FoodHACCP Newsletter
04/21 2014 ISSUE:596

Food safety in Lebanon: experts emphasize need for measures after scandal
Source :
By Doug Powell (Apr 20, 2014)          
Lebanon is in need of effective food safety measures in light of the series of food scandals that the country has witnessed, ministries and experts say.
The Lebanese food industry is rife with serious issues, said AUB Professor Zeina Kassaify. “Mislabeling is the key issue and the fact that we don’t have proper law or enforcement mechanism.”“Part of the law says we should be monitoring. … In the U.S. they have the FDA. If they find something that is not up to standard, they penalize people. Here it’s not like that, someone says something on TV and everyone gets outraged without there being any credibility.”
Pierre Abu Nakhoul, an engineer with the Industry Ministry who also carries out inspections, said a lack of resources had hampered monitoring efforts. The ministry must follow up on certain food safety aspects with 2,000 food companies. With the available staff, it could check up on 5-10 each day.
Furthermore, about 30 percent of those food companies are operating without permits, an issue that has also affected food safety monitoring.
The real problem is the overlapping authorities of different ministries with respect to monitoring food processing activities, according to Mounir Bissat, president of the Syndicate of Food Industries.

Food poisoning investigated food safety summit in Baltimore
Source :
By Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun (Apr 19, 2014)
Four people reported illness during April event at convention center
Health officials are investigating a possible outbreak of food poisoning during a conference on food safety at the Baltimore Convention Center.
Four people who attended the Food Safety Summit, held April 7-10, reported becoming sick, according to city and state health officials. They called Baltimore's 311 line on April 15 and 16 to report feeling sick with diarrhea and an upset stomach about 12 hours after they had eaten a meal at the convention center on April 9.
There have been no hospitalizations or deaths, and no one who attended other events at the convention center has reported falling ill, health officials said.
Bob Pascal, chief marketing officer for Centerplate, the food contractor at the convention center, said the company is cooperating with the investigation.
"No issue is more important to Centerplate than the health and well-being of our guests," Pascal said in a statement. "We employ stringent quality and safety protocols in our operations, and we are routinely inspected by health officials to ensure that safe standards are met."
After the illnesses were reported, Baltimore health inspectors investigated Centerplate's operations and issued a violation for condensation dripping from an ice machine, said Michael Schwartzberg, a spokesman for the city's health department. The violation was immediately corrected.
Centerplate had no violations during its most recent regularly scheduled inspection in February, Schwartzberg said.
Centerplate has run the food service operation at the convention center since 2010. The company is headquartered in Stamford, Conn., and has contracts with more than 300 event venues in North America and Europe.
The Food Safety Summit included certification courses for safe food preparation and panel discussions on topics such as natural disasters, the beef industry, allergens and extending the shelf life of ready-to-eat foods.
Speakers included experts from government agencies and private food companies.
Amy Riemer, who handled public relations for the Food Safety Summit, said organizers helped put health investigators in touch with attendees to send out a questionnaire. She referred further comment to BNP Media, the company that owns the Food Safety Summit.
Rita Foumia, corporate strategy director for BNP Media, did not respond to a phone message on Saturday.

Over 300 Seek Hepatitis A Vaccines after eating at La Fontana in Nyack
Source :
By Bill Marler (Apr 18, 2014)
According to press reports, more than 300 people who had eaten at La Fontana restaurant in Nyack between March 29 and April 1 received free vaccines last weekend for Hepatitis A.
The Rockland County Department of Health gave out the free vaccines after announcing last week that a case of Hepatitis A had been identified in a worker at the restaurant.
But not everyone who may have been exposed was vaccinated.
The vaccine is most effective when given within 14 days of exposure to the virus, therefore patrons who ate at the restaurant between March 19 and March 28 would not benefit from vaccination, health officials said.
Instead they encourage those who were not vaccinated, but visited the restaurant between March 19 and April 1 to see a doctor if symptoms develop.




2day Short course - Advanced Food Microbiology Course
Title: Control Methods to Kill Pathogens and Spoilage Microorganisms in Food

July 31-August 1, 2014 (Las Vegas, NV)

Click here for more information


Side of Irony? Meal Sickens People at Food Safety Summit
Source :
By JoNel Aleccia (Apr 18, 2014)
Maryland health officials are investigating possible cases of food poisoning at what may be the worst-ever venue — a gathering of government and industry leaders attending a national Food Safety Summit.
At least four people called the Baltimore City Health Department this week to report that they developed diarrhea, nausea and other symptoms about 12 hours after eating a meal April 9 during the conference at the Baltimore Convention Center.
That was midway through the annual meeting held April 8 to 10 that attracted more than 1,500 food safety professionals, including staff from federal agencies as well as businesses such as McDonald’s, Tyson, Chiquita and ConAgra Foods.
“None of us are very happy when we hear these things,” said Peggy Daidakis, executive director of the center.
Word of the investigation spread Thursday when Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer, posted online a survey sent to him and other conference speakers and attendees asking them to report what they ate and how they felt after the meeting.
“We have not yet determined how people became ill, and we want your help to do so, even if you did not get sick,” wrote officials with the outbreak response unit for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
That posting actually disrupted the data collection for the investigation, which is still in its early stages, said Sara Luell, spokeswoman for the agencCity health officials inspected the convention center and its food service provider, Centerplate, said Michael Schwartzberg, a spokesman. The company was issued a violation notice for condensation dripping from one of the two ice machines in the kitchen, which was immediately fixed, he added. The firm had no violations during the most recent previous inspection.
Several officials with the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attended the gathering and may have been affected.
"A couple of our folks indicated that they had experienced symptoms associated with food poisoning after the summit," said Juli Putnam, an FDA spokeswoman.
No particular food has been identified in connection with the illnesses and no one who attended other conferences during the same time frame reported being sick, Luell said.
Officials at the center are cooperating fully with investigators to determine the cause of the illnesses, Daidakis said.
“We’re not trying to hide anything,” she added. “If there is something, we’ll take the corrective measures.”

