaurant at 5612 Patterson Ave. has been selected as the top recipient of the Richmond Public Health Department’s biannual Food Safety Award of Excellence.
Richmond Health Director Dr. Donald Stern and Richmond Environmental Health Manager Kenneth Smith plan to visit the restaurant today to present the award.
Four other restaurants/food establishments met award criteria for this period in the full-service category: Fish Bowl Bistro & Bar, 101 S. 15th St.; Rio Lindo Restaurant, 3106 Broad Rock Blvd.; and Lemaire Restaurant and the banquet kitchen, both at the Jefferson Hotel, 101 W. Franklin St.
Two restaurants won the Food Safety Award in the fast-food category: Five Guys Burgers & Fries, 7037-B Forest Hill Ave.; and Wendy’s Old Fashioned Hamburgers, 4507 Jefferson Davis Highway.
Govt shutdown halts FDA food inspections. Should you worry?
Source : http://www.cnbc.com/id/101085569
By Schuyler Velasco (Oct 03, 2013)
When it comes to the government shutdown, there are plenty of things to feel gloomy and alarmed over. One of the more attention-getting work stoppages so far has been at the Food and Drug Administration, where 45 percent of employees have been sent home and many of the agency's day-to-day activities, most notably food safety inspections, are on hold until the budget impasse is over.
So, 91 percent of seafood that Americans consume, which the United States imports, is not being inspected, currently. The same goes for the nearly 50 percent of fruits and 20 percent of vegetables consumed in the U.S. but imported from abroad. And though many of inspections here in the U.S. are still being carried out through state and local agencies, reporting any problems encountered at the federal level could be difficult.
"Detection [of problems] won't be the issue," says Neal Hooker, a professor of food policy at the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at Ohio State University in Columbus. "Management of, say, a product recall, and helping local public-health agencies work more effectively, those parts will be harder to do."
(Read more: 'TSA feel-ups': What you miss during the shutdown)
The government shutdown has closed down a large part of the FDA, and its food monitoring activities in particular.
"FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities," reads a Health and Human Services memo detailing a contingency plan in the case of a government funding stoppage. "FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs, and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making."
The FDA will maintain certain emergency services during the shutdown, including managing high-risk food recalls and other "critical public health issues," per the memo. But the lack of routine health inspections, and the management oversight of more routine food supply hiccups that the FDA deals with on a day-to-day basis begs two questions: Is the country's food supply safe without the FDA, and will its temporary shuttering have any lasting effect beyond the government shutdown?
More from The Christian Science Monitor:
Government —shutdown: Is it George Washington's fault?
Default now focus, as Treasury warns of 'catastrophe'
White House meeting with lawmakers goes nowhere
Food-safety advocates worry that even a short-term lapse in the FDA's activities could be a notable setback for the agency. "The FDA, in partnership with the states, inspects about 80 facilities a day, and they're not sending people to do those routine inspections," says Caroline Smith DeWaal, the food safety director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group based in Washington.
She notes that individual state agencies, which actually conduct a large portion of inspections, will continue operating, but it's unclear how long they can go on without federal oversight—and the fees the FDA pays such agencies to conduct inspections on its behalf.
(Read more: Left isn't telling the truth on shutdown: Gartman)
The inspections themselves aren't the biggest issue, says Dr. Hooker. "It's not that every plant is expecting to have a visit," in the immediate future, he notes; depending on the type of food facility, some establishments are inspected as infrequently as every three to five years. "You're reducing the probability of an inspection by such a tiny number. There's no long-lived impact other than the number of inspections in that queue. I don't know that in the short term there would be much impact."
Plus, some inspections will continue. The United States Department of Agriculture will continue to monitor meat and poultry production during the shutdown, because those facilities can't lawfully operate without a USDA inspector present. And the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's seafood inspection program, which is funded through service fees and not government appropriations, is still up and running. (FDA seafood inspections, of course, are not).
