FoodHACCP Newsletter
10/28 2013 ISSUE:571

 

E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, MN
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/e-coli-o157h7-outbreak-at-dehns-pumpkins-in-dayton-mn/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 26, 2013)
The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting that three people are ill with confirmed E. coli O157:H7 infections after contact with animals at Dehn’s Pumpkins’ petting zoo in Dayton, MN. The three cases are all children, ranging in age from 15 months to 7 years.
E coli Lawsuit - 5 Reasons to Sue NowOne child is hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication of an E. coli infection that can cause kidney failure. The others were not hospitalized. The children visited the farm on October 12 or 13, 2013, and became ill on October 16 or 18, 2013.
The Department is following up with any groups that visited that farm to discover if anyone else has become ill. Two more people may be part of this outbreak, since they have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infections and are being tested. That group visited Dehn’s on October 18, 2013, which means that exposure to the pathogenic bacteria could have occurred after the weekend of October 12-13.
All of the patients had contact with cattle and/or goats at Dehn’s. The farm’s owners are cooperating fully with the investigation. Access to the cattle and goat areas is closed, but the rest of the farm, including the pumpkin patch, is open for business.
The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include severe stomach and abdominal cramps, diarrhea that can be bloody, and low grade fever. People usually become sick two to five days after exposure. Anyone who comes in contact with ruminant animals at any venue are at risk for this infection. Bits of feces contaminated with the bacteria can get onto the animals’ fur or saliva, or the ground or fence railings of animal pens, and transfer to people’s hands.
Anyone who visited Dehn’s Pumpkins since October 12, 2013 and becomes ill should see their health care provider immediately and inform them of the visit to the farm. E. coli O157:H7 is a reportable condition, so doctors will report it to the Health Department.

E. coli and Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Linked to Dehn’s Pumpkin Patch, MN Lawyer Investigating
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/e-coli-and-hemolytic-uremic-syndrome-linked-to-dehns-pumpkin-patch-mn-lawyer-investigating/
By  News Desk (Oct 26, 2013)
Minnesota E. coli lawyer Fred Pritzker and his Bad Bug Law Team are investigating the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to animals at Dehn’s Pumpkin Patch in Dayton, MN, that has sickened 3 children. One of them developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe complication of an E. coli infection that causes kidney failure, which can lead to a host of other medical problems, including seizures, coma, stroke, multiple organ failure, heart attack, and pancreatitis.
Goat E. coli“Most parents are not aware that children can contract E. coli from animal contact,” said Pritzker, who recently won a case for a child who contracted E. coli-HUS after contact with a llama at a Minnesota petting zoo. “It is the responsibility of petting zoo owners to make sure the animals are kept clean and that there are hand washing stations for the children.”
In 2013, Pritzker filed suit in another E. coli-HUS case on behalf of a family whose young son died after animal contact at a county fair. He passed away only 12 days after visiting the fair. “This tragic loss was preventable,” said Pritzker.
In the current outbreak linked to Dehn’s Pumpkin Patch, the three children range in age from 15 months to 7 years and are residents of the Twin Cities metro area. The children visited the farm on October 12 or 13, and became ill on October 16 or 18.
Contact Fred PritzkerThe Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is trying to determine if anyone else who visited the farm became ill. To date, two additional people have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infection and are being tested. These people visited Dehn’s on October 18. All of the confirmed and suspected cases had contact with cows and/or goats at Dehn’s.
MDH is recommending that anyone who visited Dehn’s Pumpkins since October 12 and develops symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection should contact their health care provider immediately and inform them of their possible involvement in this outbreak. Antibiotics should not be used to treat E. coli symptoms because antibiotics can promote the development of HUS, according to MDH.

Cryptosporidium Outbreak in Iowa Linked to Unpasteurized Apple Cider
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/cryptosporidium-outbreak-in-iowa-linked-to-unpasteurized-apple-cider/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 26, 2013)
According to the Johnson County Public Health department in Iowa, an outbreak of cryptosporidiosis, a disease caused by the parasite Cryptosporidium, is linked to unpasteurized apple cider. All of the eleven ill persons are recovering. One person was hospitalized. This illness outbreak is the latest in Iowa this year; more than 1,200 people have been sickened with cryptosporidiosis this year in that state.
Unpasteurized apple cider, like unpasteurized milk and cheese, is a health risk. Doug Beardsley, Johnson County Public Health Director, said in a statement, “You can’t tell if cider is contaminated just by looking at it. In fact, there is no difference in taste or smell either. The key to preventing illness associated with apple cider is purchasing product that has been pasteurized, or by heating unpasteurized apple cider to at least 170 degrees F or until it boils.”
Public health officials are urging the public to avoid this product. Unpasteurized cider is usually purchased freshly pressed from orchards, roadside stands, and farmer’s market. Don’t assume that just because the juice is hot or bottled that it’s safe. Unpasteurized cider may be sold, but it must be clearly labeled “unpasteurized”. In addition to Cryptosporidium, unpasteurized cider can contain E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and some viruses. Any bacteria on the outside or outside of the produce will become part of the finished product if the fruit or vegetable is made into juice.
The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, watery diarrhea, and low grade fever. If you consumed unpasteurized apple cider or if you see unpasteurized cider sold without a label, call Johnson County Public Health at 356-6040. Always read the label when purchasing fruit or vegetable juices, and when in doubt, ask the vendor if the product has been pasteurized.