Health Officials Investigating Potential Illness Outbreak at Food Safety Summit
Source :
By Cathy Siegner (Apr 18, 2014)
Reports of an illness outbreak at last week’s Food Safety Summit (FSS) in Baltimore have state and local health officials checking for symptoms among those who attended the three-day event from April 8-10 at the Baltimore Convention Center. It was not clear whether food or a virus was suspected as the source of the possible illness outbreak.
Sara Luell, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, sent out a statement Thursday afternoon noting that initial reports of illness had come in from four attendees at the FSS:
“Although we are in the initial stages of the investigation, there are currently no reported hospitalizations or deaths related to these illnesses. There are also currently no reports of illnesses associated with other conferences at the Baltimore Convention Center. The investigation is ongoing.”
According to Michael Schwartzberg, public information officer for the Baltimore City Health Department, four calls came in on April 15 and 16 from people “complaining of feeling sick with diarrhea, upset stomach and other related symptoms about 12 hours after eating a meal at the Baltimore Convention Center on April 9.”
The city dispatched two environmental health sanitarians to the convention center on April 16, Schwartzberg stated, who did an “extensive investigation” at Centerplate, the center’s in-house caterer.
“With the exception of one issue, everything was in compliance with codes and regulations. Centerplate was issued a violation for condensation dripping from one of the 2 ice machines in the kitchen, and this issue was immediately corrected,” Schwartzberg wrote in an email. He added that no violations were noted at the most recent regularly scheduled inspection there on Feb. 27.
In an email sent early Thursday afternoon to FSS attendees, epidemiologist Emily Luckman with the Maryland Department of Health asked for assistance with the investigation by completing an online survey or answering the survey questions by phone. The survey asked about when attendees were at the event and whether or not they had experienced symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea.
“We have not yet determined how people became ill, and we want your help to do so, even if you did not get sick,” she wrote.
However, the survey link was closed late Thursday afternoon because, as Luckman stated in a separate email to FSS attendees, the link to the survey and the password were published online and “the integrity of the information being entered into the survey cannot be assured.” She also thanked everyone who had already completed the survey for their help.
Food safety attorney Bill Marler (publisher of Food Safety News), who attended the FSS, posted Luckman’s initial email to attendees Thursday on his blog, along with the survey link and password.
“The email I received was received by all attendees at the Food Safety Summit, and I assumed that it was not intended to be secret, and if it was intended to be secret, I assume they would actually have said that,” Marler noted, adding, “If they had said, ‘Please don’t send this to anybody because it would compromise the survey,’ I certainly would not have.”
This year’s 16th-annual FSS drew more than 1,500 attendees from across the spectrum of the food industry, including growers, processors, retailers, distributors, food-service operators, regulators and academia.

Food-Safety Tips for Easter Eggs
Source :
By News Desk |(Apr 18, 2014)
Easter egg safety tips: wash hands, discard cracked eggs and keep eggs away from pets
Easter Sunday is coming right up, so here are some important food-safety tips to remember this time of year when you’re decorating, cooking and/or hiding Easter eggs:
Be sure and inspect the eggs before purchasing them, making sure they are not dirty or cracked. Dangerous bacteria may enter a cracked egg.
Store eggs in their original cartons in the refrigerator rather than in the refrigerator door.
Wash your hands thoroughly with hot soapy water and rinse them before handling the eggs when cooking, cooling, dyeing and hiding them. Also thoroughly wash utensils, counter tops and anything else the eggs will come into contact with.
It’s a good idea to use one set of eggs for dyeing, decorating and hunting and a second set for eating. Or, you can use colorful plastic Easter eggs with treats or toys inside for your Easter egg hunt.
If you’re planning to eat the Easter eggs you dye, be sure to use food-grade dyes only. You can even make your own egg dyes from common and easily available foods.
If you’re having an Easter egg hunt, consider your hiding places carefully. Avoid areas where the eggs might come into contact with pets, wild animals, birds, reptiles, insects or lawn chemicals.
Make sure you find all the eggs you’ve hidden and then refrigerate them within two hours. Discard any cracked eggs.
As long as the eggs are NOT out of refrigeration for more than two hours, they will be safe to eat. Do not eat eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours. Refrigerate hard-cooked eggs in their shells and use them within one week.
Refrigerators should always keep foods at 40 degrees F or colder. If you’re not sure about yours, check the temperature with an appliance thermometer.
If you are planning to use colored eggs as decorations (for centerpieces, etc.) and the eggs will be out of refrigeration for many hours or several days, discard them after they have served their decorative purpose.
If you will be painting and decorating hollowed-out eggshells, use pasteurized shell eggs so you don’t expose yourself to Salmonella from the raw egg while blowing it through holes poked in the shell. To sanitize the outside of the egg, wash it in hot water and rinse it in 1 teaspoon chlorine bleach per half-cup of water.
Observing these food-safety tips will make it a fun and healthy Easter for you and your family.

