FoodHACCP Newsletter
12/02 2013 ISSUE:576

 

Research Maps Campylobacter Chromosomes
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/research-maps-campylobacter-chromosomes/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 1, 2013)
New research from the Institute of Food Research has mapped chromosomes of Campylobacter. Scientists are trying to understand how this pathogenic bacteria controls its genes to develop new strategies to fight it. In the UK, Campylobacter is the most common cause of foodborne diarrheal illness.
The chromosome map shows where all of the bacteria turns on its genes. Those are called transcriptional start sites (TSS).  The bacteria turns on different genes in response to changes in its environment. TSS are also how the bacteria evolved to adapt to new situations. All organisms have these control mechanisms.
The scientists used a technique called Differential RNA Sequencing. The high resolution map that was generated shows that Campylobacter has many more TSS than predicted. Scientists may be able to predict how the bacteria evolves, and this map will help them identify control mechanisms. New treatments may be developed that turn off those genes at the TSS.
Dr. Arnoud van Vliet, who led the research team, said in a statement, “mapping of the transcription start sites of the Campylobacter genes has been a great step forward in our understanding of how Campylobacter controls the expression of its genetic potential, and has also allowed the discovery of several new control mechanisms from Campylobacter. When we compare these with closely related bacteria like Helicobacter, we were amazed to see that they have no similar control mechanisms. It almost seems like each of these bacteria just makes it up as they go along, rather than copying successfully used systems from elsewhere. That is an intriguing idea, and shows how flexible, surprising, and wonderfully interesting evolution can be!”

Flu-Like Outbreak at Vegas Youth Football Event
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/flu-like-outbreak-at-vegas-youth-football-event/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 1, 2013)
Health officials are reporting that there was an outbreak of flu-like illness among dozens of young players, parents, and coaches at a football tournament this week in Las Vegas. An unknown number of people were taken to the hospital for treatment. KVVU-TV in Las Vegas is reporting that 18 people were taken to hospitals; 13 of those people were children. Norovirus may be the cause.
Flu-like symptoms of diarrhea and vomiting have sickened about 100 people, according to KSNV-TV in Las Vegas. People started getting sick on Friday, November 29, 2013.
The event is the National Youth Football Championships and those sickened were staying at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. At least nine of the seventy teams participating in the event have been affected. Public health officials are investigating the outbreak and trying to determine if the illness was caused by a common food source, or whether one person who was sick may have infected others. Norovirus is very contagious and spreads easily, especially when people are together in confined spaces.

