FoodHACCP Newsletter
03/02 2014 ISSUE:589


Legislators Angry About Increased Poultry Line Speeds
source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/legislators-angry-about-increased-poultry-line-speeds/
y Linda Larsen (Mar 2, 2014)
According to Food and Water Watch, congressional leaders and poultry workers have asked the Obama administration to stop the USDA from letting poultry plants increase line speeds. The new regulations, which were announced two years ago, will increase line speeds from 140 birds per minute to 175, despite a lot of evidence that this speed is a primary contributor to worker injuries. OSHA does not regulate line speeds or enforce safety rules for poultry plants; the USDA is the only federal agency involved in this area.
The coalition, which includes Center for Effective Government and Center for Progressive Reform, is also stating that this increase will make workers less able to identify and remove tainted chicken. Hilary O. Shelton, director of the NAACP Washington Bureau said in a statement, “we are deeply concerned about the implications of the proposed policy on the safety and well-being of workers and consumers. Furthermore, the proposed elimination of federal inspectors from the processing lines can potentially lead to a significant decrease in the quality of chickens in our supermarkets and restaurants and on our dinner tables.”
The new regulations, known as HIMP, have been promoted as an attempt to “modernize” the poultry industry. They would also remove hundreds of federal inspectors from processing lines, and replace them with company employees who receive no training.
A Southern Poverty Law Center survey of 302 current and former poultry factory workers in Alabama found that 72% suffered a “significant work-related injury or illness.” Those injuries include carpal tunnel syndrome, knife cuts, and respiratory illnesses. The poultry industry reports 20,000 repetitive cutting, pulling, grabbing, or hanging motions per shift. Alabama is the country’s third-largest poultry producer.
Tony Corbo, senior lobbyists at Food and Water Watch said, “this step is not only bad for workers, it’s terrible for consumers. It’s the first step in deregulating meat inspections, which means fewer consumer and worker protections.”
Janet Murgui, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza said, “safer food begins with safer workplaces. Instead of advancing a proposal that would make already dangerous workplaces even more hazardous, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez must work together to improve worker safety in the poultry industry.” The recent Foster Farms Salmonella chicken outbreak and last month’s recall of more than 8 million pounds of adulterated Rancho Feeding Corporation beef highlight the concerns of this group.

Frozen Strawberries From China Sickened 11,000 in Germany
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/frozen-strawberries-from-china-sickened-11000-in-germany/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 02, 2014)
Frozen strawberries from China sickened 11,000 people in Germany in the fall of 2012, according to a new report. A single caterer distributed the berries within the country, mostly to schools and childcare facilities.
In total, children at 390 schools and child care facilities were exposed to the contaminated berries. All of the affected locations served the tainted berries for lunch. The following day, September 27, 2012, reports of illness began pouring in to health agencies.
The kitchens at the facilities prepared the frozen strawberries in different ways. In some cases, they were defrosted and sugared. In others, they were poured into boiling water and briefly boiled. In facilities not affected by the outbreak, the kitchens served the strawberries after boiling them.
Norovirus is highly contagious and spreads quickly in contained areas such as schools, nursing comes and cruise ships. About half of all food posioning outbreaks in the U.S. are caused by norovirus. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and low-grade fever. Infected individuals are most contagious while they have symptoms and for three days after symptoms resolve.

