FoodHACCP Newsletter
02/24 2014 ISSUE:588

Hilton Head Hepatitis A Alert
Source :
By Patti Waller (Feb 23, 2014)
Exposure to the hepatitis A virus can cause an acute infection of the liver that is typically mild and resolves on its own. The symptoms and duration of illness vary a great deal, with many persons showing no symptoms at all.  Fever and jaundice are two of the symptoms most commonly associated with a hepatitis A infection. Symptoms typically begin about 28 days after contracting hepatitis A, but can begin as early as 15 days or as late as 50 days after exposure. The symptoms include muscle aches, headache, anorexia (loss of appetite), abdominal discomfort, fever, and malaise.  Liver failure and death are rare, but can occur.
According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), customers and staff of Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks in Hilton Head Island who were present at the restaurant on the evening of February 15, 2014, are encouraged to contact their primary care provider to receive treatment for possible exposure to the Hepatitis A virus.  On Friday, DHEC was notified that an employee who worked at the restaurant on the evening of February 15 has tested positive for Hepatitis A. The employee is being treated for the infection and has not returned to work.
Hepatitis A:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food.  The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.
If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

E. coli in Cider Sends Michigan Farmer to Prison
Source :
By Bruce Clark (Feb 22, 2014)
According to press reports and a press release from the Michigan Depart of Agriculture, James Ruster, owner of Mitchell Hill Farm in Ellsworth, was sentenced last week for a felony violation of Michigan’s Food Law.  Ruster pled guilty to willful misbranding and adulteration of food products and was sentenced to 14 to 48 months in prison plus fines and court costs.  This is the first felony conviction under this law.
In October 2011 a food inspector investigated a consumer tip that Ruster was selling apple cider at a local farmers market. Mitchell Hill Farm was not approved to produce cider. After repeatedly being informed that he wasn’t meeting safe cider production standards, Ruster continued to make and sell cider.
In November 2012 an investigation by the Health Department of Michigan determined the improperly processed cider caused an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak putting four individuals in the hospital, including two children.  The cider was linked to Mitchell Hill Farm.
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.

Salmonella Outbreak at Old Country Buffet Sickens 23
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 21, 2014)
A Salmonella outbreak at Old Country Buffet in Maple Grove, MN sickened 23 people who ate at the restaurant in late January, the Minnesota Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. One person has been hospitalized.
So far, 11 cases of Salmonella Enteritidis infection have been culture-confirmed. Tests on stool samples from those patients will identify the “genetic fingerprint” of the bacteria allowing health investigators to determine if any samples taken from the restaurant are a match.
A food source has not yet been identified. State and county health officials are working together on the ongoing investigation, said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health.
Salmonella infections happen when people eat food contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter. Symptoms, which include fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea, usually develop between six and 72 hours after exposure and last up to a week. Anyone who ate at the Old Country Buffet in Maple Grove and has these symptoms should see a doctor.
MN Salmonella Outbreak May Be Linked to Maple Grove Restaurant
February 20, 2014 by Carla Gillespie 1 Comment
Updated Information: The Minnesota Department of Health has confirmed that the Salmonella outbreak is linked to eating at Old Country Buffet in Maple Grove, Minnesota.
A Salmonella outbreak in Minnesota may be linked to a restaurant in Maple Grove, Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned. A cluster of Salmonella Enteritidis infections has been identified and may be linked to a restaurant about 30 miles northwest of the Twin Cities metropolitan area.
A potential source of the outbreak has not yet been identified. Health officials are collecting environmental samples from the restaurant and stool samples from those who were sickened. Tests on the samples will determine the genetic fingerprint of the Salmonella, allowing health officials to determine if the isolates from the patients are a match to any of the samples from the restaurant.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, called salmonellosis, include fever abdominal cramping and diarrhea. These symptoms usually set in between six and 72 hours after exposure and can last up to a week. Anyone in the Maple Grove area who has these symptoms and believes they may be part of the outbreak should see a doctor.
Restaurants are the source of almost half of all reported U.S. foodborne illnesses, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Public health officials say improving the food safety knowledge of restaurant workers would help to reduce the number of illnesses associated with restaurant food each year.

