FoodHACCP Newsletter
06/09 2014 ISSUE:603


Serving Up Norovirus, Restaurants are Most Common Source of Outbreaks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/serving-up-norovirus-restaurants-are-most-common-source-of-outbreaks/
By Carla Gillespie (June 8, 2014)
Restaurant Food PoisoningNorovirus causes more food poisoning outbreaks than any other pathogen and most of those outbreaks occur at restaurants, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Restaurants were the source of almost two thirds of all foodborne norovirus outbreaks between 2009 and 2012. The reason? Sick employees.
About 70 percent of norovirus outbreaks at restaurants originate from a sick food worker.  Norovirus, which is highly contagious, is usually spread via the fecal-oral route, meaning an infected person didn’t wash hands properly after using the restroom and then contaminated various surfaces or foods by touching them. The contaminated foods are then eaten by customers who become ill. This is how almost 20 million Americans contract norovirus every year, although it can also be spread “through incidental ingestion of vomitus droplets, which can disperse via aerosolization,” according to the CDC.
Symptoms of a norovirus infection include vomiting and diarrhea. A lot of vomiting and diarrhea usually over a short time span. A person who has the virus is contagious for up to three days after symptoms resolve and should remain at home during that time period. But most people don’t.
Of the 20 million Americans who get norovirus each year, between 1.7 and 1.9 million will see a doctor on for an outpatient visit, 400,000 will go to the emergency room, between 56,000–71,000will be hospitalized and 570–800 will die. Those most at risk for the worst outcomes are children under five, seniors and those with compromised immune systems.
A Careful hand washing is the best way to reduce exposure to the virus. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be uses in addition to hand-washing, but should not be considered a replacement for it.
Of the 1,008 foodborne norovirus outbreaks that were studied, a foods source was identified in 324. In most cases the food was contaminated during preparation. from bare-handed contact by an infected worker. Leafy vegetables were imlicated in 30 percent of outbreaks, fruits in 21 percent and mollusks in 19 percent.
Targeting food workers with information about norovirus would have “substantial potential for prevention of norovirus transmission,” the authors concluded.

Costco Pepper Salmonella Warning
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/costco-pepper-salmonella-warning/
By Carla Gillespie (June 6, 2014)
Salmonella on Costco PepperSalmonella may be in some packages of Costco pepper. Over the last 24 hours, the company has been calling the 140,000 of its customers who may be affected by the potentially contaminated product, according to NBC News. The company has not issued a recall or posted product safety information on its website.
The product in question is Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Black Pepper with a “best before” date of March 2017. During routine testing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered a rare strain, Salmonella Duisburg, in some of the samples, according to NBC.
Contaminated spices are an ongoing problem. When the U.S.Department of Agriculture (USDA) studied the prevalence of Salmonella in imported spices from samples produced between 2007 and 2009, the agency found about 8.3 percent of the samples contained antibiotic-resistant Salmonella strains. Spices from Mexico and India  had the highest percentages of contaminated product with 14 percent and 9 percent respectively.

