FoodHACCP Newsletter
02/17 2014 ISSUE:587

Canada Offers Botulism Warnings
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-resources/canada-offers-botulism-warnings/
By Patti Waller (Feb 16, 2014)
What is Infant Botulism?
Infant botulism is a very rare but serious form of illness that can affect children up to one year. It is caused by a bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. This bacteria forms “spores” that when swallowed may grow and produce a poison in the baby’s intestine.
C. botulinum can be found in both pasteurized and unpasteurized honey. Therefore, it is very important to never feed honey to a child under the age of one. As the spores are not easily destroyed by heat (for example by cooking or boiling), it should also not be added to infants’ food as a sweetener. C. botulinum can also be found in soil and dust.
What you should do?
–  Don’t give honey to infants younger than one year of age
–  Don’t add honey to their formula, food or water
–  Don’t put honey on their soother
Older children (more than one year old) can safely eat honey
Signs and Symptoms of Infant Botulism
Constipation is often the first sign of infant botulism that parents notice (although many other illnesses also can cause constipation). Contact your health care provider if your baby hasn’t had a bowel movement for several days.  Other symptoms can include:
–  weakness and/or lack of energy
–  too weak to cry or suck as usual
–  wobbly head because the neck is weak
–  lacks facial expression
–  weak arms and legs
–  has trouble breathing
–  unable to swallow
Botulism:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism and other foodborne illness outbreaks 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.
If you or a family member became ill with Botulism after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Botulism attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Foster Farms Salmonella Outbreak Sickened 134 in 13 States
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/foster-farms-salmonella-outbreak-sickened-134-in-13-states/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 16, 2014)
The first of two Salmonella outbreaks linked to Foster Farms chicken during 2013 was announced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) one year ago this weekend. The outbreak sickened 134 people in 13 states, 33 people were hospitalized.
Most of those sickened, 71 percent, told health investigators that they had eaten Foster Farms chicken before they developing symptoms of Salmonella poisoning which include abdominal cramps, nausea and diarrhea.  Shopper card records showed nine case patients purchased Foster Farms chicken before illness onset.
The illnesses were scientifically linked to Foster Farms chicken through testing on stool samples from case patients and on leftover chicken samples collected from three patients homes. The outbreak strains were traced back to two Foster Farms slaughter establishments,  but the company did not issues a recall.
Most of the cases were reported from four states in the Pacific Northwest: Washington (57), Oregon (40), Alaska (13), and California (11). The remaining cases were reported from the following states: Utah (3), Idaho (2), Montana (2), Alabama (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), New York (1), Hawaii (1), and Massachusetts (1).

Hawaii Bakery Fined $20,000 for Violations of Food Safety Rules
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/hawaii-bakery-fined-20000-for-violations-of-food-safety-rules/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 16, 2014)
The Hawaii State Department of Health has reached an agreement with Kanemitsu Bakery for $20,000 over violations of rules designed to protect public health and prevent adulterated food products from being sold under poor sanitary conditions. The bakery is located in Kaunakakai on the island of Molokai.
The bakery’s food establishment permit was suspended in April 2012 for many health code violations and for not complying with DOH orders to stop all sales of products. An inspection on June 20, 2012 revealed serious deficiencies in the “maintenance and manufacturing practices conducted at the facility,” according to the report. The bakery remained closed until mid-November 2012 after failing many health inspections.
Gary Gill, DOH deputy director of Environmental health said in a statement, “we expect that Kanemitsu Bakery will comply with all food safety rules and regulations. It is both a legal requirement and a moral responsibility to ensure that food sold to the public is safe, wholesome and uncontaminated.”
The inspection in June 2012 found visual sighting of rodents, no water available at the rinse compartment of the sink, unclean food preparation surfaces, no soap and hand towels at the hand washing sinks, and general unsanitary conditions. The DOH had been alerted to problems at the bakery by an anonymous public complaint alleging that insects and foreign substances were found in bread rolls purchased from the bakery.