What About Marijuana Food Safety?
Source :
By Kelly Damewood (Feb 20, 2014)
A considerable paradox exists in U.S. food policy. Although the federal government has named food safety as a top priority, an entire pocket of the food industry remains largely unregulated by, or at least largely under the radar of, most federal agencies. That pocket is marijuana-infused food.
The term “marijuana-infused food” may spark memories of brownies from days past, but, today, marijuana food is a robust industry. Now manufacturers make everything from marijuana beverages to candies and mints. In fact, significant portions of state-legal marijuana are consumed as food rather than by inhalation. Thus, marijuana-infused food is a legitimate, thriving, and growing sector of the food industry.
As such, some degree of regulation is inevitable. Any food, regardless of whether it contains marijuana, poses public health risks if poorly prepared, mislabeled, or made with unsafe substances.
But the difference between marijuana food and other products is that marijuana remains a federally illegal substance. And, for the most part, states have historically relied on federal law, federal agencies, and federal funding to help govern food safety. So, as states continue to legalize marijuana, they may also have to regulate in areas where they have traditionally relied on federal funding or expertise.
Is Marijuana Food Safety a Federal Enforcement Priority?
In 2013, Deputy Attorney General James Cole issued a memorandum, e.g., the 2013 Cole Memo, stating the U.S. Department of Justice’s (DOJ) updated policy on marijuana enforcement. The 2013 Cole Memo lists eight priority enforcement areas and suggests that DOJ will leave marijuana enforcement to states so long as states adequately regulate and enforce DOJ’s eight listed priorities to the extent necessary to ensure public safety.
The eight priorities encompass obvious public safety risks such as preventing distribution to minors, drugged driving, and violence. At first glance, the list of priorities seems comprehensive. But the 2013 Cole Memo does not mention food labeling, food testing, or any kind of food safety regulation.
Failing to mention food safety seems like an odd oversight for several reasons. First, marijuana food is a significant part of the marijuana industry. Second, federal agencies have announced food safety as a priority, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has begun implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), the most comprehensive food safety law to date. Finally, DOJ announced that it was bringing criminal charges against the Jensen brothers for their cantaloupe farm’s role in the 2011 Listeria outbreak just one month after issuing the 2013 Cole Memo. This suggests that DOJ is concerned about food safety and willing to engage in these types of issues. Yet it did not list food safety as a priority for marijuana enforcement.
Does it Matter if Marijuana Food Safety is a Federal Enforcement Priority?
The 2013 Cole memo’s failure to mention food safety does not mean that there will be no liability for marijuana food contamination. First and foremost, all manufacturers are required to produce safe food. Second, the memo clearly emphasizes that states must ensure public safety, and food safety certainly falls within that realm. Finally, the memo is just guidance; it does not have the effect of law. And some question the strength of the guidance because U.S. prosecutors may interpret and follow the memo at their discretion.
Nevertheless, the federal government clearly announced its intention to step back and let states take control of marijuana enforcement. DOJ clearly set forth what it considers top public safety priorities in relation to marijuana, but it did so without mention of food safety.
Can States Adequately Regulate Marijuana Food on Their Own?
Just because the federal government did not specifically tell states to regulate marijuana-infused food does not mean that states will not do so. Indeed, last year Colorado created the first comprehensive set of marijuana food regulations, and it has already implemented the first stages.
So the interesting question is not whether states will regulate marijuana food. If Colorado is any indication, states will come up with some type of regulatory scheme. The interesting question is whether states are equipped to regulate food safety entirely on their own.
States are not new to food safety. They have long been responsible for food safety regulations such as facility inspections and food-handling codes. But they have never been responsible for the kind of farm-to-fork regulations such as those Colorado recently passed.
Indeed, the average consumer may underestimate just how much federal law is behind food products. From food processing to food labeling, federal agencies, or at least federal funding, play a pivotal role in food safety enforcement.
Does Marijuana Food Safety Affect Federal Marijuana Policy?
Marijuana food safety might put a hitch in DOJ’s plan to leave the bulk of marijuana enforcement to states. DOJ expects states to create “sufficiently robust” regulation and enforcement schemes. But is it realistic to expect states to create sufficiently robust regulatory and enforcement schemes for marijuana food?
For now, it seems the answer may be partly related to convoluted legal issues such as preemption and federal jurisdiction. But the answer also heavily depends upon Colorado’s successes or failures. While Colorado anticipates adjustments and changes to its marijuana food regulations, it has already taken full responsibility for regulating marijuana food within the state. And, if Colorado does successfully regulate marijuana food from farm to fork with no help from the federal government, it will be a significant accomplishment and perhaps even a framework for other states with legal marijuana food industries.