At Least Three MN Petting Zoo Visitors Sick With E. Coli
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/10/at-least-three-mn-petting-zoo-visitors-sick-with-e-coli/#.Um0DEWywet9
By News Desk (Oct 26, 2013)
The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that at least three children have been infected with E. coli O157:H7 after coming into contact with cattle and g0ats at Dehn’s Pumpkins in Dayton, Minn.
The children are aged 15 months to 7 years and one child has been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe kidney disease associated with E. coli infection. All three visited the pumpkin patch petting zoo on Oct. 12 or 13, and became ill on Oct. 16 or 18.
Health officials are following up with other visitors to determine if more are ill. Two additional people who visited the farm on Oct. 18 have reported symptoms consistent with E. coli O157:H7 infection and are currently being tested.
The farm owners have been cooperating fully with the investigation and public access to the cattle and goat areas is being prohibited. The rest of the farm, including the pumpkin patch, remains open for business.
The best way to prevent infections from contact with animals is to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately afterwards. Hand sanitizers might afford some protection until hands can be washed with soap and water but do not work well against some germs or when hands are visibly soiled. Food, drinks, and items that promote hand-to-mouth contact (for example, pacifiers) should never be brought into animal areas.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps 2-8 days (3-4 days on average) after exposure to the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children younger than 5 years old and older adults. It is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.

Catholic Church Members Exposed to Hepatitis A in North Dakota
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/catholic-church-members-exposed-to-hepatitis-a-in-north-dakota/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 26, 2013)
The North Dakota Department of Health is warning parishioners of several churches that they may have been exposed to hepatitis A. The Fargo Catholic Diocese’s new bishop, John Folda, contracted hepatitis A while attending a conference for newly ordained bishops in Italy last month.
People who attended some churches on certain dates may have been exposed to the virus. Those churches and dates are: Holy Spirit Church in Fargo, ND (school mass) on September 27, 2013; St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Grand Forks, ND (10:30 am mass) on September 29, 2013; St. James Basilica in Jamestown, ND (priest convention) on September 29 – October 2, 2013; Cathedral of St. Mary in Fargo, ND (noon mass only) on October 6, 2013; and St. Paul’s Catholic Newman Center in Fargo, ND on October 7, 2013.
Unfortunately, since all of these possible exposures occurred more than 14 days ago, a vaccination against the virus will not help. Anyone who may have been exposed who has not been previously vaccinated for hepatitis A should monitor themselves for symptoms of hepatitis A, and consult a health care provider if symptoms do appear.
Symptoms take 15 to 50 days to appear (average is about one month), and include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, pale stools, and jaundice. The symptoms usually last about two months. Most people are not contagious about a week after symptoms begin.
Molly Howell, Immunization Program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health said in a statement, “the risk of people getting hepatitis A in this situation is low, but the Department of Health felt it was important for people to know about the possible exposure.” A vaccine is available, and recommended for all children.

New Food Safety Phone App Coming Soon
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/new-food-safety-phone-app-coming-soon/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 25, 2013)
The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory hosted a competition last summer for grad students to design health-related mobile phone apps. The apps will help alert consumers to foodborne illness outbreaks and threats and seasonal flu alerts. The two apps are called FoodFeed, which is all about food safety, and FL•U, which will create localized outbreak maps.
FoodFeed is designed for the Android phone system. It has three tabs. One is a news feed of articles and alerts about food recalls, foodborne illness outbreaks, and other information about consumer safety. A second tab highlights health code violations at restaurants, including details of specific violations. Consumers will also be able to compare restaurants against the average number of food safety and health code violations in the area. And the third tab offers information on risks generally associated with food, such as the bacteria found in raw meats, and recommended safe final temperatures for cooked food. App users will also be able to share information on social media, and report food poisoning cases to health departments.
Competitors went through a crash course on biosurveillance before developing the apps. PNNL hopes that the apps can be available to the public in a few months.