Passing: Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D., Discovered Norovirus
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/passing-albert-z-kapikian-m-d-discovered-norovirus/
By Drew Falkenstein (Mar 02, 2014)
Albert Z. Kapikian, M.D., a pioneering virologist at the National Institutes of Health who discovered norovirus and led a decades-long effort that resulted in the first licensed rotavirus vaccine, died on Feb. 24, 2014. He was 83 years old. Dr. Kapikian was the former chief of the epidemiology section of the Laboratory of Infectious Diseases at NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a position he held for 45 years.
“Al Kapikian was a giant in the field of virology,” said NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. “His seminal basic and clinical research contributions to the study of viruses and to vaccine development have had an enormous global impact. Importantly, he was a warm-hearted, beloved, and widely respected human being. His many friends at NIAID and NIH mourn the loss of their esteemed colleague.”
Dr. Kapikian often was called the father of human gastroenteritis virus research for his work on improving the understanding and prevention of viral diseases that affect the gastrointestinal tract. In 1972, he identified the first norovirus, initially called Norwalk virus. Noroviruses are now recognized as a major cause of epidemic diarrhea in adults worldwide. In 1973, Dr. Kapikian and his colleagues identified the hepatitis A virus. He also was the first scientist in the United States to detect human rotavirus, which had been discovered by others in Australia. He dedicated himself to studying this leading cause of severe diarrhea in children, which accounts for more than 400,000 deaths annually, mostly in developing countries.
“Al was my hero,” said Kathryn C. Zoon, Ph.D., director of the NIAID Division of Intramural Research. “He was a modest man who made many remarkable discoveries in virology and saved many lives through his vaccine development efforts. He will be missed by his NIAID family.”
Dr. Kapikian and his research group defined the mode of transmission of rotavirus, identified the viral proteins critical for triggering an immune response, and formulated a vaccine that targeted several important rotavirus strains. These efforts ultimately led to the development, testing and approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 1998 of the first rotavirus vaccine. Subsequently, Dr. Kapikian headed the development of second-generation rotavirus vaccines that have been licensed by pharmaceutical companies in Brazil, China, and India. He also contributed to ongoing efforts to improve rotavirus vaccines and expand their use in the developing world.
He received his medical degree from Cornell University Medical College in 1956 and joined NIAID in 1957. His numerous accomplishments earned him the Albert B. Sabin Gold Medal, the Maurice Hilleman/Merck Award of the American Society for Microbiology and the Children’s Vaccine Initiative Pasteur Award, among many other honors.
“Al was a great scientist who worked as hard as humanly possible on the development of an attenuated virus vaccine for rotavirus,” said Brian R. Murphy, M.D., former co-chief of the NIAID Laboratory of Infectious Diseases. “Most importantly, he was a great colleague to those of us lucky enough to have worked with him. He was thoughtful, gentle, kind, enthusiastic, encouraging and extremely intelligent. He was a sports enthusiast, a master of the knuckleball and a great father, with a loving wife, sons and grandchildren.”

Processing Method Makes Baby Food Safer
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2014/02/processing-method-makes-baby-food-safer.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Feb 27, 2014)
BERLIN—Treating baby food puree with high-pressure thermal sterilization (HPTS) rather than conventional thermal processing reduces the amount of furan in the product and may make it safer for consumption, according to new research published in the Journal of Food Science.
A team of food scientists from Technische University Berlin used two spore strains to test the technique—Geobacillus stearothermophilus and Bacillus amyloliquefaciens—over the temperature range 90°C to 121°C at 600 Mega Pascals (MPa). The treatments were carried out in baby food puree and ACES-buffer. The treatments at 90°C and 105°C showed that G. stearothermophilus is more pressure-sensitive than B. amyloliquefaciens. The formation of food processing contaminants (such as furan) was monitored during the sterilization process and compared to the amounts found in retorted samples of the same food.
Although levels of furan—a carcinogen resulting from heat treatment techniques, such as canning and jarring—are far below of what would cause harmful effect as determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the researchers wanted to find a way to reduce their levels even further.
They found that the amounts of furan could be reduced 81% to 96% in comparison to retorting for the tested temperature pressure combination even at sterilization conditions of F0-value in 7 min. Given that the consumer groups of this food are infants and babies, the authors concluded that “reducing harmful substances, such as furan, in their daily diet is clearly an advantage given by HPTS over conventional thermal processing. The combination of a low acceptable daily intake, body weight, and the amounts of furan found in the retorted samples is quite critical. A scaling up is needed to validate these findings and help to implement this promising technology in the food industry."