Public Health Risk of Antibiotic Use in Food Animals
Source :
By H. Scott Hurd, D.V.M., Ph.D.
Public Health Risk of  Antibiotic Use in Food Animals
Many people are concerned about increasing levels of antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens. Infection with a resistant pathogen may result in more prolonged or severe illness. The basic science of bacteria tells us that use of antibiotics will generally increase the proportion of resistant bacteria occurring in those bacterial populations or ecosystems. As resistance increases, the risk of adverse treatment outcomes may also increase. Therefore, all antibiotic use needs to be evaluated and carefully controlled to preserve antibiotics as a healthcare tool in people and animals.
To mitigate the risk, antibiotic use in humans and livestock is being scrutinized by physicians, veterinarians, consumer groups, Congress and government agencies. Regarding the risk of food animal antibiotics, there has been much alarm about the proportion (60–80 percent) of the total antibiotics produced that is sold for use in food animals in the U.S. Based on these numbers, many suggest that animal use is a major contributor to the resistance problem. Many also suggest we should raise livestock “antibiotic-free.” Recently, I heard a commercial reporting its brand of poultry tasted better as it was antibiotic-free. However, neither the quantity used nor the route by which it is given to animals (e.g., in feed) nor the perceived taste is an accurate measure of contribution to the overall risk. Many more questions along the causal pathway from farm to human health harm must be answered to understand the contribution that food animal use makes to the overall problem (Figure 1).
To clarify, when we talk about resistance, we are talking about the bacterium’s ability to grow in media in the laboratory in the presence of selected antimicrobials. These are not the same as residues that are leftover molecules in the meat and are not allowed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Additionally, it is important to understand that all bacteria may have some natural ability to grow in the presence of some antimicrobials, and just because a bacterium is resistant to a certain antibiotic does not mean that antibiotic treatment in the patient will fail. Resistance sounds like an evil word, but resistance is actually a normal characteristic of most bacteria. Antibiotic resistance has been documented to have existed for millions of years. Most scientists think resistance is a bacterial survival mechanism for competition. Antimicrobial resistance has been found in many places where antibiotics have never been used, including arctic seals, deep ocean trenches and caves untouched by mammals for over 4 million years. So, clearly, resistance has not developed just due to human use.
Given this general understanding of bacteria and resistance development, many people get the impression that antibiotic use is “bad” and the best solution is to severely restrict its use, especially in food animals. However, antibiotics are needed for animal health, which affects food safety, and suggestions to go antibiotic-free may have significant negative consequences.
Many policy questions arise from these issues. How do we preserve this important human and animal healthcare tool? How much of the risk is due to animal antibiotic use? Which antibiotic uses need to be restricted? What ethical and public health benefits, deriving from healthy food animals, need to be considered? Because bacteria are different, just as species of animals are different, and they interact with specific antibiotics differently, these questions must be addressed on a case-by-case (“bug-drug-use”) basis. This approach is outlined in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidance 152 on risk assessment methods.[1]
This article will briefly mention three important facts that must be entered into this complex policy debate, as follows:
1.    The risk to human health that is contributed by most on-farm antibiotic use appears negligible.
2.    Failure to prevent or treat illness causes unnecessary animal suffering and death.
3.    Animals with residual effects of illness are more likely to cause human foodborne disease.
Risks to Human Health by Most On-Farm Antibiotic Use Appears Negligible
The risk is negligible because it is a long way from farm to harm. There are many barriers and filters in effect along the farm-to-fork chain to prevent and reduce bacterial transmission. These barriers include in-plant Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, proper food preparation and cooking and adequate human immunity and wellness. For harm to happen, many events must occur consecutively.
It is important to highlight the difference between concern, hazard and risk. Concern does not equal risk. Concern suggests a need for further investigation and monitoring of an evolving situation. Risk requires a causal chain of events and depends on both hazard and dose (or exposure). Water is a hazard, especially if you are golfing or surfing. The risk depends on a variety of circumstances and skill, all of which affect your exposure or dose.
Many hazardous chemicals are used in food processing. Controlling exposure to those hazards minimizes risk. Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are a hazard. With sufficient dose or exposure, a hazard can create a risk. So if a hazard is not a risk and antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are a hazard, is there a risk?
To answer this question, we may need to do a risk assessment. We cannot make major policy or regulatory changes based solely on concern. Risk assessment, a specialized form of decision analysis, is a useful method for sorting out such a complex, multifactorial policy decision. This is the approach FDA has been using to evaluate any new animal antibiotic before it is approved for use.[1] Note, this analysis is conducted for a specific antibiotic, for a specific animal use, for specific dose, in selected bacteria.
To generate risk from a hazard requires a causal pathway as shown in Figure 1. In this complex system of antimicrobial resistance, there is a chain of causality, as there is in every risk assessment. This chain is as follows: Antibiotics are used in livestock, antibiotic resistance develops on farm, these resistant bacteria are present on meat, meat is not cooked or handled properly, these resistant bacteria present on food cause human illness, the human receives antibiotic treatment, treatment is ineffective and there are additional illness days in the human due to resistance. FDA has suggested the foodborne route as the most likely to produce risk and is the only route required for regulatory approval of animal antibiotics. Each of these steps must happen and proceed to the next step; if one step (domino) is removed or severely restricted, the entire causal chain is stopped or restricted.