Four common food-safety myths quashed
Source : http://www.columbiatribune.com/arts_life/family_life/four-common-food-safety-myths-quashed/article_fef89af4-3d7e-11e3-aff8-10604b9f1ff4.html
By columbiatribune.com (Oct 25, 2013)
WASHINGTON — Children are more likely than most adults to get food poisoning. Knowing fact from fiction when it comes to food safety risks could mean the difference between safe children and sick children.
The Partnership for Food Safety Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration share these facts behind some common myths about things kids do and eat.
MYTH: Only children eat raw cookie dough and cake batter. If we keep them away from the raw products when adults are baking, there won't be a problem.
FACT: No one of any age should eat raw cookie dough or cake batter because it could contain germs that cause illness. Whether it's prepackaged or homemade, heat from baking is required to kill germs that might be in raw ingredients.
MYTH: When kids "heat and eat" foods in the microwave, they don't have to worry about food safety — the microwaves kill the germs.
FACT: Food cooked in a microwave needs to be heated to a safe internal temperature. Microwaves often heat food unevenly, leaving cold spots in food where germs can survive. Kids can use microwaves properly by carefully following package instructions. Even simple "heat and eat" snacks come with instructions that need to be followed to ensure a safe product.
MYTH: When kids wash their hands, just putting their hands under running water is enough to get the germs off.
FACT: Rubbing hands with water and soap is the best way to go.
Wash hands properly to reduce the risk of food poisoning. Wet your hands with clean, running water and apply soap. Rub them together to make a lather, and scrub them well; be sure to scrub the backs of hands, between fingers and under nails. Continue rubbing for at least 20 seconds. Rinse hands well. Dry your hands using a clean towel, paper towel or an air dryer.
MYTH: My kids only eat prepackaged fruits and veggies for snacks because those snacks don't need to be washed before they eat them.
FACT: Read your way to food safety. Giving your kids healthy snacks is a big plus for them. But just because produce is wrapped doesn't mean it's ready to eat as is. Read the label of your product to make sure it is says: "ready-to-eat," "washed" or "triple washed." If it does, you're good to go. If it doesn't, wash your hands and then rinse the fruits or vegetables under running tap water. Scrub firm items such as melons and cucumbers with a clean produce brush. Dry with a clean cloth towel or paper towel to further reduce germs that might be present.
This article was published in the Friday, October 25, 2013 edition of the Columbia Daily Tribune with the headline "HEALTHY KIDS: FOUR COMMON FOOD-SAFETY MYTHS QUASHED."

Mexico Delists Foster Farms Plants Linked to Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/mexico-delists-foster-farms-plants-linked-to-salmonella-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 25, 2013)
The Mexican government has delisted three Foster Farms chicken processing plants from its approved export list. The plants are: “06137A P — Foster Food Products (dba: Sunland Poultry Company) — 2960 South Cherry Street — Fresno, CA 93706 — delisted October 22, 2013″; “06137 P — Foster Food Products (dba: Sunland Poultry Company)—1000 Davis Street—Livingston, CA 95334 —delisted October 22, 2013″; and “07632  P — Foster Poultry Farms (dba: Sunland Poultry Company) — 900 W. Belgravia Ave. — Fresno, CA 93701 — delisted October 22, 2913″.
Those are the three facilities that produced chicken linked with the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak that has sickened at least 340 people in the United States. Foster Farms has other poultry plants in California and in other states on the west coast that were not delisted.
This is the first time Mexico has delisted a United States facility. The public health alert issued by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) triggered the action. There has been no recall of raw chicken products by Foster Farms or the USDA, although Kroger pulled Foster Farms chicken from its stores. Cooked rotisserie chickens were recalled from Costco stores, since Salmonella in ready to eat products is an illegal adulterant. The USDA threatened to close those three Foster Farms plants, but just three days later government officials said they would not close them, citing a “corrective action plan” made by the company.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include  diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and headache, and may include nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite. People with salmonellosis, the illness caused by that bacteria, usually get sick 12 hours to 3 days after infection, and the illness usually lasts up to a week. Those in high risk groups, including the elderly, the very young, and those with compromised immune systems, can become ill enough to be hospitalized. The hospitalization rate in this current outbreak is 42%, twice as high as usual. Four of the seven strains of bacteria in Foster Farms chicken are resistant to antibiotics, which makes treating the illness much more difficult.