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Listeria Found in Cheese Curd Sample in VA
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/listeria-causes-virginia-cheese-recall/
By News Desk (Feb 15, 2014)
On Feb. 10, 2014, Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause human illness, was isolated from a sample of Cuajada en Terron (Fresh Cheese Curd) collected by representatives from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The sample was collected at Mega Mart, a retail store located at 8328 Shopper’s Square in Manassas, VA. The product was sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags held in the retail cheese display cooler within the facility. No lot or date-coding information was included on the product packaging.
Individuals who purchased this product should not consume the cheese and should discard any remaining portions. Those who have already consumed the product should be aware of the risks and symptoms associated with Listeria monocytogenes infection.
Virginia has not seen any reported cases of listeriosis associated with this cheese at this time. Listeria monocytogenes infection commonly can exhibit short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea when it affects healthy individuals. The Listeria monocytogenes organism may cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and individuals with weakened immune systems. Listeria monocytogenes infection is a major concern for pregnant women because it can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal illness.
The consumption of unpasteurized or contaminated milk or cheeses can cause Listeria monocytogenes infections. Symptoms of Listeria infection generally appear about three weeks after exposure, but may appear as soon as three days or as long as 70 days after exposure.
Anyone who experiences the symptoms described above and has purchased and eaten the Cuajada en Terron cheese at Manassas Mega Mart in Manassas, VA, should see a doctor.

Fake Italian olive oil; chicken liver contamination: food safety roundup
Source : http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2014/02/fake_italian_olive_oil_and_chi.html
By Lynne Terry (Feb 14, 2014)
Two food stories on vastly different subjects grabbed our attention today and both are told through graphics.
The first is a stunner on fake Italian olive oil. Entitled "Extra Virgin Suicide," Nicholas Blechman walks through the adulteration of olive oil in Italy, showing how the olives often don't come from Italy but rather from countries such as Spain, Morocco and Tunisia where they're pressed and shipped to Naples. The graphic says that some refineries then mix that imported olive oil with cheaper oil imports, such as soybean oil, with some adding beta-carotene to disguise the flavor.
The bottles are labled "extra virgin" and "packed in Italy" or "imported from Italy" shipped to the United States and other countries where they've plucked up by unsuspecting customers who think they're getting the real thing.
The Italians are trying to crack down, without much success, the graphic says.
Read the label, people.
And the other graphic was prompted by a campylobacter outbreak in Oregon and Washington state that sickened six people. As we reported earlier this month, Oregon health officials identified chicken livers from Draper Valley as the cause of the illness. Most people consumed chicken liver pate that wasn't cooked thoroughly to kill harmful pathogens.
Campylobacter isn't a household name but it is a common foodborne pathogen. To illustrate that and show how the outbreak happened, North Carolina State University partnered up with New Mexico State University to create an infographic.
The graphic was published on Barfblog, a well-known food safety website, and will be distributed through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and other social media sites.
That's it for now. Keep your appetite and eat safely.

China business leader to PM: more repair work needed over food safety
Source : http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/china-business-leader-pm-more-repair-work-needed-over-food-safety-dw-151931
By David Williams (Feb 14, 2014)
New Zealand still has a lot of explaining to do over food safety in the wake of last year's false botulism scare, a Chinese business leader says.
Ning “Frank” Gaoning, chairman of Fortune 500 company China National Cereals, Oils, and Foodstuff Corporation (COFCO), says there are still concerns over New Zealand’s food safety amongst Chinese consumers.
“But the concerns are confused – not many understand what is happening,” he said in response to NBR ONLINE’s questions at a press conference this afternoon for Apec’s business advisory council, which he chairs.
“A lot of PR work should be done.
“I talked to Fonterra and I talked to Prime Minister [John Key] too, because as an importer we want to see a stable, high-quality, good image type of company supply us.
“I know it’s not a major issue but a lot of explanation should be done.”
One of the Apec business council meeting’s key agendas was food security.
State-owned COFCO is China’s largest agricultural trading and processing company, with revenues of more than $US28 billion in 2012.
COFCO part-owns China Mengniu Dairy, China’s largest seller of liquid milk, the majority-owner of Yashili International Holdings, which is spending $212 million developing a milk processing plant at Pokeno, in Waikato.
Potential investors
A high-powered Chinese business delegation – including DHgate founder Diane Wang and representatives of food, agriculture and infrastructure firms – visited Auckland during the business advisory council’s three-day meeting in Auckland.
New Zealand council representative Tony Nowell, who is chairman of Crown research institute Scion, says the delegation met Mr Key, Trade Minister Tim Groser and Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye – and took visits to Fonterra’s Te Rapa plant, the Waterview tunnel site and Villa Maria Estate winery.
Mr Ning says a COFCO subsidiary buys almost 100% of its ingredients for infant formula powder from Fonterra and he visited Fonterra’s facility at Takanini.
“The products I saw in their plant are exactly the same I saw in the Chinese supermarket.”
This is an issue for Chinese consumers, who prefer to be sold identical products to those in offshore markets rather than those made purely for export.
Mr Nowell referred to the group as “potential investors,” while Mr Ning says the trip is likely to lead to more business investment or trading with New Zealand.
At a function on Thursday night, Dame Jenny Shipley remarked to Mr Nowell she had not seen such a high level of interaction between New Zealand and Chinese companies before.
“That’s success as far as I’m concerned,” Mr Nowell says.