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March 20-21, 2014

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Rice Cake Producer Fined $11,900
Source :
By Bill Marler (Feb 20, 2014)
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the food processing license of Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food, a producer of traditional Korean rice cakes, after several inspections found on-going sanitation problems at the Pierce County business.
In addition to revoking the company’s license to process food, WSDA assessed a cumulative civil penalty of $11,900 against the company and required all products at the facility in Parkland to be destroyed. Notices about the license revocation have been sent to all known retail outlets and restaurants that have purchased or carry Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food products.
As a result of these actions, the company cannot process any food at this location. Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food has 10 days to appeal and request the agency reconsider the order, but it cannot operate as a food processing operation during that appeal period.
This enforcement action follows several visits to Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food during which WSDA inspectors found problems with unsanitary conditions, poor sanitation practices by employees, and a general failure to protect food products from contamination. During the most recent visit, inspectors noted several problems that were observed during earlier inspections had not been addressed.
There are approximately 1,500 licensed food processors in Washington. WSDA’s Food Safety & Consumer Services Division works with these businesses to guide them in correcting violations of the state food production and handling requirements. When education efforts fail to improve conditions, WSDA has the authority to suspend or revoke licenses and assess civil penalties.
In this case, WSDA had twice issued orders to suspend Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food’s processing license. Both times, the company signed settlement agreements in which they promised to meet food processing requirements but failed to do so. The most recent agreement was in April 2012.
The continued violations of food processing standards and the failure to fully pay earlier fines led to the decision to revoke Mu Kung Hwa Oriental Food’s food processing license.

More Maryland Cheese with Listeria
Source :
By Bill Marler (Feb 19, 2014)
As part of an ongoing investigation, testing of cheese products by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is presumptively positive for Listeria bacteria.  The products were made by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware.  While confirmatory testing is underway, DHMH advises consumers not to eat any cheese products made by Roos Foods, or foods that have been made with these cheeses.  Roos Foods include the following brands:  Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina, and La Purisima Crema Nica.
Listeria bacteria can cause a serious infection called listeriosis.  Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria bacteria, and typically occurs within 3 days to 10 weeks (usually within 3 weeks).  Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions which can be preceded by nausea or diarrhea.  Listeria infection can be treated with antibiotics. Listeriosis in pregnant women may cause fever and other flu-like symptoms which can be mild. However, because Listeria infection can cause premature labor, premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or severe infection of newborns, it is especially important that pregnant women avoid these products.
Other persons at higher risk for disease include:
·         Newborns
·         Elderly persons
·         Individuals with a weakened immune system (for example: persons with AIDS, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease)
If a person has any of the above symptoms and has consumed cheese from Roos Foods, they should consult their healthcare provider.

Eatery shut for repeated food safety breaches 
Source :
By Shamila Jamaluddin (Feb 20, 2014)
 ABU DHABI: Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) on Wednesday ordered the closure of Western Shell Restaurant and Cafeteria (CN-1472943) in Madinat Zayed in the Western Region for repeated violation of food safety rules.
Mohamed Jalal Al Rayssi, Director of Communication and Community Service at ADFCA, said the decision to close down the restaurant was taken following repeated warnings and punitive measures over a period of eight months.
“The restaurant was given the first warning in July last year as it was flouting several food safety and hygiene norms, posing a clear threat to the health of the customers,” he explained.
Al Rayssi said the inspectors had visited the restaurant again in August, September and several times thereafter, only to find that the violations continued unabated.
 “In view of the refusal of the restaurant owners to take corrective measures in spite of repeated warnings and fines, ADFCA decided to order the closure of the restaurant,” he added.