US regulator proposes pet food safety rules amid dog deaths investigation
Source : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/25/us-pet-food-regulation-fda
By theguardian.com (Oct 25, 2013)
Food and Drug Administration looking into deaths of 600 dogs believed to be linked to pet treats imported from China
Amid incidents of pets dying from dog treats, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing long-awaited rules to make pet food and animal feed safer.
The rules stem from a sweeping food safety law passed by Congress almost three years ago. Like rules proposed earlier this year for human food, they would focus on preventing contamination before it begins.
The announcement comes as the FDA says it hasn't yet determined a cause of almost 600 dog deaths believed to be linked to pet jerky treats imported from China. The agency has been trying for six years to determine what exactly is causing those illnesses.
The proposed rules would require those who sell pet food and animal feed in the United States – including importers – to follow certain sanitation practices and have detailed food safety plans. All of the manufacturers would have to put individual procedures in place to prevent their food from becoming contaminated.
The rules would also help human health by aiming to prevent foodborne illnesses in pet food that can be transferred to humans. People can become sick by handling contaminated pet food or animal feed.
Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods, said the rules fit together with regulations proposed in July to create better oversight over imported food, including pet foods and animal feed. The idea behind all of the food safety rules is to make businesses more responsible for the safety of the food they are selling by proving they are using good food safety practices. They might do that by documenting basic information about their suppliers' cleanliness, testing foods or acquiring food safety audits. If they fail to verify the food is safe, the FDA could stop shipments of their food.
Currently, the government does little to ensure that companies are trying to prevent food safety problems but generally waits and responds to outbreaks after they happen.
Taylor said the new rules, once they are in place, could be helpful in investigating the jerky treat deaths if those illnesses are still happening. But they still may not be able to solve the mystery because the FDA has not yet been able to determine what ingredients are causing sickness. The rules generally ask manufacturers to focus on certain hazards and do their best to prevent them.
"We are really still trying to find out what the hazard is" in the jerky illnesses, Taylor said.
The FDA said the rule could cost industry $130m annually to comply. Smaller businesses would have more time to put the rule in place.
The agency will take comments for four months before issuing a final rule and will hold a series of public meetings to explain the proposal.

Over 100 Sick With Food Poisoning From Church Pot Luck
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/10/more-than-100-sick-with-food-poisoning-from-church-pot-luck/#.Um0IYGywet9
By News Desk (Oct 25, 2013)
More than a hundred people in Nevada are sick with food poisoning after attending a potluck dinner at a Mormon church over the weekend.
ABC News reports that a clinic in Logandale, NV, received 80 people on Monday and was still receiving new patients on Friday.
State officials initially though the cause of the aches, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea was an infectious airborne disease. They  have since determined the cause is a foodborne illness but have not determine which dish was the source.

Boston Salads Recalls Chicken Salads for Possible Listeria
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/boston-salads-recalls-chicken-salads-for-possible-listeria/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 25, 2013)
Boston Salads and Provisions Company is recalling about 222,959 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken salad products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have not been any reports of illness to date in connection with the consumption of these products. The salads were made between August 23 and October 14, 2013, and shipped to retail locations in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
You can see the long list of products at the USDA web site. The recalled product brand names include Boston Salads, Dietz & Watson, Market Source, Northern Haserot, Price Chopper, and Rachael’s Gourmet, The products include Caesar Chicken Salad, Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad, White Chicken Salad, and Tropical Cranberry Walnut. Case labels or packaging may have the sell by dates that range from 9/13/2013 through 11/4/2013. The establishment number “P-17999″ should be inside the USDA mark of inspection. Some product in this recall is expired, but some may be frozen in consumer or retail freezers.
The New Hampshire Department of Public Health discovered the problem, which was verified by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Both labs found Listeria monocytogenes with matching PFGE patterns in non-intact and intact samples of the product.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious illness, especially among the elderly, the very young, pregnant women, and those with chronic health problems and compromised immune systems. The symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, stiff neck, confusions, and loss of balance. Pregnant women may have only mild flu-like symptoms, but Listeria can cause stillbirth and miscarriage. If you ate one of these products within the last two months and have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor and tell her about this recall.

