Consumers Can Report Food Safety Complaints to USDA, FDA
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/consumers-can-report-food-safety-complaints-to-usda-fda/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 9, 2014)
The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has an Electronic Consumer Complaint Reporting Form that anyone can use to file a complaint. The form covers any incident of “reports of illness, injury, foreign objects, contamination (including chemical contamination), allergic reactions, and improper labeling” associated with meat, poultry, or processed egg products. Those are the foods governed by the USDA.
Consumers are the last line of defense in food safety. Even though corporations and food manufacturers must file an HACCP plan and adhere to food safety standards, contamination, improper labeling, and unsafe foods are produced all the time. This reporting system may help prevent injuries and illnesses by alerting public health authorities to a problem quickly.
You can also call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly at 1-888-674-6854. The hotline is staff by food safety experts Monday through Friday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Eastern time.
For all other complaints or problems with food, you can contact the FDA in your state. A list of the phone numbers for Consumer Complaint Coordinators is posted at the FDA web site.
Food Safety Bloopers: Raw Cookie Dough Edition
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/food-safety-bloopers-raw-cookie-dough-edition/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 9, 2014)
Last week, an editor for Slate magazine, L.V. Anderson, wrote an article entitled: “Salmonella and raw eggs: How I’ve eaten tons of cookie dough and never gotten sick”. In it, she says that she has eaten about 360 raw eggs in her lifetime and has never contracted a Salmonella infection. From that, she infers that raw cookie dough is not really dangerous. This story is full of logical fallacies.
First, she is committing the logical fallacy of a small sample size: herself. Extrapolating from her personal experiences to the entire nation is extremely foolish. In addition, she may have gotten sick from eating a Salmonella-contaminated egg, but didn’t even know it. The incubation period for these infections is up to three days, so she most likely did not connect the food that made her sick to the illness. In addition, she may have gotten sick, but the symptoms were mild. Many people think they have the “24 hour flu” when in fact they have food poisoning.
Second, she mentions that only 1 in 20,000 eggs contains Salmonella enteritidis. But using those statistics instead of real numbers is misleading. One in 20,000 translates to 3,750,000 contaminated eggs sold in the U.S. every year. That explains why a USDA risk assessment from 2004 states that “350,000 cases of salmonellosis are attributed to raw or undercooked eggs every year.” See why relying on a small sample size is foolish? In fact, every year Salmonella causes 1.3 million illnesses, 15,000 hospitalizations, and 500 deaths in this country. And eggs are one of the most common sources of Salmonella infections.
Third, it’s important to note that Salmonella infections are vastly under-reported. The CDC uses a multiplier of 30.3 to estimate the true number of illnesses in each outbreak. Many more people contract Salmonella infections than the number actually reported. In fact, a Salmonella outbreak in 2010 linked to shell eggs sickened 3,578 people across the country. Using the multiplier, that means that more than 100,000 people were sickened from those contaminated Wright County farm eggs.
And fourth, raw eggs aren’t the only hazard in raw cookie dough or cake batter. Raw flour is a hazard too. In 2009, an outbreak of E. coil O157:H7 was linked to Nestle raw cookie dough. In that outbreak, 25 people were hospitalized and 7 developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious condition that can cause kidney failure. All from eating raw cookie dough.
She does have the knowledge to say that anyone with a weakened immune system, children, the elderly, and pregnant women shouldn’t consume raw eggs. But telling everyone else it’s perfectly fine is absolutely ridiculous.
And she mentions that using pasteurized eggs is a good idea. It is. But that pesky USDA risk assessment states that “if all eggs produced in the U.S. were pasteurized for a 3-log10 reduction of S. enteritidis, the annual number of illnesses would be reduced to about 110,000.” That’s still a lot of sick people. In addition, the egg business in this country is huge. You’re relying on large scale processors to produce a safe product. Even with USDA oversight, mistakes happen and contaminated foods are sold to the public every single day. Trusting that a risky food is always going to be safe is foolish, so consumers are the last line of defense against food poisoning.
I did get salmonellosis as a child. I didn’t get sick enough to go to a doctor, but the experience was horrible. I remember the feeling to this day, decades later. I don’t want anyone else to suffer that way. That’s why we are calling out L.V. Anderson and telling her she is wrong. Once you’ve ingested enough bacteria to make you sick, you can’t go back. And please, cook eggs thoroughly, don’t eat raw cookie dough or cake batter, avoid raw milk and cider, cook your hamburgers and other ground meat recipes to 165 degrees F, and refrigerate all perishable foods promptly.
Increase your food safety knowledge
Source : http://www.heraldextra.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/increase-your-food-safety-knowledge/article_e6fdd35d-0e98-50a9-8f41-0d8c9ec128b0.html
By heraldextra.com (Mar 08, 2014)
From understanding the role of antibiotics in animal and food production to implementing a safety strategy within your own home, a background on food safety is beneficial for every family.
To increase public knowledge on the matters of food safety and antibiotics, registered dietitian and BestFoodFacts.org nutrition advisor, Carolyn O'Neil, teamed up with Dr. Michael Doyle, a leading researcher in the area of food microbiology and bacterial foodborne pathogens and director of the Center for Food Safety at the University of Georgia.
"Antibiotics are powerful medicines and as we know certainly save lives," said O'Neil. "But they're also used to keep animals healthy."
Antibiotics and food production
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is moving forward with restrictions that would phase out the use of antibiotics in food production that also have important medical uses in human medicine. Although voluntary, the agency said it expects drug makers to fully adhere to the new guidelines.
Traditionally, some farmers have used antibiotics as a subtherapeutic treatment -- to prevent illness from occurring. Some antibiotics can also help promote the growth of the animals.
"What we are finding is that if we continue to do this, we can develop antibiotic resistant bacteria, so let's just reduce the use for growth promotion reasons and focus on treating these animals if they get sick," explains Doyle. "By focusing on just treating animals when they are ill, the health community hopes to lessen the threat resistant strains may have on the public."