Austin food trucks have safe health record overall
Source : http://www.wral.com/austin-food-trucks-have-safe-health-record-overall/13162858/
By TONY PLOHETSKI, Austin American-Statesman (Dec 01, 2013)
AUSTIN, Texas — Just before noon on a recent fall day, dozens of Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees lined up outside a food trailer sending plumes of barbecue smoke through the agency's Southeast Austin parking lot.
Inside, Brian Rauschuber, owner of Nutter Buster BBQ & Comfort, sliced a foil-wrapped brisket for sandwiches — his signature offering.
"That's as moist as it gets," he told the Austin American-Statesman (http://bit.ly/1dzIkEV) as he slid his knife through the steaming brisket.
A week earlier, needing official approval to operate, Rauschuber had hitched his trailer to his pickup and driven it to the parking lot of the Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department for an annual health and safety inspection.
"It's nerve-wracking to the point that you want to cross all the T's and dot all the I's," Rauschuber said. "If you pass the Austin inspection, you can pass the inspection anywhere. They care about the public health, they care about the viability and success of your business, and they care about safety."
Nutter Buster easily passed. But since January 2012, 194 inspections of mobile vendors resulted in failures — about 13 percent of all inspections conducted in that period. Those vendors were forced to immediately close and be inspected again before reopening.
The food truck inspection failure rate far outpaces that of "brick and mortar" restaurants, which fail about 2 percent of inspections. Those establishments, however, face a different inspection process than mobile food vendors.
Health officials, food safety experts and mobile food vendor operators say that, though most mobile food vendors meet required standards, such establishments face unique challenges, including a lack of a constant source of water and power.
"Another issue is refrigeration," said Marcel Elizondo, a sanitarian supervisor for the local health department. "Here in the Texas heat, you have refrigeration equipment that is normally used inside an (air conditioned) kitchen. Well, here in Texas, you get temperatures reaching 120 to 130 inside a mobile food unit, and the refrigeration isn't always able to keep up."
A Statesman and KVUE review of all mobile food vendor health inspections in the last two years shows that, despite their higher failure rate, food trucks in Austin have a relatively healthy safety record.
Officials said they have not confirmed any instance of an illness outbreak from mobile food vendors in the past three years (although they have gotten 18 complaints from patients who suspected they were sickened from a mobile food establishment).
And, according to the review, most of the nearly 200 mobile food vendors who failed inspections were able to correct issues, reopen and didn't fail subsequent inspections.
Sixteen food trailers failed two inspections in the two-year period. Three failed three times in that same period: Kathy's Tacos No. 8, Short Bus Subs No. 2 and Snappy Snacks No. 20.
Inspection records show Kathy's Tacos No. 8 failed after inspectors twice found that workers were serving food prepared at a home in an unpermitted kitchen. They were ordered to remove those items from the trailer.
The owner of Kathy's Tacos No. 8 could not be reached for comment.
Short Bus Subs No. 2 failed inspections after officials discovered wastewater leaks coming from the trailer and found that it had no water supply at the time of an inspector's visit.
Dane Klusman, co-owner of Short Bus Subs No. 2, said his operation doesn't rely on water, and that employees use the water from businesses where they are parked to wash their hands.
"The big thing is that we don't do any dishes on the bus, and so we don't use the sink really," Klusman said.
Tom Ramsey, owner of Snappy Snacks Mobile Catering and Food Court La Placita, said he leases mobile units to independent operators, including one who ran unit No. 20. He said that unit has since been taken out of service and replaced with a newer vehicle.
According to inspection reports, Snappy Snacks No. 20 failed inspections because of a lack of adequate refrigeration and food, including cheese and pork, stored at improper temperatures.
Texas law requires mobile food vendors to be inspected for basic sanitation and proper food preparation and storage. But it also permits local officials to establish rules that are stricter than those required by the state.
The city of Austin adopted new rules in 2010 requiring vendors to provide proof of a state sales tax permit, document the use of a central food preparation facility (also known as a commissary), and to provide an itinerary of their routes. The rules also require written permission for employees to use the restrooms at businesses from which vendors lease space and make operators undergo a separate Austin Fire Department inspection.
Vendors either pass or fail; there is no numeric score or grade. Fees for such permits usually total about $350.
At least once a year, inspectors also conduct an unscheduled, pass-or-fail inspection at sites where vendors operate. Inspectors evaluate whether the vendor has soap and towels at a sink, a wastewater tank and a hot water supply, for instance.
"When they come here, they aren't in operation, so we can't see that they are properly washing their hands, we can't see how they are handling the food," Elizondo said. "When we go out there, they are going to be set up like a miniature restaurant, so that is when we can go out and actually see them in operation and make sure they are following the food safety rules."
If they fail the surprise inspection, the vendors are immediately closed, and "you can't operate until you come back," said Vincent Delisi, assistant division manager for the health department's environmental health services.
Full-service restaurants face a similar but more expansive inspection process. However, they receive a numeric grade, and, if they score below 70, they are generally inspected again after 10 days. Subsequent failures within a certain period can lead to a restaurant's closure, but officials said if they inspect an establishment and find certain critical infractions, such as a lack of water, it is immediately shut down.
Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services officials said that when they receive reports from a sick food consumer, they document where and what that person ate three days prior.
"As you would expect, there have been many chain restaurants and local eateries, including mobile vending units, listed as part of some food histories," Austin health services epidemiologist Heather Cooks-Sinclair said in an email. She added that, "There have been no outbreak investigations involving a mobile vending establishment." An outbreak investigation is performed when two or more individuals report eating at the same establishment within a short period of time.
At a food trailer park on South First Street on a recent weekday, patron Michael Wiese said he seldom gives a thought to food safety or trailer sanitation. Instead, Wiese said as he ate a plate of tacos, he simply enjoys.
"It's delicious food," he said.

Food safety rules apply for holidays  
Source : http://www.thecommunityvoice.com/article.php?id=7469
By thecommunityvoice.com (Nov 29, 2013)
In light of Thanksgiving dinners clearing up and the winter holidays quickly approaching, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has issued a reminder to Californians to consider the safety of food handling in order to prevent serious foodborne illnesses from bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli.
According to a press release issued by the CDPH, preexisting bacteria in foods like meat and poultry can cause great illness when not prepared or handled properly. These diseases can render their carrier sick up to a week or longer after contracted with symptoms of fever, abdominal cramps and sometimes-bloody diarrhea. Often times, infected people can develop complications that require medical, hospitalized attention.
‘Food safety’ see page 4
‘Food safety’ (Continued form pafe 1)
Diseases in food can be borne from a number of insufficient preparation and care, such as not properly sanitized utensils and unclean hands, improper cooling or heating temperatures or food delivered by an unapproved source. The first steps to preventing foodborne illnesses is to wash hands and cooking utensils in warm, soapy water before and after handling food. The CDPH also includes a list of food safety tips on their website that include checking that food packaging and containers be properly sealed, making sure you rinse off knifes and cutting boards between use and making sure you take proper care to insure all food is fully cooked before consumption.
According to the CDPH, young children, elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems are at the highest risk of catching a life-threatening disease from food bacteria, but everyone is susceptible to food-related illnesses.
To prevent sickness and help insure a healthy holiday season, you should take steps to insuring a clean and safe dinner. To learn more about food safety tips, the CDPH invites you to call the Federal Food and Drug Administration Food Information at 1-888-SAFEFOOD. 