Food-Safety Auditor: It's Not to Blame in Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2014/02/food-safety-auditor-it-s-not-to-blame-in-cantalou.aspx
By Josh Long (Feb 13, 2014)
DENVER—Does a third-party food-safety auditor of a cantaloupe packinghouse owe a duty to consumers who purchase the fruit? Federal and state courts are presently grappling with that question in lawsuits that stem from one of the deadliest occurrences of foodborne illness in modern times: the 2011 Listeria outbreak that was traced to cantaloupes grown on the Colorado-based Jensen Farms.
 Since 2011, victims of the contaminated cantaloupe and their families have moved to hold accountable Jensen Farms and others in the food distribution chain.
Jensen Farms is bankrupt and the brothers who operated the family-owned business were sentenced last month to five years of probation for their roles in an outbreak that a prosecutor called an "American tragedy."
Had a third-party auditor just failed an audit of the cantaloupe packinghouse rather than assigned Jensen Farms a "superior" rating, the tainted fruit that spread to 28 states and left nearly 40 dead would never have been distributed, according to Marler Clark, the food-safety law firm that has filed 46 lawsuits on behalf of victims.
It was Primus, the Santa Maria, Calif.-based food-safety auditor, that retained James Dilorio of Bio Food Safety to conduct the July 25, 2011 audit.
The issue presently dividing judges in several states, including California, Colorado, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Wyoming, is not whether Primus was careless and owes damages to victims, but rather whether plaintiffs can even assert a negligence claim against the food-safety auditor.
It appears there is no court precedent that has squarely addressed that particular question, although courts have ruled on the duties of third-party financial auditors, said Jeffrey Whittington, a Kaufman Borgeest & Ryan lawyer representing Primus.
Primus cannot be held liable for negligence unless it actually owed a duty to consumers.  Judges in Oklahoma and Wyoming found Primus owed no duty. A California judge also reached the same tentative decision.
Others in Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma reached different holdings, demonstrating that federal judges in the Sooner State don't even agree on the issue.
In deciding the motions, the judges didn't rule on the actual evidence but were required to accept the plaintiff's allegations as factual.
In a lawsuit brought by Doyle Underwood, who fell ill on Sept. 2, 2011, after purchasing a cantaloupe in Broken Bow, Okla., a federal judge in the Eastern District of Oklahoma examined whether the plaintiff's injury was foreseeable to Primus at the time of the audit.
"Significantly, Plaintiff has failed to plead facts sufficient to establish that the contaminated cantaloupe would not have been distributed if Primus had given Jensen Farms unsatisfactory audit results," U.S. District Judge James Payne stated in his ruling dismissing the negligence claim against Primus. "To impose a duty on auditors absent a showing that such auditors maintained some control over the distribution of the manufactured goods would be illogical and impose an unreasonable burden on third-party auditors."
A Wyoming federal judge, Scott Skaudahl, reached a similar conclusion, pointing to an absence of facts in the complaint "suggesting Primus had any control over whether Jensen Farms' cantaloupes were distributed or that the 'superior rating' allowed the cantaloupes to be distributed." Skaudahl also dismissed a breach of contract claim against Primus. The plaintiff, Lydia Corsi, failed to reference contract terms by which the judge "could infer Primus undertook the food safety audit" for her benefit, he ruled. 
