FoodHACCP Newsletter
01/20 2014 ISSUE:583

U.S. Places 21st in Ranking of World Food Systems
Source :
By James Andrews (Jan 15, 2014)
Despite affordable prices and high food quality, the United States tied with Japan for 21st place in a ranking of the world’s food systems, according to the international advocacy confederation Oxfam.
The report, released Tuesday evening, judged the food systems of 125 countries according to four major metrics: food quality, abundance of food, affordability of food and eating habits of citizens.
High diabetes and obesity rates in the U.S. brought down the nation’s score, ranking it just behind 20 European countries and Australia.
The Netherlands took first place, followed by France and Switzerland tied at second. Chad scored worst, with other African nations occupying much of the bottom half of the rankings.
Other notable rankings include Canada, tied for 25th place; Mexico, tied for 44th, and China, tied for 57th.
The food quality of each nation’s system was judged by the availability of nutritionally diverse food options and access to safe water. The U.S. tied with Australia for fourth place in terms of food quality, beaten out by Iceland, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The U.S. earned the best score for affordability of food, which was based on relative food prices and the volatility of food price inflation.
Only five nations scored worse than the U.S. in the “unhealthy eating” category, which was based on rates of diabetes and obesity. Those countries were Saudi Arabia, Fiji, Jordan, Mexico and Kuwait.
The goal of the report was to produce a snapshot of the most recent global data on food conditions and challenges to overcoming obstacles that prevent people from eating healthfully. According to Oxfam, more than 840 million people go hungry every day, despite there being enough food produced to feed every person on the planet.
“The looming squeeze on natural resources – particularly land and water – and the gathering pace of climate change are set to make this worse,” the report stated.
The top 25 overall scores are listed below:
1. Netherlands
2. France and Switzerland (two-way tie)
4. Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Belgium (four-way tie)
8. Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Luxembourg and Australia (five-way tie)
13. Spain, Greece, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, Finland, Cyprus and Iceland (eight-way tie)
21. United States and Japan (two-way tie)
23. New Zealand and Israel (two-way tie)
25. Canada, Brazil, Estonia, Slovakia and Hungary (five-way tie)

Six More Cases of H7N9 Bird Flu in China
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Jan 15, 2014)
According to the Shanghai Daily, six more human cases of laboratory confirmed H7N9 bird flu have been reported in China. Two cases are in Shanghai and two more are in southern China. It is not clear if the patients had contact with live poultry. Three of the patients are hospitalized in serious or critical condition.
Last year, the government ordered 110 live poultry markets closed to try to prevent the spread of this illness. Now all live poultry markets in Shanghai are going to close at the end of January in response to this new outbreak.
Two more cases of H7N9 have been confirmed in Guangdong Province. Both of those patients did have contact with live poultry. Two people have died in this new outbreak which started in August 2013.
This strain of the bird flu emerged in China last year. About 150 people have been sickened by this virus so far, and about 46 have died. At this time the virus doesn’t easily transmit between people, but viruses evolve constantly and it could develop the ability to do that at any time.
The CDC advises anyone traveling to China to avoid live poultry markets and only eat bird products that have been thoroughly cooked. At this time, there is no need to avoid travel to that country, but follow common sense hygiene tips to avoid getting sick.

Improvement in food safety
Source :
By (Jan 15, 2014)
I WAS disappointed to read your article on Which?
magazine's study of businesses complying with food safety rules which criticised West Dunbartonshire Council's food safety enforcement performance ("Low rank on food safety for Scottish council", The Herald, January 14). The figures were in fact out of date.
As of January 2014, 91% of the 749 food premises in West Dunbarton­shire are now meeting these higher standards. This has been achieved by stringent inspections and follow-up action by environmental health staff, and demonstrates our officers' diligence in raising standards through effective control measures that protect public health by bringing under-performing food businesses up to standard.
The figures used in your article relate to 2012/13 when the council began adopting the significantly higher compliance standards with food hygiene legislation that had been introduced in the Food Standards Agency's guidance on avoiding cross-contamination with E coli O157.
The enforcement of this new guidance led to an increase in the number of high and medium risk-rated premises with a consequent reduction in the number of broadly compliant food businesses. The drop in the number of broadly-compliant premises was therefore anticipated by the council, and had also been predicted by the Food Standards Agency in Scotland.
The improvements in compliance in the intervening period is a testament to the council's commitment to food safety enforce­ment.
Peter Hessett,
Head of Legal, Democratic and Regulatory Services,
West Dunbartonshire Council, Garshake Road,

