FoodHACCP Newsletter
03/31 2014 ISSUE:593

100 in IL Reported Sickened by Salmonella-Contaminated Cheese
Source :
By News Desk (Mar 28, 2014)
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck is warning people about the dangers of consuming illegally manufactured cheeses.
Health officials are reporting around 100 cases of Salmonellosis in 13 counties, which is believed to be linked to consumption of an illegally manufactured Mexican-style cheese. A sample of the cheese obtained from the home of a person who became ill tested positive for Salmonella. IDPH is working with local health departments to identify the manufacturer of the contaminated cheese.
“We’re concerned that people who consume this manufactured cheese may become sick from Salmonella,” said Dr. Hasbrouck. “It is important for you to check the labeling to make sure the product was made by a licensed dairy manufacturer – even if you purchased the cheese from a grocery store. If you become ill after eating Mexican-style cheese, contact your health care provider and your local health department.”
Local health departments in Boone, Cook (including Chicago), DuPage, Fayette, Kane, Lake, LaSalle, Macon, Marion, McHenry, Vermillion, Washington and Will counties have reported about 100 cases to IDPH since July 2012 with the same strain of Salmonella believed to be associated with this cheese. The average age of people who have become ill is nine years old, and a third of all the cases have been hospitalized.
Anyone with information about illegally manufactured cheese should contact their local health department for followup. Without this information, it will not be possible to prevent further illnesses. People who become ill after eating illegally manufactured cheese should keep the cheese for possible testing.
Many cases have reported consuming Mexican-style cheese obtained from worksites, including factories, and at train stations, from street vendors and from relatives and friends. The cheese is not labeled and is often wrapped in aluminum foil. IDPH recommends that people who have Mexican-style cheese in their home, but cannot clearly identify the product was made by a licensed or regulated manufacturer, should not eat the cheese.
While Salmonella bacteria cannot be detected by sight, taste or smell, it can cause illness, including fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea. Most individuals can recover on their own in three to five days. The infection can be more severe in young children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
IDPH advises against buying or consuming cheese that is suspected to be made by an unlicensed dairy manufacturer. IDPH encourages consumers to always purchase milk and dairy products made by licensed dairy manufacturers. Legitimate Mexican-style cheeses are available in the refrigerated case at retail stores and, in most cases, label information specifies the legal name of the product, the name and address of distributor or processor, quantity of contents, an ingredient statement and nutrition facts.

FDA Closes Jensen’s Old Fashioned Smokehouse
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 30, 2014)
The FDA has closed Jensen’s Old Fashioned Smokehouse in Seattle, Washington, after environmental samples confirmed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the facility. Inspectors found the pathogenic bacteria in food processing and storage areas.
The facility is subject to a consent decree of permanent injunction that was entered in 2001. Under that decree, the company “agreed to comply with requirements to control food safety hazards and ensure that its products are not adulterated.”
To resume production, Jensen’s must meet several requirements, including cleaning and sanitizing the facility and hiring an expert to develop a Sanitation Standard Operation Procedure, along with an environmental monitoring program for Listeria. In addition, the company must test samples of all vacuum-packaged smoked fishery products on hand for Listeria, and give the FDA the results.
The company makes smoked fish products. It distributes them in its retail store, online, and through other facilities in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Nestle Opens Food Safety Institute in Beijing
Source : By Elizabeth Licata (Mar 30, 2014)
Food safety is a big concern in China, where news comes out regularly of dangerous additives found in food and criminal rings trading in illegal and potentially dangerous food processing. Now Nestle has opened a new food safety research institute in Beijing, with the goal of providing a scientific basis for food safety policies that will help officials enforce food safety regulations.
According to Shanghaiist, the Nestle Food Safety Institute plans to run food-safety training programs and expects to collaborate with universities, government agencies, and other research institutes on various food safety issues in China.
“The inauguration underlines Nestle’s commitment to food safety and is also another important highlight in the story of Nestle’s successful and long-standing presence in China,” said Stefan Catsicas, chief technology officer for Nestle. “I am in no doubt that the work of the Nestle Food Safety Institute will contribute to creating shared value for Nestle shareholders and for society in China.”
The Food Safety Institute is based in Nestle’s research and development center in Beijing, and the company says it will be linked to its network of quality assurance centers.