The bigger problem, according to Ms. DeWaal, could be the management of those inspections, and whether the FDA can adequately respond to an emergency. "Those inspections help to prevent problems with food safety, fix them before contaminated foods get into the market. These agencies are working at very minimal capacity. They say they will retain some capacity for emergencies, but if you don't have CDC [Centers for Disease Control] in place and you're operating on a skeleton crew anyway, I don't have confidence that they have the capacity to recognize and emergency and respond to it."
(Read more: First a default, then a depression? Some think so)
Another huge area of concern is food imports, which are monitored by FDA officials. "FDA is responsible for everything that's coming in," DeWaal says. "They're underfunded in that area generally, but no imports are being inspected for safety right now. People could certainly target the U.S. for products that night not be accepted elsewhere."
The agency is underfunded already. The FDA lost $209 million as part of the $85 billion in automatic budget cuts that took place March 1 of this year, forcing 2,100 fewer inspections from 2012. The shutdown, DeWaal says, just exacerbates the problem. "I think every day it goes on, the work that was scheduled is being delayed," she says. "It really pushes back other needed enforcement, and it's foolhardy to have these federal workers sitting in their homes when they all want to be at work. It's critical to public safety that this work is conducted."

Will the FDA's New Food Safety Rules Hurt Small Farmers?
Source : http://www.takepart.com/article/2013/10/01/food-safety-and-modernization-act-may-hurt-small-organic-farms
By Twilight Greenaway (Oct 01, 2013)
No one wants to feel like their life is at risk, but how much power should we give our government agencies to keep us safe? Where do sensible rules and regulations end and invasive supervision begin? And whose lives will be permanently altered in the process?
No, it’s not homeland security I’m talking about, but food safety. And, as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prepares to enforce a set of long-overdue food safety rules, these questions are becoming harder and harder to ignore—especially for small farmers and others involved in building the local food movement.
You see, back in 2011, when Congress passed the highly controversial Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), a coalition of farmers, sustainable farming advocates, and consumers worked tirelessly to ensure that the bill wouldn’t put undue burden on small food producers. We all deserve safe food, the thinking went, but why should a 10-acre organic farm have to follow all the same rules as a 10,000-acre corporate farm? After much debate, rather than adjust the safety rules to better fit small farms, lawmakers agreed to an amendment that would partially exempt farmers grossing less than $500,000 a year who sell more than half of their products directly to consumers, or to retailers that do.
Earlier this year—over two years after the bill was passed—the FDA finally came out with a set of draft rules that all non-exempt produce growers will have to follow. And despite the exemption, it has many small farmers worried.
Take Jim Crawford of New Morning Farm. He and his wife have been farming organically on around 40 acres in southern Pennsylvania since the early 1970s, and they sell the bulk of their produce to chefs and consumers in Washington, D.C. As one of the larger small operations in the area, Crawford’s farm will not be exempt. Even though they sell more than $500,000 worth of produce, he says, “We don’t keep even 10 percent of our sales as income.”
Following the rules—if the draft version gets final approval—will mean regularly testing the water they use, filling out masses of paperwork, and providing regular training for his workers. But Crawford’s biggest concern is the part of the rules governing manure, which he uses in abundance to boost fertility on his farm. While some is composted, a portion of that manure is applied fresh and given several months to decompose in the soil.
“We will probably have to start composting all our manure,” he says, “which is extremely expensive and time-consuming.”
Another part of the rules, which require farmers to monitor all animals—domestic and wild—that go near the produce, also seems virtually impossible to him. “Wildlife is everywhere in the farming environment. It’s just not a realistic expectation,” he says.
Judith Redmond, of Northern California’s Full Belly Farm, another organic operation that would not qualify for the exemption, is equally alarmed about the idea of her farm’s compost use being monitored by a government agency.
“We think that properly made compost should not be regulated. In fact, we think it should be recommended as a way to control pathogens, ” Redmond says. Similarly, she believes that animals belong on a diverse, healthy farm, because they add manure to the soil, balancing the nutrients.
“On our farm, for example, pastured hens graze on crops once they’ve been harvested. The FDA is proposing we put nine months between those grazing periods and crop production. That amount of time would basically remove those animals from the farming system.”
