FoodHACCP Newsletter
06/23 2014 ISSUE:605


President Obama Tackles Seafood Fraud and Illegal Fishing
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/president-obama-tackles-seafood-fraud-and-illegal-fishing/
By Linda Larsen (June 22, 2014)
Oceana has released a statement that President Obama is going to work on seafood fraud and illegal fishing in the United States. The announcement was made at the global “Our Ocean” conference hosted by Secretary of State John Kerry. The President is directing federal agencies to develop a comprehensive program to combat seafood fraud.
Food Poisoning Bulletin has told you about seafood fraud for the past few years. Many types of seafood are mislabeled, which can lead to illness and allergic reactions. In addition, cheap varieties of fish are often dishonestly sold as more expensive varieties, which costs consumers millions of dollars every year.
Oceana’s campaign director Beth Lowell said in a statement, “President Obama’s announcement is an historic step forward in the fight against seafood fraud and illegal fishing worldwide. This initiative is a practical solution to an ugly problem and will forever change the way we think about our seafood.”
Because seafood travels through a complex chain that is non-transparent, and because so much of our seafood is imported, there are many opportunities for fraud. A recent study found that 20 to 32% of wild-caught seafood coming into the country comes from illegal, unregulated, and unreported or “pirate” fishing.
Tracing seafood from boat to plate is critical to combat fraud and keep consumers safe. Seafood traceability protects honest fisherman that are undercut by unfair competition. In addition, illegal fishing threatens the stability of ocean ecosystems.

Canadian Chia Case Court: 52 with 4 Strains of Salmonella
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/canadian-chia-case-court-52-with-4-strains-of-salmonella/#.U6e_RE1Zrs1
By Bill Marler (June 22, 2014)
Canada:  British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (26) and Quebec (3)
Unites States:  Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3)
In Canada, four strains of Salmonella causing illness have been associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 52 cases have been reported in British Columbia (13), Alberta (10), Ontario (26) and Quebec (3). Six cases have been hospitalized; five cases have been discharged and have recovered or are recovering. The status of one case was not provided to the Agency. No deaths have been reported. The investigation is ongoing but currently, 37 of 39 cases that have been interviewed have reported consumption of sprouted chia seeds or sprouted chia seed powder.
As a part of this investigation, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency has issued food recall warnings for various products containing sprouted chia seeds and sprouted chia seed powder under the brands Organic Traditions, Back 2 the Garden, Intuitive Path SuperFoods, Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary, Naturally Organic, Pete’s Gluten Free, Noorish Superfoods, MadeGood, and Dietary Express. These products have been recalled and are being removed from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination.
The CDC has reported that as of June 9, 2014, a total of 21 ill persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (13 persons), Salmonella Hartford (6 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (2 persons) have been reported from 12 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (1), California (3), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (4), Ohio (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Two ill persons infected with a strain of Salmonella Oranienburg have been identified in two U.S. states. Through product testing and interviews with ill people, these illnesses have been combined with the Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Hartford infections previously identified as part of this investigation.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Church Chicken Dinner Salmonella and E. coli Outbreak in AL
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/church-chicken-dinner-salmonella-and-e-coli-outbreak-in-al/
By News Desk (June 21, 2014)
The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating an outbreak of both E. coli and Salmonella at a church chicken dinner, according to AL.com. One person may have died after the May 30, 2014 event. Nineteen people in Morgan county had symptoms of food poisoning, including vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea.
Chicken DinnerThree local hospitals have reported treating ill persons. The two confirmed cases tested positive for E. coli, Salmonella, or both. The person who died had an E. coli infection.
There are several news reports about this outbreak; each has slightly different information. WHNT TV states that state epidemiologist Dr. Mary McIntyre confirmed there are 19 combined cases of E. coli and Salmonella in this outbreak. That report states that one of the ill persons who may be part of this outbreak ate at a public luncheon at a church in Decatur, Alabama on May 30. DecaturDaily.com states that the event was at Bridge Builders Church on Beltline Road that was an informational workshop for seniors. None of this information has been confirmed by officials.
Public health officials are still looking for a cause of the outbreak. Specimens are being tested at laboratories. The meal was catered.
The health department is asking that anyone who was at the dinner in Morgan county on May 30, 2014 and has been ill contact them and provide a specimen. The investigation will solve this mystery more quickly if there are more specimens to test. These types of investigations use questionnaires and interviews, along with reviews of medical records, to solve the outbreak.
While it’s not unusual for an outbreak to have multiple strains of the same pathogenic bacteria, an outbreak with two completely different bacteria is rare. Salmonella and E. coli are found in raw meats, poultry, and eggs, although cross-contamination can contaminate any other food, including greens and fruits and vegetables.
The very young, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and people who have chronic illnesses are more susceptible to food poisoning. It’s important to always cook meats, poultry, and eggs to a safe internal temperature, to hold food above 140°F and below 40°F, and to avoid cross-contamination.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, chills, headache, muscle pains, and blood in the stool. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe cramps, diarrhea that may be watery and/or bloody, mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is a complication of an E. coli infection; that can lead to kidney failure and death.