Food safety watchdog reassures on MRSA meat risk
Source : http://www.foodmanufacture.co.uk/Food-Safety/Food-safety-watchdog-reassures-on-MRSA-meat-risk
By Mike Stones (Nov 27, 2013)
The food safety watchdog the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has reassured consumers about the “very low risk”, after the first case of the bacteria MRSA was discovered in turkey and chickens on an East Anglian farm.
Steve Wearne, FSA director of policy, said good hygiene practices were essential to protect against the livestock-associated bacteria meticillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (LA-MRSA). “Any risk of contracting MRSA through meat from animals with these bacteria is very low when usual good hygiene and thorough cooking practices are observed,” said Wearne.
“All poultry should be handled hygienically and cooked thoroughly to destroy any bacteria that may be present.”        
‘Destroy any bacteria’
About two-thirds of the turkeys on the unnamed farm were said to be infected.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) confirmed: “The risk to the public from eating meat that is thoroughly cooked is very low. The risk of catching MRSA from an animal is also very low.”
MRSA was identified on one farm by the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). But DEFRA stressed LA-MRSA was not the same as those that cause the healthcare associated infections that affect people.
Professor Angela Kearns, head of the staphylococcus reference service at Public Health England, said: “There are many different strains of MRSA that cause illness in people but this is not one of the strains that we are overly concerned about, given the very low number of clinical infections that have been seen in people.”
The strain of bacteria was “relatively widespread” in livestock in Europe, including countries from which meat is regularly sourced by the UK. But there were no known cases of people contracting MRSA from eating meat.
Rarely causes disease in people
LA-MRSA rarely causes disease in people, according to DEFRA and in most cases the bacteria clear within 24 hours. “It can potentially pass from animals to humans through direct contact or through dust in animal housing and is therefore primarily an occupational risk for those in contact with affected livestock,” it added.
Professor Peter Borriello, chief executive of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, said LA-MRSA had been identified in livestock in a number of countries and was not considered to represent a significant risk to animal health and welfare. “We conduct an extensive programme to monitor antibiotic resistance in bacteria from animals, through samples submitted to AHVLA regional laboratories,” said Borriello.
“We carefully consider all cases of resistance identified to establish if these present any risk to human or animal health.”
The owner of the East Anglian poultry unit has been ordered to clean and disinfect the poultry housing. The AHVLA will check the unit after cleaning to assess whether LA-MRSA is still present and whether the housing can be restocked.