As Ariane Lotti sees it, “FDA is taking a sterilize-the-landscape approach.” Lotti is assistant policy director of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and has been tracking the food safety bill since its origins. She also attended several recent FDA listening sessions with farmers about the proposed rules. “They’re basically saying that chemical production is safer than farming that happens with compost and manure. But if you look at a farming system, that’s not necessarily how things work.”
Lotti says she has also heard a great deal of concern from farmers who offer so-called “value-added products,” such as jams, pickles, or anything else that involves processing raw produce. In addition to the proposed produce rules, those farmers may be subject to a second set of rules for food processors.
The prospect of double regulation is particularly noteworthy because many small farmers currently rely on higher-priced, value-added products to keep their businesses afloat—and there’s a great deal of demand for them at the consumer level. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has also invested a great deal of money and attention into value-added products as a way to grow the local food economy—an effort the new FDA rules may hinder.
“So you all of the sudden have these operations that might come under two sets of regulations, and pay two sets of compliance costs,” says Lotti. One set of rules—and the training, auditing, and paperwork involved—would be onerous. Two might be enough to shut some businesses down, an outcome that's especially undesirable at a time when America is facing a shortage of farmers.
At the very least, the possibility would pose a disincentive for farms looking to diversify, and, says Lotti, “it has farmers thinking: Maybe the FDA doesn’t understand how modern farming works?”
It’s clear that many consumers see a thriving local food economy as a way to build an alternative to industrial farming. And the latter has been tied to countless high profile food safety scares and outbreaks, such as last summer’s salmonella outbreaks linked to cantaloupes and the now-infamous E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak linked to bagged spinach in 2006.
Indeed, it frustrates many farmers that the FDA doesn’t appear to be focusing more attention on the parts of the food system that have posed the highest risk to consumers in recent years. “We think those higher-risk activities should be addressed more carefully, rather than spreading it evenly across all farms,” says Redmond. She’d like to see more attention given to concentrated animal farming operations, which are well known sources of environmental pathogens. The so-called “fresh cut industry”—which provides pre-cut vegetables and salad greens—is also regularly linked to food safety risk.
For one thing, the businesses involved in those larger facets of the industry tend to have the budget to hire employees whose sole focus is food safety protocol and paperwork. But farms like Full Belly simply do not. “We’ll probably have to appoint one of the co-owners to work on food safety instead of sales, planting, or quality control,” says Redmond.
In response to farmer outcry, the FDA has focused its media response around the partial exemption planned for farmers selling less than $500,000 of product each year (and a companion exemption for those selling at the micro level, moving less than $25,000 in food per year).
"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," Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods at the FDA told NPR recently.
But just how much food those 60 percent account for—in an era of very small and very large farms—may be the bigger issue. In California, where the bulk of our nation’s produce is grown, Redmond says, $500,000 in sales is not a high mark. “You could probably sell that much with less than an acre of strawberries,” she says.
And then there’s the clause that allows the government to revoke a farm's exemption status if it's suspected to be involved in a food safety scare.
“A withdrawal order can be made by FDA if the farm is directly linked to an outbreak, or if FDA believes that there is a problem on the farm material to the condition of the safety of the food.” But the wording, she adds, “is very vague and currently requires no proof from FDA that there is a problem.”
There’s also the fact that many small and organic farms want to grow their businesses to meet the rising demand for local and sustainable food. So even if they haven’t hit the $500,000-in-sales mark yet, all fruit and vegetable farmers have a potential stake in how these new food safety rules take shape.
That's why lifting the dollar amount qualifying farms for the exemption won't make the problem go away. Any hard line is going to cause frustration for those just above and below it, especially because the safety rules were created without smaller farms in mind.
The FDA is accepting public comment on both the produce and processed food rules until November 15, and many farmers are expected to weigh in. Just how the FDA will decide on a final set of rules is still tough to predict. Or when, considering the current government shutdown. But the agency has ordered an environmental impact statement on FSMA’s produce rule based on comments that have come in so far.
Redmond isn’t optimistic about the way these rules could shape the food system. “These rules could make it so that when you go to the store or farmers market, you’ll have fewer smaller local farms to choose from,” she says.