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Pritzker Olsen Retained in Old Country Buffet Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/pritzker-olsen-retained-in-old-country-buffet-salmonella-outbreak/
By News Desk (Feb 27, 2014)
PritzkerOlsen law firm is representing seven people who were sickened in a Salmonella outbreak at Old Country Buffet in Maple Grove, MN. At least 23 people who ate at the restaurant in late January became ill, one of them was hospitalized.
PritzkerOlsen, a Minneapolis-based law firm with a national food safety practice, represents people sickened by foodborne pathogens such as E.coli, Listeria and Salmonella. Food poisoning from Salmonella, called salmonellosis,  occurs when people eat food contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter. Symptoms such as abdominal cramps and diarrhea, usually develop within six and 72 hours of exposure and last about a week. In some cases, the infections can have long-term health effects such as reactive arthritis.

Poultry Processing Line Speeds: How Fast is Too Fast?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/poultry-processing-line-speeds-how-fast-is-too-fast/
By Alvin Sewell (Feb 26, 2014)
Opinion
There are many arguments, pro and con, about efforts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to renovate its meat processing inspection process.
In my last editorial, I outlined the origin and pitfalls of FSIS’ proposal to extend the decade-old HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP) pilot program into plants nationwide.
The debate on HIMP has a variety of perspectives. The discussion may twist and turn, but for those who work in the business, it’s always about line speed. Even with massive poultry recalls, foodborne illness outbreaks, and compromises in worker safety, FSIS intends to allow further increases in line speeds. The 175 birds-per-minute proposed line speed more than doubles the current standard of 70 birds per minute under Streamlined Inspection System regulations.
I entered the FSIS inspection workforce in 1986, shortly after the introduction of the Streamlined Inspection System in poultry inspection. I also worked in beef slaughter inspection where the line speed had recently increased. It was readily apparent to me that high line speeds increase inspector error, increase the impact of contamination through process problems, and contribute to worker injury for those working the processing lines.
FSIS intends to allow plants to essentially double their line speed with respect to the current regulated rate of inspection. To understand the negative impact of this serious breakdown in regulatory influence, one should look at the run up to where we are today.
When I came on board with FSIS, plants were allowed to “reprocess” carcasses contaminated with feces and digestive tract contents. Prior to that, plants had to prevent contamination by fecal material. Evisceration processes under Streamlined Inspection routinely operated at significant rates of contamination. Contamination rates of  20 or 30 percent and higher were not uncommon.
I immediately learned that the remedy for high rates of contamination was to decrease the line speed. This would sometimes happen through FSIS control of the line speed, and, at other times, occurred due to plant processes not being able to keep up with widespread contamination and disease conditions. Plants were allowed to recondition contaminated carcasses at an off-line location by rinsing the contamination off with chlorinated water.
It was an almost daily event for the off-line reprocessing station to become overwhelmed with a high volume of FSIS-retained carcasses. This would often trigger line-speed reductions or complete halting of the slaughter process for the reprocessing work to “catch up.”
The high rates of contamination were typically related to a combination of causes. First, poultry growers would sometimes delay the withdrawal of feed from live chickens to sustain a desired live weight. This was done to maximize the financial return on the weight of their flocks. Second, mechanized processing would sometimes not be able to “properly synchronize” with carcasses during the evisceration process, causing digestive tract contents to be damaged, and a resulting contamination of carcasses. Third, plant workers, who were unable to sustain their manipulation of carcasses at sustained and tedious line speeds, would damage the digestive tract tissue, causing contamination of carcasses.
The sustained processing errors that contaminate carcasses cause on-line inspectors to become fixated and overwhelmed with errors so that individual inspection decisions become less accurate, further impeding the process of passing carcasses that are free of disease conditions and/or contamination. Remember, this commonly happens at the current line speeds.
Under HIMP, plant employees would suffer the same mental and physical impairments, exacerbated by further increases in line speed. Unlike FSIS inspectors, plant “sorters” in the HIMP pilot plants are under pressure from their production supervisors to do whatever it takes to maintain the maximum rate of production.
To address this matter of continuous contamination of carcasses, FSIS directed inspectors to pass contaminated carcasses and allow an “online reprocessing” step to neutralize pathogenic bacterial contamination. In other words, fecal contamination is spread and theoretically sanitized in the anti-microbial intervention process.
These systems introduce a rinse with an anti-microbial treatment such as Tri-Sodium Phosphate or Acidified Sodium Chlorite. The result is sustained line speeds and more profitable production yields. Judging by recent findings by Consumer Reports of high levels of Salmonella contamination at the consumer level, this profit comes at a cost to consumers who are sometimes sickened by poultry products.
The Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points law, in the form of Federal Regulation 9 CFR 417.6 (e) states that a plant’s HACCP plan is determined to be inadequate if, “Adulterated product is produced or shipped.” While FSIS, the industry, and consumer groups wrangle as to whether Salmonella should or should not be considered an “adulterant,” the findings by Consumer Reports demonstrates that poultry at the consumer level is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. And it’s not just Salmonella. Campylobacter, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus were found in poultry identified in the aforementioned Consumer Reports article.
It is my opinion that historic increases in line speed have had a significant negative impact on the FSIS inspection process. It is also my assertion that the HIMP will significantly worsen problems of consumer and plant worker safety. There comes a time to introduce pragmatism into the discussion of the point where profitability and safety cross.
While I fully accept the reality of the industry’s need to cut costs and make processing more profitable, it must be balanced within the scope of consumer safety and product viability. Drastic increases in line speeds will enhance neither. This is the reality that any practical discussion of government inspection modification must accept.