Your family's food sources
Though the matter of antibiotic resistance brings alarm to many families, Doyle believes the safety of the U.S. beef, poultry and pork supply should not be a cause for concern.
"There is no concern for the antibiotic residue. The antibiotics are typically not coming through the animal or the meat," said Doyle. "That is something that can happen, but it's monitored and typically does not happen, at least in food produced here in the United States. The concern is the development of antibiotic resistant microbes that are not going to be treatable long term."
Simple food safety practices
According to Doyle and O'Neil, proper food handling practices go a long way to controlling harmful microbes.
"We, as consumers, should always think of foods from animal origins - even those labeled natural or organic -- as potentially having harmful microbes. We need to treat them with respect by following good food handling practices," adds Doyle.
To help keep your family safe and healthy at home, O'Neil offers these tips:
•Clean: Wash your hands and kitchen surfaces often.
•Separate: Don't cross-contaminate. Always separate raw meat, poultry, seafood and eggs from other foods when preparing them in the kitchen.
•Cook: Cook all food to the proper temperature. Use a food thermometer to measure the internal temperature of cooked meats.
•Chill: Refrigerate leftover food promptly after eating to slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Make sure your fridge and freezer are cooled to the right temperature. Your fridge should be between 40 degrees F and 32 degrees F, and your freezer should be zero degrees F or below.
"Real nutrition wisdom comes from consuming evidence," said O'Neil. "When equipped with this valuable knowledge, you can ensure you're providing the very best to your family."
For more information on food handling practices, visit www.foodsafety.gov.
New Act on food safety underway
Source : http://www.thedailystar.net/new-act-on-food-safety-underway-14402
By thedailystar.net ( Mar 07, 2014)
A step in the right direction
WE welcome news of the government move to replace the five decade old Pure Food Ordinance (1959) with Safe Food Act – 2013, which is being drafted. It should go a long way in combating pervasive food adulteration in the country. The new Act, once passed into law will provide for a national level advisory panel on food adulteration paving the way for formation of food courts that can and will try food adulterators. There are also plans to have technical committees and experts' panels that will test the quality of food. With penalties ranging from two years imprisonment to fines up to Tk. 500,000, in contrast to Tk. 5,000 under the old Ordinance, there is growing hope the Act will be effective in fending-off the adulteration menace.
While the old Ordinance covered only eight food items the new Act encompasses 200, which in itself is a step in the right direction. The new law would allow food authorities to monitor food production, processing and marketing which are very important in safeguarding consumers' interests. On the other hand, consumers can actually take unscrupulous traders to court for alleged adulteration, something that had not been possible till now since a legal regulatory framework has been missing.
While the Act could provide much needed legal framework for government bodies to go after the issue of adulteration and adulterators, its efficacy will depend on the political will to enforce it. We believe the Act is a sorely needed piece of legislation and urge its passage into law sooner than later.
Safety Microbiology 2 day Short Course(Los Angeles, CA)
March 20-21, 2014
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Kildare Street restaurant among those closed over food safety
Source : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/consumer/kildare-street-restaurant-among-those-closed-over-food-safety-1.1714931
By Elaine Edwards(Mar 7, 2014)
Health inspectors and veterinary inspectors shut down 10 businesses for breaches in February
A popular restaurant close to Leinster House was among those forced to close for breaches of food safety legislation last month.
Town Bar and Grill on Kildare Street in Dublin was one of 10 food businesses served with closure orders, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said.
The order was made on February 7th and was lifted on February 8th, according to the FSAI’s records.
Four other businesses were also served with prohibition orders during February.
Thirteen of the orders were issued by environmental health officers in the Health Service Executive and one by local authority veterinary inspectors in Galway County Council.
FSAI chief executive Prof Alan Reilly said it was not acceptable for any food business to potentially put their customers’ health at risk.
“Every food business should be striving for the high food safety and hygiene standards that the majority of food businesses are committed to achieving on a daily basis.”
Four closure orders were served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on: Kebabish Original (restaurant), 40 Richmond Street South, Dublin 2; Bu Ali Tandoori (restaurant), 28 Clanbrassil Street Lower, Dublin 8; Town Bar and Grill (restaurant), 21 Kildare Street, Dublin 2 and The Village Inn (public house - closed area: kitchen on first floor and ice machine on ground floor only), Church Street, Finglas, Dublin 11.
Six closure orders were served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010 on: Limerick Foodstore (grocery) (1st Floor only), 17 Davis Street, Limerick; Santori Indian Restaurant, Chapel Lane, Mill Race, Tuam, Galway; Bei Jing House (restaurant), College Road, Mountbellew, Galway;
Mirchi (restaurant), 9 Townyard Lane, Malahide, Co. Dublin; Rico’s (restaurant), 26A Richmond Street South, Dublin 2 and Daybreak (grocery) (all activities carried out in the delicatessen), The Square, Ferns, Wexford.
Separately, a prohibition order was served under the FSAI Act, 1998 on Real Brazil (meat and meat products distributor), No 3 Sliabh Carrow, Ennis Road, Gort, Galway.
Three prohibition orders were served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010 on: Real Brazil (grocery), Unit 6, The Grove, Crowe Street, Gort, Galway; Star Asia (grocery), 22 -23 Moore Street, Dublin 1 and Fitzgerald’s Butchers, Main Street, Ballylanders, Limerick.
Wear Gloves When Holding Fish?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/wear-gloves-when-holding-fish/
By Bill Marler (Mar 5, 2014)
According to the New York City Department of Health, there is an outbreak of a rare skin infection that comes from handling raw seafood, causing skin lesions, pain and swelling to the hands and arms and even difficulty moving fingers.
Health officials are warning those who purchase raw fish and seafood in Manhattan, Queens or Brooklyn to wear waterproof gloves when handling those fish, and to seek medical care if they discover red bumps on hands or arms.