Jim Crawford has only slightly more hope—if you can call it that. “My realistic take is that most farms will just end up dodging the law. It will change the whole psychology of our relationship with the government, and we’ll start seeing them as people to be fooled and lied to. That’s a tragedy in its own right,” he says.

U.S. shutdown affects food safety, tourism – and Canadians
Source : http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/us-shutdown-affects-food-safety-tourism-and-canadians/article14621144/
By BILL CURRY AND TU THANH HA (Oct 1, 2013)
Large swaths of the U.S. federal government began closing down at midnight Monday after the House and Senate failed to find a compromise on a spending bill to fund the government.
The shutdown will idle as many as 1-million federal employees and affect everything from economic data releases to National Park admissions.
Here’s a look at what will be affected:
Border crossings
For Canadian business leaders, the greatest concern is that border crossings may be affected, even though they fall under one of the “essential services” categories that are exempted from the shutdown.
According to contingency plans filed by the Department of Homeland Security, port-of-entry operations and border patrols are not supposed to be affected. Similarly, air traffic control services will be exempted from the shutdown, the Department of Transportation says.
But it isn’t entirely clear what will happen at border crossings and ports, where any delays would have immediate impact on Canada’s economy.
“I don’t think they know themselves [what will happen],” said Jayson Myers, president of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
Economic data and markets
Much of the publication of economic data will stop. This includes the closely watched monthly employment report and the Agriculture Department’s important Oct. 11 U.S. crop report.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange commission will not be affected right away. It can continue reviewing applications for initial public offerings and monitoring markets as normal for a few weeks, a spokesman said.
Bank regulators, including the Federal Reserve and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, would stay open because they do not rely on Congress for funding.
Tourism
National parks and museums will shut down, including iconic locations such as the Statue of Liberty and Yellowstone National Park. Guests staying in park campgrounds will be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave.
In Washington, all Smithsonian Institution locations will shut down. The Smithsonian’s National Zoo said it would even turn off its website’s livestreaming videos from the animals’ pens – including a popular “Panda Cam” of a newborn cub.
Disease control
The Centers for Disease Control’s annual seasonal flu influenza program will be shuttered.
Medical research at the National Institutes of Health will stop, but staff will remain to tend to 1.3 million lab mice, 63,000 rats and 3,900 monkeys. “Many of these animals are priceless and have taken generations to breed,” the U.S. Department of Health’s contingency plan says.
Food and Drug safety
The FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety activities, including routine establishment inspections and monitoring imports, according to the U.S. Department of Health’s contingency plan. It will also cease monitoring cosmetics and will be unable to monitor imports.
USDA meat inspectors stay on the job.
The military
All military personnel would continue on normal duty status, but half of the Defense Department’s 800,000 civilian employees would be placed on unpaid leave. Officials have said military personnel, who are paid twice a month, would receive their Oct. 1 paycheques but might see their Oct. 15 paycheques delayed.
Internal Revenue Service
Most of the federal tax agency’s 90,000 employees are being furloughed.
Intelligence agencies
Those assigned to vital national security missions, including supporting the president, and collecting data from informants or spy devices such as eavesdropping systems or satellites, will generally remain on the job.
Courts and the Justice Department
The U.S. Supreme Court would probably operate normally, but the status of federal courts will have to be assessed after about 10 business days. Criminal litigation will continue, while civil litigation is curtailed or postponed as much as possible “without compromising to a significant degree the safety of human life or the protection of property,” the department said in its contingency plan.
Environmental protection
The Environmental Protection Agency is one of the hardest-hit, with less than 7 per cent of its employees exempt from furlough. The shutdown of all but emergency services would delay rule-making, potentially including finalization of renewable fuel volume requirements for 2014.
NASA grounded
Most of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s 18,250 personnel will be furloughed, save for about 550 people who deal with operations aboard the International Space Station and ongoing satellite missions.
The White House
The Executive Office of the President will furlough about 1,265 staff and retain 436 as excepted workers. Among the staff retained will be 15 to provide “minimum maintenance and support” for the White House. Executive agencies will be reduced to skeleton staff, including four at the Council of Economic Advisors.