Why this bakery worker isn't wearing gloves -- surprising food safety rules
Source :
By  Debbi Snook, The Plain Dealer (Feb 19, 2014)
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- We expect food workers to wear sanitary gloves while on the job. But it's not often we get a look inside a food manufacturing operation, where rules may vary.
So when our story on Orlando Baking Company and its new breads showed up online and in print this week, readers were shocked to see photographs of workers without gloves. Two dozen readers asked why in emails and voicemails.
The answers:
One, it's not required in this situation, by law or in practice. Yes, gloves are necessary when workers handle raw meat or ready-to-eat foods. But the Ohio code says they're not required when handling ready-to-eat foods that will be baked to a temperature of 165 degrees.
Two, rigorous handwashing is required, and Orlando has specific rules for this practice.
"In accordance with the FDA (federal Food and Drug Administration), we have a strict Good Manufacturing Practices policy that includes a handwashing and sanitizing policy for all employees and visitors," John Orlando Jr. said in a published statement Wednesday.
"In addition, all of our products are fully baked and any organisms that may be on the product, but very unlikely due to our strict policies and procedures, are killed during the baking process. After baking, in our packaging department, all employees coming into contact with the product wear gloves as required."
Their practices, he said, are standard to the industry.
Orlando is regularly audited for their food safety practices, he added, and has been found compliant with those practices. They also voluntarily submit to a three-day audit of practices that are "more stringent than FDA standards" and are done by a third party (non-Orlando, non-government). The most recent audit earned them an "A" rating, Orlando said, and can be found online. Once you pull up the link, search for "Orlando Baking."
Tessie Pollock, communications director for the Ohio Department of Agriculture, sent along these segments of the Ohio Administrative Code that apply to this situation:
3717-1-2.2(C): Food employees shall clean their hands and exposed portions of their arms as specified under paragraph (B) of this rule immediately before engaging in food preparation including working with exposed food; clean equipment or utensils; or unwrapped single-service or single-use articles and:
(1) After touching bare human body parts other than clean hands and clean, exposed portions of arms;
(2) After using the toilet room;
(3) After caring for or handling service animals or aquatic animals as specified in paragraph (D) of rule 3717-1-02.3 of the Administrative Code;
(4) After coughing, sneezing, using a handkerchief or disposable tissue, using tobacco, eating, or drinking except as specified in paragraph (A) of rule 3717-1-02.3 of the Administrative Code for a food employee drinking from a closed beverage container;
(5) After handling soiled equipment or utensils;
(6) During food preparation, as often as necessary to remove soil and contamination and to prevent cross contamination when changing tasks;
(7) When switching between working with raw foodand working with ready-to-eat food;
(8) Before donning gloves for working with food; and
(9) After engaging in any other activities that contaminate the hands.
3717-1-03.2: (A) Preventing contamination from hands.
(1) Food employees shall wash their hands as specified under paragraph (B) of rule 3717-1-02.2 of the Administrative Code.
(2) Except when washing fruits and vegetables as specified under paragraph (G) of this rule or as specified in paragraph (A)(4) of this rule, food employees may not contact exposed, ready-to-eat food with their bare hands and shall use suitable utensils such as deli tissue, spatulas, tongs, single-use gloves, or dispensing equipment.
(3) Paragraph (A)(2) of this rule does not apply to a food employee that contacts exposed, ready-to-eat food with bare hands at the time the ready-to-eat food is being added as an ingredient to a food that:
(a) Contains a raw animal food and is to be cooked in the food service operation or retail food establishment to heat all parts of the food to the minimum temperatures specified in paragraphs (A) and (B) of rule 3717-1-03.3 of the Administrative Code; or
(b) Does not contain a raw animal food but is to be cooked in the food service operation or retail food establishment to heat all parts of the food to a temperature of at least one hundred sixty-five degrees Fahrenheit (seventy-four degrees Celsius).
3717-1-3.2(N): Gloves - use limitation.
(1) If used, single-use gloves shall be used for only one task such as working with ready-to-eat food or with raw animal food, used for no other purpose, and discarded when damaged or soiled, or when interruptions occur in the operation.
(2) Slash-resistant gloves that are used to protect the hands during operations requiring cutting shall be used in direct contact only with food that is subsequently cooked as specified under rule 3717-1-03.3 of the Administrative Code such as frozen food or a primal cut of meat. This does not prohibit the use of slash-resistant gloves with ready-to-eat food that will not be subsequently cooked if the slash-resistant gloves have a smooth, durable, and nonabsorbent outer surface; or if the slash-resistant gloves are covered with a smooth, durable, nonabsorbent glove, or a single-use glove.
(3) Cloth gloves may not be used in direct contact with food unless the food is subsequently cooked as required under rule 3717-1-03.3 of the Administrative Code such as frozen food or a primal cut of meat.