Proper Restaurant in Boone North Carolina Link in Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/proper-restaurant-in-boone-north-carolina-link-in-salmonella-outbreak/#.U5U2E01Zrs1
By Bill Marler (June 6, 2014)
The Watauga County office of Appalachian District Health Department is working with the N.C. Division of Public Health to investigate a gastrointestinal illness outbreak among patrons of a local restaurant. There are five confirmed cases of salmonellosis and none have been hospitalized.
As of Friday, the Health Department had identified 9 individuals with signs and symptoms consistent with salmonellosis: diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting. All share something in common — they ate at the same food establishment, Proper Restaurant, one to three days before becoming ill.
“We are still investigating to determine the source (or sources) of infection. We are also actively working with restaurant management to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director. “We would like to thank the restaurant for their cooperation. The restaurant has been diligent and responsive during this process and we appreciate their commitment to the safety of their customers.”
The Health Department is asking anyone who ate food or drank beverages from Proper Restaurant (142 S Water Street, Boone, NC) on or after Saturday, May 17, and started having diarrhea within three days of eating or drinking to call the department at 828-264-6635. If individuals call after hours or on the weekend, they should stay on the line to be connected to our on-call staff.
“We want people to call the health department even if they have recovered so we can ask them questions in hopes of identifying the source of the contamination.” Lovette said.
To stop the further spread of the illness, the Health Department advises that meats and eggs be thoroughly cooked before eating, only consume products that have been pasteurized, and thoroughly wash hands after dealing with animals, before eating or preparing foods for others, and after using the restroom.
Ill people need to make sure they are staying hydrated and should seek medical care from their private doctor, urgent care or emergency room if their diarrhea and/or vomiting symptoms don’t improve.
SALMONELLOSIS (commonly called “Salmonella infection”) is an infection caused by bacteria called Salmonella. It is transmitted by food, water, or surfaces that have been contaminated with the feces of an infected animal or person. Many animals carry Salmonella and it doesn’t make them sick. It can also be found in unpasteurized egg and milk products. It is commonly transmitted via the fecal-oral route, from one infected person to another. Symptoms may be mild and a person can continue to carry Salmonella for weeks after symptoms have subsided.
Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and abdominal cramps 6 to 72 hours after infection.
- The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In some cases, the person must be treated with antibiotics.
- Salmonellosis affects all age groups. Children are the most likely to get salmonellosis. Groups at greatest risk for severe or complicated disease include infants, the elderly, and persons with compromised immune systems.
- Salmonellosis is more common in the summer than winter.
- There is no vaccine to prevent salmonellosis.
- The best ways to prevent the spread of this illness is to avoid preparing food for others while ill, thoroughly cook meat and egg products, do not consume unpasteurized eggs and milk products, and hand washing, especially after using the bathroom and before handling or preparing food.

Malabar Black Pepper Salmonella Scare
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/malabar-black-pepper-salmonella-scare/#.U5UWzE1Zrs1
By Bruce Clark (June 6, 2014)
JoNel Aleccia reports that Costco Wholesale is warning between 130,000 and 140,000 members not to use certain packages of the firm’s Kirkland Signature Coarse Ground Malabar Black Pepper because the spice might be contaminated with salmonella.
Craig Wilson, Costco’s vice president for food safety, said Thursday that the company was making automated phone calls as a precaution after federal Food and Drug Administration officials detected Salmonella Duisburg, a rare strain, in some pepper samples in Texas. The affected bottles of ground black pepper have a best before date of March 2017, he said.
Letters advising Costco consumers typically follow the calls, which are routine whenever the Issaquah, Washington-based company learns of a potential food recall. No illnesses have been linked to the pepper, Wilson said.

 

 

 

 




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Salmonella Outbreak at Proper Restaurant in Boone, NC
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/salmonella-outbreak-at-proper-restaurant-in-boone-nc/
By Carla Gillespie (June 6, 2014)
A Salmonella outbreak at Proper restaurant in Boone, NC
A Salmonella outbreak at Proper restaurant in  Boone, NC has sickened nine people, according to the Appalachian District Health Department. Five of the cases are confirmed, there have been no hospitalizations.
Those who became ill said they had eaten at the restaurant one to three days before developing symptoms which include diarrhea, stomach pain, fever, nausea and vomiting. Their visits to the restaurant, which is located at is located at 142 S Water Street,  were on or after Saturday, May 17.
“We are still investigating to determine the source (or sources) of infection. We are also actively working with restaurant management to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director. “We would like to thank the restaurant for their cooperation. The restaurant has been diligent and responsive during this process and we appreciate their commitment to the safety of their customers.”
Health officials want anyone who ate at the restaurant and became sick to contact the health department, even if they have recovered. Lovette said they may have information that can hep investigators identify the source of the outbreak. They also remind consumers that meats and eggs should be cooked thoroughly before eating, only consume dairy and juice products that have been pasteurized, and thoroughly wash hands after contact with animals or using the restroom and before eating or preparing food.