 




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Fourteen Sickened in AL El Patron Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/fourteen-sickened-in-al-el-patron-salmonella-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (June 21, 2014)
Restaurant OutbreakThe Alabama Department of Public Health has issued a news release stating that 14 people have been sickened with Salmonella in Russellville. The outbreak is centered around the El Patron restaurant on Highway 43 in that city. That restaurant is still closed as of June 20, 2014 after inspection by city public health officials.
Those who are part of this outbreak ate at that restaurant on June 4 and 5, 2014. None of those people interviewed have been hospitalized, although two people were in the hospital after becoming ill.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and fever. If you ate at that restaurant in early June and have suffered these symptoms, see your doctor and tell him about this outbreak.
To reduce your risk of a Salmonella infection, avoid raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, and other meats. When you order meat in restaurants, especially hamburgers, specify that you want them cooked to well done as verified by a food thermometer. Always wash produce thoroughly before serving. Remember to wash your hands before and during cooking, and avoid cross-contamination between raw meats and eggs and foods that are to be eaten raw.
Most people recover from a Salmonella infection within a few days, but some people become so ill they must be hospitalized. Complications and long-term after effects of a Salmonella infection can include Reiter’s syndrome, which leads to reactive arthritis, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Wolverine Ground Beef E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Over
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/wolverine-ground-beef-e-coli-o157h7-outbreak-over/
By Linda Larsen (June 21, 2014)
The CDC has declared that the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to ground beef produced by Wolverine Packing Company appears to be over. In total, 12 people in 4 states were sickened in this outbreak. Seven (58% of the outbreak total) of ill persons were hospitalized; no one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), and no deaths were reported.
Wolverine Packing E. coli Outbreak Map 62014Epidemiologic and traceback investigations indicated that contaminated ground beef produced by Wolverine was the likely source of this outbreak. The beef was distributed to retailers and restaurants nationwide.