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Consumer Groups Applaud Court’s COOL Ruling
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 29, 2014)
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled yesterday that the Country of Origin Labeling on meats can continue. COOL was put into effect last year, but the meat industry filed suit to block it. The court denied a preliminary injunction against COOL, so consumers will be informed about where the meat they buy is grown and produced.
Food & Water Watch is one of the groups in favor of the court’s decision. Wenonah Hauter, that agency’s executive director said in a statement, “The Federal Appeals Court correctly affirmed the legitimate consumer interest in being able to make informed choices about the origin and safety of their meat products. The court recognized that COOL labels should be transparent and informative enough for consumers to make these choices, including, as the Court observed, the consumer, ‘who believes that United States practices and regulation are better at assuring food safety than those of tother countries, or indeed the reverse, to act on that premise.’”
The Court found that meatpackers are “unlikely to succeed” in overturning COOL. Other groups involved in the lawsuit include R-CALF USA, the South Dakota Stockgrowers Association, and the Western Organization of Resource Councils. The groups’ amicus brief documented the justification of country of origin labeling for consumers to make informed decisions.
The 2002 and 2008 Farm Bills directed USDA to implement these labels. R-CALF USA CEO Bill Bullard said in a statement, “we believe the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the American Meat Institute should honor this important court decision and cease their incessant attacks on our nation’s COOL law in their efforts to hide the true origins of meat from U.S. consumers.”

Focus on food safety, not gloves
Source :
By (Mar 27, 2014)
California was one of the last states to enact a ban on "bare hand" food contact in restaurants. Forty-one other states have some provision that requires restaurant workers to use gloves or utensils when handling food. The "no bare hands" rule has been included in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's model guidelines for food preparation since 1993.
But here in California, the "bare-hand" rule went into effect in January of this year and caused an immediate uproar.
The response from cooks and restaurant owners has been so overwhelmingly negative that the Legislature already is considering a bill to roll the whole ban back. How did things go so wrong?
The consequences of the new provision seem to have taken the restaurant industry by surprise. The California Restaurant Association, for example, did not oppose the ban when it was first proposed. It cruised through the Legislature as part of an update to the food code and met with no major opposition.
Once January came around, however, implementation proved too daunting. Restaurant owners were shocked by the high costs of the gloves - and worried about possible cross-contamination from gloves that weren't changed often enough. There were exceptions to the ban for restaurants with good hygiene practices, but those exceptions are given out by local regulators - and the food industry claims that the grades weren't being given consistently or reliably.
Food industry workers were also confused by the blanket nature of the ban. Bartenders, for example, were appalled at suddenly having to wear gloves to add garnishes to cocktails. Sushi chefs mourned the demise of contact with the food they were rolling. The petitions began to stack up - including one that was signed by more than 18,000 chefs and bartenders.
Now the Legislature is backpedaling as fast as it can. On Tuesday, the Assembly Health Committee voted unanimously to reverse and "revisit" the rule. Should a reversal pass both houses, California would return to its previous regulation of encouraging minimal hand contact - a position shared by states including Louisiana, Montana, Oregon and Wyoming. That seems to be the best solution, at least until legislators have the dialogue that they should have had previously with food industry representatives.
Our suggestion would be to focus the discussion on the regulations California needs to improve the safety of food preparation, rather than on a strict policy about always wearing gloves.

Refrigerator Door: Food safety is color blind
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY (Mar 27, 2014)
One in 6 Americans gets sick each year from something they ate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says. While some outbreaks cause temporary misery, food poisoning causes 3,000 deaths and 125,000 hospitalizations a year.
But it's a myth that color is a reliable indicator of whether food is fully cooked. Use a meat thermometer, says Benjamin Chapman, assistant professor at North Carolina State University. Poultry requires an internal temperature of 165 degrees; ground beef, 160; pork and seafood, 145.
Safely cooked chicken can still be pink; preservatives (nitrates or nitrites) also can cause a pink color, more common in younger birds with thin skin.
Beef's color is affected by acidity and fat content. Low-fat patties need more cooking and higher temperatures. Beef also can turn brown before reaching a safe temperature if it's from an older animal, was stored for a long time or exposed to too much air.

After Salmonella Outbreak, Bankruptcy Sunland Plant Sold to Canadian Firm
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 26, 2014)
After a bankruptcy stemming from a Salmonella outbreak, the Portales, NM plant of Sunland Inc., once the nation’s largest producer of organic peanut butter, was auctioned this week. Twice.
Hampton Farms, of NC, had what appeared to the winning bid of $20 million at the close of the March 20 auction. But Golden Boy Foods of Canada snuck in with a last minute bid of $25 million. Not wanting to deprive the long list of creditors the best price, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge David Thuma ordered a second auction that took place today. Hampton Farms offered $25.1 million and Golden Boy bid $26 million.
Th auction follows a bankruptcy stemming from a 2012 Salmonella outbreak that sickened 42 people in 20 states, most of whom were children under 10. The outbreaktriggered a recall of more than 250 products including brand names such as Trader Joe’s, Newman’s Own, Earth Balance, Harry & David, Target’s Archer Farms and Safeway’s Open Nature. The peanut butter also made its way into the National School Lunch program via bulk drums and in Smucker’s Uncrustables.
At the time of its October 2013 Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Sunland’s 30-page list of creditors had about 1,000 names. The company was also named as a defendant in a number of civil lawsuits stemming from illnesses associated with the outbreak.