How can consumers, NGOs and other institutions associate in food safety?
Source : http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-how-can-consumers-ngos-and-other-institutions-associate-in-food-safety-1925613
By dnaindia.com (Nov 27, 2013)
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India  (FSSAI) has been established to lay down science based standards for articles of food and ensure availability of safe and wholesome food for human consumption. Under Article 16 of the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), the Authority will conduct surveys of enforcement and administration of the Act in various parts of the country, search, collect and analyse relevant information relating to food consumption and exposure of individuals risks, incidence and prevalence of biological risk, contaminants in food, residues of various contaminants etc.
The Authority is also expected to promote and issue guidelines for development of risk assessment methodologies and forward messages on health and nutritional risks to the stakeholders. Among its mandates is the task of establishing a network of information and best practices in food safety. Authority proposes to ensure that public, consumers and other stakeholders receive comprehensive information regarding food safety periodically.
An important and critical stakeholder in food safety is the consumer who is directly impacted by the safety of food in the country. It is necessary for the Authority to devise mechanisms for associating the consumer in the development of standards as well as apprising him of the emerging trends in food safety so that consumer concerns are appropriately reflected in the food safety system in the country. Keeping the above in view, the following scheme is notified by the Authority for inviting and processing proposals from consumer organisations, citizen groups, educational institutions and research institutions. These do not include research proposals for which a scheme has been developed separately.
Eligible organisations
Eligibility under the scheme will be for non-governmental organisations, schools and colleges, voluntary organisations, and government-supported institutions having at least three years experience in the food safety related field.
List of areas
The following is a list of areas in respect of which proposals are invited by the Authority:
i.     Disseminate the information conveyed in food labels and enable consumers to obtain information from labels.
ii.     Capacity building and skill enhancement of small food business operators, street vendors or any other registered/licensed food vendor.
iii. Innovative projects which involve the community in promoting food safety practices, raising hygiene levels etc.
iv.     Encouraging testing of key food and food ingredients, testing of water quality and safety as well as presence of contaminants in commonly consumed food items.
v.     Surveying and profiling levels of hygiene and safety in food businesses, households and food distribution units at panchayat, municipal and other levels.
vi. Disseminate food safety messages among children, housewives and others.
vii. Food Authority will also encourage proposals to develop communication material for disseminating the food safety messages of relevance to the consumers.
How to apply
An initial concept note of about three pages should be submitted to the Authority, outlining the proposed work, the contents and how the project will be executed along with deliverables. After approval of concept, the detailed proposal should be submitted. See www.fssai.gov.in for more information.
Processing of the proposal
The concept paper will be examined in the Authority by an expert committee involving internal and external experts and applicant will be informed within a period of 30 days whether the concept is approved or not in view of its relevance under the mandate of the Authority and usefulness for promoting food safety. After approval of the concept, the applicant would be expected to submit the full proposal within a period of 2 months. The complete proposal will be considered by the Authority and a view taken within one month of receipt of proposal. The Authority may at its discretion consult such other organisation or agencies or State Food Safety Commissioner(s) as considered necessary and time taken in such consultation will not be counted for the purpose of one month limit mentioned earlier. The State Food Safety Commissioner concerned will be kept informed of any project sanctioned in that State.
Time frame
The scheme will cover projects to be executed normally within a period of six months or less.
Financial assistance pattern
The limit of financial assistance would be Rs.2 lakhs subject to appraised/actual cost of the project, whichever is less in each case will be extended. FSSAI will not release any advance amount for execution of the project; the financial assistance will be disbursed only after completion of the project, submission of income-expenditure statement duly certified by CA, final report and feedback from the target group.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Pints and Quarts Pub, C.F. Prime Chophouse & Wine Bar
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-pints-and-quarts-pub-c-f-prime-chophouse-wine-bar/
By Carla Gillespie (Nov 27, 2013)
A Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 29 people in Muskegon and Ottawa counties in MI has been linked to food served at Pints and Quarts Pub and C.F. Prime Chophouse & Wine Bar which share a kitchen.   Those sickened, 25 from Muskegon and 4 from Ottawa, ate meals containing chicken or lettuce between Oct. 30 and Nov. 2, 2013, according to Public Health Muskegon County.
“We conducted over 100 interviews with food service workers, restaurant patrons, and others,” Ken Kraus, Director of Public Health Muskegon County said in a statement. “We spoke with those who were ill as well as those who did not get sick to gather as much information as possible about what may have happened during this four-day period.”
Health officials also reviewed food-handling processes, explored cross contamination possibilities and checked  food supply sources. “We’ve repeatedly observed and interviewed the restaurant staff and at this time have been unable to find a procedure or practice that would lead to the contamination that occurred. It is clear however, that those sickened were exposed to the bacteria during a limited time period at those locations. There is no indication that this is an ongoing public health concern, but rather appears to be an isolated incident.”
Salmonella is commonly associated with raw poultry, eggs, and unpasteurized dairy products. It is transmitted when people eat food contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter. Symptoms, which include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps, usually develop between six and 72 hours after exposure and last four to seven days.
Muskegon health officials remind consumers that, when preparing food at home, using a meat thermometer is the only way to tell when meat is thoroughly cooked. And that hands, kitchen work surfaces, and utensils must be washed with soap and water immediately after they have been in contact with raw meat or poultry.
Is Pink Turkey Safe?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/is-pink-turkey-safe/
by Linda Larsen (Nov 27, 2013)
When you cook your Thanksgiving turkey, you want to be sure it is properly cooked and safe to eat. Sometimes, when you slice into a turkey, the meat will appear pink. Since we are cautioned to cook poultry until no more pink is visible, juices run clear, and the meat is at least 165 degrees F, what’s going on?The USDA has prepared a fact sheet called “Is Pink Turkey Meat Safe?” Many people calling the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline with this problem.
Here’s the answer: the color of cooked poultry is not always a sure sign of safety. That’s why a food thermometer is always recommended. Turkey can still be pink even if it is properly cooked. Remember that smoked turkey is always pink.
Poultry is lighter in color than beef because it has much less myoglobin, the iron-rich protein that stores oxygen in muscle. As an animal ages, the myoglobin content decreases. The turkeys you buy are slaughtered at four to five months of age, so they don’t have a lot of myoglobin. But they do have some, mostly in the legs and thighs, which are exercised more than the breast and wings and need more oxygen.
There are several reasons why well done turkey meat is pink. First, some chemical changes occur during cooking that may leave meat pink even though it is cooked to a safe temperature. The natural presence of nitrites is another cause of pink meat. When raw turkey is stored at 40 degrees F, naturally occurring bacteria convert nitrate in the meat to nitrite. Since the turkeys are so young, their thinner skins let gases in the oven reach the flesh. Less fat in the skin can also allow gases to reach the meat, which can cause pink coloration. Finally, if you grill your turkey, the smoke from the grill can make a pink rim around the edges of the meat.
So as long as you use a food thermometer properly, don’t worry about a pink tinge in your turkey. If you have questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854; it’s open Thanksgiving day from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm ET. And enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner.