Many quantitative risk assessments have examined the risk of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria causing foodborne illness. To date, none of the peer-reviewed scientific quantitative risk assessments published have demonstrated any significant risk of treatment failure in humans caused by current on-farm antibiotic uses in animals. So while the critics of on-farm antibiotic use may have valid concerns, the science suggests, except for a few specific cases, the actual risk does not justify broadly restrictive antibiotic-use policies.
A very simplistic form of risk assessment is provided by the Infectious Diseases Society of America and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They provided a list of bacteria of concern for human infectious diseases and resistance.[2] Most of the bacteria listed are unrelated to farms and livestock. These bacteria are either not transmitted through eating meat or are treated by antimicrobials that are not used in food animals (thus the resistance cannot come from on-farm use), are strictly human pathogens or have no otherwise known connection between people and food-producing animals.
Failure to Prevent or Treat Illness Causes Unnecessary Animal Suffering and Death
Every farm with animals is both a maternity hospital and/or a day care facility. Animals need medicine, just like kids do. Infection can move quickly through a house or barn, just like a day care facility. This becomes a moral and ethical issue. At what point will we deny treatment? It’s not right to withhold veterinary care from animals just for economic gain.
Organic or antibiotic-free farms face an ongoing challenge: How long does the farmer wait before treating? Most marketing programs for antibiotic-free require that an animal treated with an antibiotic cannot be sold as antibiotic-free or organic. Treatment of an animal results in a significant financial loss for the producer. So if a farmer is faced with a barnful of coughing and dying pigs, for example, the best treatment is water medication of the entire barn, which would stop the rapid spread of infection. However, antibiotic treatment would cause the entire barn to be a “loss.” All those treated pigs would be sold at a discount.
Animals with Residual Illness Are More Likely to Cause Human Foodborne Disease
I am not saying there is zero risk from on-farm antibiotic use. Therefore, if we as a society are to accept that risk, there should be some benefit. Let’s compare this with something we all know well: chlorinated water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency originally did not want to approve chlorination, because chlorinated water can increase the risk of cancer. Finally, the agency did approve it because of the benefit derived from avoiding an alternative and greater risk: bacteria, viruses and other pathogens routinely found in water. So we need to evaluate the alternative public health risk for withholding antibiotic use in food animal production.
People want to consume meat only from healthy animals. This tenet was established in the 1906 Meat Inspection Act.[3] Only healthy animals should enter the food chain. However, it is not just the obviously sick animals that create public health problems. Additionally, animals with subclinical (not visible while alive) residual effects of illness are more likely to cause human foodborne illness. As we harvest animals with some residual or leftover illness effects, we will increase the public health risk from susceptible (nonresistant) bacteria. This connection between subclinical animal health and carcass contamination with foodborne pathogens has been demonstrated in a few studies.
Research has shown that chicken flocks arriving at harvest with airsacculitis lesions (similar to pneumonia) had lower average bird weights, higher levels of fecal contamination on the carcass and increased Campylobacter loads than flocks without airsacculitis.[4] The overall public health impact, measured in foodborne illness days, was evaluated by this author and others.[5] This study showed that small changes in bird health will make large changes in human illness with susceptible Campylobacter.
Currently, I am studying the same issue in pork production. I found some of the healthy pigs that passed USDA live inspection had internal adhesions (about 7 percent) from previous infections. These pig carcasses with lesions were 90 percent more likely to be positive for Salmonella than those carcasses without lesions.[6] A positive carcass is much more likely to cause foodborne illness.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Food animal agriculture is working to reduce its contribution to the antibiotic-resistance problem. Farmers and veterinarians use many methods to prevent illness before deploying costly antibiotics. These methods include housing, carefully controlled ventilation, prevention of animal crowding, good nutrition and vaccination. Currently, only a small proportion (13 percent) of all antibiotics sold is used for growth promotion, and that number is declining due to FDA guidance.[7, 8]
The problem of controlling antibiotic resistance is complex. It will not succumb to easy solutions or broad, sweeping legislation. Bacteria have no political persuasion and are unabashed by man-made laws and regulations. However, they do obey the laws of nature. It is our challenge to better understand these laws, managing this ecosystem to our benefit. All the sciences of microbiology, ecology, epidemiology and risk assessment must be collaboratively deployed to address this challenge.
H. Scott Hurd, D.V.M., Ph.D., is an associate professor at Iowa State University (ISU) College of Veterinary Medicine. He is director of the Food Risk Modeling and Policy Laboratory at ISU. He served as deputy undersecretary for food safety at the USDA from 2008 to 2009. He received his Ph.D. in epidemiology/economics from Michigan State University in 1990 and a D.V.M. from ISU in 1982.
4. Russell, S.M. 2003. The effect of airsacculitis on bird weights, uniformity, fecal contamination, processing errors, and populations of Campylobacter spp. and Escherichia coli. Poultry Science 82:1326–1331.
5. Singer, R.S. and C.L. Hofacre. 2006. Potential impacts of antibiotic use in poultry production. Avian Diseases 50:161–172.
6. Hurd, H.S. et al. 2008. Swine health impact on carcass contamination and human foodborne risk. Public Health Reports 123:343–351.
8. Hurd, H.S. et al. 2004. Public health consequences of macrolide use in food animals: A deterministic risk assessment. J Food Prot 67:980–992.