Produce markets' growth spurs food safety learning
Source :
By Keri Collins Lewis (Feb 19, 2014)
MISSISSIPPI STATE – Since consumers expect the fresh produce they buy from Mississippi growers to be healthy, learning how to handle fruits and vegetables from seed to sale properly is vital.
More than 20 fruit and vegetable growers gathered at Mississippi State University on Feb. 17 for an all-day workshop about food safety and best practices. Instructors from the MSU Extension Service, Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station, and Alcorn State University took attendees through an intensive course designed to introduce them to aspects of raising produce to sell to the public.
“This workshop helps producers prepare for certification,” said Eric Stafne, Extension fruit crops specialist. “While not all purchasers or farmers markets require certification, producers responding to market demand for locally grown produce in grocery stores will find certification is required.”
Stafne said the workshop touched on several topics, such as selecting sites; excluding animals; controlling pests; cooling, packing and storing produce; and managing worker health and hygiene.
“Many of these topics overlap with the Food Safety Modernization Act,” Stafne said. “Not all aspects of that law have been approved yet, but as people expand from backyard gardeners to farmers market vendors and beyond, they need to know best practices for handling products for consumer safety.”
Christine Coker, associate research and Extension professor at the Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi, said the larger-than-usual crowd reflected the importance of food safety.
“People know that food safety is not a fleeting issue,” she said. “If producers want to make a living selling fruits and vegetables, they need to make food safety a priority.”
One activity at the workshop drove home the importance of personal hygiene.
“We have a lotion we ask people to use, and then we tell them to go wash their hands,” Coker said. “After they wash them, they put their hands under an ultraviolet light connected to a projector. It’s immediately evident where the lotion wasn’t scrubbed away, and we use this process to make a point about proper hand-washing.
“It’s powerful for adults to see that bacteria are probably lurking under their wedding rings, bracelets, watches and fingernails. Handling food requires extra attention to sanitation,” Coker said.
One of the workshop’s goals is to encourage people to expand their growing operations to meet the demand for local produce.
“We want to help people develop successful small businesses, whether it’s an on-farm stand or a booth at the farmers market,” she said.
The workshop also helps producers with established, larger-scale operations stay up-to-date on regulations.
Bill Duckworth, president of the Miss-Lou Blueberry Growers Cooperative, attended the class to get the latest information on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s audit requirements.
“Our co-op’s blueberry growers have been complying with food safety regulations for years, and it’s great to see so many smaller growers interested in food safety,” Duckworth said. “Everyone needs to work to develop the reputation of Mississippi-grown produce as a high-quality product that is safe for people to eat. No matter how large or small the operation, basic principles of food safety and security need to be followed to give consumers confidence.”
The next good agricultural practices and good handling practices workshop will be March 11 in Biloxi at the Coastal Research and Extension Center, located at 1815 Popp’s Ferry Road.
Registration is free and open to all Mississippi fruit and vegetable growers who sell to the fresh market. Seating is limited to the first 25 participants to preregister. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
To preregister or for more information, contact Barakat Mahmoud at 228-762-7783, ext. 301 or
The workshop is funded by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the Southern Risk Management Education Center.

Rancho Beef Recall Expands Nationwide
Source :
By News Desk (Feb 19, 2014)
This article was updated Feb. 19 with a link to the latest list of retailers.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture now believes that the approximately 8.7 million pounds of meat recalled by Petaluma, CA, processor Rancho Feeding Corporation and lacking a full federal inspection was shipped to distribution centers and retail establishments nationwide.
The Class 1 recall initially stated that the recalled products had been shipped to distribution centers and retail establishments in California, Florida, Illinois and Texas.
The current list of distributors published by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) includes retailers in 30 states.
FSIS reissued the recall release on Feb. 18, stating that the update is “a consequence of a properly working recall process.”
“When the recall release was first issued on February 8, FSIS was unable to ascertain the extent of the establishments involved,” the notice reads. “As the establishments were notified, the list of States affected grew.”
Nestlé has also recalled some of its Hot Pockets sandwiches because, although the company did not purchase meat directly from Rancho, “a small quantity of meat from Rancho was used at Nestlé’s Chatsworth, California production operation.”
The following Rancho Feeding Corporation products are subject to recall:
“Beef Carcasses” (wholesale and custom sales only)
2 per box “Beef (Market) Heads” (retail only)
4-gallons per box “Beef Blood” (wholesale only)
20-lb. boxes of “Beef Oxtail”
30-lb. boxes of “Beef Cheeks”
30-lb. boxes of ” Beef Lips”
30-lb. boxes of “Beef Omasum”
30-lb. boxes of “Beef Tripas”
30-lb. boxes of “Mountain Oysters”
30-lb. boxes of “Sweet Breads”
30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Liver”
30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Tripe”
30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Beef Tongue”
30- and 60-lb. boxes of “Veal Cuts”
40-lb. boxes of “Veal Bones”
50-lb. boxes of “Beef Feet”
50-lb. boxes of “Beef Hearts”
60-lb. boxes of “Veal Trim”
Beef carcasses and boxes bear the establishment number “EST. 527″ inside the USDA mark of inspection. Each box bears the case code number ending in “3” or “4.” The products were produced Jan. 1, 2013, through Jan. 7, 2014, and shipped to distribution centers and retail establishments nationwide.
FSIS has received no reports of illness due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an illness should contact a health care provider.