Food & Water Watch Prods SEC About Aquabounty Risks
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/food-water-watch-prods-sec-about-aquabounty-risks/
By Linda Larsen (June 5, 2014)
Food & Water Watch is asking the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) to make AquaBounty Technologies, the producer of genetically engineered salmon, tell investors about the risks of its product. Aquabounty’s SEC filing “misrepresents the market barriers, regulatory hurdles, and financial prospects facing its sole product, GE salmon,” according to the agency.
Executive Director Wenonah Hauter said in a statement, “the SEC needs to ensure that investors are able to distinguish between what AquaBounty says in its disclosures and the facts on the ground. Aquabounty’s SEC filing confirms a long history of misrepresentation and missing transparency. Even the FDA was recently compelled to rein in AquaBounty for falsely stating that FDA will not require GE salmon to be labeled.”
Apparently even if the FDA lets AquaBounty sell GE salmon, the company still needs approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which wants a separate and more lengthy review process. There is also pending legal action in Panama that alleges the company “has been operating without legally required permits and inspections,” according to the agency.
Also under question are claims by AquaBounty that its product can reach market weight in half the time as conventionally farmed salmon. The growth rates have not been examined in empirical studies, and salmon growers say farmed salmon can grow just as quickly. And the GE fish are prone to disease and deformities, which may lead to higher costs of production.
Consumer advocates are also concerned about AquaBounty statements that market resistant to genetically engineered salmon is hypothetical, especially after some major retailers have said they will not sell the product. Target, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Hy-Vee are some of the chains that have stated they will not carry the AquaBounty product.

Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Frozen Rodents Spreads to Canada
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-frozen-rodents-spreads-to-canada/
By Carla Gillespie (June 5, 2014)
A Salmonella outbreak linked to frozen rodents used as food for pet snakes and other reptiles that has sickened 37 people in the U.S., now includes 20 cases in Canada, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. Three Canadians were hospitalized.
Feeder rodent Salmonella outbreak includes cases in CanadaThe 20 cases in Canada were in the following provinces: British Columbia (1), Ontario (16) and Quebec (3). In the U.S. cases were reported from 18 states:Alabama (1), Arizona (2), California (7), Illinois (1), Kentucky (1), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), Missouri (2), Montana (3), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (4), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (3), South Dakota (1), and Texas (1).
Investigators in the U.S. traced the source of the outbreak to frozen rodents from Reptile Industries, Inc.of Naples Fla.  The company has not issued a recall. The contaminated product, Arctic Mice brand frozen rodents, were sold at PetSmart throughout the U.S.
Contact a Salmonella LawyerThe best way to prevent illness is to wash hands thoroughly after feeding, caring for or cleaning up after pet reptiles. “Any surface that a reptile or rodent (live or frozen) touches is considered contaminated and therefore needs to be cleaned with soap or disinfected with bleach,” Canadian health officials say.
They also advise that reptile habitats should not be cleaned inside the home. When cleaning a reptile habitat, use of disposable gloves is recommended. Water from the habitats should not be poured into kitchen sinks.
Do not keep reptile foods in the kitchen. Dead rodents should not be stored in the same freezer as human food and should not be defrosted in the kitchen. Microwaves used to thaw frozen feeder rodents should not be used for human food.

Salmonella Chia Powder Outbreak Sickens 17 With Two Strains
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/salmonella-chia-powder-outbreak-sickens-17-with-two-strains/
By Carla Gillespie (June 4, 2014)
The Salmonella outbreak linked to contaminated chia powder now includes two strains and has sickened 17 people in the US and another five in Canada, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two people have been hospitalized.
Chia powder Salmonella outbreak sickens 17 peopleThe strain of Salmonella Hartford, which has been added since the initial announcement of the outbreak a few days ago, has never before been seen in the U.S. Five of the 17 total cases are Salmonella Hartford, the other 12 are Salmonella Newport. The breakdown by state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (2), Connecticut (2), Ohio (1), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Utah (1), and Wisconsin (3).
During interviews, case patients reported onset of salmonellosis symptoms, which include fever, cramping and diarrhea, from January 21, 2014 to May 5, 2014. They range in age from 4 to 81 years old. The median age is 51. About 65 percent of the cases are female.
Contact a Salmonella LawyerNavitas Naturals issued a recall for the products that contain organic sprouted chia powder On May 28. The recalled products include Navitas Naturals Organic Sprouted Chia Powder, Navitas Naturals Omega Blend Sprouted Smoothie Mix, and Williams-Sonoma Omega 3 Smoothie Mixer with specific “best by” dates.  Click here for details. On May 30, Advantage Health Matters and Back 2 the Garden also recalled products that contain sprouted chia seed powder.
Consumers who have purchased any of these products should not eat them. Anyone who has eaten some of the recalled product as develops symptoms of a Salmonella infection should see a doctor.