South Korea Granted Poultry Inspection Equivalency
Source :
By News Desk (Mar 26, 2014)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has added South Korea to the list of countries eligible to export poultry products to the U.S. after determining that the country’s poultry-inspection system is equivalent to ours.
“Under this final rule, slaughtered poultry or parts or other products thereof processed in certified Korean establishments will be eligible for export to the United States,” reads the Federal Register notice published Wednesday. “All such products will be subject to re-inspection at United States ports of entry by FSIS inspectors.”
In 2005, the government of South Korea requested approval for the importation of Korean poultry products into the U.S. South Korea stated that its immediate intention was to export two types of ginseng chicken stew products. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) then began to evaluate South Korea’s inspection system to determine whether it is equivalent to the U.S. system.
After two audits and two corrective action plans, FSIS proposed equivalency. This final rule will become effective on May 27, 2014.
Under import regulations, the South Korean government must still certify to FSIS that those establishments that wish to export poultry products to the U.S. are operating under requirements equivalent to those of the United States.

Honey, olive oil high on food fraud list; butter is back: food safety roundup
By Lynne Terry (Mar 26, 2014)
The labels on U.S. food are something most people trust. Sugar, fat and protein content? They're listed. Calories? That's on there too. Ingredients? Yep, all spelled out.
But what if the labels are lying?
A food fraud database compiled by the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention shows that popular items like honey, olive oil, milk, coffee and orange juice may not be what they pretend to be, according to a story on
Mislabeling food is illegal in the United States. But that doesn't stop it from happening. The database is based on reports of abuse, including the plastic melamine in milk, honey without pollen and olive oil that isn't. In fact, nearly 70 percent of all store-bought extra virgin olive oils in the U.S. could be fake, the story says.
Honey is especially dicey. It's one of the most commonly mislabeled foods, representing 7 percent of food fraud cases. Last year, Food Safety News tested honey and found that 75 percent  of store-bought honey didn’t contain pollen.
In the good food news category, there's this: Butter is back. Mark Bittman of the New York Times writes about a meta-analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine that found that there’s no evidence to support the notion that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. (In fact, there’s some evidence that a lack of saturated fat may be damaging.)
Bittman goes on to write what we all know: that the real villains in our diet — sugar and ultra-processed foods — are becoming increasingly apparent. Go back to eating butter, he says, if you haven’t already.
(Actually, I never stopped.)
That's it for now. Keep your appetite and eat safely.

China food safety scholarships announced
Wednesday, 26 March 2014, 11:51 am
Press Release: New Zealand Government 

China food safety scholarships announced
Source :
By (Mar 26, 2014)
Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye today announced $900,000 has been allocated towards a new food safety scholarship programme with China.
“The Prime Minister confirmed this scholarship programme during his recent visit to China,” Ms Kaye says. “I am pleased to announce both the funding and some of the detail of the programme.
“The scholarship programme is being developed in partnership between New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). It is the first initiative of the Food Safety Cooperation Agreement signed in November last year (2013).
“It is my expectation that the Joint Food Safety Commission will meet in the next couple of months to agree implementation of this programme.”
The programme will be delivered through Massey University and will give Chinese Food and Drug Administration officials a detailed insight into New Zealand’s food safety risk management systems.
“This is an important part of the deepening cooperation in food safety between our two countries,” Ms Kaye says. “By having official exchanges and scholarships we also increase the understanding of our respective food safety systems. I anticipate at least 10 people from China will participate in the programme over three years. This programme is directed at China to New Zealand exchanges but in the future, it is likely we will also look at New Zealand to China exchanges.
“The scholarship will cover best practice regulation, risk management, food process and design, and the development and implementation of food standards.
“Part of the scholarship will also likely include an internship for Chinese officials to get first-hand experience of New Zealand’s food safety with MPI or nominated food safety providers.
“It is envisaged that scholarship participants will receive a university diploma upon completion.
“Massey University already has strong relationships with Chinese universities, research institutions and government and is well placed to deliver this programme successfully.”
The scholarship will be formally launched in the second half of this year and will run for three years.