The bacteria causing the infection are called Mycobacterium marinum and it gets into the body through a cut or other injury. Thirty cases have been identified, and all of those report handling live or raw fish bought at markets in Manhattan, Brooklyn or Queens.
UK tests chicken for bacteria; Missouri sues California over hen houses: food safety roundup
Source : http://www.oregonlive.com/health/index.ssf/2014/03/uk_tests_chicken_for_bacteria.html
By Lynne Terry (Mar 6, 2014)
Britain has stepped up tests on retail chicken, checking for harmful bacteria.
According to a story in Food Safety News, officials are buying raw chickens in grocery stores in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and then testing them for campylobacter, which is commonly associated with poultry.
The campaign follows stubbornly high numbers of campylobacter-related illnesses in Britain. Like salmonella, the bacteria cause a range of gastrointestinal symptoms.
Campylobacter is not a household name in the United States, but every year in Oregon alone the bacteria sicken 600 to 900 people. Within the past month or so, two outbreaks were reported in the state. The first involved oysters from Coos County Oyster Co. and the second was traced to chicken livers from Draper Valley Farms in Vernon, Wash.
Like salmonella, campylobacter is killed with thorough cooking.
And while we're on the subject of chicken (vaguely), the New York Times published a piece about a feud between Missouri and California over the hen enclosures. In the Golden State, hens must have enough room to stand up, move around and stretch their legs a bit. California also requires that out-of-state producers who ship eggs to California follow its hen enclosure rules.
Missouri's mad about that and is suing.
California is not the only state, however, with hen enclosure rules. In the 2011 legislative session, Oregon became one of the first states in the nation to pass an animal welfare bill regulating hen houses. The law requires producers to give chickens more space, nesting boxes, perches and scratching pads by 2026. The law also requires farmers selling eggs in the state to follow care standards set by a board of scientific advisors for the American Humane Association, the United States' first organization to certify animal products as humane.
Similar laws were also passed Washington state and Michigan and are being considered elsewhere. Congress dropped a proposal to give hens more room from the recently passed farm bill.
That's it for now. Keep your appetite and eat safely.
FOOD SAFETY: Use caution when vacuum packaging food
Source : http://rapidcityjournal.com/lifestyles/columnists/sharon-guthmiller/food-safety-use-caution-when-vacuum-packaging-food/article_44b7ac55-658c-554a-80c0-7db4385b7bb6.html
By Deanna Darr (Mar 05, 2014)
Vacuum sealers or vacuum packaging machines of various types have been marketed for retail sale for purchase and use at home.
Storage time of dried foods, frozen foods and refrigerated foods may be extended by use of these machines. However, vacuum packaging itself can lead to a false sense of security about the safety of food. The following information is in response to questions asked regarding home vacuum packaging of foods and assumptions that are made about this type of equipment.
According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, it is important to understand that vacuum packaging is not a substitute for heat processing of home-canned foods. Vacuum packaging also is not a substitute for freezing or refrigeration of perishable foods. Vacuum packaging, in fact, can add to concerns associated with these foods.
Removal of oxygen from a food’s environment does not just solve some food storage problems, it can cause others. Perishable foods are subject to the risk of contamination by pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. Perishable food must be refrigerated or frozen after it has been packaged in a partial vacuum environment or vacuum-sealed.
The process of vacuum packaging removes air (oxygen) from the contents of a package. One of the most obvious changes we see with vacuum-sealed food is the lack of spoilage from organisms such as mold, bad odor, color change and sliminess within the food product. These types of spoilage serve to give us an indication that the food has become compromised and call into question the safety of the food.
Although removal of oxygen from environmental air can preserve certain quality characteristics and extend the food’s shelf life, removal of oxygen within the package environment does not eliminate the possibility of all bacterial growth.
Of particular concern are the bacteria that grow without air or with limited air supply. These bacteria do not produce noticeable changes in food and can multiply very rapidly without air and the presence of spoilage bacteria, causing food to become unsafe. Without spoilage bacteria present, bacteria (anaerobic) that grow without air can reproduce even at a faster rate.
Clostridium botulinum (if present) is a dangerous pathogen that grows at room temperature in low-acid moist foods (vegetables, meats) in an anaerobic environment (without air). Clostridium botulinum forms spores that can contaminate almost any food. It does not grow well in highly acidic food (tomatoes, citrus fruits, etc.) or food with low moisture (crackers, nuts).
C. botulinum can produce a deadly toxin (poison) when food is time temperature abused. Refrigeration (38 to 40 degrees) is essential for storage of vacuum-packed, low-acid foods that do not keep at room temperature. Both the temperature of the refrigerator and the temperature at which the food is kept are essential to food safety of the food product.
Vacuum packaging can be safe for food that is stored frozen. When frozen food is thawed, it is best to thaw in the refrigerator to slow microorganism growth. Perishable food being vacuumed-packed should not be out of refrigeration longer than 2 hours total time above 40 degrees for safety.
Food Safety Debated Under USDA's Proposed Poultry Inspection System
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2014/03/food-safety-debated-under-usda-s-proposed-poultry.aspx
By Josh Long (Mar 05, 2014)
WASHINGTON—Will a revamped inspection system for young chicken and turkey operations reduce foodborne illness or compromise food safety?
That is a question deeply dividing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and consumer and labor groups.
USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) predicts that a 2012 proposal to move more inspectors from the evisceration line to other parts of a facility will result in at least 5,000 fewer illnesses annually from Salmonella and Campylobacter in an industry that slaughtered roughly 8.5 billion young chickens last year for food.
FSIS and the poultry industry maintain the proposal will enable inspectors to focus more on such food-safety tasks as sanitation standards and microbiological testing for pathogens like Salmonella. Rather than being confined to examining the dead birds for physical defects such as bumps and bruises, FSIS inspectors will have the flexibility to search for causes of foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella, said Keith Williams, vice president of communications and marketing with the National Turkey Federation. According to a powerpoint presentation from FSIS, such sorting activities largely relate to the marketability of the carcasses rather than food safety.