In Colorado, where Penny Hauser sued Primus and others on behalf of her late husband Mike Hauser, state judge G. David Miller of the 4th Judicial District dismissed a negligence claim against the auditor. But he changed his mind after reconsideration, holding that "Primus assumed a duty of reasonable care for the protection of both Jensen and third-party consumers."
In the Western District of Oklahoma, U.S. District Judge David Russell found alleged "facts to support that it was foreseeable at the time of the July 25, 2011, audit that if the audit was negligently conducted, contaminated cantaloupe would leave the Jensen Farms packing facility and ultimately end up in the hands of consumers … and that these consumers could be harmed by eating such contaminated cantaloupe."
A federal judge in Nebraska also held that Primus "owed a duty of reasonable care" to Dale Braddock, who died on Jan. 1, 2012.
The latter rulings, denying Primus' requests to dismiss the negligence claims, simply allow the lawsuits to move forward. Discovery, the sometimes arduous and protracted phase in which the litigants exchange documents, depose witnesses and review the evidence, has barely begun. However, a voluminous amount of information related to the outbreak is already public, including findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Last year, plaintiffs and the defendants—including Primus—sought to resolve their disputes through mediation. The talks did not bear fruit, springing the litigation back to life.
Until recently, "those personal injury lawsuits have largely been stayed across the country pending some resolution efforts that were largely unsuccessful," said Drew Falkenstein, a Marler Clark lawyer. 
In Colorado, about two dozen state cases have been consolidated in Arapahoe County for the purposes of discovery and motions, Falkenstein said.
Falkenstein said there are approximately 65 lawsuits pending, including complaints that were filed by lawyers not affiliated with Marler Clark. 
Other defendants include the grocery chains that sold the cantaloupes such as Kroger Co. subsidiaries and Wal-Mart, as well as Frontera Produce, which marketed the fruit.
Attorney Bill Marler of Marler Clark said Wal-Mart has filed at least two third-party complaints against Primus in California and Wyoming. In Wyoming federal court, Wal-Mart brought a third-party complaint against Jensen Farms, Frontera Produce, Primus and Bio Food Safety. Wal-Mart contends it relied on Primus' food-safety expertise and audits. 
Jensen Farms also filed a lawsuit against Primus, assigning its rights in the complaint to plaintiffs in the personal injury lawsuits.
During the Jan. 28, 2014, criminal sentencing hearing of Eric and Ryan Jensen in Denver federal court,  some family members of victims called for others in the food chain to be held accountable.
Falkenstein expressed optimism that the lawsuits would not linger for several more years. But Whittington said he didn't think the cases would be ready for trial until late 2015 or even 2016.
He noted that plaintiffs have amended a number of lawsuits, and lawyers on both sides anticipate that more motions to dismiss claims will be filed by Primus and other defendants.
After discovery has concluded, Whittington said he intends to file summary judgment motions in favor of his client. Such a motion would constitute a request that a judge find as a matter of law—prior to trial—that Primus is not liable to the plaintiff.
Still, the possibility remains that the parties will settle their differences. 
"I think it's fair to say the parties are open to continuing the efforts to achieve a resolution of these claims," Falkenstein said.
Last year, $3.8 million was distributed to victims and their families to settle claims filed against Jensen Farms, Bio Food Safety and another company, Pepper Equipment.