Marler Clark Retained in Listeria Cheese Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/marler-clark-retained-in-listeria-cheese-outbreak/
By Bill Marler (Feb 26, 2014)
A total of eight persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from two states.  The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: California (1) and Maryland (7).  Seven of eight ill persons were hospitalized. One death was reported in California. Five of the illnesses (2 mother-newborn pairs and a newborn) were related to pregnancy.
The outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes that caused the illnesses has been found in cheese products produced by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware. These cheeses have been recalled.  On February 25, 2014, Roos Foods voluntarily expanded their February 23 recall to include all lots of Amigo and Mexicana brands of Requesón (part-skim ricotta) in 15 oz. and 16 oz. plastic containers and all lots of Amigo, Mexicana, and Santa Rosa De Lima brands of Queso de Huerta (fresh curd cheese).  FDA issued a notice of the expanded recall on February 25 with advice to consumers, retailers, and restaurants.
Consumers should not eat any of the following brands of cheese manufactured or repackaged by Roos Foods of Kenton, Delaware: Amigo, Anita, Mexicana, and Santa Rosa De Lima.  These products were distributed through retail stores in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.
Listeria:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria 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 Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.   Marler Clark is presently representing 46 victims and their families in the 2011 Jensen Farms Listeria cantaloupe outbreak.
If you or a family member became ill with a Listeria infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Listeria attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Can lab-grown meat solve China’s food safety and shortage problems?
Source : http://qz.com/181399/lab-grown-meat-china-food-problems/
By Lily Kuo (Feb 26, 2014)
China’s problems with food safety—as well as worries about the food supply meeting its population’s needs—have prompted a number of solutions, including creating a new regulatory body and investing millions in biotechnology. Another, more novel approach is on the horizon: synthetically made meat.
Earlier this month, Asia’s wealthiest man, Li Ka-Shing, announced that he had led at $23 million investment round in a Silicon Valley startup that makes plant-based egg substitutes and eggless mayonnaise. The company, Hampton Creek, is getting ready to expand into Asia. “Everyone wants a clean and sustainable world,” Li said at the time.
As we’ve pointed out, worry about the world’s meat consumption is one reason why research and business ventures related to synthetic food, like last year’s first lab-grown burger made with cow cells, and meat substitutes have started to take off. In China, where meat consumption is already double that of America’s and still growing even as available arable land shrinks, synthetically made food could be even more relevant. According to Hampton Creek CEO Josh Tetrick, China already consumes 30% of the world’s eggs.
Food safety is another reason why synthetic food could benefit China. The country’s agriculture and food supply chains are difficult to regulate, stretching across 200 million small farms and almost half a million food processing companies, with few financial resources to maintain safety standards. Lab-cultivated meat and eggs like Hampton Creek’s could also help protect against viruses like avian flu that have cropped up because of close human contact with live poultry in cities. China’s on-and-off food scandals have eroded consumer trust and hit firms hoping to cater to them, like Yum Brands, whose KFC chain is still struggling to win back Chinese eaters after reports of excessive antibiotics.
The UK and the Chinese government have launched synthetic biology research exchanges and Chinese biotech firm BGI now runs the world’s largest pig cloning center. It may not be that long before we see Chinese lab-grown pork.