School food safety has improved, Dubai food inspectors say
Source : http://www.thenational.ae/uae/health/school-food-safety-has-improved-dubai-food-inspectors-say
By Nadeem Hanif  (June 3, 2014)
DUBAI // The quality and safety of school meals has greatly improved in recent years, say Dubai Municipality food inspectors.
The authority had focused on improving the standards of suppliers and catering companies, and said it was pleased with the results.
“Suppliers know that if they do not comply with the regulations we will not give them a licence to supply to schools,” said Sultan Al Taher, head of food inspection at Dubai Municipality.
“But overall I’m happy with how they have responded to meeting our requirements, and the level is much better than it was 15 to 20 years ago.”
Speaking at the Food Chain conference at the H Hotel, Mr Al Taher said he was satisfied that the required standards were being met.
He said food-safety standards would not be compromised despite Dubai’s expansion in recent years, and its continued growth as it geared up to host Expo 2020.
Ayesha Al Mukhayat, senior food health officer at the municipality, said there had been a significant improvement in standards at Dubai schools.
“Our focus is on the suppliers of food products to schools in the emirate,” said Ms Al Mukhayat. “We work with them to make sure they meet our standards, particularly in how they store hot and cold foods.”
Food-safety inspectors conducted regular inspections of schools and suppliers to ensure they were following correct procedures.
“In the past we have had issues whereby suppliers did not have the right equipment to store the food correctly, but that is not an issue now,” said Ms Al Mukhayat.
The principal food-inspection officer at the municipality, Bobby Krishna, said: “We want to encourage healthier eating in schools but that comes with its own challenges in terms of keeping food safe.
“Things like fresh fruit and vegetables are healthy but they must also be consumed sooner. In general, processed foods can keep longer because they are cooked but raw fruit and vegetables should be eaten sooner.”
Foods must be kept at strictly controlled temperatures from production to consumption, Mr Krishna said.
“Cold food must be kept at a temperature of 5°C from production to consumption, and cooked foods can keep at 60°C,” he said.
He said hot food should be kept at 60°C at a buffet for no longer than two hours or it would spoil.
The two-day Food Chain conference ended on Tuesday.

 

Norovirus Linked to Ill Restaurant Workers
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/norovirus-linked-to-ill-restaurant-workers/#.U5U3Vk1Zrs1
Posted By Bill Marler on June 3, 2014
Most norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food occur in food service settings, according to a Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected food workers are frequently the source of these outbreaks, often by touching ready-to-eat foods served in restaurants with their bare hands. The food service industry can help prevent norovirus outbreaks by enforcing food safety practices, such as making sure workers always practice good hand hygiene on the job and stay home when they are sick.
Norovirus often gets a lot of attention for outbreaks on cruise ships, but those account for only about 1 percent of all reported norovirus outbreaks. Norovirus is highly contagious and can spread anywhere people gather or food is served, making people sick with vomiting and diarrhea. About 20 million people get sick from norovirus each year; most get infected by having close contact with other infected people or by eating contaminated food.
“Norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food in restaurants are far too common.” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H.  “All who prepare food, especially the food service industry, can do more to create a work environment that promotes food safety and ensures that workers adhere to food safety laws and regulations that are already in place.”
The Vital Signs report provides key recommendations to help the food service industry prevent norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food. The recommendations, which underscore provisions in the Food and Drug Administration model Food Code (http://www.fda.gov/Food/GuidanceRegulation/RetailFoodProtection/FoodCode/default.htm) and CDC guidelines (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr6003a1.htm), include:
•Making sure food service workers practice proper hand washing and use utensils and single-use disposable gloves to avoid touching ready-to-eat foods with bare hands,
•Certifying kitchen managers and training food service workers in food safety practices, and
•Establishing policies that require food service workers to stay home when sick with vomiting and diarrhea and for at least 48 hours after symptoms stop.
“It is vital that food service workers stay home if they are sick; otherwise, they risk contaminating food that many people will eat,” said Aron Hall, D.V.M., M.S.P.H., of CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases.  However, 1 in 5 food service workers have reported working at least once in the previous year while sick with vomiting or diarrhea. Fear of job loss and not wanting to leave coworkers short-staffed were cited as significant factors in their decision. “Businesses can consider using measures that would encourage sick workers to stay home, such as paid sick leave and a staffing plan that includes on-call workers,” said Hall.
CDC analyzed norovirus outbreak data reported by state, local, and territorial health departments from 2009 to 2012 through CDC’s National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS). Over the four years, health departments reported 1,008 norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food, most of which occurred in food service settings such as restaurants and catering or banquet facilities.
Factors contributing to food contamination were reported in 520 of the outbreaks, with an infected food worker implicated in 364 (70 percent) of them. Of these outbreaks, 196 (54 percent) involved food workers touching ready-to-eat foods with their bare hands. Ready-to-eat foods are foods that are ready to be served without additional preparation, such as washed raw fruits and vegetables for salads or sandwiches, baked goods, or items that have already been cooked.
CDC’s analysis also looked at which foods were commonly implicated in norovirus outbreaks. Of 324 outbreaks with a specific food item implicated, more than 90 percent were contaminated during final preparation (such as making a sandwich with raw and already cooked ingredients) and 75 percent were foods eaten raw. Leafy vegetables, fruits, and mollusks, such as oysters, were the most common single food categories implicated in these outbreaks.
The report also highlights the key role health departments play in investigating and reporting norovirus outbreaks. Outbreak reporting rates varied greatly among states, likely illustrating differences in surveillance efforts rather than variation in norovirus disease incidence. “There is a continued need to build the capacity of health departments to more thoroughly investigate and report outbreaks to NORS,” said Hall.