"We see it [FSIS' proposal] as vastly improving food safety by using some modern methods in the inspection system," Williams said.
Consumer and labor groups argue the proposal will compromise food safety and exacerbate the burden on inspectors who already suffer carpel tunnel syndrome and other ailments.
Under current regulations, as many as four FSIS inspectors work on an evisceration line in which up to 140 chicken carcasses per minute are examined. FSIS has proposed increasing the number of inspections to 175 chickens per minute with one FSIS inspector on the line and one FSIS inspector off the line. According to FSIS, plant personnel are free to dedicate additional personnel to sort the carcasses on the line. According to Williams, current line speeds for turkeys are between 30 and 55 birds per minute, with the proposal increasing the number to 55.
Critics contend one FSIS inspector on the evisceration line cannot possibly inspect 175 dead birds in one minute, or three carcasses every second.
Responding to such criticism, an FSIS official told AgriTalk in a Jan. 15 interview that the defects related to food safety on chickens are "quite obvious". “If there is an abnormal bird, that is very easily identified," said Dan Engeljohn, assistant administrator for FSIS' Office of Field Operations.
Stanley Painter, chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, disagrees. Not all defects are easily identified, he said, citing a leukosis regulation that renders tiny lesions on a carcass condemnable.
"Engeljohn has never worked the line. I can tell you I have worked the line at 180-something a minute, and it's not that easy," Painter said in a phone interview.
FSIS said the new inspection system would free up inspectors to concentrate on food-safety tasks such as ensuring that a facility is complying with sanitation and HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) requirements. Under the current inspection system, there is only one offline inspector for every six online inspectors, according to the agency.
"The inspectors will have better capacity to be able to observe the sanitation that's occurring in those facilities and ensure that the poultry is actually meeting the regulatory requirements," Engeljohn told AgriTalk.
Again, Painter isn't persuaded. Under the new system, he said, two inspectors would rotate between inspecting the chickens on the evisceration line and working off line. If one person falls ill, the other inspector would be responsible for standing on the line during his entire shift, leaving no one to perform the offline food-safety tasks that FSIS has touted under its proposal, he said.
"All this extra testing and doing and seeing under what this [agency] is saying is not going to happen," he said.
According to FSIS, the proposed rule would require the industry to implement controls to identify Salmonella and Campylobacter. Poultry slaughter establishments would have to develop written procedures to prevent contamination of carcasses through fecal matter, Salmonella and Campylobacter. Establishments would have to sample and conduct analysis for microbial organisms before and after the carcasses are placed in the chiller, which is intended to hamper microbial growth.
A 2011 risk assessment from FSIS revealed "establishments with more unscheduled offline inspection activities have lower Salmonella and Campylobacter prevalence than establishments with fewer unscheduled offline activities." According to the assessment, moving inspectors off the line could result in 4,286 fewer Salmonella-related illnesses and 986 fewer illnesses related to Campylobacter.
"We need to focus on activities that reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter on the poultry in the marketplace," said Dr. Douglas Fulnechek, president of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians and a supervisory veterinary medical officer with FSIS, in a phone interview. "Presently most of the activities that our inspection force performs is to determine the wholesomeness of the carcass but the inspector cannot see the Salmonella and the Campylobacter."
Fulnechek spoke on behalf of the National Association of Federal Veterinarians, noting he was not authorized to speak on behalf of FSIS.
Tony Corbo, senior lobbyist of Food & Water Watch, a Washington, D.C.-based public interest organization, argued testing of Salmonella and Campylobacter isn't very useful unless USDA obtains authority from Congress to declare the pathogens as adulterants and remove tainted food from the market. Currently, he said, FSIS posts on its website a list of companies in which more than 7.5% of sampled young chicken carcasses test positive for Salmonella.
"Even if they find these pathogens, they are not considered to be adulterants meaning that product can still go into commerce," Corbo said, citing recent outbreaks of Salmonella at Foster Farms as examples. "USDA hasn't even issued a recall because Salmonella is not really considered an adulterant."
However, Fulnechek pointed out the proposal will make more offline inspectors available to oversee implementation of slaughtering and dressing controls, such as ensuring that removal of the intestines—possibly containing pathogens like Salmonella—does not spill back onto the chickens.
He also raised the prospect that poultry establishments will implement additional controls to eliminate pathogens, such as using an antimicrobial like peroxyacetic (also known as peracetic) acid on the evisceration line and in the processing area to kill the Salmonella and Campylobacter.
Some labor groups have expressed fears that the faster line speeds will result in more injuries such as the deterioration of cartilage and tissue. The poultry industry is said to be afflicted with high rates of worker injuries. Seventy-two percent of Alabama poultry workers interviewed by the Southern Poverty Law Center reported a work-related injury or illness, according to a 2013 report, "Unsafe at These Speeds."
"If you increase the speed limit on the highway, most drivers would take advantage of the new freedom and without the proper safegards more accidents will happen. We are dealing with an industry that already doesn't have safeguards," said Catherine Singley Harvey, senior policy analyst with the Economic and Employment Policy Project of the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.
The National Chicken Council (NCC), a trade association representing the chicken industry, disputes claims that workers will suffer more injuries under the new inspection system. NCC cited Bureau of Labor Statistics data demonstrating that the industry has reported a 74% decline in worker injuries since 1994, and a separate study that found facilities processing 175 birds per minute are as safe as traditional establishments.
Labor groups claims workers often don't report their injuries for fear of retribution from their employer such as threats of deportation and termination from employment. In the Southern Poverty Law Center report, 66% of respondents said they believed fellow workers were reluctant or afraid to report worker injuries.
Engeljohn said concerns expressed about worker conditions has created an opportunity for USDA to work with other agencies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to ensure the government is monitoring worker safety and doing more to inform industry about guidelines to decrease on-the-job injuries.
"Drawing attention to it has actually … created new opportunities for us to be more observant and cross talking with our sister agencies," he said in the AgriTalk interview.