Hilton Head: 300 Exposed to Hepatitis A – Vaccines Urged
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/hilton-head-300-exposed-to-hepatitis-a-vaccines-urged/
By Bill Marler (Feb 26, 2014)
The Hilton Head Island Packet reports that nearly 300 people might have been exposed to hepatitis A at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks restaurant February 15th, but so far no cases stemming from the exposure have been confirmed.  An employee at Hudson’s Seafood House on the Docks tested positive for hepatitis A on last Friday, six days after the employee had worked at the restaurant.
Anyone who was at the restaurant from 4 p.m. until closing time February 15th — when the infected employee was working — should contact his or her primary care provider to receive a single-dose vaccine no later than March 1.  The treatment must be administered within 14 days of possible exposure because people usually become sick within 15 to 50 days after being exposed. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain, and those infected may also experience joint pain and jaundice.  Most patients recover completely within two months, but symptoms can persist for up to six months in severe cases.  Acute liver failure is a risk.
If hepatitis A vaccines are not available at a primary care provider, customers should call DHEC at 800-868-0404 to schedule an appointment at a local health department.  DHEC clinics in Beaufort County will provide hepatitis A vaccines by appointment this week; vaccines cost $52.30 for people who have health insurance, $25 for those without insurance and $13 for children.

Piglets Fed to their Mothers at Iron Maiden Hog Farm in KY
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/piglets-fed-to-their-mothers-at-iron-maiden-hog-farm-in-ky/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 25, 2014)
The Humane Society has released a disturbing undercover report about conditions at the Iron Maiden Hog Farm in Owensboro, Kentucky. The investigation, which was conducted in early 2014, found that more than 900 piglets died from a diarrheal disease in a two-day period. The piglet’s intestines were ground up and fed back to their mothers and other sows, which is a practice prohibited by state law.
The Humane Society statement said, “this practice appears to be fairly widespread within the industrial sector of the pig industry.” In addition, Iron Maiden Hog Farm’s practices are harsh and inhumane. HSUS is asking the Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission to end gestation crate confinement of pigs and to examine the practice of feeding diseased piglets to surviving pigs.
The investigation documented that the pigs were locked in cages to small, they couldn’t turn around. Piglets were left to die, often suffering for days. sick and injured sows were not cared for. Lame sows were hobbled to keep their legs from splaying so they can stand in their crates. Some sows had hobbles on for so long that the rope cut into their flesh or the flesh had grown over the rope.
Paul Shapiro, vice president of farm animal protection at HSUS, said in a statement, “the entire atmosphere at this facility is awful for animals, many of whom are perpetually immobilized and suffering from body sores, diarrhea attacks and prolapsed uteruses.” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of HSUS said, “this industry is long overdue for a major course correction, and we hope this investigation triggers an examination at what’s happening behind closed doors on factory farms.”
These practices are exacerbating the problem of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, and they can lead to the emergence of this disease in people. Swine flu is just one example of the jump of diseases from animals to humans. And diseased animals can harbor pathogenic bacteria, which in turn can make people sick.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency warned about these problems last week, hypothesizing that since the virus is transmitted through the fecal-oral route, feeding pig intestines to pigs is a bad idea. The disease, which appeared in the U.S. last spring, has killed more than a million pigs in that time period.