Another E. coli Lawsuit linked to Trader Joe’s Salads
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/another-e-coli-lawsuit-linked-to-trader-joes-salads/
By Bill Marler (Nov 26, 2013)
As of November 19, 2013, a total of 32 persons infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 have been reported from four states.
The STEC O157:H7 PFGE pattern combination in this outbreak is new to the PulseNet database.
Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of two ready-to-eat salads, Field Fresh Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken and Mexicali Salad with Chili Lime Chicken, produced by Glass Onion Catering and sold at Trader Joe’s grocery store locations, are one likely source of this outbreak of STEC O157:H7 infections.
On November 10, 2013, Glass Onion Catering voluntarily recalled numerous ready-to-eat salads and sandwich wrap products that may be contaminated with STEC O157:H7.
The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (27), Texas (1), and Washington (3).
32% of ill persons have been hospitalized. Two ill persons have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths have been reported.
Read the list of recalled products regulated by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
Read the list of recalled products regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Download copy of Complaint.

Increase in Shigella Cases in Iowa
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/increase-in-shigella-cases-in-iowa/
by Linda Larsen (Nov 26, 2013)
According to the Siouxland District Health Department in Iowa, there has been a “significant increase in the number of reported cases of Shigella” in the Sioux City area. Shigella is a bacterium that causes an infection called shigellosis. Symptoms include diarrhea, which may be painful and bloody with mucous, fever, and stomach cramps that usually begin 24 to 48 hours after infection.
The disease is very contagious and public health officials are concerned about implications of this outbreak for daycare centers, schools, and food workers.  In the last year, there have been 105 probable or confirmed Shigella cases, compared to none for all of 2012 and up from 98 two weeks ago. Sixty percent of those infected are under the age of 10.
Shigella is spread in the feces of an infected person. You can contract this disease with close contact with an infected person or by drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. When one person in a family gets shigellosis, all other family members usually become ill. Anyone can get shigellosis, although younger children are infected more often.
A person is infectious while they are sick and up to four weeks after the symptoms subside. Most people do recover without treatment, but if you have severe diarrhea you should see a doctor. Complications can include Reiter’s syndrome, which can cause reactive arthritis, and in rare cases, hemolytic uremic syndrome.
For food workers and those who work in schools, health care, or child care situations, you should have two negative stool cultures, taken at least 24 hours apart and not more than 48 hours after antibiotics are stopped, before you return to work. To prevent the spread of this bacteria, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after using the bathroom or changing a diaper or before you eat or prepare any food.

How COOL Are New Meat Labels? Depends Who You Ask
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2013/how-cool-are-new-meat-labels-depends-who-you-ask/
By Carla Gillespie (Nov 26, 2013)
New Country of Origin Labels (COOL) went into effect on Saturday. These labels from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) give consumers more information about where their meat comes from, but not everyone is happy about them.
In the past, the COOL label on meat from an animal that was born in one country, raised in another and slaughtered in yet another, would read “mixed origin” or something to that effect. That kind of label doesn’t provide consumers with helpful information they can use to make informed choices about their meat purchases. And that’s precisely the kind of information mostAmerican consumers want. According to a 2010 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 93 percent of those surveyed wanted to country of origin labels on meat.
To make these labels more meaningful, agriculture and trade officials in the U.S. have been working, since 2008 on a revised COOL label. The new label eliminates the mysterious “mixed origin” label and replaces it with more specific information listing the country or countries where the animal was born, raised and slaughtered,  “born and raised in the U.S., slaughtered in Canada,” for example.
While some including Consumers Union, Food and Water Watch, The Humane Society and the American Grassfeed Association have praised the idea, the labels have been panned by the governments of Canada and Mexico; trade groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute; and producers such as Cragill, Tyson, Smithfield, Kraft and Hormel.
In July, the American Meat Institute (AMI) and eight other organizations representing the meat and livestock industries in the United States, Canada and Mexico filed suit in an effort to overturn the law. The groups said the rule violates the First Amendement by compelling speech. A judge ruled against AMI,  which appealed the decision.
Canada and Mexico consider the new COOL labels “discriminatory.”  Canadian Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz has said for months that Canada will take retaliatory actions if the labels were implemented.