Food Safety and Farmers Markets
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2014/food-safety-and-farmers-markets/
By Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D
Visiting with your neighbors, listening to live music while shopping, meeting the farmer who grew the produce, sampling the fresh food in the market, the festival-like atmos-phere…that is the downhome feel that has Americans flocking to farmers markets.
And with all of these eager customers, the number of farmers markets has increased by almost 370 percent since 1994, with over 8,100 farmers markets listed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s market directory in 2013. The local food movement sweeping the country is inspired by initiatives such as USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food, Farm to School and The People’s Garden, a collaborative effort of over 700 local and national organizations working together to establish community and school gardens across the nation to unite neighborhoods and inspire locally led solutions to hunger and environmental concerns. The interest is nowhere more evident than at farmers markets.
Who are the customers shopping at these markets? It takes only a trip on an early Saturday morning to see that many of the customers are senior adults, people who may have health problems and mothers with young children all shopping for foods they perceive to be healthier and safer than those you buy in the grocery store. This means that many of the customers may be in population groups most at risk for foodborne illness and the serious complications that can be associated with it. What is often casually observed is an attitude, not just among consumers but among farmers and market managers as well, that “It’s locally grown…I know that farmer…It’s organic…so it is healthier and safer than what I could get at the store.”
The Reality
Whether produce is from your own backyard or thousands of miles away, it can be contaminated if not handled properly. A recent study involving surveys of farmers on small farms and of market managers[1] found that there is room for improvement when it comes to food safety practices. The study found that 41 percent of farmers who responded to the surveys had been farming for only 3 years or less, and 61 percent of the market managers had only managed a market for only 3 years or less.
Although the farmers and market managers used many good practices, some practices being used may put consumers at risk for foodborne illness. These practices could increase the risk of produce contamination from land and water used in growing and washing produce from hygiene practices of workers handling produce, unsanitary conditions during on-farm handling and transportation of produce to market, and contamination in the market itself.
The surveys found that approximately 56 percent of the farmers who responded used manure for fertilizer. Of those, 34 percent used raw manure or mixtures of raw and composted manure. Various composting practices were indicated that may or may not be adequate to eliminate microbial pathogens. Approximately 26 percent of those using manure waited less than even the minimum 90 days between application and harvest recommended in the National Organic Program for crops that do not touch the soil. Over 50 percent of the farmers indicated that farm animals or domestic animals had access to their growing areas. Approximately 30 percent used water from sources not tested for safety to irrigate produce, and 16 percent used untested water for washing produce before taking it to market.
Almost 67 percent of the farmers provided handwashing and bathroom facilities for workers near the growing areas. Although this is a good percentage, it still needs to be better. Only about 41 percent had ever offered any kind of sanitation training for people harvesting or handling the crops, yet about 50 percent indicated that their crops are harvested with bare hands. Over 43 percent of farmers who responded did not use sanitizers on surfaces at their farms that come into contact with produce. 
Market managers were asked a series of questions about practices in their markets. The survey found that over 40 percent of the 45 managers who responded indicated that they have no food safety standards in place for the market. Around 90 percent fail to ask questions of farmers or vendors that could help consumers avoid food from unsafe sources. These include questions related to the use of raw manure, exclusion of animals from growing areas, availability of handwashing and bathroom facilities for farm workers, use of sanitizers in packing sheds and other produce handling facilities, whether farmers offer sanitation training to workers handling the produce, etc.
Even in the marketplace, sanitation can be an issue. Less than 60 percent of market managers surveyed had handwashing facilities available for vendors and market workers. In addition, less than 25 percent sanitized surfaces at the market, and only 11 percent always cleaned containers used in the market between uses. Even though 67 percent of the managers allowed sampling in their markets, they offered no sanitation training to vendors related to safe handling of samples.
What Could Be Better?
If you took a tour of your local farmers market, what would you see? Many local markets are held in open fields in city parks or even in parking lots. Conditions may be less than sanitary. You are likely to observe fruits and vegetables displayed on the ground rather than being held at least six inches above this surface, as would be required in food storage areas of restaurants or grocery stores. You are also likely to encounter customers or even vendors bringing their dogs into the market area and having access to displays. You may or may not see handwashing facilities or at least hand sanitizer being provided in the market. Some of the produce may already be packaged in open bags for customers to pick up, or customers may be allowed to handle and select their own produce. You may even see stations where customers can bring produce they have just purchased to be juiced or blended into healthy shakes—with no evidence of facilities for washing produce, hands or equipment. You may see displays where customers can sample cut produce that is not being kept on ice or refrigerated. You may also see entrepreneurs who are making and selling food products that you hope are at least following cottage food regulations. As a food safety professional, you see opportunities for increased risk of foodborne illness.
With the prevalence of obesity in the U.S. and the increased emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables as an essential part of a healthy diet, farmers markets and the local food movement offer great opportunities for access to fresh fruits and vegetables in food deserts and areas where consumers may have limited access to fresh produce. Local markets can also increase the economic viability of small farms and the communities they serve. However, this increased emphasis on local foods may also mean an increase in the number of people growing and handling fresh produce with limited experience in farming and best practices for ensuring the safety of the products they are growing. Potential foodborne illness outbreaks traced to local markets could threaten the success of the local food movement.
How Do We Enhance Safety?
As part of a USDA-National Institute of Food and Agriculture multistate grant-funded initiative by the University of Georgia, Virginia Tech and Clemson University, two curriculum packages for training farmers on small farms and farmers market managers have been developed. Extension agents in these states have been trained to deliver and evaluate educational programs for these audiences. The objective of these educational efforts is to enhance the safety of locally grown produce, to reduce liability risks to farmers and market managers, to help reduce risk of foodborne illnesses for consumers and thus help ensure the economic viability of local markets. For more information about the program, contact Judy Harrison, Ph.D., University of Georgia, at judyh@uga.edu.
Judy A. Harrison, Ph.D., is a professor and Extension foods specialist in the department of foods and nutrition at the University of Georgia.
Reference