Possible Food Poisoning Outbreak in Mount Vernon, Illinois
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Apr 16, 2014)
A possible food poisoning outbreak in Mount Vernon in southern Illinois has sickened several people and hospitalized two people. A news report published in the Mount Vernon Register News. The Jefferson County Health Department is investigating.
FoodpoisoninglgApparently people started getting sick on April 6, 2014, although the illnesses were not reported until April 9. Public health officials will not say where the people who were sickened ate. We don’t know if the outbreak started at a private event or a restaurant. There are 22 people who are part of the investigation, although some of them did not become ill.
One patient told the Register News that they ate at the Holiday Inn before becoming ill. Food served there was prepared by a local restaurant. By the time the illnesses were reported, food that may have caused the outbreak had been consumed or discarded. Laboratory test results are still pending. We’ll keep you updated as more news comes in.

Spring Celebration Egg Food Safety Advice
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Apr 16, 2014)
The folks at are offering some tips for keeping your food safe during spring celebrations. Easter and Passover feature lots of eggs, which can be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria, especially Salmonella enteritidis.
Hard cooked eggsClean hands are key. Always wash your hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after food handling. Be careful about cross-contamination. Always wash utensils, food contact surfaces, cooking equipment, blenders, cutting boards, etc. in hot water and soap between uses.
Since bacteria grow in moist, protein-rich foods, always refrigerate eggs and foods made with egg. Make sure your refrigerator is set at 40°F or below, and always use a refrigerator thermometer to monitor the temperature. Remember the two hour rule: after two hours, refrigerate or discard any perishable foods.
When cooking eggs, always cook to 160°F. That means the yolks and whites should be firm, whether you are poaching, boiling, frying, or scrambling eggs. Don’t eat any foods containing raw or undercooked eggs. Use a food thermometer to make sure foods containing eggs are cooked to a safe temperature.
If you are using hard cooked eggs for your Easter egg hunt, only use eggs that have been refrigerated. Wrap eggs in plastic wrap before hiding so they don’t get dirty, and hide in places that are protected from dirts and pets. When decorating eggs for Easter, only use food-safe dyes. Commercial egg dyes, liquid food coloring, and fruit-drink powders are all safe. Keep hard cooked eggs refrigerated at all times inside the refrigerator, not in the refrigerator door. Hard cooked eggs are only safe to eat for 1 week after cooking.

Get to know these two food safety hazards
Source :
By Kelsey Lindsey (Apr 16, 2014)
Listeria and salmonella might get the public attention and news headlines, but they are just two of many threats to food safety. At a conference last week, experts highlighted a pair of lesser-publicized risks: Cyclosporiasis and radiological hazards.
Three experts – doctors John Marcy, Jennifer McEntire and Palmer Orlandi – discussed the two threats at the Food Safety Summit in Baltimore. Here are some takeaways from that conversation:
Cyclospora: A reemerging hazard
“If you’re like me, you’ve been in the food safety industry for a long time,” said Marcy, a poultry processing specialist, “This one doesn’t come up all that often, which is good.”
Caused by a parasite, cyclosporiasis first came to the public’s attention after a 1990 outbreak, the first reported outbreak in the United States. Some research on the disease continued, but Orlandi said cyclosporiasis dropped off the public health safety radar in the early 2000s.
It reemerged last year, when more than 600 cases of cyclosporiasis was recorded in 25 states—a “wakeup call,” according to Orlandi, for the industry to move forward with more advanced research techniques and preventative measures.
One of these techniques is whole genome sequencing, something Orlandi said “is a long way off, but it’s something to be considered.” Because the cyclospora infection takes up to two weeks to mature and hosts to show symptoms like explosive diarrhea, it’s hard for scientists to obtain samples to study. Orlandi stated that a solution to this problem may be whole genome sequencing, which can help scientists develop defenses against the disease without waiting on samples from infected hosts.
Other preventative measures include better irrigation and spraying practices on produce, multi-stage water filtration in fields, and limited handling from growers.
Radiological hazards: A modern threat
According to McEntire, vice president and chief science officer of The Acheson Group, “radiological has a lot of people scratching their heads.”
This may be because it is a fairly new food safety issue. Some people first heard about radiological hazards when those hazards were included in the 2009 Food Safety Modernization Act, but it was the failure of Japan’s Fukushima power plant in the March 2011 tsunami that really brought them into the limelight. 
When water stores near the Fukushima plant—some of which were used in the country’s food supply—showed signs of radiological contamination, McEntire said this threat was elevated from “a theoretical kind of hazard.”
“This is something that there was testing in the food supply done in the wake of this event,” McEntire said, “and radioactivity was detected in foods…water being the vehicle for the radiological hazard.” After Fukushima, radiological contamination became a real possibility. 
To avoid this type of contamination, McEntire said food production facilities and businesses should be aware of their proximity to nuclear power plants, and the possibility of their water supply being affected if an event similar to Fukushima occurred.
McEntire also warned that well water in certain areas of the U.S. also may contain higher levels of radionuclides. She said businesses should be aware of not only their proximity to and use of this well water, but also of their suppliers’ as well.
“There should be some data out there that you can leverage to help you form your decision as to whether this hazard is reasonably likely to occur,” said McEntire, stating that the FDA offers comprehensive testing and results on its website. McEntire also lists The Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors and the Environmental Protection Agency as resources to help businesses test for radioactive materials in their food supply.
Exploring these lesser-known risks makes for a more educated—and more alert—industry, keeping both cyclospora and radiological hazards out of the news cycle now and in the future.