Edible Marijuana Facing New Food Safety Testing
Source : http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/750733-edible-marijuana-facing-new-food-safety-testing/
By Associated Press (June 20, 2014)
DENVER—The marijuana in those pot brownies isn’t the only thing that can potentially make consumers sick. The industry and regulators are taking a closer look at how pot-infused edibles are actually made.
The thriving edible marijuana industry In Colorado is preparing for new testing requirements — due to take in effect in October — to make sure the products are safe to eat and drink.
While consuming too much of an edible has been connected to at least one death and a handful of hospital visits since retail recreational sales began in January, officials say there have been no reports of anyone getting a food-borne illness from edibles.
Still, activists, producers and officials agree that safety testing is long overdue for a sector of the new pot market that, according to one industry estimate, has seen the sale of at least 8 million pieces this year.
Food safety testing is necessary “to building any sort of credibility for the industry … to create that public confidence that we’re not just a bunch of stupid kids throwing marijuana into cookies and putting them on the market,” said Jazzmine Hall-Oldham, general manager of Bakked, which makes cannabis concentrates and pot-infused chocolate bars.
With federal help in regulating production nonexistent because the drug is illegal under federal law, state and local governments have had to assemble a patchwork of health and safety regulations for foods with cannabis.
The agency that regulates Colorado’s marijuana industry, the state Department of Revenue, requires pot manufacturing facilities to meet the same sanitation requirements as retail food establishments, including adequate hand-washing and refrigeration.
But the question of whether the state’s 51 licensed recreational edible-pot makers meet those standards is left to local health departments, said agency spokeswoman Natriece Bryant. State regulations requiring them also to pass tests for common food contaminants — such as E. coli and salmonella — don’t take effect until the fall.
In Washington state, where retail sales don’t begin until next month, regulations call for edible pot products to undergo “microbiological screening,” though regulations don’t set standards on what microbiological agents are prohibited.
Products will have to qualify for a state-issued “Class A” label in order to be sold at stores.
For now, it’s a case of buyer-beware when eating foods including cannabis.
In Denver, where most of Colorado’s edible-pot producers are located, health officials have been meeting with the businesses to explain new city requirements that edible marijuana processing facilities get inspected at least twice a year, the same as restaurants.
Denver’s manager for food safety inspections, Danica Lee, showed about 50 industry workers examples of bad food-prep sanitation — bottles of bleach on the food-prep surface and improperly stored utensils — and warned that they could face steep fines or even lose their licenses if they fail repeated inspections.
“We’re treating your industry like any other subset of the food industry,” Lee told the edible pot makers.
Hall-Oldham and other processors at the meeting seemed to welcome stricter oversight.
Josh Fink, a former pastry chef who owns Medically Correct, which makes cannabis-infused candies and protein bars, said most of the people who are getting into the edibles business don’t have a food preparation background.
“They might know how to make four muffins at home but not 40,000 muffins at a time. That’s where the training comes in,” he said.

E. coli Sprout Lawsuit Will Consider Unsanitary Conditions Report
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/e-coli-sprout-lawsuit-will-consider-unsanitary-conditions-report/
By News Desk (June 21, 2014) The FDA’s Electronic Reading Room contains copies of the actual reports filed by food safety inspectors who recently spent six days inside the production facility at Evergreen Fresh Sprouts LLC of Moyie Springs, Idaho, the company believed by state and federal health officials to be at the center of a sandwich sprout E. coli outbreak in Seattle, Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
Jimmy John’s, Pita Pit and Daanen’s Deli Sprouts were the three restaurant establishments where consumers were infected with the pathogen E. coli O121 and all of those operators suspended sprouts from their menus when authorities warned the public not to eat sprouts from Evergreen Fresh Sprouts until further notice. So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified 17 case patients sickened in the outbreak, almost half of whom have been hospitalized. The sprouts lawsuit resulting from this outbreak will closely consider conditions at the plant that may have jeopardized food safety.
As a baseline, sprouts are a known source of foodborne illness. Seeds and beans need warm and humid conditions to sprout and grow. These conditions are ideal for bacteria growth. Since 1996, at least 30 nationally reported outbreaks of foodborne illness associated with different types of raw and lightly cooked sprouts have occurred. Most of these outbreaks were caused by E. coli and Salmonella. In most sprout outbreaks, the restaurant is not the source of the contamination. It usually happens when the seeds are grown or harvested and is often impossible to wash off, according to the Washington State Department of Health.
During six days of inspection in late May and early June, the FDA observed a number of unsanitary conditions at Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, the same company that received an FDA enforcement action warning letter in 2011. The observations noted in the latest inspection report included water dripping from rusty valves; apparent mold on a dripping pipe; a rusty and corroded watering system; condensate dripping directly into a vat of growing sprouts; beat-up tennis rackets used to scoop mung bean sprouts and a corroded pitchfork used in production.
Quoting directly from the report: “We observed on at least four occasions, condensate and irrigation water dripping from rusty valves directly into sprouting vats containing growing sprouts.”  And again: “We observed rough welds, debris and apparent corroded areas inside the mung bean seed soak vat. This vat was being used to soak seeds on 05/28/14, and an employee was observed using a squeegee with visible corroded metal and non-treated wood to agitate mung bean seeds soaking inside the mung bean seed soak vat during the seed soaking step.”
The vivid inspection findings are now coupled with epidemiology and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials that have “indicated that contaminated raw clover sprouts produced by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts, LLC of Idaho are the likely source of this outbreak,” the CDC said in its latest pronouncement on the sprouts E. coli outbreak.