Obamacare
The program at the heart of the standoff between politicians will still start operating. Signup for the new U.S. health exchanges under the Affordable Care Act that were due to start on Oct. 1 will proceed.

Why Do So Many People Fear Their Food?
Source : http://beefmagazine.com/retail/why-do-so-many-people-fear-their-food-1
By Jude Capper (Oct 1, 2013)
How many of us are motivated by fear every single day? We’d like to think that we’re lucky enough to live in a society where we don’t feel afraid. In contrast to inhabitants of many war-torn regions we are unlikely to be shot as we drive to work; when we’re sick we have the luxury of modern medical attention (Obamacare not withstanding); and we can buy almost any food we fancy, at any time of year and feel safe in our food choices… or can we?
Food safety is an underlying assumption of dietary choice within the USA. We buy food based on three major factors: taste, price and nutrition. Safety isn’t a defining factor in choosing between the cheese quesadilla, the chef’s salad or the T-bone steak because most of us have rarely experienced significant negative health effects as a consequence of food choice (aside from the annual Thanksgiving food coma).
Yet so many food commentators, self-proclaimed experts (I read Michael Pollan therefore I am…) or bloggers appear to exist for the sole purpose of instilling consumer fear. Take this recent article in Salon – 10 reasons why we should fear eating steak – apparently it’s riddled with antibiotics, full of heavy metals and likely to give us all mad cow disease. I’m not going to turn this blog post into a thesis, so today will simply address one of the issues raised in the article, and examine the others in future posts.

Whole Foods To Label Produce Based on Sustainability
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2013/10/whole-foods-to-label-produce-based-on-sustainabil.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Oct 01, 2013)
AUSTIN—In September 2014, Whole Foods Market® will label produce on a three-tier rating system using a science-based index to measure performance on criteria for sustainable farming.
Foods in the produce department will display ratings of “good," “better" or “best" based on this new index, developed with the help of sustainable agriculture experts and input from suppliers. The index measures important sustainable farming topics, including pest management (prohibited and restricted pesticides), farmworker welfare, pollinator protection, water conservation/protection, soil health ecosystems, biodiversity, waste, recycling/packaging, energy and climate.
Suppliers who receive fair trade, rainforest alliance, protected harvest and demeter biodynamic certification will be rewarded through the ratings, as well as growers who implement specific pesticide practices to protect pollinators, like habitat restoration and by controlling the impact of managed hives on farms.
Whole Foods Market aims to reduce pesticide use and its risks to consumers, farmworkers, wildlife and the environment by encouraging suppliers to eliminate or restrict the most toxic pesticides from the nation’s food supply. Incentives will be provided for growers to measure and reduce other pesticide use.
The ratings also will recognize growers who address genetically-modified organism (GMO) transparency, food safety and traceability. The company plans to require all products in all Canadian and U.S. stores to include labels specifying whether the food contains GMOs by 2018.

Check-up room set up over food poisoning
Source : http://www.nst.com.my/latest/check-up-room-set-up-over-food-poisoning-1.366167?localLinksEnabled=false
By Izahratulhayat Mat Arif and Teoh Pei Ying (Oct 01, 2013)
SUNGAI PETANI: The Health department has set up check-up room at Masjid Kampung Huma here following food poisoning cases which led to the death of three people yesterday.
The check-up room had been in operation since 11am today and more than 50 villagers have come to seek medical examination and advice.
According to sources, more than five people mostly children, who suffered from fever, diarrhea and vommitting after attending a wedding reception in Kampung Huma , Tanjung Dawai on Saturday, have been referred to clinic and hospital nearby for further treatment.
One of the villagers Rosmah Ahmad said she had stomach ache and started to vomit since last night.
"At first I thought it was nothing serious.
"However, I decided to seek treatment at hospital after learning about the rising number of patients that have been warded in hospital.
The 45-year-old odd job worker also said that she had ayam masak merah when attending the feast.
"I have never thought this could happened," she said.
Another villagers who received a check-up was Norain Zainal Abidin,19.
"I went to the feast and only felt sick yesterday night at 9pm.
Norain also added that she has been vomited for four times and started to have strong fever last night.