Painter has estimated that the inspection proposal could result in a loss of 1,500 jobs. Engeljohn pegged the number at about 500 jobs, but he said the agency would try to find positions for which those displaced workers would be eligible.
According to Food & Water Watch, USDA projected eliminating 800 positions through attrition and began soliciting temporary workers in 2012 in anticipation that its inspection proposal would take effect. In a letter sent Feb. 10 to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Food & Water Watch raised concerns that the agency is facing a shortage of inspectors because its solicitation for temporary food inspectors allegedly has not drawn strong interest.
Food & Water Watch identified an 11% vacancy rate in the Raleigh District, "causing the workloads of the remaining inspection personnel to double and triple." Corbo said the Raleigh District Manager shared the vacancy rate with Painter, who confirmed with Food Product Design that he received the information from the district manager and his resource management analyst.
FSIS Administrator Al Almanza dismissed the concerns raised by Food & Water Watch in a statement to Meatingplace.
"I started my career as a food inspector. Does anybody really believe that I would do anything to harm the ability of our food inspectors to be able to do their jobs every day?" Almanza said. "Food and Water Watch—when they get to be credible media—maybe I'll start to read what they have to say, but I don't have time to pay attention to that."
Obama’s 2015 Budget Cuts Poultry Inspection
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/obamas-2015-budget-cuts-poultry-inspection/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 5, 2014)
Food & Water Watch has released a statement critical of President Obama’s 2015 budget, which cuts the USDA’s budget for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) by $9.3 million as part of the “Modernization of Poultry Inspection Rule”. Food safety experts call this “The Filthy Chicken Rule”.
Last year, the government’s own Government Accountability Office (GAO) report called the results of the pilot program for this rule into question. That report evaluated 20 young chicken and five young turkey plants and found “gaping methodological flaws” in the pilot project. The GAO also questioned how FSIS could use that flawed evaluation as a basis to expand privatized inspections across the entire poultry industry.
Wenonah Hauter, executive director for Food & Water Watch, said, “this irresponsible cut will essentially privatize poultry inspections, putting the big poultry companies in charge of food safety while removing U.S. government meat inspectors from the job. To add insult to injury, it will move slaughter line speeds up from 140 to 175 birds a minute. Each year, food poisoning from contaminants like Salmonella result in 48 million illnesses, 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths in the U.S. This is no time to privatize meat inspections and put companies in charge of food safety.”
The Foster Farms Salmonella chicken outbreak, which public health officials thought was over, was found to have sickened dozens more this week. And the recall of more than 8 million pounds of beef products, which were produced at Rancho Feeding Corporation last month without the benefit of federal inspection, is another reminder that we need more, not less, government oversight of meat processing plants in this country.
In March and April 2013, the USDA found that two of the poultry plants that were part of the pilot program failed the government’s Salmonella testing program. Yet they are going ahead with implementation of HIMP despite these alarming results. Hauter continued, “Congress should reject the President’s proposal to privatize vital food safety inspection programs and fully fund FSIS.”
Smelly, sticky or slimy? Food safety rules you shouldn't ignore
Source : http://www.today.com/health/smelly-sticky-or-slimy-food-safety-rules-you-shouldnt-ignore-2D79321828#
By Linda Carroll (Mar , 2014)
When it comes to figuring out whether the food in your cupboards and fridge are spoiled, it’s best to trust your gut.
Your eyes, nose and fingers can tell you if food has spoiled, according to Alton Brown, host of the Food Network’s “Cutthroat Kitchen.”
“We all have the senses to know when food has gone bad,” Brown said. “Smell it. If it smells bad, odds are you shouldn’t eat it. Touch it. If it’s slimy or sticky, don’t eat it. If you look at a piece of meat and it’s got splotches of green on it, you shouldn’t eat it.”
Each year one in six Americans gets sick from eating contaminated food. The best way to avoid becoming one of those stats is to take care in how you store and handle your food — and trust your senses.
Foods will last longest in a refrigerator kept below 40 degrees F. But many refrigerators aren't as cold as they need to be, even at the lowest setting. Invest in a thermometer so you know it really is cold enough.
How you pack your foods in the fridge makes a difference, too.
“Stack it so you’re keeping the foods that could be dangerous away from everything else,” Brown said.
•Place meats in the bottom compartments. Meats produce a lot of fluid and you don’t want those juices to drip onto cooked foods or veggies and fruits contaminating them. Beyond that, in most refrigerators, the lowest temperatures are in the bottom shelves.
•Store fish on ice, even if it’s in the refrigerator. That’s because fish goes bad faster than any other meat.
•Eggs be stored in the meat compartments rather than on the shelves in the door.
The biggest danger in your refrigerator is from contamination. “This may sound odd, but contaminated food will make you sick, but spoiled foods won’t necessarily make you sick,” Brown said.
When it comes to fruits and veggies, it’s OK to store them in the plastic bags you packed them up in at the store.
To keep them freshest, Brown suggests packing a paper towel in the bag before putting it into to the fridge. The towel will absorb any moisture from produce respiration.
When it comes to thawing meats, whenever possible it should be done in the refrigerator, Brown said. And put them in a plastic container so they don’t drip all over everything eIse.
If you need a quick thaw then put the meat in a plastic bag in the sink and run a thin stream of cold water over it.
Another important tip: Always wipe down food preparation surfaces. Brown suggests using a solution of ¼ teaspoon of bleach in a cup of water.
And when you’re prepping fruits and veggies always rinse with cold water. If the surface is bumpy, then use a brush to get them clean, Brown said.
Australian Salmonella Cases Nearly Doubled Over Past 10 Years
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/03/australian-salmonella-cases-nearly-double-in-past-10-years/
By News Desk (Mar 5, 2014)
The increasing incidence of Salmonella infections in Australia has prompted health officials Down Under to warn the public about the risks of consuming raw or undercooked eggs.
According to a story published Tuesday at Good Food.com.au, Salmonella cases in Australia have almost doubled in the past 10 years from about 7,000 cases in 2003 to nearly 13,000 cases last year.