Last Bite: Food Safety
Source : http://www.nutritionaloutlook.com/article/last-bite-food-safety-2-18495
By Robby Gardner (Nov 26, 2013)
Despite their immense value, preservatives and food safety ingredients are not always received with open arms. A handful of new developments, however, should bring comfort in simpler food protection.
Propionic Acid
Lactic acid was once the go-to preservative for protecting meat and poultry products from Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium still responsible for countless food recalls. But earlier this year, the USDA welcomed propionic acid as another worthy antimicrobial agent. Thanks to a lengthy petition from Kraft Foods and Kemin (Des Moines, IA), manufacturers nationwide now have this extra option for protecting their ready-to-eat meats.
Kemin now markets a Bactocease line of liquid propionic acids, which performed quite well in studies on Listeria prevention in deli meats. And Bactocease doesn’t just perform on a level comparable with traditional lactic acid. According to Kemin, the ingredient offers more consistent performance, and at 10 times less application. A study performed by the University of Wisconsin determined this much with deli turkey. Lower inclusion rates for preservatives can have multiple advantages, including less impact on food product taste and less contribution of sodium—because both propionic acid and lactic acid are in part composed of sodium.
But if manufacturers move toward propionic acid instead of lactic acid, it may not just be for performance sake. Kemin notes that some consumers do mistake lactic acid as a dairy, or lactose, ingredient. And to get ingredient labels even cleaner, Kemin offers Bactocease NV (natural vinegar). Depending on the product application, it can list simply as “natural vinegar.”
All of Kemin’s research on propionic acid falls squarely on Listeria prevention, but the company remains hopeful of finding new uses against other foodborne pathogens.
Protective Dairy Cultures
Even though meat and poultry products tend to steal the food recall headlines, fermented dairy products are just as vulnerable to contamination and spoilage. Here, yeast and mold are the biggest impediments to a fresh and tasty product.
DuPont Nutrition and Health (Paris) responds with HoldBac protective dairy cultures, and the company continues to improve on their range of uses. Its latest advancement is HoldBac YM Plus, live dairy cultures that control a wider range of fungal contaminants than their predecessors.
Alternative protection for fermented dairy can have drawbacks, says Jeff Lambeseder, DuPont regional product manager for bioprotection. Potassium sorbate is effective, he says, but it can impact taste, and it isn’t label-friendly. Manufacturers also add carbon dioxide to the headspace of their products, but, while this can reduce the incidence of mold, once the product is opened, that effect is lost. The trick is no good for multi-serving containers that open over and over again.
How do cultures protect dairy differently?
“Live cultures will help to inhibit unwanted microbial growth by consuming nutrients that could be used by contaminants,” says Lambeseder. “We call this competitive exclusion.” HoldBac live cultures also produce their own metabolites, which can inhibit or sometimes even kill other microorganisms.
DuPont’s new HoldBac dairy cultures are patented strains of Propionibacterium and Lactobacillus. On an ingredient label, they can list as “cultures” or the individual names of each culture. When making fermented dairy products such as yogurt or sour cream, manufacturers just add the cultures, along with a starter culture, to milk.
DuPont offers several types of dairy cultures, each intended for different types of microbes and different types of dairy products.
Food Doctor
Choosing food safety ingredients sounds easy enough—unless a manufacturer is unaware of what his or her microbial problems are. For the food manufacturer in need of a full microbial analysis, Galactic (Milwaukee) is offering to do the work.
Just this year, the food safety ingredients provider introduced “Food Doctor,” a predictive modeling tool for evaluating Listeria risk in food products. All a manufacturer must do is submit a food sample to Galactic. In one month’s time, Galactic will conduct an extensive microbial analysis, and sensory testing, of the food sample and provide a report detailing an antimicrobial formulation for optimum product shelf life. In this way, Galactic is able to identify the microorganisms responsible for altering a food product. The company can even examine a manufacturing plant and its processes, in search of areas for potential improvement.
Galactic’s Food Doctor service is available for a variety of food products, including meats, baked goods, dairy, and produce.