13 State Salmonella Outbreak Possibly Linked to Tyson Chicken
Source :
By Bill Marler (Jan 14, 2014)
The CDC reports as of January 13, 2014, a total of 9 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from Tennessee.
Two (22%) of 9 ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
All of the ill persons were incarcerated at a single correctional facility located in Tennessee.
Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by Tennessee and federal officials indicate that consumption of Tyson brand mechanically separated chicken is the likely source of the outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections at the Tennessee correctional facility.
On January 10, 2014, Tyson Foods, Inc. recalled approximated 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg.
Institutions that purchased recalled chicken products should not serve them.
The recalled products were not available for consumer purchase in retail stores.
This strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is commonly reported to PulseNet. Nineteen additional persons infected with this same strain have been identified from 12 other states.
Investigations are ongoing to determine if these cases are related to the outbreak at the Tennessee correctional facility.

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Chicken dish likely cause of prison food poisoning
Source :
By (Jan 20, 2014)
GEORGE TOWN: Contaminated food served for lunch caused a breakout of diarrhoea among 600 inmates of Penang Prison on Saturday, said state Health Department director Datuk Dr Lailanor Ibrahim.
He said early investigations showed that the ayam masak merah was the possible reason for the food poisoning suffered by inmates, but did not rule out dirty utensils as a cause.
Dr Lailanor told the New Straits Times yesterday the harmful bacteria took at least four hours to react in their stomachs.
Most of the inmates started showing symptoms at 7.30pm, indicating it was their lunch and not dinner that led to diarrhoea.
"The inmates' lunch hour is from 1pm to 2pm and they started to feel sick about five hours later.
"We have taken 30 samples from the chicken dish, including leftover bones and rice for testing.
"Our concern is that the bacteria could have come from elsewhere, so health officers have extracted samples from the used utensils at the prison's canteen."
Dr Lailanor said samples were also taken from inmates' stool to ascertain the type of bacteria.
He said the department would take a week to finish laboratory tests on the samples to determine the contaminated items.
It was reported that the incident caused a scare among the 1,200 remand prisoners, when half of them came down with diarrhoea. Medical staff had to dispense oral medication to inmates.
Dr Lailanor confirmed that two of the prisoners, who had vomited repeatedly, were sent to Penang Hospital for outpatient treatment.
"The two are fine now and have returned to the prison."
Earlier, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the inmates had food poisoning due to the ayam masak merah not being properly cooked.