The Department of Health in Victoria, a state-level agency, notes that, “Salmonella bacteria are found in humans and in wild, farm and pet animals and birds, particularly chickens. … As Salmonella infection of chickens is common, the bacteria can often be found in raw chicken meat and on eggs.”
The most recent Salmonella outbreaks in Australia are raw egg-related, particularly involving mayonnaise. In February 2014, more than 200 people were sickened after eating at a café in Torquay, a seaside area near Melbourne, and several others were sickened around the same time after dining at a hotel in St. Kilda, a Melbourne suburb.
Those two outbreaks were sourced to raw eggs produced at a Victoria farm, which has had its sales restricted until making operational changes such as washing all eggs for sale and improving cleanliness in laying sheds.
In Brisbane in 2013, 220 people became ill and one woman died following a luncheon, and another 140 people were sickened after eating in an Canberra restaurant on Mother’s Day.
Dr. Rosemary Lester, Victoria’s chief health officer, warned that certain foods and drinks containing raw or undercooked eggs have been linked to several previous Salmonella outbreaks in the area. These dishes include mayonnaise, aioli, mousse, eggnog and tiramisu.
“These foods can be a risk, especially for the elderly and people with lowered immunity, children and pregnant women,” she said, adding that eggs should be cooked “until they were hot all the way through” to make sure they are safe to consume.
Salmonella is caused by a bacterium and can affect anyone, but particularly susceptible are children younger than five, young adults, seniors and those with existing health problems. Symptoms of salmonellosis are diarrhea containing blood or mucus, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and headache.
Symptoms can take between six and 72 hours to show up after contact with the bacteria and can take several days to run their course. Hospitalization can occur, especially if the affected person becomes dehydrated. Salmonella can be transmitted from inadequately cooked food, cross-contamination or from person-to-person contact.
Chinese in NZ over food safety reforms
Source : http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/rural/237963/chinese-in-nz-over-food-safety-reforms
By radionz.co.nz (Mar 5, 2014)
Chinese officials will be in New Zealand this month checking out the country's dairy and regulatory systems.
The visit follows food safety reforms announced in China last year, which include tighter controls on dairy and infant formula products sent there.
Under China's new rules, all dairy and infant formula manufacturers, as well as cold and dry store operators handling dairy products for export there have to be registered with that country's Certification and Accreditation Administration by May.
Infant formula manufacturers also have to fill in a detailed registration application form.
Chinese officials are visting New Zealand this month to audit dairy production and regulatory systems as part of the registration process.
Ministry for Primary Industries audit specialists will accompany the Chinese team while they are in New Zealand, and the ministry says the audit will survey only a sample of infant formula and dairy manufacturers, stores, farms and laboratories.
But it says the registration process is comprehensive, with more than 350 dairy manufacturers and stores and 18 infant formula manufacturers seeking registration.
The ministry says its priority is to ensure that the registration and audit process runs as smoothly as possible, so that New Zealand dairy and infant formula manufacturers producing goods for China, along with others in the supply chain, are registered by the May deadline.
Infant formula exporters have raised concerns that smaller operators may be squeezed out of the trade.
Food safety evolving for eastern cantaloupe growers
Source : http://www.thepacker.com/fruit-vegetable-news/fresh-produce-retail/Food-safety-evolving-for-eastern-cantaloupe-growers-248386721.html
By thepacker.com (Mar 04 ,2014)
ATLANTA — Entering its second year, the Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association plans to help retailers boost sales with a recipe marketing program while it fine tunes its food safety plan for members.
Membership in the association has more than doubled since its founding last year, increasing from eight growers to 19, said Charles Hall, executive director of the LaGrange, Ga.-based group. Grower members control about 4,500 of the estimated 10,000 acres of cantaloupe grown east of the Mississippi River, he said.
“We hope to double our membership by 2015,” Hall said during the association’s March 3 conference and research update.
The group grew out of industry concerns following deadly outbreaks of listeria and salmonella in 2011 and 2012 that were linked to cantaloupe from Colorado and Indiana, respectively. To be a member, growers must meet food safety criteria established by the association.
Growers must submit to unannounced audits to check their compliance in order to maintain certification through the association. As science discovers additional measures, the group plans to incorporate them into its grower requirements, Hall said.
Association president Bill Brim, co-owner of Lewis Taylor Farms, Tifton, Ga., said one goal when the group formed was to encourage retailers to require growers to be certified and thus protect the entire industry. Several retailers sent representatives to the association’s March 3 event.
“I’m here to see what you are doing,” said John Kolenski, senior director of food safety and regulatory compliance for the Kroger Co., Cincinnati. “If you look at pink slime, the meat industry lost that one. I want to know what your plan is from a marketing perspective to deal with the next problem when it happens. We need a plan from you guys.”
After the conference Kolenski said the group’s work is encouraging.
“Being proactive is not a matter of choice. It’s a requirement,” Kolenski said, “and what the ECGA is doing helps.”
The association’s executive director said the group is working on a response strategy for future recalls or outbreaks, as well as a consumer marketing campaign to help boost consumption and retail sales.
Hall said the marketing campaign should begin in late March with quick-response codes linking consumers to a 30-second instructional video on how to avoid cross contamination at home. The QR link will also include recipe ideas for fresh cantaloupe. The association plans to offer QR code point-of-sale materials to retailers for free.
Tony Phillips, food safety director for Frey Farms, Poseyville, Ind., said he supports the association’s marketing efforts and food safety efforts. He said Frey Farms works with several growers to ensure the cantaloupe it ships are safe. The company’s food safety program included 10 packing facility audits and 48 farm audits last year, Phillips said.
“We spend a significant amount of money on food safety,” Phillips said. “We appreciate the retailers’ support, but we would like them to understand how much we and other growers have invested in food safety and realize that they need to pay more for our melons because of that investment.”