E. Coli Death Leads to Family’s Food Safety Awakening
Source :
By Cathy Siegner (Feb17, 2014)
Ruby Trautz, a retired registered nurse from Bellevue, NE, was the first fatality in the 2006 E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Dole bagged baby spinach produced in the Salinas Valley of California. Trautz, 81, died Aug. 31, 2006, after several days in the hospital
She was one of four people who passed away after eating the tainted spinach, although the hospital listed her official cause of death as clostridium difficile, a bacterial infection. It took about three weeks until the Nebraska state epidemiologist reported Trautz’s death as E. coli-related.
By the time the 2006 spinach-linked E. coli outbreak was over, it had caused more than 200 people to become ill and at least 30 to develop hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious and potentially fatal kidney condition associated with E. coli infection.
Trautz’s tragic death was the beginning of food-safety awareness for her daughter and son-in-law Polly and Ken Costello, with whom Ruby lived. The couple doesn’t believe that she was appropriately diagnosed and, given her symptoms, they think doctors should have more quickly recognized the cause.
“Through the process of events, we kind of did a family discovery of what happened, because one of the things that we’re still concerned about is that when people come into a hospital with symptoms of a foodborne illness, they don’t find out for a while,” Polly says.
“There was so much not being done, so much room for improvement,” Ken adds. “Certainly when you see a loved one die, it’s kind of a galvanizing force, and, if you can make that better, you want to.”
In the aftermath of Ruby’s death, her family began piecing together details of what happened to her along with information being circulated about the outbreak. Between news reports and conversations with friends and relatives in the medical field, they began to realize the dimensions of the problem and that they probably still had the contaminated spinach in their refrigerator. And, sure enough, a sample was tested and matched the outbreak serotype.
“In the beginning, obviously we were concerned about what happened to her, but we were also concerned about all the things that happened after she was ill. I told Ken to Google her symptoms, and the first thing that came up was E. coli,” Polly recalls.
Meanwhile, Ken, who had also eaten the bagged baby spinach, began to have symptoms of a foodborne illness on the same day his mother-in-law passed away. He remembers that they lasted for eight or nine days and were first misdiagnosed as diverticulitis. It took three weeks to find out that his problems stemmed from an E. coli O157:H7 infection.
“For me, it felt like I had 10 pounds of lead in my stomach, and it just ached,” he says. “I just wanted to go to sleep until I felt better. I just hurt.”