CSPI Publishes Consumer Guide to Safer Food
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/cspi-publishes-consumer-guide-to-safer-food/
By Linda Larsen (June 20, 2014)
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has published a consumer guide to safer food called From Supermarket to Leftovers. The booklet is available from NutritionAction.com.
Every year, 48,000,000 Americans get sick from contaminated food. Three thousand Americans die from foodborne illness every year. Since contaminated food is getting into our homes, even though farmers and food processors are responsible for selling food that doesn’t make us sick, it’s up to the consumer to be the last line of defense. Sarah Klein, senior food safety attorney for CSPI wrote the booklet and calls her strategy “defensive eating”.
Some of the information in the book includes advice about the last item you should put in your grocery cart (seafood), what produce to seek out (local or organic) and what to avoid (raw sprouts), and why you should avoid raw, unpasteurized milk at all costs.
She also addresses the problem of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in meat and poultry. Since 80% of all antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in the factory farm industry, which promotes the growth of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that makes some foodborne illness (Foster Farms) harder to treat, you should look for labels that read “no antibiotics administered: USDA process verified” or “USDA organic.”
The booklet also has tips on how to pack safe lunches for your kids, how to avoid mercury in seafood, and how to avoid food poisoning during power outages and during the holidays. The booklet is published by CSPI’s Nutrition Action.

Food Safety Tops The Agenda For World Meat Congress
Source : http://www.livetradingnews.com/food-safety-tops-the-agenda-for-world-meat-congress-55576.htm#.U6e3FU1Zrs1
By Paul Ebeling (June 20, 2014)
The 20th World Meat Congress is ongoing in Beijing. The week-long gathering of domestic and overseas meat vendors includes a discussion forum as well as a product exhibition.
Over 500 people from 35 countries are gathered in Beijing this week for the annual world meat congress. The annual event is aimed at providing a platform to promote trade and cooperation among the world’s leading meat vendors and livestock industry people.
Chinese domestic companies have the center stage at this year’s event, and improving meat safety is still among the biggest concerns for Chinese meat consumers.
“Quality is everything for a company. At Mongolian Sheep, we make sure our consumers can monitor the whole production process. From feeding our sheep, to meat preparation, to logistics, and eventually making its way to the dinner table, our consumers can see every step, and can trace back to the person responsible should something wrong happens along the process.” Yan Shuchun, CEO of Mongolian Sheep said.
Yan believes the high quality meat his company provides is setting an example for domestic companies and paving the way for more international cooperation.
“We are not ruling out going to domestic or international capital markets to raise money in the future, so all our consumers can benefit from the success of our company and overseas investors can pay more attention to China’s meat vendors. China, after all, is the biggest meat consumer in the world. And as long as we provide meat that’s up to international standards, more and more Chinese meat companies will expand overseas.” Yan said.
Yan’s optimism is echoed by China’s meat industry officials.
“Mongolian Sheep has gotten so famous lately because of what they did to improve meat safety. It is a good example to others. And of course bigger companies like Shuanghui, Yurun, and Jinlong are improving as well. And I expect to see more Chinese meat companies like Shuanghui going abroad and gaining recognition internationally. It is one of the main purposes of this congress.” Li Shui Long, Chairman & President of China National Meat Association said.
This year’s event has attracted an unprecedented number of people and has provided a platform for meat vendors and industry people from all 5 continents.
Stay tuned…