How to talk with a parent about a child with post E. coli O157:H7 Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome?
Source :
By Bill Marler (Jan 19, 2014)
I am working this weekend instead of watching the Seahawks – 49’s game because I will be sitting down with a couple of families this week to talk with them about the long-term complications that their children actually face because of something they ate.
It is not something that their children’s physicians have not told them, but I have to talk with them about it in the context of a lawsuit and trying to financially prepare for a unknown, but risk-filled future.
E. coli O157:H7 caused Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS), even in the best hospitals, can be a life-altering event.  Even children, who have apparently recovered normal renal function following the acute episode of HUS, have a high risk for the development of late complications from their acute episode of HUS. The risk is substantially lower in children who did not require dialysis and in children who were not oliguria or anuric while the risk is the highest in children who had oligo/anuria for more than 7 days.  However, the opposite is also true.
Among the serious complications for children with extensive renal damage caused by E. coli O157:H7 HUS are:  (1) alterations in calcium and phosphate balance, known as renal osteodystrophy, that cause the bones to become weak and soft, resulting in bone pain and susceptibility to fracture; (2) anemia—which is characterized by a low red blood cell count and consequent lack of energy; (3) growth failure caused by the damaged kidney’s inability to properly regulate the calcium necessary for bone growth; and (4) high blood pressure, which, among other things, stresses the heart and can lead to coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.
Development of ESRD means the patient will require dialysis or transplantation for survival.  Most Americans who suffer ESRD opt for a kidney transplant, but the wait for a donor kidney is often a year or more.  Once the ESRD patient has only about 15% of normal filtration capacity, they will start to need dialysis.
The preferable course in a transplant situation is for a deceased or living relative (e.g. a parent or sibling over age 18 and compatible) to donate a kidney.  Fortunately, children have the shortest waiting time on the deceased donor transplant list. The average waiting time for children age 0-17 years is approximately 275-300 days; the average waiting time for a transplant candidate who is 18-44 years old is approximately 700 days.
Cost of hemodialysis can be in the range of $100,000 annually.  Cost of a transplant can be as high at $150,000 with yearly cost for anti-rejection medication being at least $20,000.
Following transplantation, a patient will require immunosuppressive medications for the rest of her life to prevent rejection of the transplanted kidney.  Medications used to prevent rejection have considerable side effects.  Corticosteroids are commonly used following transplantation.  The side effects of corticosteroids are Cushingnoid features (fat deposition around the cheeks and abdomen and back), weight gain, emotional instability, cataracts, decreased growth, osteomalacia and osteonecrosis (softening of the bones and bone pain), hypertension, acne, and difficulty in controlling glucose levels.  The steroid side effects, particularly the effects on appearance, are difficult for children, particularly teenagers, and non-compliance with the treatment regimen is a problem with teenagers due to unsightly side effects.
Cyclosporine and tacrolimus are also commonly used immunosuppressants.  Side effects of these drugs include hirsutism (increased hair growth), gum hypertrophy, interstitial fibrosis in the kidney (damage to the kidney), as well as other complications.  Meclophenalate and imuran are also commonly used, each of which can cause a low white blood cell count and increased susceptibility to infection.  Many other immunosuppressive medications and other medications (anti-hypertensive agents, anti-acids, etc.) are prescribed in the post-operative period.
Immunosuppressants like those described above function to reduce the body’s immune response, thereby preserving the transplanted kidney, which the body would otherwise recognize as foreign and dangerous, thereby setting off a chain of events that would culminate in kidney rejection.  But because a healthy and timely immune response is a critical host defense against illness, life-long immunosuppression necessarily dictates a life-long, heightened susceptibility to infection, accelerated atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), cancer, and chronic kidney rejection.
No kidney transplant lasts forever.  United States Renal Data Systems states that the half-life—i.e. the time at which 50% of transplanted kidneys are still functional and 50% have stopped functioning—is 10.5 years for children 0-17 whose transplanted kidney came from a deceased, unrelated donor, and 15.5 years where the kidney comes from a living, related donor.  Similar data for a transplant at age 18 to 44 years is 10.1 years and 16.0 years for a deceased donor and a living related donor, respectively.  Each transplant will be preceded by ESRD, dialysis, an increase in kidney-related medical problems and then the recovery from transplantation.

Glass Onion Trader Joes E. coli Outbreak is Over
Source :
Posted By Bruce Clark (Jan 18, 2014)
A total of 32 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of STEC O157:H7 were reported from four states. The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Arizona (1), California (28), Texas (1), and Washington (3).
The STEC O157:H7 PFGE pattern combination in this outbreak was new to the PulseNet database.
Epidemiologic and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicated 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, was the 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.
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).
E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Wrongful Death Lawsuit Alleges Campylobacter Poisoning From Chicken
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 19, 2014)
A  Texas woman has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a Bush’s Chicken franchise in Killeen, TX after her husband contracted Campylobacter poisoning and died. The lawsuit, case number D-1-GN-14000041, was filed in District Court of Travis County, TX.
According to the suit, on November 27, 2012, Angela Scurry and her late husband, Morris Scurry, purchased chicken strips at the drive-through window of Bush’s Chicken located on 812 38th St. in Killeen.  They ate some on the way home and finished the rest later that night.
At 3:00 a.m. on November 28, Ms. Scurry awoke upon hearing her husband vomiting in the bathroom. He also had diarrhea. These symptoms persisted for three hours. Later  that day, shortly after Mr. Scurry said the symptoms had returned, Ms. Scurry found her husband on the floor writhing in pain. She got him into the car to take him to the hospital, but stopped on the way there to call 911 when her husband complained of severe abdominal cramping. An ambulance met them and took Mr. Scurry to the hospital where he was diagnosed with a Campylobacter infection.
During his 10-day hospital stay, Mr. Scurry suffered a cardiac arrest and was resuscitated. He was released from the hospital on December 7, 2012, but when his symptoms persisted, he returned and was admitted on December 11 and again on December 18. On December 21, Mr. Scurry collapsed at his home and was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.
Campylobacter is a bacteria often found in the intestines of poultry. If contaminated poultry is undercooked, infection can occur.  According to the complaint, health inspection records show that the Bush’s Chicken restaurant where the Scurrys purchased the meal in question had a history of improper cooking temperatures, cross-contamination and other violations. Ms. Scurry is seeking damages of more than $1 million.

Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Texas Oysters
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Jan 18, 2014)
A norovirus outbreak is linked to oysters from Texas. The FDA is warning consumers not to eat raw or partially cooked oysters harvested from Copano Bay in Aransas County, Texas, that were harvested between December 26, 2013 and January 9, 2014 because they may contain norovirus. The Texas Department of State Health Services closed the Bay to shellfish harvesting on January 9, 2014.
Six norovirus illnesses in Louisiana have been linked to oysters harvested from that Bay and shipped by Alby’s Seafood of Fulton, Texas. A recall of the oysters harvested on December 26, 2013 has been issued, but other shellfish harvested from Copano Bay before it was closed may still be in the marketplace.
All shellfish dealers, restaurants, retail food establishments, and consumers are advised to check identity tags on all containers of shellfish in their inventories. If the tag indicates that the oysters were harvested from Copano Bay between those dates above, discard them. There is no distribution information for shellfish harvested from that Bay aside from Alby’s Seafood. The Texas Department of State Health Services is working with the FDA to get that list.

Antibiotics in animals: In food safety, a noteworthy policy consensus
By Peter J. Pitts (Jan 17, 2014)
It's always a surprise -- and therefore newsworthy -- when opposing groups in Washington, D.C., find common ground and a policy moves forward at the national level.
That's what happened recently when the Food and Drug Administration published documents implementing its policy that medically important antibiotics should only be used when there's a disease or a disease threat. As a result, "growth promotion" uses will be phased out over the next three years. An accompanying rule will require a veterinarian to oversee the use of medically important antibiotics in feed.
The policy ensures antibiotics that are similar to those used in humans will be used in animals in the same way: to address a specific disease or disease threat, and only under the supervision of a licensed medical professional. It affects farms nationally, making state-based efforts -- including those in California -- unnecessary.
This collaborative effort is noteworthy for animals, veterinarians and the millions of Americans who depend on those animals for food supply.
The FDA and animal health representatives share broad agreement on this national position. Animal health organizations, along with the companies that develop animal antibiotic medicines, have supported the policy since its inception and announcement in 2012. Consumer organizations that have criticized the use of antibiotics in agriculture asked for this policy in a letter to the White House in 2009 and supported the FDA's announcement.
While some have criticized the policy as being voluntary, the fact is that the FDA has succeeded because it pursued its agenda in a collaborative way. The agency met with everyone involved, including farmers and ranchers, the pharmaceutical industry and consumer groups, to understand and address concerns.
As a result of this collaboration, the agency has enacted change more quickly than with a regulatory or legislative approach. On the day the agency released the documents, the two largest companies selling these products publicly announced their support and cooperation. Other companies have 90 days to make their intentions known.
The other benefit of this collaborative approach is that it should avoid the unintended consequences that resulted when Europe legislated a ban on growth promotion uses of antibiotics. That ban resulted in increased animal disease and death. The FDA's collaborative approach gives farmers and ranchers the chance to adjust to these changes more gradually and avoid these negative consequences.
The policy is a significant change in the way antibiotics are used to keep food animals healthy. It is unfortunate that many seem to think that antibiotics are used only "to fatten animals." That's not true, but now no medically important antibiotics will be used to promote growth. In addition, no antibiotic will be used in feed unless a licensed veterinarian verifies that it is needed to treat or prevent a disease.
Consumers should be heartened by this development. While eliminating what the FDA believes to be unnecessary uses of antibiotics, the limited and important uses needed to protect animal health with continue.
That's important, because animals get sick -- just like humans do.
Farmers and veterinarians work hard to prevent disease and avoid the use of medicines to treat disease. We all know that there's a nexus between animal health and human health, and the food supply is one of the key areas of that nexus. Farmers and veterinarians need a variety of tools to keep animals healthy because healthy animals help produce safer food.
The FDA has made significant progress on a divisive issue. As a result, consumers benefit from knowing that antibiotics can only be used to address disease challenges in food animals under the supervision of a veterinarian.
Peter J. Pitts, a former FDA associate commissioner, is president of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. He wrote this for this newspaper.