Listeria’s Long Incubation Period Hangs Over Parkers Farm Recall
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Mar 25, 2014)
Costco called 50,000 members about the problem
No Listeria illnesses associated with Parkers Farm Inc. food products recalled over the weekend have yet been reported to the Minnesota Department of Health, says spokesman Doug Schultz. But, because the long incubation period for Listeria bacteria can extend out as far as 70 days, Schultz says MDH will remain on alert for illnesses related to products from the Coon Rapids, MN-based company.
Fast action in the recall came from Issaquah, WA-based Costco, which has a protocol for Class 1 recalls when there is a serious human health danger.
“We were notified at about 7:30 p.m. PDT on Friday night by Parkers Farm of the issue,” Craig Wilson, Costco’s national safety director, told Food Safety News. “We then pulled a list of every Costco member who had purchased the item over the last year (50,000 members) and called them up and explained the details of the recall and advised them to discontinue consumption of the peanut butter and return it to their local Costco for a full refund.”
Wilson said Costco members who purchased Parkers Farm peanut butter patronize one or more of Costco’s 21 wholesale clubs in the Midwest.  “We also send a follow-up letter to the member,” he added.
Listeria is among the most deadly of foodborne diseases because of it high fatality rate. Recent Listeria outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada involving people who ate cantaloupe and ready-to-eat meats were the most deadly incidents of their kind for each country in modern history.
Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections.  It occurs mostly in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Healthy adults might suffer from short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria infection can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
Schultz said anyone who ate any of the Parkers Farm recalled products and is experiencing illness should contact a health care provider or their local health department so laboratory tests results are reported to their state health department.
The company’s peanut butter, cheese and bagel spreads, dips and salsas were distributed nationally through major grocery chains. In addition to Parkers Farm, the other brand names on the products included Parkers, Happy Farms. Central Markets, Hy-Top, Amish Classic, Say Cheez, Win Schuler and Bucky Badger.
Hy-Vee, Cub, Rainbow, Byerly’s, Lunds, Target, Whole Foods, Price Chopper, Nash Finch, ALDI, Walmart and Brookshire stores also sold the Parker Farms products.  The recalled products should be returned to retailers for credit or be discarded. They include:
•16-ounce Parkers Farm peanut butter in square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy, crunchy, honey creamy and honey crunchy varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•34-ounce Parkers Farm peanut butter in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including creamy and crunchy varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•12-ounce Parkers Farm spreads in round or square plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including jalapeño and pimento varieties with a sell-by date before 9/20/2014;
•8-ounce and 16-ounce Parkers Farm cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, bacon, onion, smoked cheddar, Swiss almond, horseradish, garlic, port wine, and “Swiss & cheddar” varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•16-ounce Parkers Farm salsa in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including hot, mild, garlic, and fire-roasted varieties with a sell-by date before 7/20/2014;
•10-ounce Parkers cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar, port wine, ranch, and “smokey bacon” varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•10-ounce Happy Farms cheese balls (plastic overwrap), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•16-ounce Happy Farms cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar and port wine varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•8-ounce Central Markets cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, horseradish, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•12-ounce and 20-ounce Hy-Top cheese spread in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including pimento and jalapeño varieties with a sell-by date before 9/20/2014;
•8-ounce Amish Classic cold pack cheese in round plastic containers (tub with snap-on lid), including sharp cheddar, port wine, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•14-ounce Say Cheez beer cheese in round plastic container (tub with snap on lid), including regular and hot varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•10-ounce Win Schuler original variety cheese balls or logs (plastic overwrap) with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015;
•8-ounce, 12-ounce, and 14-ounce Bucky Badger cheese spreads (tub with snap-on lid) including cheddar, port wine, bacon, garlic, horseradish, jalapeño, and Swiss almond varieties with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015; and,
•5-pound food service products, including cold pack cheese foods, cheese spreads and peanut butter, with a sell-by date before 3/20/2015.
This is the second Listeria recall in four years.  On January 8, 2010, Parkers also prompted a Listeria recall of peanut butter, cheese and salsa.  The recall was a result of a sampling done by the state of Wisconsin and the state of Minnesota which revealed that some finished products contained the bacteria. On January 15, the recall was expanded to include all products and all sell by dates. The recalled products were distributed nationwide in the following retail stores: Hy-Vee, Cub, Rainbow, Byerlys, Lunds, Target, Whole Foods, Jewel, Dominicks, Marsh, Price Chopper, Shop Rite, Nash Finch, Sams Club, Costco, Safeway, Kroger, Wal-Mart and Aldi.