Food safety specialist says food poisoning cases underreported
Source : http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-06-food-safety-specialist-poisoning-cases.html
by Lindsey Elliott (June 19, 2014)
"We really want to reduce the number of foodborne illness outbreaks," said Karen Blakeslee, extension specialist in food science and coordinator of the Rapid Response Center. "It's important to understand foodborne illness and its symptoms because the whole topic of foodborne illness is really underreported."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 19,056 cases of infection were reported in 2013. However, Blakeslee says many people don't report getting sick from contaminated food because they don't realize they have food poisoning. Symptoms of a foodborne illness are similar to those with other illnesses, such as vomiting, diarrhea, headache and fever, but there are some distinct symptoms of foodborne illness.
"Symptoms like double vision, dizziness, lethargy and dehydration are all symptoms specific to a foodborne illness," said Blakeslee.
It takes two or more people with similar symptoms to be considered a foodborne illness outbreak. Blakeslee says another challenge with decreasing the number of outbreaks is trying to determine the food that was contaminated.
"It's not necessarily what you ate that day or the day before," she said. "Some of the symptoms for the different kinds of bacteria may take up to a couple of weeks to occur, so that's why it makes it really hard to identify the cause of the outbreak."
If you do suspect you have food poisoning, Blakeslee says to see a doctor or call your local health department.

Foster Farms: We’ve Slashed Salmonella Rates
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/foster-farms-weve-slashed-salmonella-rates/
By Carla Gillespie (June 19, 2014
After being linked to two Salmonella Salmonella on Foster Farms chickenoutbreaks that have sickened more than 700 people, Foster Farms says it has slashed Salmonella rates on the chicken parts is produces to a fraction of the industry standard. The company made the announcement at its 75th anniversary celebration this week which was attended by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein D-Calif, U.S. Representatives Jim Costa D-Calif and David Valadao R-Calif, and California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross.
The company says it has invested $75 million to reduce Salmonella rates. Data on chicken parts from the most recent 10-week period, which the company says it shared with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),  show a Salmonella rate of 2 percent, far below the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s industry benchmark of 25 percent.
“We’ve achieved these results by taking a multi-hurdle approach that attacks Salmonella wherever it can present itself – at the breeder level, on the farm and in the plant,” said Dr. Robert O’Connor, senior vice president technical services at Foster Farms. “We are actively sharing what we have learned with government officials, the industry and retailers in the interest of helping to create a safer food supply across the nation.”
In a May statement issued in response to the CDC’s update on the Salmonella outbreak, the company said it was making steady progress in reducing Salmonella and that tests showed a rate of less than 10 percent. The outbreak, which began in March 2013, has sickened 574 people in 27 states.
Chris Braden, a CDC official, told the Los Angeles Times that this week’s news made him hopeful that the breakout was nearing an end. “I’m impressed with many of the things they’ve done,” he told the paper. “But we’re still seeing a higher number of illnesses. So the investigation continues until we know for sure whether they are coming from Foster Farms or another source. We are going to be very vigilant.”