  1. Harrison, J.A. et al. 2013. Survey of food safety practices on small to medium-sized farms and in farmers markets. J Food Prot 76(11):1989–19s93.

 

School food safety has improved, Dubai food inspectors say
Source : http://barfblog.com/2014/06/school-food-safety-has-improved-dubai-food-inspectors-say/
By Doug Powell (June 4, 2014)
The quality and safety of school meals has greatly improved in recent years, say Dubai Municipality food inspectors.
The authority had focused on improving the standards of suppliers and catering companies, and said it was pleased with the results.
“Suppliers know that if they do not comply with the regulations we will not give them a licence to supply to schools,” said Sultan Al Taher, head of food inspection at Dubai Municipality.
“But overall I’m happy with how they have responded to meeting our requirements, and the level is much better than it was 15 to 20 years ago.”
He said food-safety standards would not be compromised despite Dubai’s expansion in recent years, and its continued growth as it geared up to host Expo 2020.
Ayesha Al Mukhayat, senior food health officer at the municipality, said there had been a significant improvement in standards at Dubai schools.
“Our focus is on the suppliers of food products to schools in the emirate,” said Ms Al Mukhayat. “We work with them to make sure they meet our standards, particularly in how they store hot and cold foods.”
The principal food-inspection officer at the municipality, Bobby Krishna, said: “We want to encourage healthier eating in schools but that comes with its own challenges in terms of keeping food safe.
“Things like fresh fruit and vegetables are healthy but they must also be consumed sooner. In general, processed foods can keep longer because they are cooked but raw fruit and vegetables should be eaten sooner.”