'More than half' of EU food safety authority experts have conflicts of interest
Source : http://www.theparliament.com/latest-news/article/newsarticle/more-than-half-of-eu-food-safety-authority-experts-have-conflicts-of-interest/#.Um0EgWywet9
By Stéphane Horel and Martin Pigeon –(Oct 24, 2013)
More than half of the members of the European food safety authority's expert scientific panels are subject to conflicts of interest, write Stéphane Horel and Martin Pigeon.
Our new report found that more than half of the experts sitting on the scientific panels of the European food safety authority (EFSA) have conflicts of interest, despite a new independence policy implemented from last year at the agency. This is an astounding result which, despite previous investigations in the matter, we had not expected. The very reliability of the agency's scientific output is at stake. Why? complacency at EFSA? Excessive rigour on our part?
Our methodology for this screening was conservative: we only checked for declared interests by experts, ignoring anything undeclared. Equally, a lack of political will at EFSA seems to be less of an issue than in the past. The answer to this question is, therefore, not so straightforward.
First, EFSA's independence rules are too narrow. The main criterion the agency uses to assess an expert's given interest is to consider whether it falls within the thematic mandate of the panel the expert is applying to. In other words, any scientist with ties to industries falling under EFSA's remit can still be accepted as long as the interest is not related to the panel's topic. This is in our view the biggest loophole in the rules. We considered that the relevant criterion was not the panel's mandate but the remit of EFSA itself: the agency should guarantee that experts involved in assessing the safety of industry products are free from potential industry bias, but this is not happening.
Second, and crucially, an insufficient understanding of what conflicts of interest entail in practice undermines the screening process performed by EFSA's staff. The agency's idea of a conflict of interest revolves around a dramatic picture of corruption and infiltration by industry "moles" with evil intent. Even though this might exist, the reality is usually more subtle. Industry influence tends to be exerted through long-term, structural processes of relationship-building within the scientific community itself, through culture, collective dynamics, accepted paradigms and group thinking - where it becomes natural to 'think industry' - rather than through some kind of manipulation at the level of the individual scientist only. Relying on personal ethics considerations in such a framework is insufficient. As we remind our readers in the report, science itself is nowadays an open battlefield for corporate interests, and this must be taken into account when designing an independence policy.
Third, there is an attractiveness problem. EFSA experts are unpaid (only expenses), for one, and austerity measures don't help. For another, there is a structural conflict of interest built into the system, as the experts only assess studies performed by the producers of the products at stake (they do not perform research themselves). Furthermore, parts of these studies are usually kept secret for commercial confidentiality reasons, preventing their integration in the normal work of the scientific community. Combine this with excessive workloads, and we can see that to do this job properly is a daunting task. As a result, it seems that serving on an EFSA panel is neither beneficial nor attractive to build a scientific career, making it harder to find young and independent experts working for the public good. It is unacceptable that such a crucial task for public health is rendered so unrewarding.
Finally, while EFSA as an institution should safeguard its independence by proactively checking for conflicts of interest, it instead relies on declared information. The whole system will remain flawed as long as it only relies on experts' self-assessment. It will also remain unfair: external individuals are currently bearing the responsibility of safeguarding the institution's integrity. Nobody likes being exposed, but there wouldn't need to be any exposure if the agency was doing its job properly.
Based on our research and our previous knowledge of the field, we came to a series of recommendations that can also be seen as a more general contribution to the EU's initiative to deal with conflicts of interest in the agencies in a more rigorous and informed manner.
In the short term, EFSA could upgrade its rules by improving its screening system and banning all interests linked to the economic sectors it regulates (with a five-year cooling off period).
In the medium term, EFSA could outsource the screening of the declarations of interest from overworked heads of units to specialised personnel, for instance magistrates from the European court of auditors.
In the longer term, expertise could be taken in-house in order to give experts the means to do their work properly and be independent from the sectors they are regulating. Another long-term recommendation would consist of having the safety studies on regulated products - currently carried out by their producers - conducted by independent/public laboratories (but still paid for by industry) on the basis of very strict rules including blinds.
The bottom line is that managing conflicts of interest is a dead end. We think entirely banning them from EFSA should be an obvious policy decision if public health means anything to anybody.

Taiwan urged to adopt better food safety mechanisms
Source : http://focustaiwan.tw/news/asoc/201310230005.aspx
By James Lee and Christie Chen (Oct 23, 2013)
Taiwan should have better controls and penalties and should adopt international standards to assure food safety, Mirko Kruppa, deputy director-general of the German Institute Taipei, said Monday in response to the latest food scare in Taiwan.
A more comprehensive control mechanism can push food makers to be more careful, Kruppa told CNA, when asked about his opinion on the recent cooking oil scandal.
Prosecutors and health officials raided a local edible oil factory Oct. 16 after receiving information that the company's oil products are not as advertised.
The company is believed to have added cheaper oils and copper chlorophyllin -- a coloring agent barred from use in cooking oils in Taiwan -- to its oil products and might have also misrepresented several of its products.
The scandal also involves cooking oil labeled as originating from Europe but which actually contains locally produced inferior oil.
Kruppa said there is no 100 percent food safety, but he advised the government to focus more on control work at home than using administrative manpower on "over-investigations" into foreign food imports.
As a member of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Taiwan could for example just apply disease-free status on food safety issues as the EU does, said Kruppa.
"By not allowing good food by OIE standards coming in, you might have less good food being served to the Taiwanese," he said.
If Taiwan would better adopt these standards, it could free its food officials to look into other food safety issues and this could lead to quicker discoveries of tainted food products, Kruppa said.
"Don't waste energy and time on Taiwan-only standards if you can use this energy and manpower on the other fronts that are there," he advised.