Food Safety Training and Education
Source :
By Yasmine Motarjemi, Ph.D., and Huub Lelieveld (Apr 15, 2014)
Food Safety Training and Education
Training and education are the stepping stones to food safety; they link theory to practice. How often have we had a good piece of legislation, yet those who have to implement it are unaware of it or have not understood its importance? As such, training and education are one of the fundamental elements of any program, yet their true importance is not always recognized at fair value. Therefore, sometimes, due to poor design or implementation, training and education do not achieve the desired objectives. They are often treated lightly or as an afterthought, as if just sitting in classroom and getting a certificate will do the job.
Here, we report a few considerations in the planning, design and implementation of education and training programs, in particular, in regard to food safety management, although the principles apply to all fields. Before that, it needs to be said that although the terms education and training are often used interchangeably, they have different meanings. Education is generally defined as the process of learning and acquiring information. It may be carried out such purposes as having a profession, a university degree or, more generally, for developing the power of reasoning and judgment. Training is the process of teaching a person (or an animal) a particular skill or a type of behavior. A key difference between training and education is that in training, the subject may learn to practice a behavior without always or necessarily knowing, or thinking of, the reason behind it. In education the subject receives the knowledge and motivation to make informed decisions and choices. For professionals in food safety, both education and training are needed.
One of the key weaknesses in our education and training programs is their design, that is, the lack of alignment between the responsibilities and the tasks that individuals are required to perform and their education and training. It is the responsibility of company management to ensure that every employee has a clear job description, which outlines the work objectives, what is expected from him/her and ensures that the employee has the corresponding knowledge and training (Figure 1[1]).
The management has the duty to ensure that the responsible staff has the right education and training to perform their function. Failing to do this, the management will have to bear the responsibility of any incident which would ensue.
As much as training and education are important for the management of food safety, it would be wrong to automatically associate failures in food safety management to the competence of managers or employees and their lack of training. A failure can have multiple causes; therefore, before deciding to resolve an issue with further training, it is essential to investigate the root cause of the failure and understand the underlying organizational problems (Figure 2[1]). Lack of training may be one of the reasons. At times, the root cause of the incident or issue  are factors related to conditions of work: overload of work, poor quality of communication, unclear instruction, unclear job description, unfeasible policies and directives, inconsistency between responsibility and authority, inadequate resources, lack of motivation or conflict in values, etc.
One of the key sources of conflicts, errors, mistakes or violations is risk perception. An employee may not perceive the reason or the importance of a measure and may subsequently take risky short cuts or neglect some important measures, particularly if or she is working under time constraints, or the management does not show its commitment (i.e., walking the talk). Since the advance of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points, the steps essentials for food safety are better communicated, but there are still shortcomings. For instance, in one incident affecting a major pet food company in Venezuela in 2005, a supplier of corn had exchanged the required quality of corn with corn of a lower grade, thus increasing the levels of aflatoxin, not realizing that pets are particularly sensitive to aflaxtoxins. 
The issue of risk perception is particularly important with individuals who are not directly involved in management of food safety, yet their actions may impact the safety of products; these can range from the CEO of the company to an employee. For instance, a driver who is transporting a perishable product may not realize the importance of the cold chain for some products, or a machine manufacturer may not appreciate the importance of hygienic engineering and risks associated with fouling and the importance of easy access for cleaning. Another example is a consumer who may not realize the importance of the instructions on the package. Therefore, in any education and training activity, including simple communication, the importance of the information for safety reasons should be explicitly explained. The issue of risk perception will also have a strong bearing on the decision of company management, for example, to recall a product. Although, such decisions should be based on scientific and technical assessment of risks, such exercises are not often feasible in emergencies, and managers may be influenced by their perceptions of the risks and their own biases.
As for any management process, following a training session, it is important to evaluate the impact of the course and improve its design (Figure 1). In this context, after the course, it is important to inquire with trainees on the relevance of the course for their work and, in particular, the constraints they have had in implementing their training. Sometimes, the trainees are hampered in implementing their knowledge because of a lack of appreciation of their peers. To enhance a common understanding, preferably the entire team or department should receive the same training.
To obtain the commitment of the management, the CEO and others in top management should also be regularly briefed on developments in food safety management and expectations of stakeholders, as well as the root cause of failures in their company.  
Lastly, remember that although “Education cost money, but then so does ignorance.”[2]
This article is based on Motarjemi, Y. and H.  Lelieveld. 2014. Food safety management: A practical guide for the food Industry. Waltham, MA: Academic Press.
Yasmine Motarjemi, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at the world Health Organization. She holds a Ph.D. in food engineering from the University of Lund, Sweden.
Huub Lelieveld is president of the Global Harmonization Initiative, a member of the Executive Committee and past president of the European Federation of Food Science and Technology. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine.
1. ISO. 1999. ISO Quality management – Guidelines for training. ISO 10015: 1999. International Organization for Standardization, Geneva.

Sandwich farmers emphasize food safety
Source :
By Judy Buchenot For Sun-Times Media (Apr 16, 2014)
Home cooks know there is nothing like fresh-from-the-farm produce.
However, food-borne illnesses have made the headlines several times in recent years, with recalls of spinach, lettuce and other produce, which cause concern. Unlike food processing facilities, there are few laws in place requiring farmers and packing houses to regularly wash equipment that touches produce.
In response to these outbreaks, the USDA has developed Good Agricultural Practices or GAP.
Rob and Christina Montalbano of Montalbano Farms in Sandwich are among the produce farmers who are voluntarily becoming GAP certified. They are the first farm in Illinois to receive a GAP audit cost-share which is a plan to help defray the costs of the annual audit needed for certification. The funds to cover audit costs come from a grant from the Illinois Department of Agriculture and are being distributed through the co-operative extension services through September 2014.
To become certified, the Montalbanos had to create a food safety plan using the GAP guidelines and then be audited. “The plan mainly has to do with hygiene practices,” explains Christina. “We have all workers wash their hands, we harvest into sanitized containers and we carefully monitor the temperature in all of our coolers.” Being GAP certified does require more work and expense but Christina says, “it is proof to our customers that we are growing food safely.”
Rob Montalbano did not grow up on a farm but he has had a lifelong interest in growing produce. He completed a degree in biology and worked on several farms before starting his own operation. While working at a farm, he met Christina who was an intern. After working together for awhile, marriage soon followed. Rob’s family owned land in Sandwich which Rob and Christina are now farming.
Rob started Montalbano Farms in 2006 with about 25 Community Supported Agriculture or CSA customers. The couple now have more than 200 CSA clients and also supply grocery stores, restaurants and caterers in the area. About 65% of their business currently comes from Chicago customers. “My goal is to sell everything we grow within 30 miles of the farm,” says Rob.
Not only is the farm GAP certified, it will soon be certified organic also. The process takes about three years of monitoring. There are several organizations which can certify farms as organic. The Montalbanos are working with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farming Association for their certification.
More people are participating in CSAs every year according to Rob. “I think people are attracted to us for different reasons,” says Rob. “One thing is fresh produce. The produce is truly getting to people within days of being harvested. Another thing is that young families want their children to grow up eating fresh vegetables. There is also the organic concern. People know where this produce comes from and how it is grown. And there are also people who like the idea of supporting farmers and shopping local.”
Montalbanos have already started growing broccoli, cabbage, celery, peppers and tomatoes in a green house. “We start everything from seed indoors and seed every week through September,” says Rob. The couple and a small seasonal staff plant 25 acres with 70 different types of vegetables and numerous varieties of each vegetable type. They grow at least 20 varieties of peppers alone. “It is all about bio-diversity,” says Rob. “A variety of crops encourages pollinators. We surround the farm with a cover crop that attracts bee and ladybugs.” The weather is always a factor. Rob does not think he will be able to offer peas this year. “I would have planted peas this week but it is still too cold. They need to mature in May when it is still cool. But if we miss peas, we still have 69 other things to offer,” he says with optimism.
Montalbano Farm CSA shares are currently available at They also have opportunities for worker shares which involve exchanging work hours for vegetables. The farm has 15 drop site locations including one in Aurora. Deliveries begin in early June and continue through Thanksgiving. All CSA members receive a newsletter with updates on farm life, recipes and tips. The couple shares one of their favorite recipes for fresh farm produce for others to try.