147 Sickened, 33 Dead in Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak = 5 Years Probation
Source :
By Bill Marler (Jan 17, 2014)
Food Safety News reports that government prosecutors today recommended sentences of five years probation for brothers Eric and Ryan Jensen, owners of the cantaloupe farm tied to one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history. (Prosecutor’s Recommendation)Each of the Jensen brothers previously pleaded guilty in October to six counts of Introducing an Adulterated Food into Interstate Commerce that resulted in the outbreak, which killed more than 30 people and sickened at least 147 with Listeria from contaminated cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms.
The maximum sentence for each of the six counts would have been a year in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.
The Listeria outbreak in 2011 sickened at least 147 and killed more than 30.

A Typical Friday Night: Listeria Cheese and Ham with Norovirus Oysters
Source :
By Bill Marler (Jan 17, 2014)
Listeria Cheese
Queso Fresco cheese imported illegally from Mexico and sold in a Latino grocery store in Woodburn, Oregon may be tainted with Listeria, Oregon state officials warned Friday.
Oregon’s Health Authority and Department of Agriculture launched an investigation into the dairy product after an infant in Clackamas County fell ill from the bacteria.  Officials traced the infection to batch of queso fresco, a soft white cheese manufactured in Mexico.
Officials believe the cheese was brought into the country illegally because it was found unlabeled and sold in plastic bags, the spokesman said.
Norovirus Oysters
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to eat raw or partially cooked oysters harvested from Copano Bay, in Aransas County, Texas, harvested between Dec. 26, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014.
Oysters harvested from Copano Bay, Texas, on Dec. 26, 2013, and then shipped by Alby’s Seafood of Fulton, Texas, have been linked to six norovirus illnesses in Louisiana.
The Texas Department of State Health Services closed Copano Bay to shellfish harvesting on Jan. 9, 2014.
The FDA is warning consumers not to eat raw or partially cooked shellfish from Copano Bay, in Aransas County, Texas, harvested between Dec. 26, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014.
Alby’s Seafood disclaimer icon has issued a recall of the oysters harvested on Dec. 26; however, other shellfish harvested from Copano Bay before it was closed may still be in the marketplace.
All shellfish dealers, restaurants, retail food establishments and consumers are advised to check the identity tags on all containers of shellfish in their inventories. If the tag indicates the shellfish were harvested from Copano Bay between Dec. 26, 2013 and Jan. 9, 2014 the product should be disposed of and should not be sold, served or eaten.
Listeria Ham
Gusto Packing, a Montgomery, Ill. establishment, is recalling approximately 67,113 pounds of sliced, spiral ham products due to concerns about possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.
The hams were shipped to wholesalers for further distribution in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio, while some were exported to Canada. The following products are subject to recall:
45.5-lb. cases, with six individual sized hams each labeled “Centrella Signature, Hardwood Hickory Smoked, Spiral Sliced Ham with Natural Juices” with the case code “71292603304,” packaged on Nov. 29, 2013, having a Use or Freeze by date of “02/06/14.”
45.8-lb. cases, with six individual sized hams each labeled “AMISH VALLEY, Fully Cooked, Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham” with the case code “71292645104,” packaged on Nov. 29, 2013, having a Use or Freeze by date of “02/06/14.”
45.8-lb. cases, with six individual sized hams each labeled “AMISH VALLEY, Fully Cooked, Hickory Smoked Spiral Sliced Ham” with the case code “71292645104,” packaged on Nov. 30, 2013, having a Use or Freeze by date of “02/06/14.”
31.6-lb. cases, with four individual sized hams each labeled “Ripple Creek Farms, Fully Cooked, Ready To Eat, Hickory Smoked, Spiral Sliced Ham” with the case code “71292603312,” packaged on Nov. 30, 2013, having a Best Before date of “2014 FE 13.”