Another food safety scandal
Source : http://www.nationmultimedia.com/opinion/Another-food-safety-scandal-30217701.html
By The China Post Asia News Network (Oct 23, 2013)
Last week, 37 suppliers of food additives were hit with a US$40,800 class-action court judgement for providing toxic plasticiser-tainted additives to food manufacturers.
The judgement was a fraction of the $82 million demanded by the Consumers' Foundation, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of 568 victims. Citing information publicised by the Ministry of Health's Health Promotion Administration explaining that plasticisers pose no health risks because the human body can expel them over a short period, the court said it did not find evidence of consumers' physical or emotional suffering as a result of the plasticiser-tainted products.
In arguing that a Health Promotion Administration handbook cited by the court made an unscientific claim that human bodies can expel plasticising agents within 48 hours, regardless of body weight or dosage of plasticisers ingested, representatives of the victims questioned whether the court's decision to rely on information released by the Ministry of Health was a move intended to placate the public.
The judgement against firms responsible for one of the biggest food safety scandals in Taiwan's history was widely criticised as too lenient. Kenneth Wu, head of the National Health Research Institute (NHRI), said exposure to such chemicals could lead to increased cancer risks and kidney damage.
Taiwan had the highest rate of haemodialysis in the world and it is highly possible that plasticisers can cause kidney damage, Wu pointed out.
The latest research by the NHRI showed that the metabolic concentration of plasticisers in urine samples collected from 60 children under the age of 10 decreased significantly six months after they stopped consuming plasticiser-tainted products, including certain types of drinks. The research also found that among the subjects of the study, the blood concentration of a hormone key to children's growth, the thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), remained chronically low even after the subjects' exposure to plasticisers diminished. Low levels of TSH can have a negative effect on metabolic rates and the brain development of children under 2. Low levels of TSH over the long term can damage intelligence and affect physical development.
The subjects' TSH levels were not pathologically low and would have passed undetected if the plasticiser scandal had not brought attention to the issue, Wu pointed out, adding that it is impossible to know how many children have been affected by plasticiser-tainted foods on the market for years, if not decades.
Ascertaining the true extent of the damages incurred by plasticiser-tainted products is one of the biggest challenges for the court, as the nation is far from learning the full effects of plasticisers. However, such a difficulty points precisely to the extensive and profound effects of plasticiser-tainted foods.
The court should tackle this challenge with the utmost courage and diligence. The lawsuit does not only affect the fates of 568 victims - it will set an important precedent for future food-safety lawsuits at a time when food safety scandals are breaking out one after another. Harsh punishments should be meted out to businesses that have the indecency to put the health of the population at risk just to make a buck. This will be the best deterrent against continuing malpractice.

Why are Jerky Treats Making Pets Sick?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/why-are-jerky-treats-making-pets-sick/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 22, 2013)
The Food and Drug Administration has just published a report on jerky treats that are making pets sick. The government would like to hear from you if your dog or cat became ill after eating those products. Many alerts have been issued about these products. Since 2007, more than 3,600 dogs and 10 cats have become ill after eating these treats, and almost 600 have died.
The FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine has conducted more than 1,200 tests on the problem products, visited the manufacturers in China (and were refused permission to test the Chinese products in non-Chinese labs), and collaborated with colleagues around the world to study this issue, but have been unable to find the exact cause of the illnesses and deaths. The products were tested for chemical contaminants, microbiological contaminants, metals, pesticides, Salmonella, and DNA. FDA is now asking vets and pet owners to provide them with more information to try to solve this mystery.
The government will be sending a letter to U.S. licensed veterinarians, listing what information is needed for labs that are testing treats and investigating the illnesses and deaths associated with those treats. A fact sheet for consumers will accompany the letter.
For pet owners, the FDA lists the problems to watch for. Within hours of eating treats sold as jerky tenders or strips made of chicken, duck, sweet potatoes, and/or dried fruit, some pets exhibit decreased appetite, decreased activity, vomiting, diarrhea that may have blood or mucus in it, increased water consumption, and increased urination. Severely ill pets have developed kidney failure, GI bleeding, and a rare kidney disorder. Sixty percent of cases involve GI illness, about 30% involve kidney and urinary systems, and the remaining cases involve collapse, convulsions, or skin issues.
Some of these pet jerky products were removed from the market in January 2013 after a New York laboratory found up to six drugs in the treats made in China. After the treats were removed from the market, there was a decrease in reports of jerky-related illnesses. And in October 2012, Kasel Industries recalled Nature’s Deli Chicken Jerky Dog Treats that may have been contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.
Jerky treats are not necessary for a pet’s health or well-being. The FDA urges pet owners to be cautious about giving these treats to their pets. If you do give them to your dog or cat and your pet becomes sick, stop the treats immediately, see your veterinarian, and save treats and the packaging for possible testing.