Hearing on China’s Food Safety Spotlights Poultry Processing
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/06/congressional-hearing-on-chinas-food-spotlights-poultry-processing/#.U6e4Uk1Zrs1
By Lydia Zuraw (June 18, 2014)
China may be moving closer to legally exporting processed cooked chicken to the United States.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has received from China a list of four plants that the country has certified as eligible to export processed chicken here. But before exportation can occur, China must develop a proper export health certificate that demonstrates that the poultry was raised and slaughtered in the U.S., Canada or Chile and that it was cooked to a proper temperature.
At a Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) hearing Tuesday, Daniel Engeljohn, assistant administrator for the Office of Field Operations within USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), stated that China has submitted a draft export health certificate for review by FSIS and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
Once the agencies agree on language and the Chinese government accepts it, China must inform USDA when it plans to begin shipping the processed poultry to the U.S.
“The agency doesn’t have any information about how much processed product it expects China to ship once certification is up and running,” Engeljohn said.
The hearing was held by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), CECC chairman, and Co-chairman Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) to discuss the safety issues of processed poultry and pet treats from China.
“Americans want to know where their foods come from and want to make sure that everything is being done to keep it safe,” Brown said in his opening statement.
China’s Track Record
“China’s food industry has faced a real crisis of confidence over the past seven years,” Smith said. “Despite government efforts, the number of scandals continue to keep coming. Meat that glows in the dark, exploding watermelons, 40 tons of beans sprouts containing antibiotics, rice contaminated with heavy metals, mushrooms soaked with bleach, and pork so filled with stimulants that athletes were told not to eat it lest they test positive for banned substances.”
In 2008, milk and infant formula was tainted with melamine that sickened an estimated 300,000 people, including 54,000 hospitalized babies — six of whom died. In 2013, Chinese police arrested 900 people for “meat-related offences” — including a gang that was passing off fox, mink and rat meat as mutton.
In January 2014, Walmart had to recall donkey meat sold at some outlets in China after tests showed the product contained fox DNA. Walmart has since announced its plans to triple spending on food safety in China to $48.2 million by the end of 2015, which will go toward additional food testing and supplier audits and expanded DNA testing on meat products.
Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is investigating thousands of complaints about pet illnesses it has received since 2007 — mainly in dogs but also in some cats — and which may be associated with the consumption of pet jerky treats from China. So far, more than 1,000 canine deaths have been reported, but FDA has still not identified a specific cause.
Brown also referenced a possible link between animal feed from China and the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv), which, although it does not affect humans or other animals, has wiped out about 10 percent of the U.S. pig population.
Lingering Distrust
One of the key themes of Tuesday’s discussion was whether the U.S. should trust Chinese food processing given, as Brown described it, “China’s poor enforcement of their own laws and rampant corruption.”
“One would think that this issue would be solved already if China transferred resources to food safety from censoring the Internet and cracking down on free speech and political dissent,” Smith suggested. “Transparency is absolutely necessary for any government to protect the health of its citizens and to effectively manage problems related to food and drug safety.”
In addition to his concerns that issues raised by whistleblowers and journalists would be suppressed by the Chinese government, Smith expressed his lack of confidence in the veracity of their equivalency documents.
“The word of the Chinese government is usually not trustworthy,” he said. “It’s not a stretch to say if we rely on them for documentation, that’s an Achilles heel that is huge.”
“It does present a huge dilemma,” Engeljohn responded, but added that USDA’s “on-site audits and our ongoing re-inspection at ports of entry into the United States provide us additional levels of safety.”
For the re-inspection requirement, he said that all of the shipments from China are checked for such things as proper labeling, proper certificates, condition of the products and box count. And, for new countries, there are intensified re-inspections that involve collecting samples for drug residues and microbiological pathogens.
Origin Label Loophole
Brown and Smith also had many questions about whether labels would indicate that the chicken in a product was processed in China.
In his prepared statement, Engeljohn said that “immediate containers of poultry products” imported to the U.S. for human consumption must bear a country-of-origin label.
“Because processed product from China must be cooked, FSIS believes that it is unlikely that the product would be repacked or further processed in this country,” he added.
However, if product is repacked or further processed in the U.S., information that it had originated in China would not be included on the label, although, Engeljohn noted, “it would be repacked or processed under FSIS inspection.”
So, while country-of-origin labeling (COOL) would apply to whole muscle cuts and ground products, it would not apply to processed foods, which Patty Lovera of Food & Water Watch pointed out in later testimony is another reason to avoid eating processed foods.
A “Product of U.S.A.” label on processed food indicates “the majority of ingredients in there would be from confirmed sources that were either slaughtered or processed within the United States,” Engeljohn said in response to Brown’s question about the use of such a label. “But I don’t believe that you could identify that there would no ingredients from another country — particularly if it was from another country that had an equivalent system because, once it comes into the domestic system, it becomes U.S. product.”
After the hearing, Engeljohn told Food Safety News that consumers worried about the origin of ingredients in the processed food they eat “should trust the U.S. system in terms of our food safety program” and that individuals “should establish a relationship with the people that they purchase their products from because you can make known to your retailer what you do or don’t want.”