Advocates Ask Foster Farms About Antibiotics Use
Source :
By News Desk (Jan 15, 2014)
More than 30 advocate groups sent a letter to Foster Farms CEO Ron Foster this week asking the company to disclose its use of antibiotics and pledge to avoid routine use of the drugs in raising its chickens.
This comes after a Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 416 was linked to the company’s products.
Concerned that many of the outbreaks strains found in patients were resistant to one or more commonly prescribed antibiotics, the signatories – including the Center for Food Safety, the Natural Resource Defense Council, and the Humane Society of the United States – want to see more transparency about how Foster Farms chickens are raised.
“The spread of drug resistant bacteria throughout our communities and kitchens has threatened our health and contributed to the growing crisis of antibiotic resistance,” reads the letter.
It goes on to say that Foster Farms can “help regain its credibility” by publishing a detailed description of the antibiotics the company uses in raising chickens, committing to using antibiotics responsibly, and verifying its progress through third-party audits.

Under new food safety law, bartenders have to wear gloves
Source :,0,7520647.story#axzz2qR3DDFJj
By Betty Hallock (Jan 14, 2014)
Chefs aren't the only ones affected by a new food safety law that bans culinary workers from touching certain foods with their bare hands. Like chefs, bartenders have to wear gloves or use other utensils to make their drinks. No touching ice, fruit garnishes or anything else that goes directly into your glass.
Changes to the California Retail Food Code that went into effect at the beginning of 2014 require disposable gloves or utensils such as tongs, paper or scoops to be used when handling "ready-to-eat" foods, which include sushi, bread, deli meats and fresh fruit and vegetables. Basically, nothing that won't be cooked or reheated before it goes out to diners can be touched with bare hands.
"Technically speaking, these rules do apply to bars," says Angelica Pappas, a spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Assn. "It’s been a common question we’ve heard ... so there may be more information to come on this in guidance documents from the health inspectors."
Bartender Matthew Biancaniello says he has experimented with gloves in the past. "I felt really suffocated by it," he says. Biancaniello uses so many ingredients, garnishes and cooking methods for his drinks that he has been referred to as a "cocktail chef."
"I'm always touching any kind of herbs from my garden, touching persimmons to feel for their plumpness or softness.
"But the gloves thing, even when I go to buffets and see it, I flinch a little and think 'hospital.'"
Chefs have reacted negatively to the new law, which was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and went into effect at the beginning of the year. Many have called it ineffective and wasteful, and some -- in particular sushi chefs -- have said that it will be detrimental to their dishes.
In an effort to educate restaurant operators and health inspectors, the law will undergo a "soft roll-out" during the next six months to a year, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. No points will be deducted when food handlers are not wearing gloves, but restaurant operators will receive a warning instead.
"Maybe I'll work a lot with tweezers for adding flowers, dehydrated garnishes and things like that," Biancaniello says. "I'm OK with that. I think there will be some good that comes out of this. Maybe someone could design some special gloves."

Fonterra recalls cream over E. Coli fears in new food-safety scare
Source :
By (Jan 14, 2014)
New Zealand's Fonterra is recalling products distributed in the country that have been contaminated with the E coli bacteria.
It is the second food-safety scare faced by the company in less than six months.
The dairy co-operative is recalling 8,700 bottles of fresh cream marketed under its Anchor brand with a "best before date" of January 21, 2014 that were distributed around New Zealand's North Island.
Cream sold under the Pams brand is also included in the recall.
"We are sorry for the inconvenience and concern this recall might cause, but food safety and quality are our top priorities," Fonterra said.
The recall comes after Fonterra, the world's largest dairy processor, in August said that one of its ingredients used in infant milk formula, sports drinks and other products contained a potentially fatal bacteria, triggering recalls in Asian countries including China.
Further testing showed the initial finding was a false alarm.
Fonterra said that regular testing at its Takanini site in Auckland had shown that the cream manufactured last Monday had high levels of coliform, a bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals, along with plants, soil, air and water that can indicate the possible presence of E coli.
Further test results released on Monday confirmed E coli contamination.
"A small amount of the product had gone on to the market, but the rest of the product we immediately put on hold and today we decided to recall the products on the market, based on the further testing" said Peter McClure, managing director of Fonterra Brands NZ.
Fonterra had no reports of illness caused by consuming the affected product.