Buying Breast Milk Online Likely to Cause Illness in Infants
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/buying-breast-milk-online-likely-to-cause-illness-in-infants/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 22, 2013)
A study conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that more than 3/4 of breast milk samples purchased online contain pathogenic bacteria. The problems that caused the contamination were poor collection, storage, and/or shipping practices.
Breast milk, like other protein-rich foods, is an ideal environment for bacterial growth.  If not properly handled and stored, these products are easily contaminated with dangerous bacteria. And the trend of buying breast milk online has been growing; apparently  in 2011, 13,000 offers for buying human breast milk were on milk sharing websites in the United States.
Dr. Sarah A. Keim, principle investigator in the Center for Biobehavioral Health, said in a statement, “we were surprised so many samples had such high bacterial counts and even fecal contamination in the milk, most likely from poor hand hygiene. We were also surprised a few samples contained Salmonella. Other harmful bacteria may have come from the use of either unclean containers or unsanitary breast milk pump parts.”
The scientists looked at 101 samples purchased online and compared the results to 20 samples purchased from a milk bank. There are twelve non-profit milk banks in this country that follow the Human Milk Banking Association of North America guidelines and provide pasteurized milk from screened donors. The milk is used to feed fragile and sick babies. Milk purchased online is not pasteurized, but even before pasteurization, the milk bank samples were less likely to contain bacteria, most likely because of proper handling.
Researchers found that the longer the shipping time, the more contaminated the milk. Almost 20% of private sellers didn’t pack the milk with a cooling method. Private sellers didn’t include information about screening for diseases transmissible by milk, hygienic handling standards, or proper storage practices.
Dr. Keim said, “major milk-sharing websites post a lot of guidance about milk collection, storage, shipping and provider screening. However, results from this study showed sellers do not often folllow this advice because hygiene and shipping practices were often compromised. Based on our research, it is not safe to buy breast milk online, and the FDA recommends against sharing milk obtained in that way. Recipients are not able to determine for sure if the milk has been tampered with, or contains harmful drugs or pharmaceuticals, or if the information the provider supplied about their health was truthful.” Milk banks are a safer alternative. ”Our goal is to identify infant feeding practices that optimize child and maternal health,” Dr. Keim continued.

Food safety not in unsafe hands
Source : http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-10-22/delhi/43286581_1_street-vendors-nasvi-ranjit-abhigyan
By Risha Chitlangia (Oct 22, 2013)
Despite their doubtful hygiene, it is hard to resist the golgappas, aloo tikkis, ram laddoos, momos, etc., sold on the roadside. Though Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has formulated guidelines to regulate this unorganized sector, Delhi government has failed to effectively implement them. Now, the street vendors, themselves, are coming together to ensure acceptable standards of food quality and hygiene.
In a first-of-its-kind initiative, National Association of Street Vendors of India has launched a catering service to be run and managed by street vendors. "If street vendors want to be taken serious, they will have to stand united. This initiative will give street vendors an opportunity to expand their base. Through this, we can keep a check on the quality of food served and hygiene standards maintained by street vendors," NASVI president Arbind Singh said.
On Monday, NASVI organized a large scale workshop on hygiene and food safety for street vendors. Street vendors from across the city were taught ways to maintain food quality and also informed about how this will help boost their income. "There is a need to create awareness about food safety among public and street vendors. If customers demand it, they will be forced to maintain hygiene. This will result in increase in their monthly income as they can charge more for providing good quality food," said K Chandramouli, chairperson, FSSAI, who inaugurated the workshop.
Delhi was one of the first states to implement the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. But sources in FSSAI claim it has failed to deliver the goods. "There are many states which have done a lot of work to streamline street food vendors. But Delhi has not done much," said a senior official.
NASVI members were disappointed that officials did not attend the launch even though the government has not been able to register street vendors and streamline the system. "We had invited officials from Delhi government and civic agencies, but none came. These people are harassed by police. The government is doing little to streamline the system. Now, we have decided to put a system in place. Our catering service will help thousands of street vendors," Singh said.
As per the plan, NASVI will send out street vendors, who adhere to the food safety and standards rules, to set up stalls at functions based on customer demand. "Our vendors are spread across the city. Depending on the place and requirement of customers, we will send our vendors," Ranjit Abhigyan, programme manager, NASVI, said.
NASVI has also started an initiative to check food safety in markets. "We have appointed peer leaders in all important markets. These people will ensure that all the food vendors in the market adhere to norms. We have put up banners in markets on this," Ranjit said.
For street food vendors, this is an excellent opportunity to work in an organized manner. While some feel that hygiene standards can't be maintained all the time, most are ready to experiment. "It is a good initiative. We get to learn a lot. Over the years, disposable cups have replaced glass or porcelain cups at the roadside tea stall. Most street vendors use disposable plates and spoons. I'm sure that if we try we can change the way street food is served," said Rajkumar Jain, a street food vendor from Shahdara.
It is time for the state government to take note of the growing population of street food vendors in the city and take appropriate measures to ensure food safety.