California Department of Public Health Offers Food Safety Tips for Holiday Feasts
Source : http://goldrushcam.com/sierrasuntimes/index.php/news/mariposa-daily-news-2013/165-november/11039-california-department-of-public-health-offers-food-safety-tips-for-holiday-feasts-
By goldrushcam.com (Nov 26, 2013)
With the holiday season fast approaching, California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman today reminded consumers about the importance of safe food handling to prevent foodborne illness.
“Bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, and others can be present in foods, such as meat and poultry, and can cause illness due to insufficient cooking, inadequate cooling and improper food handling practices,” Chapman said.  “Properly prepared and handled foods can assure us all a safe meal every day of the year.”
According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations, and 3,000 deaths annually in the United States are related to foodborne diseases.
Foodborne diseases can be prevented by simple safety steps in the kitchen. Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after food preparation, and especially after handling raw foods. Clean all work surfaces, utensils and dishes with hot soapy water and rinse with hot water after each use. Be sure to cook foods thoroughly and to refrigerate adequately between meals. Consumers can find more information about food safety tips on the CDPH’s website. 
Bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 are responsible for many foodborne illnesses, caused by eating contaminated foods. Contamination usually occurs as a result of poor food handling practices at the farms, factories, restaurants or homes.
Symptoms of foodborne disease include fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea which may be bloody. Most infected people recover from foodborne illnesses within a week. Some, however, may develop complications that require hospitalization. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and persons with a weakened immune system are at highest risk for potentially life-threatening complications.
Additional resources for information on food safety include the Federal Food and Drug Administration Food Information line at 1-888-SAFEFOOD (1-888-723-3366) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854). Consumers can also access the national Partnership for Food Safety Education’s “Fight BAC” (bacteria) Web page.

400 students hospitalised for suspected food poisoning in Mumbai
Source : http://www.nst.com.my/latest/400-students-hospitalised-for-suspected-food-poisoning-in-mumbai-1.412669?localLinksEnabled=false
By nst.com (Nov 26, 2013)
More than 400 pupils at a Mumbai school were hospitalised Monday with symptoms of food poisoning after eating a cake during midday meal, Xinhua news agency reports local media as saying.
Students from classes 1 to 8 of Anjuman Nurool Islam Urdu School at the financial capital of India showed symptoms of vomiting, giddiness and stomach ache after eating the cake, The Hindustan Times said Tuesday.  
"We rushed the students to nearby hospitals," the newspaper quoted N.M. Malik, Mumbai school principal, as saying.     However, doctors said the pupils were stable and many were discharged on the same day.   
"No child was critical. Many were discharged on Monday and most of them should feel better by Tuesday," said Paramount Hospital director Dr. Utkarsh Amgachekar.  
School authorities are lodging a complaint against the organisaton that sold the cake.   
The incident came about four months after 23 children in eastern state of Bihar were taken ill after having their midday meal.    --BERNAMA

75 members of Congress ask FDA to re-propose FSMA rules
By Joan Murphy (Nov 26, 2013)
WASHINGTON — Capitol Hill is weighing in on the need to repropose food safety rules as 75 members of Congress sent a letter to the Food & Drug Administration warning that farms and processors will suffer and some businesses may close if there's no opportunity to comment on revamped food-safety rules before they become final.
Businesses in the produce industry have been grappling all year with the impact of the proposed produce safety and preventive control rules required by the Food Safety Modernization Act. FDA is being swamped with comments asking for major changes in the proposals, but the agency is under a court-ordered deadline to accept comments on the rules only until March 2014.
While the agency appeals the court order, food industry groups have been running to Capitol Hill for relief in hopes of convincing the FDA that another round of proposed rules should be released for public comment.
"After hearing many reservations from our farmers and businesses, we are concerned that the rules as currently proposed, and the heavy cost of complying with them, will force some producers and processors to shutter their operations," 75 members of Congress said in a Nov. 22 letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "By seeking additional input through second proposed rules for public comment before final rules, we believe that producers' concerns can be addressed and unintended consequences can be greatly mitigated."
Sens. Roy Blunt (R-MO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), along with Reps. Joe Courtney (D-CT), Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Annie Kuster (D-NH) led a bipartisan group of lawmakers requesting that the FDA issue a second draft of regulations for public comment.
They listed the top concerns for their constituents: agricultural water testing frequency; manure restrictions; mixed-use facility compliance; conservation and environmental practice conflicts; small farm definitions; and farm ownership issues.
The United Fresh Produce Association is one of many industry groups calling for the FDA to refrain from issuing final rules without additional comments.
"As we listened to our membership to develop our comments about FDA's draft FSMA rules, we heard many questions regarding the complexity of the proposed rules," said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management and communications at United Fresh. "FSMA is the most profound regulatory overhaul of food-safety rules in 70 years, so we want the opportunity to closely work with FDA to be sure the rulemaking is done right. United Fresh applauds this request by members of Congress, led by Senators Blunt and Shaheen, and Representatives Courtney, Gibson and Kuster, asking FDA to seek additional input through a second set of proposed rules before final rulemaking."