Also during the conference, scientists presented information on cantaloupe-specific food safety research. Also presenting was Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director for the Center for Produce Safety, based at the University of California-Davis.
Hall also provided cantaloupe growers a mini-update on the status of the Food Safety Modernization Act. He said growers should be aware that the animal feed rule could apply to their operations if they send culled fruit to animal operations.
Paul Fleming, chief operating officer for Frey Farms, urged fellow association members to keep an eye on the safe transportation rule because it will apply to fresh produce, also.
Foster Farms Sickens More With Salmonella – No Recall
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/foster-farms-sickens-more-with-salmonella-no-recall/
By Andy Weisbecker (Mar 3, 2014)
According to the CDC today the investigation continues into Salmonella Heidelberg infections likely related to Foster Farms chicken.
As of February 28, 2014, a total of 481 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 25 states and Puerto Rico, since March 1, 2013. 38% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported. Most ill persons (76%) have been reported from California.
The number of reported infections from all seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg returned to baseline levels in January and the outbreak appeared to be over, as noted in the previous update on January 16, 2014. However, the investigation continued.
Ongoing surveillance identified in February that infections from two of the previously rare outbreak strains have again exceeded the number of infections expected to be reported to PulseNet during this time of year.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials indicate that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections.
The outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg are resistant to several commonly prescribed antibiotics. Although these antibiotics are not typically used to treat Salmonella bloodstream infections or other severe Salmonella infections, antibiotic resistance can increase the risk of hospitalization in infected individuals
Food safety officials to intensify checks
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/food-safety-officials-to-intensify-checks/article5745711.ece
By thehindu.com (Mar 3, 2014)
The Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing) will step up inspections of restaurants and eateries in the district as part of a crackdown on unsafe food.
The drive is to eliminate food products that are harmful to health.
Those violating the norms will face stringent legal action such as filing of cases under the Food Safety and Standard Act, R. Kathiravan, Designated Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department (Food Safety Wing), told The Hindu here on Sunday.
Food Safety officers took 31 samples in the past two months.
Of these, six were found unsafe, one was sub-standard, 11 were misbranded and the rest were found to have conformed to all norms. Samples were also lifted during ‘annadhanam’ at a temple festival recently. No harmful substances were detected in these samples.
Further, in a boost to these efforts, the microbiological tests have also commenced at the Government Food Analysis Laboratory here.
Microbiological tests are vital to detect growth of salmonella, a bacterium which can cause food poisoning.
Coimbatore has one of the six food analysis laboratories in Tamil Nadu that are approved under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
The rest are at Chennai, Salem, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Madurai.
Dr. Kathiravan said that fruit shops will also come under the scanner in the next few months to prevent artificial ripening of fruits done through the use of calcium carbide. The major health hazard is the acetylene gas emitted by calcium carbide.
This targets the neurological system and reduces the oxygen supply to the brain.
While short-term effects include sleeping disorders and headaches, he said that the long term effects are memory loss, seizures, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, renal problems and possibly, even cancer.
Any one having information on artificial ripening of fruits could mail the information to firstname.lastname@example.org. All information will be kept confidential and action taken, Dr. Kathiravan said.
Student helps develop innovative food safety management system
Source : http://phys.org/news/2014-03-student-food-safety.html
By phys.org (Mar 03, 2014)
Sandeep Sharma, who is currently completing a Master's degree in Advanced Computer Science with Industry at the University of Leicester, has successfully completed a graduate internship with the European Safety Bureau (ESB), helping to develop an online food management system.
The ESB is an independent food safety, health & safety and fire safety consultancy based at Woodhouse Eaves in Leicestershire.
The role of the internship was to support the ESB in the development of their Navitas online food management system. Navitas is an innovative and creative digitalised system which will meticulously combine hardware and software to revolutionise catering management. In order to accomplish this, the ESB required sound technical knowledge and support from the University to develop the software on which the Navitas system will be managed.
Sandeep said: "This was an exhilarating opportunity for me to combine my theoretical knowledge with a real-life commercial project. I have been thrilled to work within the Navitas development and cannot wait for our hard work to pay off in new client acquisition."
Sandeep had a lead role in the development of the software as he designed and coded the system which ultimately drives the whole initiative. The powerful web-app monitors fridge and freezer temperatures, interrogates probe temperatures and can be used to generate cleaning schedules and other food safety related tasks.
The Navitas system will have its official launch on Monday 28 April 2014 at the Hotelympia trade show to be held at ExCel London.
The collaboration between the University of Leicester and the European Safety Bureau was initiated through the Innovation Partnerships project. This scheme is part-funded through the European Regional Development fund and is aimed at engaging with SMEs to enable them to develop and implement innovative business solutions. The Innovation Partnerships team were able to review the company needs, facilitate a meeting with the Computer Science department in order to set up and scope a project and also helped to recruit the graduate for the internship.
Deepa Rughani, Internship Coordinator at the University of Leicester, said: "It has been great to support an exciting project with an innovative company such as ESB. They have been able to provide a fantastic internship opportunity, one in which Sandeep has excelled in."
Through the scheme, ESB were provided with free academic support and received £2,000 towards the cost of employing a recently-qualified graduate.
The academic support involved Dr Stephan Reiff-Marganiec, Senior Lecturer from the University of Leicester's Department of Computer Science, who provided expertise and advice during the project as well as providing ongoing mentoring to Sandeep, enabling effective and efficient development.
Dr Reiff-Marganiec said: "ESB are an ambitious and visionary business and working with them has been rewarding at many levels.
"For a start, the work combines a real world demand in a large industry sector with exciting technologies, both in hardware and more for us in web architectures and applications. Every meeting led to new aspects being explored and examined always taking it a step forward, sometimes really pushing at the limit of the technologies.
"It also was very exciting seeing one of our students grow to meet the challenges and demands put his way—a fantastically enriching opportunity of the type we expect our with-Industry students to engage in."