Advocates Petition Congress to Block Chinese Chicken
Source :
By Lydia Zuraw (Jan 14, 2014)
Food safety advocates have launched a petition aimed at getting Congress to keep chicken from China off U.S. plates.
The petition asks Congress and the Obama administration to ensure that Chinese-processed chicken is not included in the National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program and Summer Food Service Program. It also seeks to prevent federal funds from being used to implement any rule that would allow poultry raised or slaughtered in China to be exported to the U.S.
These two goals are also supported by 14 members of Congress who wrote an open letter to the Agricultural Appropriations Committee in December.
In August, USDA reaffirmed that China’s processing system is equivalent to ours, but China has yet to certify plants to process chicken for export and give a list of them to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The country hasn’t signified that they intend to do this, and U.S. companies have not expressed the desire to have China process their poultry.
Food that comes to schools through USDA for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program is required to be 100-percent domestically grown and produced. But schools don’t get all their food from USDA, and, if China ever did start processing U.S. chicken, there would be the possibility that private vendors could sell it to schools.
In November, FSIS announced that an audit of China’s poultry slaughtering system found that it’s not equivalent to America’s, meaning that poultry slaughtered in China is not allowed to be imported to the U.S.
USDA is legally required to review and audit any request for equivalency. And there is the possibility that preventing funds from being used to implement rules allowing poultry raised or slaughtered in China to be exported to the U.S. could go against a WTO ruling about trade disputes.
This article includes updated information about the source of food in school lunch and breakfast programs.

Food safety checks 'in decline'
Source :
By (Jan 14 ,2014)
Some local authorities are struggling to ensure businesses comply with food safety rules, according to new research.
A study by consumer watchdog Which? showed that in some areas of the country more than a third of high and medium-risk food businesses are not abiding by hygiene rules, while work to check standards such as the accuracy of food labels is described as "patchy".
The organisation said the report places fresh doubts on the food industry following last year's horsemeat scandal.
Bexley in south east London is the poorest-performing local authority, with five other London councils in the bottom 10, according to the research, which took into account premises such as hospitals, care homes, restaurants, takeaways, retailers and food suppliers.
Cherwell District Council in north Oxfordshire came top out of 395 local authorities in the UK.
The rankings were based on three criteria: the proportion of high or medium-risk premises that were "broadly compliant" with food hygiene requirements, the percentage of premises that have received a risk rating, and the proportion of inspections and other follow-ups required that were actually carried out.
The hygiene risk of a business is based on factors including the type of food, the number of consumers at risk and the method of handling food.
Which? compiled the rankings using data submitted to the Food Standards Agency (FSA) by local authorities.
The watchdog also found that overall food testing fell by 6.8% from the previous year, and testing for labelling and presentation fell by 16.2%.
No official hygiene sampling was carried out at all by Bexley, Christchurch, Isles of Scilly, Medway, Tamworth, West Lindsey and West Yorkshire authorities in 2012/13.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: " No one wants another horsemeat fiasco, so it is very worrying that local authority food checks are in decline. We want to see a more strategic approach to food law enforcement that makes the best use of limited resources and responds effectively to the huge challenges facing the food supply chain."
Responding to the study, Nick Worth, the Local Government Association's regulation spokesman, said: " Councils are working hard to maintain and improve food safety standards despite the pressure that significant Government funding cuts are placing on everyday services.
"Random sampling is just one tool available to councils and a reduction in testing does not mean an increased safety risk to the public. Targeting high-risk businesses and acting on complaints is a far more effective use of their limited resources and also allows councils to free up responsible businesses from unnecessary inspections and red tape.
"It is ultimately the responsibility of food manufacturers, retailers and suppliers to ensure the products they produce or sell comply fully with food law, are fit for consumption and won't risk public safety."
The 10 worst-performing local authorities according to the research are:
1. Bexley
2. Ealing
3. Medway
4. West Dunbartonshire
5. Wycombe
6. Harrow
7. Richmond-upon-Thames
8. Southwark
9. Moyle
10. Enfield
Commenting on the findings, Professor Chris Elliott, director of the Institute for Global Food Security at Queen's University, Belfast, said: "The food supply systems in the UK are very safe. Compared with other parts of the world, we have one of the safest food supply systems in the world.
"I think what the Which? report is indicating very clearly is that, because of the pressures that are on local authorities in relation to budget cuts, they are finding it very difficult to deliver the quality of service that is required."
Prof Elliott told BBC Breakfast that, a year since the horse meat scandal emerged, there had been a "massive effort" both in the UK food industry and the UK Government to put into place "measures that will stop these types of food crime happening again".
He said there were 25,000 different food products sold each day in UK retail sector.
"It is an enormous task making sure that that material is safe and authentic," he said.
"What is happening now both in industry and government is that those types of food materials which are most vulnerable to fraud are getting the highest level of attention.
"Obviously, it started off with red meat but there are many, many other food commodities now that must be checked regularly to make sure that what we are buying as consumers is actually what is says on the label."