Study: Breast Milk Sold Online May Have High Levels of Bacteria
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/10/study-breast-milk-available-online-may-be-contaminated/#.Um0Gl2ywet8
By Lydia Zuraw (Oct 21, 2013)
An estimated three-quarters of breast milk samples available to purchase through the Internet may be contaminated with high levels of bacteria and even pathogens, according to a new study led by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Following a growing trend of sharing breast milk via websites, authors of the study released online Monday in the journal Pediatrics tested samples from two major human milk-sharing sites.
They found that 72 percent of the samples had been colonized by Gram-negative bacteria. In addition, 44 percent contained Coliforms, 36 percent contained Streptococcus and three percent contained Salmonella. Only nine samples had no detectable growth.
It’s difficult to estimate how many people are buying human milk online, but Dr. Sarah Keim, the lead investigator of the study, estimated that more than 13,000 unique postings – some for sale and some for sharing – were placed on the four main milk-sharing websites in 2011.
Although these sites do post guidance on how to minimize health and safety risks, with no oversight of the exchanges, “the onus is on individuals to protect themselves and their children,” reads the study. Unlike milk available from milk banks, these products do not undergo pasteurization.
“Bacterial contamination can come from several sources, including poor hand hygiene, unclean parts of the breast pump, and milk containers that are not sanitary,” Keim told Food Safety News. “Warm storage conditions can then facilitate bacterial growth as well.”
Keim said the team is currently exploring other possible risks such as exposure to pharmaceuticals and drugs and determining if any of the milk was adulterated in some way, such as being watered down.
Researchers initially responded to nearly 500 advertisements selling human milk and eventually received 101 samples to test. To preserve anonymity, transactions were terminated with any seller who asked about the recipient infant or wanted telephone or in-person communication. The study explains that this could have biased the results of the study if the excluded women “were also more careful about hygiene or were less likely to carry viral disease.”
Ultimately, Keim said, “Buying milk via the Internet poses numerous risks, and one cannot tell for sure that the milk one receives is safe.” The risk of infection is particularly high for preterm or medically compromised infants.
“Because the consequences can be serious, buying milk online is not a good idea,” Keim said.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not currently regulate the exchange of human milk, but has warned of the risk of improperly screening a donor and recommends against feeding a baby breast milk acquired through the Internet.

Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak: What’s Wrong With This Timeline?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/foster-farms-salmonella-outbreak-whats-wrong-with-this-timeline/
By Carla Gillespie (Oct 21, 2013)
The Salmonella outbreaks associated with Foster Farms chicken have a troubling timeline. Looking at the dates, it’s hard to tell if it’s one long outbreak or two, but all told  Foster Farms chicken has caused 472 lab confirmed cases of Salmonella poisoning since June 2012. And, because the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that for every lab-confirmed case there are 29 others that go unreported, that means 13,688 people have been sickened by Foster Farms chicken in the last 16 months.
Raw-Chicken-BreastLooking at the timeline, a couple of things stand out. For example, why did it take so long for health officials to inform the public?  With both outbreaks, it took about eight months from the time the first person became ill and the time the outbreak was announced.  And why was the first outbreak declared over in July, when the CDC had been tracking illnesses for the second, then announced outbreak for months? And why did Foster Farms learn about the outbreak months before the public?
Here are some of the key dates:
On February 14, 2013, the CDC announced (Outbreak 1) an outbreak linked to Foster Farms chicken that had been going on for 8 months. At that time 124 people in 12 states were sick, but the CDC only disclosed the names of two states: Oregon and Washington. The names of 10 states where 30 people were ill were withheld. Foster Farms issued a terse statement, which it later removed form its website about why itdid not issue a recall.
On March 5, 2013, the CDC issued an update that listed all of the then 13 states involved in the outbreak. The update included information on antibiotic resistance and the mild disclaimer “It is not unusual for raw poultry from any producer to have Salmonella. This underscores the importance for consumers to follow food safety tips to help protect themselves and others from foodborne illness.”
On July 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) was notified, by the CDC,  of a cluster of Salmonella Heidelberg illnesses.
On July 10, the CDC issued its final report on Outbreak 1.
On July 25, federal officials notified Foster Farms of the new outbreak
By September 30, the CDC was aware of 207 case patients in 15 states, but the pubic had not been informed.
On October 1, the government shutdown began.
On October 8,  while the shutdown was still ongoing, the CDC announced the outbreak which had, at that point, sickened 317 people in 20 states and Puerto Rico.

Listeria Monocytogenes Could be in Norwegian Salmon
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/listeria-monocytogenes-could-be-in-norwegian-salmon/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 21, 2013)
A study by the Norwegian National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research has found that Listeria monocytogenes may be in that country’s salmon. A study of three companies that produce farmed salmon in various areas of that country identified fifteen types of the bacteria. Nine of the fifteen types were found in patients with listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. That study was published in the journal Epidemiology & Infection.
NIFES scientist Bjørn Tore Lunestad said in a statement, “this background is not sufficient for us to claim that fish are the sources of the cases of listeriosis in our study. But on the other hand, we cannot ignore this possibility. Salmon are one of several potential sources of L. monocytogenes.” The MLVA profile of 07-07-09-10-06 was the most common strain in Norwegian listeriosis patients; this profile was also found in fish and in the processing environment, although no outbreaks of this particular strain have been linked to fish.
In the US, public health officials warn those susceptible to listeriosis, including the very young, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, to avoid smoked salmon and other smoked meats, deli meats, soft cheese, sprouts, and raw milk because those items can be contaminated with Listeria bacteria.
Not many people in Norway contract listeriosis. In 2007, 21 people in that country were diagnosed with listeriosis, linked to cheese produced as a dairy farm. And in 2005, three cases were confirmed, linked to processed meat. In contrast, in the U.S., there were 1,651 cases of listeriosis diagnosed from 2009-2011.

 

 

 

 

 


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