SafetyChain Announces Next Generation Food Safety Chain Management System (FSCMS)
Source : By Supplier News (Apr 15, 2014)
The new version enhancements are designed to further automate, streamline and improve FSQA.
SAN RAFEAL, Calif. – SafetyChain Software announced the next generation version of its FSCMS, SafetyChain for Food. 
SafetyChain has experienced tremendous growth across all food industry sectors by offering the only cloud-based, integrated modular solution that incorporates comprehensive functionality to automate food safety and quality assurance (FSQA) at all points along a company’s supply chain – hence the name SafetyChain. SafetyChain for Food includes modules for Supplier Compliance, FSQA Program Management, Process Management, On-Demand Audit Readiness and Mobile FSQA.
The new version enhancements are designed to further automate, streamline and improve FSQA. The next generation of SafetyChain for Food provides key best-in-class enhancements driven by the ever-increasing complexities of global FSQA. Enhancements include:
•    Cross-Functional Document Management: Documents can be easily organized and sorted, through role-based view dashboards, for any regulatory, FSQA program or supplier compliance need – for a USDA/FDA, GFSI or customer audit, HACCP/HARPC review, supplier approval, CAPA review, operational or test results views – as just a few examples. A single document can be associated with multiple needs, so that with the click of a mouse users can organize all documents according to any one of these or other perspectives.
•    Step-by-Step FSQA Process Management: New levels of granularity have been added to how FSQA processes are defined in the system – including the ability to define every criteria, for every test – and associated corrective/preventive actions (CAPAs) based upon results. These capabilities, along with cross-functional document management, promote true audit readiness – not just the ability to produce audit documents, but to also show that all FSQA program steps were followed along with clearly documented CAPAs.
•    Immediate Mobile Corrective Actions: SafetyChain Mobile will now not only allow FSQA data/forms to be entered in-field/in-plant/in-transit/in-store via mobile devices – safety and quality test results will also be evaluated in realtime via mobile – enforcing immediate corrective actions for non-conformances.
•    Enhanced Integrated Portals for Approved Supplier Management Programs: New version enhancements will provide even more flexibility for the ways in which suppliers, as part of a company’s approved vendor programs, can upload FSQA documents, do document approval online, fill out/submit forms and maintain a secure online dialog. In addition to auto-notifications when documents are due, the documents become a part of the total FSQA centralized database – which crosses all SafetyChain for Food modules – for complete FSQA records and audit-readiness. And, as always, SafetyChain does not charge a company’s suppliers to use the supplier portal features.
“Every day, we hear from our customers and prospects that while FSQA requirements are growing, their staffs are not – forcing them to continuously ‘do more with less.’ We’re therefore very excited about the industry-leading enhancements we’ve made in this new version of SafetyChain for Food, because they add even greater ability to automate, streamline and enhance FSQA from a single, integrated solution with a centralized repository of FSQA data,” said Barbara Levin, SafetyChain senior vice president and co-founder.

Risks of cutting boards; Europe struggles with berry-related hepatitis A: food safety roundup
Source :
By Lynne Terry (Apr 15, 2014)
Drug-resistant bacteria linger on gloves and cutting boards after food preparation, according to a recent study.
The Swiss study, published in the journal Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, involved testing nearly 300 cutting boards, both from hospitals and households, that were used to prepare poultry, beef, veal, pork, lamb, game or fish. Researchers also collected 20 pairs of gloves from hospital staff who had handled raw poultry. The samples were tested for drug-resistant bacteria, including salmonella.
The tests shows that nearly 7 percent of the hospital cutting boards were contaminated, compared with 4 percent of those from households. They also found that 50 percent of the hospital kitchen gloves were tainted with drug-resistant pathogens.
“The spread of multidrug-resistant bacteria has been associated with the hospital setting, but these findings suggest that transmission of drug-resistant E. coli occurs both in the hospital and households,” said Dr. Andreas Widmer, lead author of the study. “Our findings emphasize the importance of hand hygiene, not only after handling raw poultry, but also after contact with cutting boards used in poultry preparation.”
And in other news, also from Europe, the European Food Safety Authority reports that member states have logged 1,300 cases of hepatitis A since January 2013. European food safety officials initially thought the problem stemmed from food in Italy. But cases have also been reported from France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.
The most likely culprit is frozen berries. Sound familiar?
Last year, more than 150 people in nine states became infected with hepatitis A from pomegranate seeds in a berry mix produced by Townsend Farms. Oregon lucked out in that outbreak. There were no cases in the state even though the mix was produced in Fairview. The pomegranate seeds came from Turkey.
That's it for now. Keep your appetite and eat safely.