Tyson Salmonella Outbreak Ends, Nine Sick in TN
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/tyson-salmonella-outbreak-ends-nine-sick-in-tn/
By Carla Gillespie (Feb 25, 2014)
A Salmonella outbreak linked to Tyson mechanically separated chicken sickened nine inmates at the Bradley County Jail in TN and did not include cases in other states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has determined. Health officials looked at 23 cases of Salmonella Heidelberg infections in 15 other states that took place during the same time period as the illnesses at the jail and concluded that they were not part of the outbreak. A food source for the cases that were ruled out was not determined.
Mechanically separated chicken is made by forcing chicken bones and attached edible tissue through a sieve or similar device to separate meat from bone. It has a looser consistency than ground chicken, more like a paste or batter. The product is normally used as an ingredient in hot dogs, bologna, luncheon meats or other products that are sold fully cooked. But the Bradley County Jail and other institutions, received the product directly from Tyson in cases containing four, 10-pound tubes called chubs. It’s not clear how the product was served. Tyson recalled 34,000 pounds of the product, which was not sold retail, in January.
Lab tests on samples from two of the case patients found that the Salmonella outbreak strain showed resistance to ceftriaxone, an antibiotic commonly used to treat serious Salmonella infections, and other antibiotic combinations.
The product was served to the inmates the week of Thanksgiving 2013 and they began to show signs of illness on November 28, 2013. All of those sickened were males ranging in age from 22 years to 50 years old. The median age was 36. Two people were hospitalized.

Is FSMA Sparking Concern Abroad?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/is-fsma-sparking-concern-abroad/
By Lydia Zuraw (Feb 25, 2014)
During a panel discussion for the Food and Drug Law Institute’s Food Week earlier this month, attorney Mark Mansour briefly noted that the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is not held in the highest regard by foreign governments.
While speaking with Food Safety News about the subject in more depth, Mansour said that he’s encountered deep concern from regulators in other countries about how FSMA will be implemented – especially whether it could inadvertently be used as a trade barrier.
Some foreign governments are worried that implementation of the legislation will focus more on imported food than on domestic production, Mansour said. He points to China and the European Union for now, but said countries in Latin America and Southeast Asia could also take issue.
In general, he said, other countries recognize it as a “step forward” in the international food safety system, but they simply don’t want to be discriminated against.
“I think there’s going to have to be some diligent communication with other governments,” Mansour told Food Safety News. “Implementation has to be fair and impartial … .”
These concerns are nothing new, he said. “They were voiced right away,” but are growing stronger as implementation draws closer.
Mansour said that issues would probably manifest first as a protest of American goods in-country and then go through regular channels of expressing concerns to the U.S. But he indicated that a World Trade Organization case would not be out of the question.
It’s not that Mansour expects a WTO case, but there’s “no guarantee that it won’t dissolve into a trade case in the future,” he said.
While preparing the FSMA rules, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted outreach in various countries, and agency officials visited Mexico, Canada and Europe, where they met with members of the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the Global Food Safety Initiative.
Michael Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, has repeatedly emphasized the agency’s aim to collaborate as much as possible with stakeholders while preparing and finalizing the FSMA rules.
For every person concerned that the foreign regulations in FSMA will overshadow the domestic, there’s someone else worried about the exact opposite.
“Can you assure farmers in Georgia and across the country that they will not be placed at a competitive disadvantage with importers once both the domestic and import rules are finalized?” U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) asked Taylor at a recent congressional hearing on FSMA.
“That is absolutely our goal, and, if we can get the resources to implement the import provisions of this law, we can achieve that goal,” Taylor offered in response. “We need to have the same assurances about imported food that we have about domestic food.”