Foster Farms Plant Closed, Again
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Jan13, 2014)
Foster Farms says its plant in Livingston, CA that was closed January 8 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for cockroach infestation was cleared by the USDA to reopen January 11, but on January 12 the company announced it was voluntarily closing the plant  to “further expand its USDA-approved safe manufacturing procedures and monitoring systems.”  Last summer, the Livingston operation was one of three Foster Farms plants linked to a Salmonella outbreak that has now sickened more than 400 people. The company has never issued a recall for its chicken products linked to the outbreak.
According to the announcement: “The company is exercising vigilance and choosing to dedicate additional time to ensuring its preventative plan is fully realized with the most effective technology and treatments available. Foster Farms expects this closure to be brief, lasting several days, but does not at this time have a definitive date for resuming operations. No other plants are affected. Company officials said that no product, packaging or line was in any way affected. Production will be shifted temporarily to the company’s two other Central Valley, California plants.” Maintenance employees will remain on the job at the Livingston plant.  The plant’s other employees will be called back when the plant resumes full operations, the company said.
Ron Foster, the company’s president said,  ”On behalf of my family, I made a commitment to making this right and we are taking every opportunity to ensure the long-term efficacy of our program at this plant. We are confident in the preventative plan and want to take the time to properly implement new measures to our satisfaction. Foster Farms is a company that strives for excellence. We will not resume operations until we are confident that we have the most stringent and effective treatment protocols in place.”

Agricultural concerns may spark changes in federal government's food safety policies
Source :
By John Fannin (Jan 13, 2014)
Members of the SVID board of directors heard what appears to be good news last Friday about the federal government’s plans to likely pull back on some controversial food safety proposals.
An update to the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011 was proposed last year, which could have potentially handcuffed the irrigation district and its users.
During their meeting on Friday, the board received an update from SVID General Manager Jim Trull about the FDA’s decision last month to make changes in the proposed rule.
The portion of the rule of most concern locally is a proposed revision that would require steps to monitor irrigation water quality.
A key issue was language in the original proposal requiring monitoring for “every point of delivery.” As a provider of irrigation water to more than 80,000 acres, SVID has hundreds of delivery points.
If high levels of bacteria are found in a water sample, the rule would have required shutting down the entire irrigation system until the contaminant source is found or removed.
In addition, growers and the irrigation district and even Congressman Doc Hastings were concerned about language in the proposal that held tree fruit to the same standards as produce grown on the ground like lettuce.
“I think it’s a terrible rule, we’ve been fighting it,” Hastings said during a stop in Sunnyside last summer. “Targeting lettuce and fruit trees is insanity.”
Though the FDA will now revisit its proposals for the Food Safety Modernization Act, Trull notes it won’t likely be until this summer before the agency actually announces its plans.
“At this point all we can do is cross our fingers,” he said this morning (Monday).
Trull praised FDA officials for taking the time to actually visit farms and ag warehouses in the Yakima area and north central Washington to see the issues first hand.
Seeing and hearing those concerns from farmers and national ag organizations apparently had an impact on the FDA’s planning process.
Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, said in an official statement that last month’s decision to review the proposal came “…because of the input we received from farmers and the concerns they expressed about the impact of these rules on their lives and livelihood.”
Taylor added, “We realized that significant changes must be made, while ensuring that the proposed rules remain consistent with our food safety goals.”
For SVID and irrigators and growers it’s now a matter of standing by to see what changes the FDA will actually deliver this summer.
“It’s good news,” Trull said. “They clearly understand the dilemma posed by some of their regulations, but it’s still a waiting game.”

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