Food safety starts at the origin
Source : http://www.worldpoultry.net/Broilers/Processing/2014/6/Food-safety-starts-at-the-origin-1514080W/
By Dr L.P. Bessonova, Prof L.V. Antipova and N.P. Fazilova, Dept. of Food biotechnology, Russia(June 4, 2014)
Food safety is a major concern in human nutrition. A system of traceability in poultry processing plants will make all the movement of raw materials and processed products transparent. This prevents hazardous products ending up on the market, exposing consumers to serious health problems.
Dangers in food products can arise at any stage in the chain from the farm to the grocery store. In this regard it is very important that safety of food products is ensured by joint efforts in all these stages.
The ISO 22000 standard considers the chain as a sequence of stages and the actions included in production, processing, distribution, storage and the handling of food and their ingredients, from primary production up to final consumption. This standard demands all types of organisations to apply a system of food safety management in the delivery chain. The main elements of ISO 22000, are the principles of the HACCP system. Practical experience of its implementation in the United States, in Europe and in Russia at separate enterprises, proved a guarantee of stable food quality and safety. Therefore more and more enterprises in the world nowadays successfully implement HACCP.
Growing business
This procedure also applies to the poultry business in Russia, which is developing rapidly. Consolidation has led to large companies like Prioskolye, Cherkizovo group (including Mosselprom), Resource (including Stavropol broiler), Severnaya, Belgrankorm, Belaya ptitsa, Chelny-broiler, Optifood group and Lisko-broiler.
Poultry production is growing faster than all other branches in the agriculture sector (Table 1). An example is 2011, during which 3173 thousand tonnes of poultry meat were produced, 326 thousand tonnes more (+11%) than in 2010. Also consumption per capita of domestically produced meat increased considerably. In 2012, 86.6% was produced domestically, with 13.4% originating from imports.
Guarantee traceability
The basic principles of food safety, including poultry meat described in the General Food Law, states that not only food enterprises, but also all other companies including feed mills are involved. Here, the burden lays down to guarantee traceability of all their output. Special attention is paid to questions about the use of pesticides, feed additives, dyes, GMI, antibiotics and hormones.
For ensuring the quality of compound feed for chickens, it is required to use 65% of grain, of which 36% wheat, 23% corn and 6% barley.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, the 2011 grain harvest accounted 93.9 million tonnes, compared to 60 million tonnes in 2010. This specifically referred to the good corn harvest, which is the most effective ingredient in compound feed for broilers. Its price of 6,000 roubles for one tonne, favourably affected production cost of poultry, which accounts for nearly 70% to feed.
All stages involved
The analysis of operating procedures and operations has to be the first step in the creation of a traceability system. This starts with seedbed preparation for grain growing, up to the harvest, storage and production of poultry feed and eventually use on the farm.
The management of the risks arising during grain crop growing, can be regulated by means of an algorithm. Production of feed is the main factor of delivering qualitatively and competitive products to the farm. Improvement of technology, preparation and storage of feed, use of perfect transport vehicles and properly working equipment allows to produce good quality feed.
Managing pollution
All-mash nutrition for birds is important, as their use allows for a faster weight increase. However, often pollution of the all-mash happens from the medicines used for treatment of birds, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which can pollute the environment. The reasons of such pollution are various: the human factor (mistake of the operator), cross pollution in the course of production of medicines and the serial all-mash using the same processing equipment and pollution during transportation to the farms.
Problems arising as a result of feed pollution with veterinary preparations, are toxicity for chickens and residues of veterinary preparations in poultry products. This is caused by the various specific sensitivity of birds. Factors influencing the quality of compound feeds vary from mycotoxins during transport and storage, inclusion of dust and weeds, and metal inclusion amongst others. These factors can be of microbial, physical or chemical nature.
Taking these seriously however and undertaking proper corrective measures, enables output of safe and qualitative feed and more or less guarantees good quality products from the poultry processing plant.