New Illnesses Bring Scottish E. Coli Outbreak to 21 Sick
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/new-illnesses-bring-scottish-e-coli-outbreak-to-21-sick/
By News Desk (Feb 13, 2014)
An additional six cases of E. coli have been linked to burgers eaten at the Glasgow Hydro arena, bringing the total number ill to 21.
The cases first began appearing several weeks ago. Some attendees who ate burgers at the arena between Jan. 17 and Jan. 19 have fallen ill with symptoms of E. coli O157:H7 infection, which includes diarrhea, stomach cramps and nausea.
Health officials are asking anyone who attended events at the arena within those three days and then fell ill with similar symptoms to contact a healthcare provider to record their case.
All of those who fell ill are recovering at home by this point.
Investigators have not conclusively linked the illnesses to the burgers, but they said that burgers appear to be the most likely source of infection.

EU 'will not compromise' on food safety in US trade pact
Source : http://euobserver.com/foreign/123091
By Valentina Pop (Feb 12, 2014)
Berlin - A top EU official has sought to allay German fears about the US being able to export bleached chicken and hormone beef to Europe once a free trade pact comes into force.
"What is non-negotiable are food safety standards. Hormones are prohibited, there is a strict regime of genetically modified organisms and this is not going to go away," Ignacio Garcia Bercero, EU's chief negotiator on the "Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership" with the US told journalists in Berlin on Tuesday (11 February).
He said the EU's strict regime for control of chemical substances would also not be altered, as "mutual recognition" of safety standards only applies when the standards are "compatible."
A recent report aired on Germany’s public TV broadcaster ARD cited efforts by US lobbyists to circumvent existing EU bans on bleached chicken or hormone beef.
But Bercero said talks with the US officials are "professional" and that it is only natural for US firms to defend their interests.
"There are certain German views that our values are going to be compromised. No way this is going to happen," he said.
NGOs scrutinising the EU-US talks are sceptical about his reassurances, however.
"We know the corporate wishlists for the talks, which mention all the points that the [European] Commission is now calling red lines - from chlorinated chicken to GMOs," says Pia Eberhardt from Corporate Europe Observatory.
She noted that several US congressmen have said they are not going to approve a deal that does not open more market access for American agribusiness, "including through getting rid of certain food safety standards."
"The EU also has offensive interests in the talks. How will they get them through if they are not going to give in on any of the red lines? These are two-way negotiations, not a one way street," Eberhardt told this website.
In a press release issued last year when the trade talks were first announced, the US Poultry Groups - an umbrella lobby organisation for poultry meat producers - said the US trade ambassador Ron Kirk, who leads the negotiations on the American side, had "listened to and accepted recommendations that agriculture and unwarranted non-tariff barriers, especially non-science based sanitary and phytosanitary provisions, be an important part of the negotiations and that any final trade agreement successfully address these issues.”
US poultry producers have fewer sanitary demands on conditions for chicken, because once the chickens are slaughtered, they are dipped in a bleaching solution which kills all germs and bacteria. The EU has banned imports of this kind of meat.
“The result of this non-science-based action is that the United States has not been able to export poultry to the EU since 1997. When TTIP negotiations are successfully concluded, US poultry producers look forward to marketing over $500 million of products to the EU on an annual basis,” the US Poultry Groups said.
Transparency
Bercero also tried to sooth concerns on transparency in the negotiations.
He said the EU commission has been "fully transparent" from the very beginning and that the European Parliament is briefed before and after each round of negotiations. He added that the commission has appointed a "balanced" advisory group comprising seven business representatives and seven members of civil society - trade unions and NGOs.
But French Green MEP Yannick Jadot, who sits on the trade committee, said access to documents remains a problem, with only a handful of MEPs allowed to see “restricted texts."
"It is unclear if other interested EP committees and/or the advisory group will get access to restricted documents and negotiating texts, which are the most important documents," he told this website.
Jadot also noted that US position papers are under wraps, even for officials in the EU Council, which advises member states.
"It is not accurate to talk about improved transparency and this remains a major concern," he concluded.
Pia Eberhardt of Corporate Europe Observatory said that without disclosure of negotiation texts, "it is almost impossible to provide appropriate feedback for the very proposals that will affect the general public the most."
As for the “advisory group,” Eberhardt said it is "a thinly disguised public relations exercise by the commission to signal openness where there is secrecy and to signal interest in issues such as environmental protection where in fact all it cares about is the hard-core market opening agenda of European business."
A freedom of information request on the meetings held by the EU commission's trade unit since February 2013 shows that of roughly 120 meetings, most were with large corporations and their lobbyists and only a handful with trade unions and consumer groups.

Salmonella Positive Causes Curly Parsley Recall
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/salmonella-positive-causes-curly-parsley-recall/
By Bill Marler (Feb 12, 2014)
ROTH FARMS Inc. of Belle Glade, Fl , is recalling its “ bunched Curly Parsley” because it has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.
The recalled “Curly Parsley” was distributed in South Florida distribution centers.
The product comes in a 3 Wire Wooden Crate with the lot # AG01GN on the outside tag.
No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with this problem.
The potential for contamination was noted after routine testing by the company revealed the presence of Salmonella in some Curly Parsley samples.”
Production of the product has been suspended while FDA and the company continue their investigation as to the source of the problem.