While the Costellos and other affected families ended up reaching monetary settlements with those responsible for the contaminated spinach, they would like to see more education and training about E. coli diagnosis and treatment.
They have become active about food safety issues, met with other foodborne illness survivors and family members of those who died from foodborne illnesses, and regularly visit Capital Hill to speak to lawmakers about changes to oversight and regulation.
And, in 2009, Ken joined the board of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention, representing that group in testimony to the Food and Drug Administration about implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) at a March 2013 meeting in Chicago:
“After the spinach-borne E. coli outbreak of 2006, we were thrilled to see the processor of Dole baby spinach follow the lead of the ground beef industry and institute a model bacteriologic-testing program. We believe all consumers deserve similar safeguards and are hopeful the final rules will reflect a similar requirement from the FDA.
“On behalf of my family and the entire food safety community, we are here to thank the FDA. I can see the hard work of all advocates I have met in these proposed rules. Our jobs, however, will not be complete until the Food Safety Modernization Act is fully implemented and our food supply is as safe as we deserve.”
Polly also gave testimony to FDA at that meeting, concluding with this statement:
“The contamination that killed my mother is unfortunately not unique. Foodborne bacteria show no bias based on product or farm size. As I believe they are outlined in the proposal, exemptions in the final produce rule should be as narrowly defined as possible. In doing so, fewer daughters will be forced to say goodbye to their mothers because of a foodborne illness. My fervent wish is that we all experience safe food.”
However, she points out that she and her husband aren’t advocates for more government regulation in general.
“We are not for more control, but after this happened, we would like to see more happen,” Polly says. She adds that statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate there are more foodborne illnesses being reported now than when her mother died, a situation she calls “startling.”
“At the time of my mother-in-law’s death, there had been quite a few outbreaks in the few years prior,” Ken notes. “I would have thought the industry would have done whatever they could to make sure this product is as pure as possible, because, if something happens, we’ll be out of business or close to it. But since then, there have been all kinds of outbreaks.”
Late last month, the couple, who now live in Wyoming, again traveled to Washington, D.C., to carry their message to lawmakers. Ken recounts that they met with Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) and staff members of Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY).
“We discussed the impact of the results of foodborne illness and the need to fully fund and formulate the details of the FSMA. No other family should experience avoidable death and illness from contaminated food,” Ken told Food Safety News in an email.
Today, the Costellos occasionally eat fresh spinach, but they don’t dine out as often, and they’re more careful about what and where they consume produce and how they handle food at home, Polly notes. However, they also realize there’s no guarantee of safety.
“Every time an outbreak is reported, the first thing they tell you is you should be doing good food-handing. You should be washing your product,” she says, adding, “Mother’s and Ken’s was grown in the leaf, so washing wouldn’t help.”
In FDA’s final report on the 2006 outbreak, released March 2007, the agency makes a similar point but still advocates washing all produce before consumption. “Although washing produce would not have prevented the recent E. coli outbreak involving spinach, washing can reduce the risk of contamination from some other causes,” the report read. “FDA advises consumers that all produce should be thoroughly washed before eating.”
The agency’s final report also acknowledged that the joint investigation by FDA and the California Department of Health Services never found the source of the 2006 outbreak.
“The investigators successfully identified the environmental risk factors and the areas that were most likely involved in the outbreak, but they were unable to definitely determine how the contamination originated,” the report states.
However, using product codes from bags of implicated spinach, along with DNA fingerprinting from bacteria on the bags, investigators matched environmental samples of E. coli O157:H7 from one field to the strain that caused the outbreak and thus narrowed down the list of culprits: “Potential environmental risk factors for E. coli O157:H7 contamination at or near the field included the presence of wild pigs, the proximity of irrigation wells used to grow produce for ready-to-eat packaging, and surface waterways exposed to feces from cattle and wildlife.”
While studies or final reports can help with data and illness outbreaks in the future, the Costellos are painfully aware that nothing will bring Ruby back nor replace the precious time they and their two children, JK and Christy, might have spent with her if she hadn’t prematurely passed away.
The best they can do now is advocate for better regulations and safer food practices, lobby for full implementation of FSMA, and hope that nobody else has to go through a similar experience.
“We would never want anybody to have to watch someone who is relatively healthy die in four days the death that my mom died,” Polly says. “I know we all feel that way about cancer and things like that, but this is what happened to us… My mother’s death was preventable.”

New group to improve dairy traceability
Source :
By (Feb 18, 2014)
A new working group will be set up to improve traceability in the dairy industry as a result of the Fonterra botulism scare last year.
The group will be made up of members from various organisations, including the Food and Grocery Council, the New Zealand Retailers Association and Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand.
One member will come from the Ministry of Primary Industries.
The Government inquiry into the Fonterra scare highlighted how important it is to have effective dairy traceability systems, says Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy.
"The Inquiry recommended lifting the dairy sector's ability to trace products and ingredients through a working group focusing on regulatory and worldwide best practices," says Mr Guy.
The group will report to MPI Director General Martyn Dunne, and investigate possible changes that can be made to regulations and practices within the dairy industry that would improve food and ingredient traceability, says Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye.
"Improving the traceability of dairy products will further protect the public in the event of a suspected food safety issue," she says.
Group membership will be finalised this month and the first meeting will be in March.



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