Food safety while outdoors
Source : http://kimt.com/2014/06/18/food-safety-while-outdoors/
By Levi Ismail (June 18, 2014)
Eating outdoors is just one of the many well-enjoyed activities during the summer, but only if done safely.
No matter where you get your food this season, public health officials warn us all to be weary of food left outdoors.
For campers and hikers, preparing food outdoors can pose a risk for bacteria if the food isn’t cooked properly and on a clean surface.
One health specialist says what’s most important is understanding how your food can react to the elements.
“When you cook your food, you want to make sure that it’s plenty warm. If possible you want to make sure that you have a thermometer so that you can make sure that anything that is meat of animal origin is cooked,” said Brian Hanft, Deputy Director with the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health.
Brian also warns anyone enjoying the outdoors, that surface water should be your last resort for drinking water and only if you have a proper filtration system.
“Let’s say you’re going to go out trout fishing for the day, you pack things that aren’t necessarily going to spoil without temperature control. So refrigeration is just a simple thing and these are simple rules that I follow,” said Hanft.

Perhaps it is Time to Test some Chicken?
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/perhaps-it-is-time-to-test-some-chicken/#.U6e62E1Zrs1
By Bill Marler (June 17, 2014)
Being in Hong Kong gives me the advantage of being 15 hours ahead of my office in Seattle.  While they are sleeping, I can get a little work and reading done – and do a little plotting as well.
NBC News reports that Foster Farms announced Monday that they lowered levels of Salmonella in chicken parts — and invested $75 million to do it — even as the firm battles a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 people in more than a year.
According to NBC, most recent 10-week data shared with the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that Salmonella levels in the firm’s chicken parts had dropped to 2 percent — far below the industry benchmark of 25 percent, Foster Farms officials said.
Perhaps it is time to redo our 2011 testing of contamination levels in chicken purchased in Seattle.  Here were some of the results.
The study showed that up to 80% of Seattle area raw chicken could be contaminated with some form of potentially harmful bacteria. Testing done by IEH Laboratories in Lake Forest Park, Washington showed that 80 of 100 raw chickens purchased at various Seattle area grocery stores contained at least one potentially harmful pathogen.
The test was comprised of 18 brands of chicken purchased at 18 different Seattle area stores including chain grocery stores, Safeway (3 locations), Albertsons (2), QFC (4), Fred Meyer (2), Thriftway (1); warehouse clubs Costco (2) and Sam’s Club (1); natural foods stores Whole Foods (1) and PCC (1), and one small market, Ken’s Market (1).
In the study local and organic chicken did not prove to be safer than other samples. In terms of origination, 59 chicken samples originated from Washington, while 13 samples came from other states and 28 were of unknown origin. Regardless of place, chicken from every state tested was confirmed to contain potentially harmful bacteria.  Of the 14 samples of organic chicken 12 contained harmful bacteria.
The study tested for five pathogens.  While some findings were typical, other results were more surprising.  Previous studies have found on average that 33 to 53% of chicken is contaminated with Campylobacter.  In Seattle 65% of the chicken tested positive for Campylobacter.  Salmonella was isolated in 19% of the chicken purchased at retail stores in the Seattle area, slightly higher than the expected average of 16%.  Staphylococcus aureus was found in 42% of the chicken sampled; 10 of these samples were Methicillan-resistant, commonly known as MRSA.  One sample cultured positive for Listeria monocytogenes and one sample cultured positive for E. coli O26, a bacteria often found in beef.