Massive beef recall prompts a look at local food-safety concerns
Source : http://businessjournalism.org/2014/02/11/massive-beef-recall-local-food-safety/
By Melissa Preddy (Feb 11, 2014)
News that a staggering 9 million pounds of beef are being recalled by Northern California processing plant, apparently due to incomplete inspection, is the sort of stomach-churning headline that catches readers’ eyes.
It follows last month’s tainted-chicken problem, also in California, that eventually sickened prison inmates in Tennessee, according to CorrectionsOne.com, a site with news about the corrections industry.  (As an aside – reports say the poultry was never intended for retail sale, but for “institutional use.”  Are there different quality and inspections standards for food to be used in prisons, hospitals, schools and the like?  That might make for an interesting approach.  What food processors in your neck of the woods sell to institutions and how are the products different from those on supermarket shelves?)
Food Safety News reports a variety of other recent food contamination issues, as well, from peanuts in bags of almonds to tainted tomatoes.
Back to the ranch: According to reports, the beef recall is the second recent recall for that company.  Reuters write that the affected meat products were distributed in California, Florida, Texas and Illinois – an interesting geographic distribution.  But even if that isn’t your territory, we all eat and sometimes worry about what’s in what we’re eating – so you might want to respond to this event with a localized report about food safety and inspection.
Understanding who does what is a tall order in the labyrinthine world of food safety inspection; you might want to start here at the U.S. Department of Agriculture site; the Food Safety and Inspection Services portal lists federal agencies and their areas of responsibility, an organizational chart, links to district offices and so on.  You can track down the federal official responsible for food inspections in your region, and also find their counterparts at the state agriculture departments.  If you focus on meat, local members of the American Association of Food Safety Veterinarians might have some insight.
As we know, regulators sometimes become entwined with the industries they supervise, and less adversarial and outspoken than consumers might hope.  But you can ask about the process of food inspection, the vital statistics on number of inspectors, frequency and rigor of inspections, etc. and at least inform your audience of the existing procedures.  Trade organizations and activist groups might offer input, as well, pro or con, on current issues affecting growers, processors and distributors – from rules raised in the Food Safety Modernization Act to inspector training.
In addition to food safety at the production and transportation level, you can inform readers about retail safety issues, as well, at places like supermarkets, food trucks, restaurants, hotels, cafeterias and casino buffets.  If you cover transportation, how about a story on airline food handling protocol?  A retail writer could look into safety related to free samples handed out at delis, bakeries and big-box stores like Costco.
The Twitter hashtag #foodsafety turns up some interesting ideas and sources, from the EHA Consulting Group, which offers crisis management and other services to the food industry, and this interesting report from a British newspaper, the Croydon Advertiser, that features a cool interactive map of local restaurants’ health inspection results.  You also might want to follow the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service Twitter feed.
Here’s an interesting article by Mara Knaub of the Yuma (Ariz.) Sun, about the role of county health inspectors in rating restaurant safety; the article tells readers how and how often eateries are inspected, where to find public records related to inspections and how to interpret the ratings inspectors assign to individual establishments.
Clearly food-safety issues are ripe for video and online presentations.  KTNV, the ABC station in Las Vegas, did an entire “Dirty Dining” series exposing the health inspection issues at various local restaurants.
Resources for reporters include The Center for Food Safety, the federal FoodSafety.gov site and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s food safety portal.

Norovirus Outbreak Closes Washington Applebee’s Restaurant
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/norovirus-outbreak-closes-washington-applebees-restaurant/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 11, 2014)
A suspected norovirus outbreak has closed the Applebee’s restaurant in East Sunset Drive in Bellingham, Washington over the weekend, according to the Bellingham Herald. The restaurant reopened on Sunday afternoon, but closed again today. The restaurant was closed “out of an abundance of caution.”
Ten to fifteen employees were sent home Friday morning after they called in sick or said they felt sick. Two more food workers reported being ill on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 so the place closed again. Management decided to close the restaurant since they did not know the cause of the illnesses or if any customers could be exposed to a problem.
The restaurant was extensively cleaned over the weekend. The total number of people sickened is not known at this time. Symptoms included nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which is typical of norovirus.