Meanwhile, Sultan Badlishah Hospital here has received more than 114 people who came to seek treatment after showing symptoms of .
A total of 78 people have been received as outpatient treatments, 34 are warded and two of them in critical condition until 12pm today.

Emerging Pathogens: Listeria Threatens a Growing Senior Population
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/09/emerging-pathogens-listeria/#.UlFnmWywet8
By Lydia Zuraw (Sep 30, 2013)
From August through October 2011, 147 people in 28 states were infected with Listeria monocytogenes after eating cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado. There were 33 deaths, and one pregnant women had a miscarriage as a result, making it one of the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in the U.S. in recent years.
Apart from some diarrhea or minor gastrointestinal problems, most people don’t get sick when they’re exposed to Listeria. But, if the pathogen gets into their bloodstream, it can cause listeriosis, a disease that kills one out of every five victims. Because of these odds, Listeria has the highest mortality rate of foodborne pathogens.
Groups most at risk for Listeria infections are older adults, pregnant women and people with an underlying medical conditions such as cancer liver or kidney disease, diabetes or HIV/AIDS.
People 65 and older are four times more likely to get sick from Listeria poisoning than the general population, and pregnant women – who may not develop listeriosis themselves but whose babies could be threatened – are 10 times more likely.
While it’s important to remember that there are only about 800 laboratory-confirmed cases of Listeria in the U.S. each year, more than half of them occur among older adults. In the 2011 cantaloupe-related outbreak, most of the cases involved people older than 60, and those who died were between the ages of 48 and 96.
“Typically, when the highly susceptible populations are infected, they’re the ones that experience the most severe symptoms and often the high mortality rates,” said Michael Doyle, director of the Center for Food Safety. “As we age, we need to be more careful about the types of foods we eat. That means making sure that foods that are likely to be contaminated with harmful microbes should be cooked or somehow processed or treated to ensure safety. We should not be taking the risks that maybe younger people would take – eating less well-cooked meat, for example.”
Foods that typically cause Listeria outbreaks are Mexican-style soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk, deli meats, and hot dogs. Produce was not often identified as a source in the past, but sprouts caused an outbreak in 2009, and pre-cut celery caused an outbreak in 2010.
“There have been a lot of successes on the ready-to-eat meat front,” said Alicia Cronquist, an epidemiologist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment who investigated the 2011 outbreak. “Manufacturers have put in enormous efforts, and we’ve seen a real decline in outbreaks due to those deli meats and poultry products.”
Doyle agrees and says this is why he’s not as concerned about lunch meats now as he is about fresh produce.
“I am very concerned about fruits and vegetables – not just because of Listeria, but because we’ve had hiccups with a lot of other pathogens with fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.
“We frequently identify new vehicles when we do outbreak investigations, whether it’s Listeria, E. coli or Salmonella,” Cronquist said. “This outbreak was very unusual in that it was huge and had a terrible number of fatalities, but it was also notable in that [cantaloupe] was a novel Listeria vehicle.”
In addition to its high mortality rate, Listeria is an unusual foodborne pathogen because it can survive and multiply at refrigerator temperatures. In order to avoid Listeria, CDC recommends that high-risk consumers heat hot dogs, lunch meats and cold cuts to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and avoid products with unpasteurized milk, refrigerated paté or meal spreads, and uncooked smoked seafood.
When it comes to melon safety, consumers and food preparers should wash their hands before and after handling a whole melon, scrub the outside of melons under running water and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting, and then promptly consume or refrigerate cut melon and keep it for no more than a week.
FDA has also released “Food Safety for Older Adults” to address threats from all major pathogens and offer prevention tips for seniors. Because, as Doyle says, “It’s the elderly that are going to be more susceptible to all these different pathogens, not just Listeria. They’re the ones that are going to suffer the most severe consequences.”

The Consequences of Killer Cantaloupes
Source : http://blog.ucsusa.org/the-consequences-of-killer-cantaloupes-257
By Deborah Bailin (Sep 30, 2013)
If you follow food safety, you may have heard last week that brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen pled not guilty in federal court to charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.