Polio outbreak 'expected to spread' in Syria
Source : http://www.nbcnews.com/health/polio-outbreak-expected-spread-syria-2D11650345#
By Oliver Holmes Reuters (Nov 25, 2013)
BEIRUT — The World Health Organization is likely to announce more cases of polio in war-ravaged Syria this week, a spokeswoman said on Monday, after the incurable virus was confirmed this month in 13 children who became paralyzed.
"(The outbreak) is expected to spread within the country, which is why we need to vaccinate all Syrian children," WHO spokeswoman Sona Bari said in an email sent to Reuters.
"This week we expect confirmation that there are more cases of polio but I don't have the numbers yet," she said, adding that new cases were a sign "that surveillance is working".
In Syria's first polio outbreak since 1999, the virus has been confirmed in 13 of 22 children who became paralyzed in the northern province of Deir al-Zor. Investigations continue into the other nine cases.
The opposition-run Assistance Coordination Unit, which oversees humanitarian relief in Syria, said in a report seen by Reuters that there were now 58 cases of acute flaccid paralysis, a symptom of diseases including polio, in the country.
The report said cases had surfaced in Hama in central Syria and in Aleppo and Idlib in the north, suggesting that the virus was spreading.
Polio is endemic in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria despite a 25-year campaign to eradicate the disease, which can paralyze a child within hours.
Syria's immunization rates have plummeted from more than 90 percent before the conflict to around 68 percent.
Children living in unsanitary conditions are especially vulnerable to the virus, which spreads via fecal-oral transmission and contaminated food and water.
More than 20 million children are to be vaccinated in Syria and neighboring countries over the next six months, United Nations agencies say.
Bari said almost 2 million children in Syria had been vaccinated, including 600,000 in contested areas of the country.

Federico’s Mexican Restaurant E. coli Outbreak Linked to Lettuce?
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/federicos-mexican-restauran-e-coli-outbreak-linked-to-lettuce/
By Bill Marler (Nov 25, 2013)
The Maricopa County Department of Public Health (MCDPH)’s report of its investigation of an Escherichia coli O157:H7 outbreak in which 94 ill persons were identified was released today.
According to the report, the source of the outbreak was traced to a single location of Federico’s Mexican Restaurant chain located at 13132 W. Camelback Rd., Litchfield Park, with exposure dates occurring from July 18-30, 2013. A case-control study of 180 persons was performed, and environmental samples were collected on multiple dates.
The findings from the environmental samples and the case-control study both implicated contaminated lettuce as a probable source of the outbreak and vehicle for the E. coli that caused illness.  Midwest Beef supplied beef and produce to Federico’s Mexican Restaurant.
The report further found:
It is notable that the food supplier that provides produce to this restaurant also provides food to other Federico’s locations in Phoenix, as well as other food establishments in the valley. No confirmed cases of illness were recorded from other local restaurants. This point source exposure could have occurred due to contamination at any one of several levels. It could have occurred at the restaurant from an ill food handler, although no employee illnesses were reported from the restaurant during the month of July and this would be a large number of cases to be contracted from a single ill food handler. Cross contamination from another contaminated food source at the restaurant – such as beef, for example – is also a possibility. It is also possible that this restaurant received a small, highly contaminated batch of lettuce that did not go to any other facilities.

Final Report: 94 Sickened in Federico’s E. Coli Outbreak, Lettuce Implicated
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/11/final-report-94-sick-in-federicos-e-coli-outbreak-lettuce-implicated/
By James Andrews (Nov 25, 2013)
At least 94 people fell ill with E. coli O157:H7 after dining at a single Federico’s Mexican Restaurant location in Litchfield Park, AZ, according to the final outbreak report released on Monday by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
The final report summarizes the investigation into the outbreak, in which patients began falling ill in mid-July.
One patient, 16-year-old Kiley Doherty, came down with symptoms on July 28 and ended up spending 28 days in the hospital. Kiley became one of two victims in the outbreak to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening kidney disease associated with severe E. coli infections.
Kiley, who was 15 when she fell ill, lost 15 pounds and was sickened to the point where she could not walk. While she has been discharged and has returned to school – after missing the first two weeks of the new school year – she is still trying to recover some vision damage caused by a swollen optic nerve during her infection.
“No parent wants to see their kid going through anything, but this is certainly the worst thing I could have imagined for my daughter,” said Richard Doherty, Kiley’s father. “Every day was a new battle for her.”
The investigation implicated contaminated lettuce as a probable source of infection from environmental testing and a case-control study.
Beef and fresh produce were both supplied to the restaurant by Midwest Beef. The company supplies other restaurants in the Phoenix area, including other Federico’s locations, although E. coli illnesses were not associated with any other restaurants in the area at the time of the outbreak.
According to the report, no restaurant employees reported illnesses during the month of July, and the number of illnesses would be an unusually large number to have occurred from an ill restaurant worker.
The lettuce may have been cross-contaminated from another food in the restaurant, the report adds. Alternatively, the restaurant may have received a small, highly contaminated batch of lettuce.
Kylie’s father, Richard, said that, while the restaurant’s management did not mean to sicken anyone, they had an obligation to the public to ensure their food was safe to eat.
Food-safety attorney Bill Marler represents 35 patients sickened in the outbreak. Marler’s law firm, Seattle-based Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News.

 

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