The internship was initially scheduled to last for four months, but due to its success it was extended for an additional four months. Sandeep will continue to work with the company to complete his MSc dissertation project and ESB have also provided another Master's student from Computer Science with the opportunity to complete their dissertation project with them.
In addition they have gone on to recruit a further graduate intern, Reha Joshi, who will put her MSc in Media and Communications Research into practice in the role of Navitas Marketing Officer.
Benjamin Gardner from ESB said: "The partnership with the University of Leicester has provided an excellent springboard for us to launch Navitas. Aside from the financial benefits of recruiting through the University, we have been able to tap into the wealth of commercial wherewithal that courses through the veins of the University.
"The next step is to commission a Doctorate into the study of data retention and privacy within the Hospitality Sector. We very much look to continue our relationship with the University."
Limited funding through the Innovation Partnerships project is available to SMEs in the East Midlands (terms and conditions apply). Eligible companies can receive up to 24 days academic support (at no cost) and/or £2,000 funding to support the cost of employing a graduate.
Food safety regulation updates coming to P.E.I.
Source : http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/prince-edward-island/food-safety-regulation-updates-coming-to-p-e-i-1.2558480
By CBC News (Mar 03, 2014)
Last major review of food safety regulations in the province was more than 30 years ago
The Prince Edward Island government is updating its food safety regulations and licensing fees.
Dr. Heather Morrison, P.E.I.’s chief public health officer, said the updates will happen in the coming months.
“Prince Edward Island will be updating regulations to ensure the highest levels of food safety in food serving establishments,” said Morrison in a statement. “They will also make sure that the Chief Public Health Office has the ability to enforce safe food handling requirements.”
The last major review of food safety regulations in the province was more than 30 years ago.
The draft regulations put more responsibility on restaurant owners to report problems.
For example, a licence holder can't allow anyone who has a communicable disease to handle or serve food or be around any equipment used for food preparation.
They also have to notify the public health office as soon as they know an employee has that sort of illness.
Government officials say the new regulations will help ensure compliance, by placing conditions on licences, and imposing suspensions and fines.
The changes to the Eating Establishments and Licensed Premises Regulations are expected to include more training, written cleaning and sanitizing procedures, and food safety management plans.
Licensing fees will go up from the current range of between $25 and $100 to between $37.50 and $150. Most of the fee changes will be phased in this fall to allow for consultation.
In addition, national guidelines for water testing will be adopted for operators with private wells.
The government says the deadline for public comment on the draft regulations is April 15.
Company Expands Cheese Recall After Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodproductdesign.com/news/2014/03/company-expands-cheese-recall-after-listeria-outb.aspx
By foodproductdesign.com (Mar 3, 2014)
SILVER SPRING, Md.—An outbreak of Listeria causing one death and seven hospitalizations has led to an expanded recall of all Roos Foods cheese products, according to a release by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The recall now includes all product sizes and containers of Santa Rosa de Lima Queso Duro Blando (hard cheese), and Mexicana Queso Cojito Molido.
Roos Foods issued press releases for the original recall on February 23 and 25. The update clarifies that all sizes and containers of the cheese products previously identified are being recalled (Amigo, Anita, Mexicana, and Santa Rose de Lima brands of: Cuajada En Terron, Cuajada/Cuajadita Cacer, Cuajada Fresca, Queso Fresco Round, and Queso Duro Viejo (hard cheeses), Requeson, Queso de Huerta and Quesco Fresco). These cheeses were packaged in various sized clear plastic wrapped Styrofoam trays, clear plastic wrapped, clear plastic vacuum package, and clear rigid plastic containers.
Roos Foods of Delaware is voluntarily recalling the above products because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and still births among pregnant women.
Roos Foods is also recalling all product sizes and containers of Santa Rosa de Lima Crema Salvadorena Cultured Sour Cream, Santa Rosa de Lima Mantequilla de Bolsa Tradicion Centroamericana, Crema Pura Mexicana Cultured Sour Cream, La Chapina Crema Guatemalteca Guatemalan Style Cream, and Amigo Brand Crema Centroamericana Cultured Sour Cream. These sour creams were packaged in various sized white plastic tubs, clear plastic bags, clear plastic pouches, and clear plastic jars.
Products were distributed through retail stores in Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Virginia and Washington D.C. The company said customers should destroy all lots of the above listed brand-named products.
Salmonella outbreak in Victoria prompts raw-egg warning
Source : http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/03/salmonella-outbreak-in-victoria-prompts-raw-egg-warning
By theguardian.com (March 3, 2014)
Health authorities have linked two restaurants to raw-egg foods using products from supplier Green Eggs
Victorians have been warned of the higher risk of eating raw or undercooked eggs after more than 200 people fell ill from salmonella.
Health authorities have linked two restaurants to raw-egg foods using products from western Victorian supplier Green Eggs. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has restricted the sale of eggs from the Green Eggs farm near Ararat until extra cleaning and hygiene measures are taken.
More than 200 people became ill with gastroenteritis after eating at the Bottle of Milk restaurant in Torquay, and a handful of others suffered the same fate after dining at St Kilda’s Newmarket hotel.
There have been other isolated cases, and people affected have ranged in age from nine months to more than 65 years.
Chief health officer Dr Rosemary Lester says Green Eggs, which supplies a range of Victorian eateries, markets and supermarkets, is still being investigated as the definite source and testing will take a few days. Lester warned that food and drinks containing raw and undercooked eggs, including mayonnaise, aioli, egg nog and tiramisu, had previously been linked to salmonella outbreaks in Victoria.
“These foods can be a risk, especially for the elderly and people with lowered immunity, children and pregnant women,” she said.
Lester said cooking eggs until they were hot all the way through made them safe from contaminants such as salmonella.
Anyone who has bought Green Eggs is advised to use them for cooked dishes only, and restaurants wanting to prepare raw-egg foods or dressings should get their eggs elsewhere while changes at the farm are being made. Lester said people needed to check that eggs were clean and without cracks before buying them.
Washing eggs at home is also not recommended because it makes it easier for bacteria to penetrate the shell.
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