Food Poisoning Suspected in Southern Illinois, Two Hospitalized
Source :
By News Desk (Apr 15, 2014)
A possible outbreak of food poisoning earlier this month sickened several people and hospitalized two in Mt. Vernon, IL, according to a news report published Tuesday.
The sicknesses occurred around April 6, but additional details were sketchy. One victim reportedly told local media outlets that he had become ill after attending a brunch at the Holiday Inn, where all the food was prepared by a local restaurant.
Officials with the Jefferson County Health Department in Mt. Vernon said that they began receiving reports of illness on April 9.
The department’s director of nursing, Becky Brooks, told the press that about 22 people were part of the investigation, including some who had not become ill.
“We have various names we’re investigating. A lot of the investigations have led to a dead end, but we have to pursue everything,” Brooks said. Test results had not yet been received, she added.
The investigation was complicated by the fact that, by the time local health officials heard about the problem, food items that may have been the source were no longer available.

Keep Food Safety Out of AIB, Kansas State Proposal
Source :
By Dr. Douglas Powell (Apr 15, 2014)
(This was posted April 10, 2014, at and is reposted here by permission.)
A former colleague at Kansas State University asked me yesterday if I would deliver my annual talk with summer public health students despite being unceremoniously dumped last year.
I said, “Sure, I’ll always talk with students: they shouldn’t have to suffer from administration incompetence.” (I pre-record the talk, send a bunch of background material and then Skype in for discussion; it works for most of the world, just not Kansas administrators).
But I also had to wonder when Kansas State announced they were proposing a $60-million partnership with AIB International (that’s the American Institute of Baking, also in Manhattan, KS) to create a Global Center for Grain-Based Foods.
What marketing geniuses come up with these names?
“We are looking at our shared expertise to help enable the grain-based food industry, both from a learning/technical application, and from a food safety perspective,” said Andre Biane, president and CEO of AIB International.
Having AIB and food safety in the same sentence should shock anyone.
AIB is the third-party auditor that approved Salmonella-tainted peanut paste that killed nine and sickened 600, gave DeCoster egg operations a “superior” rating and “recognition of achievement” in June 2010, just as thousands of Americans began barfing from Salmonella in DeCoster eggs, and a big thumbs-up to Veggie Booty before Salmonella started making people sick.
As has been documented, although AIB considered the Peanut Corporation of America plant “Superior,” Nestlé twice inspected PCA plants and chose not to take on PCA as a supplier because it didn’t meet Nestlé’s food-safety standards, according to Nestlé’s audit reports in 2002 and 2006.
I also wonder when the KState administration goes on about its Australian ties and clearly knows nothing about the culture here, even with two former KState profs sitting here.
Keep believing your own press releases: it’s what universities are good at.
Audits and inspections are never enough: A critique to enhance food safety
Food Control
D.A. Powell, S. Erdozain, C. Dodd, R. Costa, K. Morley, B.J. Chapman
Internal and external food safety audits are conducted to assess the safety and quality of food, including on-farm production, manufacturing practices, sanitation and hygiene. Some auditors are direct stakeholders that are employed by food establishments to conduct internal audits, while other auditors may represent the interests of a second-party purchaser or a third-party auditing agency. Some buyers conduct their own audits or additional testing, while some buyers trust the results of third-party audits or inspections. Third-party auditors, however, use various food safety audit standards and most do not have a vested interest in the products being sold. Audits are conducted under a proprietary standard, while food safety inspections are generally conducted within a legal framework. There have been many foodborne illness outbreaks linked to food processors that have passed third-party audits and inspections, raising questions about the utility of both. Supporters argue third-party audits are a way to ensure food safety in an era of dwindling economic resources. Critics contend that while external audits and inspections can be a valuable tool to help ensure safe food, such activities represent only a snapshot in time. This paper identifies limitations of food safety inspections and audits and provides recommendations for strengthening the system, based on developing a strong food safety culture, including risk-based verification steps, throughout the food safety system.

Food Safety: Researching the Hazard in Hazardous Foods
Source :
By Bill Marler (Apr 13, 2014)
The book I was asked to do a Preface for arrived while I was in Baltimore at this year’s Food Safety Summit.  You can buy the hardcover on Amazon.
The book provides a thorough review of current food safety and sanitation information with practical applications of current research findings included. The book surveys and examines the prevailing research and applications and reviews specific operational issues such as power or water emergencies. It also covers food safety and sanitation in various environments, such as restaurants, schools, and fairs and festivals. It is multidisciplinary in that it comprises culinary, hospitality, microbiology, and operations analysis.
Topics include:
•Importance of food safety in restaurants
•History of food safety regulation in restaurants
•Microbiological issues
•What happens during a restaurant food safety inspection
•Legislative process, regulatory trends, and associations
•Legal issues for food safety
•Differences in the food safety perception of consumers, regulatory officials, and employees
•What restaurants should do during power or water emergencies
•Front of the house sanitation and consumers’ perceptions of food safety
•Social media and food safety risk communication
•Food safety in farmers’ markets
•Food safety at fairs and festivals
You could also stop by the office and borrow mine after I finish reading it.



Job Openings

04/17. Quality Assurance Manager – Hayward, CA
04/17. VP Quality & Food Safety – Emeryville, CA
04/17. QA & Food Safety Intern – Claysburg, PA
04/14. Food Safety, Quality, and Reg Manager – Charlotte, NC
04/14. Compliance Supervisor – Walton, NY
04/14. QA & Compliance Supervisor – Houston, TX
04/11. Food Safety Manager - Houston, TX
04/11. Quality Assurance Supervisor – Othello, WA
04/11. Food Safety Field Specialist – Davenport, IA


2014 Basic and Advanced HACCP

Training Scheduals are Available
Click here to check the HACCP Training

This certification fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training. The certification is also accepted by auditing firms who require HACCP Training as a component of the audit. Our training has encompassed a multitude of industries from the farm to the table.
We are so proud that more than 400 attendees successfully finished Basic and Advanced HACCP Trainings through FoodHACCP. All attendees received a HACCP certificate which fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training