As a new UCS Center for Science and Democracy case study discusses, the brothers previously made headlines two years ago when cantaloupes contaminated with Listeria bacteria were traced to their farm in Colorado. Those cantaloupes caused one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in United States history, sickening 147 people and killing 33.
Although the brothers have already faced numerous civil lawsuits from victims and their families and had to file for bankruptcy in 2012, these are their first criminal charges. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to six years prison time and over $1 million in fines.
We Need a Proactive Response
One thing that has bothered me since I began researching this case of the killer cantaloupes is that the public conversation has largely scapegoated the Jensen brothers rather than looking at the bigger picture of food safety oversight. It’s fair enough that the media has vilified them – I have little sympathy – but we need preventative rather than reactive regulatory action if we are going to stop future outbreaks before rather than after people get sick.
When the Jensen Farms outbreak first began, the FDA reacted by sending inspectors to Jensen Farms. Unbelievably, for a business that had been in the Jensen family for several generations, this was the first time FDA inspectors had ever visited the operation. Once there, inspectors quickly found the cause of the Listeria contamination: inappropriate equipment, dirty facilities, and poor post-harvest handling practices. If this inspection could have happened sooner, lives would have been saved.
New FDA Food Safety Rules Plagued By Old Conflict of Interest
When President Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in January 2011, he had bipartisan support, as well as the backing of both the food industry and food safety advocates. The new law was the first major overhaul of food safety in 70 years, and with multistate foodborne illness outbreaks an increasing problem, everyone agreed on the need for reform.
In theory, new FDA rules proposed in 2013 to implement the FSMA will prevent outbreaks like the one originating at Jensen Farms before they start. The proposed Produce Rule, for example, establishes standards for minimizing microbial contamination of produce through better management of water, soil, animals, worker health and hygiene, and facilities and tools, including requiring that “all agricultural water be safe and of adequate sanitary quality for its intended use.” At Jensen Farms, FDA inspectors found, among other things, that water that came into contact with the cantaloupes was not of adequate sanitary quality.
However, good rules only go so far when an agency lacks the resources to enforce them. Jensen Farms had received a good score from third-party auditors just days before the start of the outbreak. The auditors had noted problems but not deducted points. Why? Private, third-party auditors are paid by growers and packers like Jensen Farms, creating an inherent conflict of interest. Distributors and retailers require the growers to have good audit scores in order to do business with them. In the words of food safety attorney Bill Marler who has represented victims of Jensen Farms, “A private auditor is not going to list a farm’s flaws, tell it to shut down, then say, ‘I finished my audit — can I have my $2,000?’ ”
Although FDA inspectors will play a greater role in enforcing the new food safety rules, the agency states in the text of the proposed rule, “We anticipate that compliance will be achieved primarily through the conscientious efforts of farmers, complemented by the efforts of State and local governments, extension services, private audits and certifications, and other private sector supply chain management efforts.” The Jensen Farms case illustrates how well that strategy has worked.
Food Safety and the Impending Government Shutdown
Only the worst foodborne illness outbreaks make the evening news, but it is important to recognize that the Jensen Farms case is not an isolated incident but part of a pattern. During 2011, the year of the Jensen Farms outbreak, there were 15 other multistate foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. Over 1100 people got sick, and a total of 36 people died. Listeriosis is a particularly nasty infection to get and has a high fatality rate – no doubt the reason this outbreak garnered so much public horror. Relative to more familiar foodborne pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli, Listeria is also relatively uncommon.
However, the Jensen Farms case is notable not only because it killed so many people but because it could easily happen again. FDA inspectors failed to catch the Jensen Farms’ killer cantaloupes before they made people sick not because they lacked the scientific know-how but because the FDA’s capacity for produce inspections is woefully overextended. The new food safety rules don’t address a shortage of staff that is the direct result of a shortage of funding.
As Congress lurches towards a government shutdown, it’s worth thinking about what happens when we defund public services that protect our health and safety.  According to a Department of Health and Human Services contingency staffing plan, if the shutdown actually happens, the FDA will suffer further cuts: “FDA will be unable to support the majority of its food safety, nutrition, and cosmetics activities. FDA will also have to cease safety activities such as routine establishment inspections, some compliance and enforcement activities, monitoring of imports, notification programs (e.g., food contact substances, infant formula), and the majority of the laboratory research necessary to inform public health decision-making.”