Keep your baby safe with these food safety practices
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/keep_your_baby_safe_with_these_food_safety_practices
By Eileen Haraminac (Feb 24, 2014)
Food safety is important when addressing the needs of a new baby or toddler. Infants and children are vulnerable and at risk to foodborne illness because their immune systems are not yet fully developed and able to fight off infections.
It’s extremely important to take extra care when handling and preparing their food and formula. In addition, the stomachs of infants and young children produce less acid, making it easier for harmful microorganisms to invade their bodies. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently created rules to make infant formula safe and nutritious. The study, with ongoing research for two decades, now has specific guidelines for manufacturers to adhere to. The guidelines ensure that formula manufacturers will test their products for salmonella and other pathogens before distribution. The rules also require formula companies to prove to the FDA that they are including specific nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals) in their products.
Michigan State University Extension recommends that you follow these tips to keep breast milk, formula and baby food safe for babies:
•Wash your hands to prevent the spread of harmful bacteria from your hands to the baby’s mouth. Effective handwashing is in warm, soapy water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds. Clean bottles and nipples after every use. Use dish soap and hot water to wash and rinse all utensils used to prepare and serve food (including the can opener). Wash food prep and eating areas with hot, soapy water and rinse and sanitize with one teaspoon of bleach mix with one quart of water.
•Breast milk: Collect expressed breast milk in sterilized four ounce plastic bottles and plastic bottle liners and immediately store in the refrigerator. Use milk within 24 to 48 hours or freeze immediately in sterilized, four ounce plastic or glass bottles or sealable plastic bags. Label with the date and use older milk first. Frozen breast milk can be stored for three to six months. Thaw breast milk in warm water only. To distribute the fat, shake the container of milk before serving.  Do not refreeze breast milk. Discard unused portions of breast milk left in the bottle after feeding.
•Formula: Fill sterilized bottles with just enough formula for one feeding. Throw away leftovers. Harmful bacteria from the baby’s mouth may have entered the bottle during feeding and could grow to unsafe levels. Tightly cover and place in the refrigerator after filling the bottle. Open cans of liquid ready-to-use formula will remain safe for up to 48 hours. Use prepared infant formula within 24 hours. Observe the “use by” and “expiration” dates on formula cans. Vitamin levels and food quality deteriorate after the expiration date.
Follow these food safe practices to ensure good health for baby and toddlers.
To contact an expert in your area, visit people.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Mechanically Separated Chicken Salmonella Outbreak Over
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/mechanically-separated-chicken-salmonella-outbreak-over/
By Andy Weisbecker (Feb 24, 2014)
The CDC reported today that a total of nine persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Heidelberg were reported from Tennessee. Two (22%) of nine ill persons were hospitalized, and no deaths were 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 indicated that consumption of Tyson brand mechanically separated chicken was the source of the outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections at the Tennessee correctional facility. On January 10, 2014, Tyson Foods, Inc. recalled approximately 33,840 pounds of mechanically separated chicken products that may be contaminated with Salmonella Heidelberg.
This strain of Salmonella Heidelberg is commonly reported to PulseNet. Twenty-three additional persons infected with this same strain were identified from 15 other states. Investigations determined that these ill persons were not related to the outbreak in Tennessee. Sources of the infections in these 15 states were not identified.
Salmonella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