Jerky Pet Treat Manufacturers Set up $6.5 Million Fund
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/jerky-pet-treat-manufacturers-set-up-6-5-million-fund/
By Linda Larsen (June 2, 2014)
According to NBC News, two of the largest pet jerky treat manufacturers have created a $6.5 million fund to compensate dog owners whose animals were killed or made sick by their products. Nestle Purina PetCAre Co. and Wsggin’ Train LLC have reached an agreement with pet owners in a class action lawsuit announced May 30, 2014. The 158-page agreement is subject to approval by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
The companies do not accept blame in the settlement. A statement released by lawyers states, “Neither Waggin’ Train, Nestle Purina nor any of the consumers concede that their claims or their defenses were not valid. All parties entered into the agreement only to bring the litigation to a prompt and certain resolution.”
The FDA has stated that jerky pet treats imported from China are linked to 4,800 sick pets. More than 1,000 dogs have died after eating the treats in the law few years.  Three people who ate the treats also became ill. Last week the pet food chains PetSmart and Petco stated they will not longer sell jerky treats made in China, but they are simply phasing out the products, not immediately ending sales.
And the FDA has warned consumers that jerky treats are not necessary for a healthy animal’s diet. In spite of years of testing, the government has not been able to determine a cause for the illnesses. FDA officials visited China in 2012 and inspected the plants that manufacture Nestle Purina Products. They were not allowed to test the treats in any labs except those approved by the Chinese government.

Improving Food Safety with Integrated Systems
Source : http://www.automationworld.com/improving-food-safety-integrated-systems
By Jennifer Slack (June 2, 2014)
Every year we see product recalls in the news. Food is contaminated with salmonella. A certain toy is found to have unsafe levels of lead. No matter if it concerns 40 pallets of product or a 25-state outbreak that hits the evening news, a recall is never a good thing for manufacturing.
So how do you get better at catching lapses in quality before they impact consumers? Or, if the product reaches the market, how do you pinpoint who is affected?
Conceptually, building traceability systems is simple. Track raw materials through the production process to finished goods and into the supply chain. But when it comes to actually implementing a robust traceability system, there are a couple of predicable challenges.
The first is the number of different systems in manufacturing plants. Testing labs use laboratory information management systems to ensure quality product. Control systems are used to automate the production of finished goods. Warehouses use tracking systems to track finished goods inventory, automate order processing and improve transportation timelines. Unless these systems are integrated, tracking a product through a single product line a matter of time-consuming guesswork. This is a luxury manufacturing cannot afford any longer. In the food industry, the Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act makes a manufacturer's ability to provide accurate information in a timely manner a legislative mandate.
With an integrated environment, we can pinpoint how many product lines, how many pallets of product, or how many customers need to be alerted because of a contaminated material or product.
The second challenge is the human element in some systems. I often see warehouse pallets marked with red paper to signal a product hold. But what happens when the paper falls off or the pallet is incorrectly oriented? What about the time lapse that keeps products from promptly being marked as on test or on hold? What about pallets that went out the door before an issue was found or before they were marked on hold? If a problem arises, how narrowly can you limit your window of recall?
The solution is to design traceability systems that are both integrated and automated. This integration needs to span from receiving raw materials to testing, production, and inventory storage all the way through to finished product shipment. In a facility with traceability from front to back, employees who spot concerns at any point in the process can alert the rest of the system.
If a routine quality check in the lab finds contamination in a load of source material, flagging the system could prevent affected products from ever leaving the warehouse. We would not have to directly contact product line managers, warehouse managers, or shipping managers and trust that the communication would be seen in time. Traceability throughout a plant gives us the ability to prevent questionable product from ever leaving the facility. With an integrated environment, we can pinpoint how many product lines, how many pallets of product, or how many customers need to be alerted because of a contaminated material or product.
Traceability through the whole facility decreases product waste, increases efficiencies, improves data accuracy, streamlines planning, minimizes loss of consumer confidence, and proves our ability to provide critical information in a timely manner. An integrated plant will provide the complete traceability we need in manufacturing today.

 

 

 

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