So far in 2013 in the U.S., over 1500 people have fallen ill and 2 have died in the course of 10 multistate foodborne illness outbreaks. Many different foods have become contaminated: chicken, ground beef, cheese, sesame paste, cucumbers. The CDC provides data for the current year and past years on these outbreaks, and if you look at those numbers as you’re counting down to the looming shutdown … well, you may look at your dinner in a different way – like maybe under a microscope.

Food Safety & Foodborne Illness Legislation Introduced
Source : http://nationalhogfarmer.com/business/food-safety-foodborne-illness-legislation-introduced
By P. Scott Shearer (Sep 30, 2013)
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has introduced the “Safe Meat and Poultry Act” to reduce the number of foodborne outbreaks and update the meat and poultry inspection and consumer notification system.  According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), one in six Americans will suffer from a foodborne illness every year.  Senator Gillibrand said, “This legislation contains practical measures to ensure no American gambles with their health when purchasing poultry or meat products.  Not only would we reduce foodborne illness, but we also strengthen our nation’s agriculture and food industry.”
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The legislation would:
•           Create mandatory pathogen reduction performance standards and expand the authority of the USDA to regulate new pathogens, which will make progress toward targeting and reducing dangerous pathogens in the meat and poultry supply.
•           Improve consumer notification for recalls of contaminated products.
•           Provide whistleblower protection for government and private workers in the food industry to report public health issues and support a more resilient agriculture industry.
•           Provide better enforcement penalties, including criminal penalties for intentionally putting unsafe products in the marketplace, and escalating enforcement action for the few bad actors that have a repeated history of serious failures to ensure food safety.
•           Safeguard our borders from unsafe or adulterated foreign meat and poultry products by ensuring regular international audits by the Food Safety & Inspection Service.
•           Increase the emphasis on prevention throughout the entire food safety system, including for pathogens, chemical residues and potential contamination.
•           Improve consideration given to occupational health and safety to support a safe and sustainable environment in which wholesome products can be produced, inspected and passed.

Food Safety Myth: Pre Packaged Produce Doesn’t Need Washing
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/food-safety-myth-pre-packaged-produce-doesnt-need-washing/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 30, 2013)
Fight Bac! and the Partnership for Food Safety Education have been educating the public about food safety myths and facts for years. Food Poisoning Bulletin recently attended one of their webinars where they addressed those myths. Their latest is: pre packaged produce doesn’t need washing.
The truth is that you must read the label first to make sure it says “ready to eat”, “washed” or “triple washed”. If the label does not say that, wash your hands, then rinse the product under running tap water. Scrub firm fruits and veggies, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Dry with a clean cloth or paper towel to further reduce germs.
Cooler water is better than hot for helping the product keep quality. While you can reduce some pathogens on leafy greens by using a vinegar-based salad dressing, the chlorine wash those items undergo during processing is much more effective. Experts don’t recommend vinegar as a surface cleaner.
Bagged salads are very popular, and they are usually prewashed. Re-washing makes those salads less safe because they can be contaminated by your kitchen. A report at the Center for Consumer Research at US Davis said, “in brief, consumers don’t wash up very well and may contaminate product due to dirty hands and a dirty sink.”
Veggie washes may get some bacteria off, but don’t come close to getting it all off. Don’t rely on those commercial products. You can certainly use them if they make you feel better or if it encourages you to wash produce. But bacteria can get inside the produce, and when that happens, no washing of any kind will remove it. Even when you grow your own vegetables in your garden, use good practices. Wash your hands before harvest, and use clean water to water your garden.
Because there is no thermal kill step on these products, it’s important that producers use good agricultural practices and use high quality wash and flume water. Chlorine, ozone, and organic acids can and should be used to sanitize the water in the fields and during processing. Ice and packaging materials need to be clean. Careful farming and quality control are important. While food safety starts on the farm, it must continue at home.

 

 


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