State, Federal Health Officials Continue to Investigate Deadly Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/02/state-and-federal-health-officials-investigate-deadly-listeria-outbreak/
By News Desk (Feb 24, 2014)
State and federal health officials are still attempting to get their arms around a deadly two-state Listeria outbreak.
One death in California and seven illnesses in Maryland are blamed on the outbreak. All the victims are Hispanics, and among them are two mother-infant pairs and a newborn. All but one of the victims required hospitalization.
At this point, fresh cheese curd “likely produced” by Delaware-based Roos Foods and then repackaged by the Maryland-based Megamart food chain’s store in Virginia is the source of the contamination.
The first report of the evolving public health emergency came on Feb. 10 when the Listeria monocytogenes bacterium was isolated from a sample of Cuajada en Terron (fresh cheese curd) collected by food safety inspectors from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
The sample, from a Megamart in Manassas, VA, was being sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags held in the retail cheese display cooler in the grocery store. No lot or date coding information was included on the product packaging.
On Feb, 15, Virginia announced a public health warning, advising consumers not to eat the product and to discard it immediately. At that time, Virginia health officials were not aware of any Listeria illnesses or deaths associated with the bad cheese.
While numerous pathogens can be deadly, Listeria monocytogenes is especially feared because outbreak fatality rates of 20 to 40 percent have been experienced. Since Feb. 19, Maryland health officials have been warning the public not to eat cheese product made by Kenton, DE-based Roos Foods. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with a Feb. 21 report linking the eight cases in two states.
Roos Foods brands named in the public health warning include: Santa Rosa de Lima, Amigo, Mexicana, Suyapa, La Chapina, La Purisima and Crema Nica. Onset of illness dates range from Aug. 1, 2013, to Nov. 27, 2013. Roos Foods issued a voluntary recall on Feb. 23 of certain Mexicana, Amigo, Santa Rosa De Lima, and Anita brand cheeses distributed in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Listeria is known for its long incubation period, meaning people don’t get sick immediately after consuming a contaminated product. It can take as long as 70 days for the first symptoms – such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea – to show up in otherwise  healthy individuals.
Megamart is a Latino supermarket chain with five stores in Maryland – Silver Springs, Hyattsville, Riverdale, Rockville, Gaithersburg – and a sixth store in nearby Manassas, VA.
Health officials have not yet said if the California death is connected to food purchased at a Maryland or Virginia Megamart store.
Fatal illness cases of the Listeria monocytogenes organism usually involve young children, frail or elderly people and individuals with weakened immune systems. The infection is a major concern for pregnant women because it can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal illness.

Raw Milk Sales Increase Government Costs
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/raw-milk-sales-increase-government-costs/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 24, 2014)
Making the sale of raw milk legal in Maryland has prompted the Maryland Department of Legislative Services to conduct a study on the cost of illness investigations and outbreaks. The analysis predicts that sporadic raw milk-linked outbreaks in that state would increase from almost none to 100 to 165 per year if the product becomes legal to sell. Outbreaks, where at least two unrelated individuals become sick with the same strain of bacteria, would increase to two to four per year. Those outbreaks would increase the cost of government by at least $66,000 in FY 2015, up to $95,000 by FY 2019.
When an outbreak occurs, local and state public health officials must launch an investigation. These investigations are costly in terms of time and money. The Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in Maryland would need to hire an additional employee to investigate and respond to these outbreaks. In addition, spending on additional laboratory testing materials will be necessary.
An epidemiologist spends 40 hours to fully investigate an outbreak. Costs include interviewing patients, examining evidence, recalling products, and coordinating with labs and other health departments. Lab samples cost $100 each. And current losses in federal funds and grants for scientists and supplies means that the administration is currently understaffed and underfunded. If the number of outbreaks is larger than the estimate, health departments will likely have to hire additional employees to handle the caseload.
At this time, no one can sell raw milk for human consumption in Maryland unless it is sold by a milk producer to a milk processor, or for the sale of farmstead cheese. Any seller, processor, or producer of milk has to have a state permit with a grade A or manufactured grade classification, with an inspection to determine whether the operation conforms to rules and regulations.
The USDA and CDC say there is no meaningful nutritional difference between raw milk and pasteurized milk. In addition, raw milk can contain harmful bacteria that may cause illness or death, including E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Campylobacter, and Brucella. Between 1998 and 2011, there were 148 illness outbreaks linked to raw milk. Last year there were four Campylobacter outbreaks linked to raw milk in four months in the U.S. The medical cost of one E. coli O157:H7 illness, with HUS and loss of kidney function, can be up to $6 million.
At this time, 30 states in the U.S. allow consumers to purchase raw milk. In the other 20 states, consumption of raw milk is prohibited.

 

 

 

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