Microwave pasteurization improves food safety, flavor
Source : http://news.wsu.edu/2014/02/10/microwave-pasteurization-improves-food-safety-flavor/
By Sabrina Zearott for CAHNRS communications (Feb 10, 2014)
PULLMAN, Wash. – A new technology available to food companies increases product quality while reducing the chance of contaminated chilled or frozen meals being sold in retail markets.
A group of engineers led by Juming Tang, distinguished chair of food engineering and associate chair of biological systems engineering at Washington State University, has developed a novel microwave-assisted pasteurization system that can semi-continuously process 8- to 20-oz. pre-packaged chilled meals. This marks an important milestone in a research program funded by a $5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) grant awarded in 2011 to WSU and partners across the country.
WSU has established “pilot-scale capacity” whereby Tang and his colleagues can work with food companies to adapt the technology to a producer’s needs and then manufacture production equipment via a third party, making the system “scalable for industrial production,” said Tang. WSU anticipates licensing this technology to its start-up, Food Chain Safety, for commercialization in the coming months.
According to Tang, the 915 MHz microwave-assisted pasteurization process significantly improves upon traditional thermal pasteurization, offering food producers a more efficient means of making foods safe while retaining consumer appeal. After two to four minutes of heating the product to 194 F/90 C, which is below the boiling point of water, the numbers of pathogenic bacteria can be reduced a million-fold.
“We can control foodborne pathogens and viruses and provide high-quality products,” said Tang. The process also allows traditionally frozen meals to be refrigerated instead of frozen, saving retailers and consumers significant energy costs.
“We had some exciting early results. The quality of microwave pasteurized foods – specifically mollusks, shrimp and tofu – is substantially better than conventionally pasteurized foods,” said Barbara Rasco, professor in WSU’s School of Food Science and collaborator on the project. A shelf life exceeding one month at refrigeration temperatures has been achieved for several formulated food items, including stroganoffs, curries, burritos and hors d’oeuvres.
Shyam Sablani, another WSU collaborator, is leading package development.
Pasteurizing chilled meals using the new method preserves product quality more than commercial canning (sterilization) processes for shelf-stable foods. Traditional canning typically operates at 249 F/120 C or higher in order to kill the dangerous pathogen Clostridium botulinum; but the temperature, pressure and length of the canning process often degrades food quality, making it less acceptable to consumers, said Tang.
The technology developed by his laboratory may help fulfill the mandate of the federal 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, which requires food producers nationwide to add steps in food production operations to make sure products are safe, Tang said.
“This new technology is an excellent example of the type of innovation NIFA seeks to deploy across the nation to keep our food supply safe for all consumers,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “Food safety is a critical priority for USDA, and I applaud Washington State University’s efforts to address this challenge with ground-breaking research that will be useful for food processors testing the safety and quality of their products.”
Other institutions involved with the project include the University of Tennessee, North Carolina State University, the U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center and USDA-Agricultural Research Service Eastern Regional Research Center. More information on the people and organizations involved can be found at http://microwavepasteurization.wsu.edu/mwp-main/people.html.

Most Americans Want Government Involved in Food Safety
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/most-americans-want-government-involved-in-food-safety/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 10, 2014)
According to a Harris poll conducted last month, with results released last week, 75% of americans want the government to be more involved in food safety oversight. The adults were surveyed online between January 15 and January 20, 2014. There were 2,236 American adults who were surveyed.
In the poll, women were more likely than men to indicate being both seriously and somewhat concerned about the food supply (77% vs. 69%). Americans in low income households (under $35,000) are more likely than those in higher earning households (>$50,000) to describe food recalls as a serious concern. And Democrats are more likely than Republicans to characterize food recalls as serious concerns.
Seventy-three percent of those questioned said that there should be more government oversight of food safety. And older adults were more concerned about recalls. Ninety-two percent of Americans aged 68 and older are concerned about recalls. Those numbers decline to 83% for those under age 36.
At least 33% of survey respondents said that would never purchase a brand again if it had been recalled for health or safety concerns, even if was their usual brand. Most said they would temporarily switch to another brand before returning to the original.
When asked about who was responsible for health and food safety issues, 50% said manufacturers. About 19% blamed the government, 16% blamed farmers, 6% blamed consumers who want inexpensive food, 2% blamed restaurants, and 1% blame grocery stores. In addition, most think that the number of food health and safety issues that prompt recalls is about the same as in the past few years.

 

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