Mushrooms contaminated with formaldehyde; chickens run amok: food safety roundup
Source :
By Lynne Terry (Mar 24, 2014)
Last week we posted my series about Denmark's eradication of salmonella in chicken. So how's this for a contrast: Health officials in Thailand are worried about formaldehyde on mushrooms.
A story on the National News Bureau of Thailand urges the public to thoroughly wash mushrooms before consumption to protect themselves from the chemical. And that's not the only food in Thailand contaminated with formaldehyde. Tests on 15,000 items showed a 3 percent formaldehyde rate, with seafood ranking especially high.
Food safety procedures should always be practiced in the kitchen, but the public should not have to be worried about formaldehyde.
And on another subject, the Sacramento area appears to be having a problem with backyard poultry running amok in suburbia. The Sacramento Bee reports that on any given day dozens of roosters can be seen on the streets. A 2011 ordinance allows residents to keep up to three hens but owners don't always know the gender of their chickens, apparently. It's not clear why the roosters are getting out but they're causing a big problem for animal control (not to mention the late risers).
There's also a problem of salmonella-tainted chickens.
Do you own chickens? How do you keep them safe? And how do you protect yourself from salmonella?
That's it for now. Keep your appetite and eat safely.

Canada Wants Option to Fine Meat Plants for Violations
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 24, 2014)
The Canadian government wants to have the power to fine meat processing plant that violate food safety rules, according to CTVnews. Lisa Murphy, a CFIA spokeswoman, said that “these proposed new fines demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that Canada’s stringent food safety requirements are being followed.”
Now, food inspectors can only issue written warnings, or can suspend a facility’s license and shut it down, as is the case in the United States. This proposed measure may have been prompted by the huge recall of beef products from the now defunct XL Foods plant in 2012. Beef from that facility caused an E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that sickened 18 people.
The proposed fines range from $2,000 to $15,000. The meat packing industry is questioning why they are being singled out, and why other facilities that process other foods will not receive the same treatment. It is true that the most common foods that cause fatal food poisoning illnesses are meat and poultry, but the food category that causes most illnesses overall is produce.

Members of Congress Ask USDA to Delay Salmonella Plan
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 23, 2014)
Several members of Congress sent a letter this month to the USDA, asking for the delay in the Salmonella Action Plan that Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is going to implement. The Plan’s first provision is the implementation of poultry slaughter modernization, known as HIMP. The letter states that “considering the paucity of data and lack of comprehensive, external peer review, we are not convinced that this plan will either reduce Salmonella infection or promote public health.”
The HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP) has been running for 15 years. So far, no data collected suggests that the project has created any reduction in foodborne pathogens. And there is no mandate for microbial testing for Salmonella and Campylobacter in the plan, the only part of the Project that has shown results.
The report issued by the CDC last year titled “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States” shows that 2 million Americans are sickened with antibiotic resistant bacteria every year, resulting in 23,000 deaths. Salmonella and Campylobacter are in the “serious” category in that report. HIMP must include “direct provisions to reduce the amounts of these pathogens in our food supply, not simply leave it to industry to set its own standards,” according to the letter, which the program does not at this time. The letter also addresses increases in line speeds, which do not promote food safety, public health, or the health of employees working in poultry slaughter plants.
The signers of the letter want to see the USDA assess each proposed change in the Salmonella Action Plan independently and scientifically. They want to see the microbial testing results in HIMP made public, and see system-wide requirements for Salmonella and Campylobacter testing implemented. And they want to see the USDA to implement its own performance standards on chicken parts instead of waiting for industry to issue their own.
The letter is signed by Representatives Louise Slaughter (D- NY, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim Moran (D-VA), Madeline Bordallo (Guam), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), and Steve Cohen (D-TN).



Job Openings

03/28. HACCP Coordinator – Glen Allen, VA
03/28. Produce Quality Manager – San Bernardino, CA
03/28. Quality Assurance Specialist – Seattle, WA
03/25. Food Safety and Brand Std Spec – Phoenix, AZ
03/25. Quality Manager – Wisconsin Rapids, WI
03/25. Produce QA Specialist – Denver, CO
03/19. Qual Mgmt Specialist – Food Safety – Kansas City, MO
03/19. Quality Assurance and Food Safety – Creston, IA
03/19. Food Safety Manager – Seattle, WA
03/17. QA Inspector (Days) – Luverne, MN
03/17. Compliance Manager – Dover, DE
03/17. Regulatory Food Safety Specialist – Chicago, IL
03/14. Food Safety Superintendent - Plainwell, MI
03/14. QA Supervisor/Engineer – Visalia, CA
03/14. Food Safety Auditor – Los Angeles, CA


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