Chinese food safety is worse than you think
Source : http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/healthcare/209561-chinese-food-safety-is-worse-than-you-think
By Nancy Huehnergarth (June 17, 2014)
In April, I began an email correspondence with an American I’ll call Susan (she prefers to remain anonymous), who has lived in China for 15 years while working in publishing. She currently resides in Beijing and also lived in a small town in Hubei province.
Susan came across our Change.org petition (322,000+ signatures) asking Congress to “Keep Chinese Chicken Out of Our Schools and Supermarkets” and reached out to me. While she loves China and its people, Susan’s first-hand knowledge of China’s poor food safety practices leave her deeply concerned about the prospect of American chicken being processed in China for consumption in the U.S.
Today in Washington, the Congressional-Executive Commission on China is holding a hearing entitled “Pet Treats and Processed Chicken from China: Concerns for American Consumers and Pets.” To provide the Commission with even more information about how a weak Chinese food safety system poses a real threat to Americans, I have compiled a brief Q&A excerpt from my often-startling correspondence with Susan.
Why do you think China suffers from such spectacular food safety problems?
Food safety has always been an issue (in China), due to lack of knowledge about hygiene standards. Even in Beijing I can count on contracting food poisoning at least once a year, despite all my precautions. The problem is, buying anything here that is processed becomes a roll of the dice.
Most Chinese believe the food safety system is thoroughly corrupt. Although there are protests, in general people say "mei ban fa." Nothing can be done. This is the traditional Confucist attitude that teaches one to bend like a reed in the wind–never stand against it like a tree.
What about large multinational food corporations operating in China? Aren’t their food safety standards equivalent to those in the United States?
I don’t think so. Shuanghui International, China’s biggest meat products company (which purchased Smithfield Foods last year for $4.7 billion), has been plagued by constant reports here in this country of meat infested with maggots, customers succumbing to food poisoning and random testing that shows illegal levels of bacteria and illegal additives like clenbuterol in their meat. Negative Chinese articles about Shuanghui were pulled off the web in advance of the Smithfield purchase, but you can still read about them at edition.cnn.com/2013/05/31/business/china-food-tainted-shuanghui-maggots/.”
Are Chinese citizens fully aware of food safety problems in their country? How do they deal with them?
The residents of Beijing are well aware of (food safety) problems. I can think of four ways in particular that their concern has become evident in recent years.
The first is the proliferation and patronage of foreign import food stores. When I first came to Mainland China there was one such store in Beijing, little more than hole in the wall, which catered entirely to the foreign population. Today that original shop has eight locations in the city. There are now four competing chains as well, and most have numerous full-sized grocery stores. Even as recently as five years ago, the vast majority of patrons were still foreigners. However today, these stores are filled with Chinese patrons, even though the product markup can often be 100 percent or more above what those items would cost back home.
The second change has been in behavior when eating out. Anyone who can afford it avoids street food and cheaper restaurants, which are notorious for their poor quality. Food consequently often takes up to 50 percent of the average person's monthly budget. Food poisoning is extremely common and the rates of cancer in China are rising. I know personally three people under the age of 40 with liver or kidney failure. Gastrointestinal cancer is one of the most common cancers in China. People largely view this as unavoidable and a consequence of dirty food.
The third piece of evidence is that Hong Kong and other countries are restricting the amount of baby formula Chinese citizens purchase or carry out of the country. These laws were necessary because the Chinese were going abroad in droves and buying up all the baby formula.
The final change has been the proliferation of balcony gardens. Anyone who has room in Beijing tries to turn their apartment balcony into a small garden since vegetables are among the foods most likely to make one ill.
What do you hear about soil and water contamination in China?
The soil and water are both are widely and terribly contaminated. The soil study (the government) finished in 2010 had been locked away as a state secret until recently, when they admitted that 20 percent of the nation's farmland is contaminated -- a figure that most who live here would suspect to be low, as well as out-of-date. As to the water, I’ve read that the groundwater of 90 percent of our cities is contaminated to some degree while 64 percent of the groundwater in our cities is severely polluted.
Based on your experiences, do you think it’s safe to process American raised chickens in China?
I was horrified to learn that any food from America might come here to be processed. In my opinion, it will certainly return contaminated–even if nothing is added to it. There is no guarantee that the food will be kept at the proper temperature here, or that anyone involved will ensure the sanitation standards needed.
What’s a good resource to learn about Chinese food safety scandals?
The website "Throw it Out the Window" is a Chinese student’s compilation of all food scandal reports and articles that come out here every month. Running it through Google translate will help you keep up with our food safety issues.
Huehnergarth is a national food policy activist, journalist, coalition leader and president of Nancy F. Huehnergarth Consulting. Follow her on Twitter.

How long is food safe in a summer power outage?
Source : http://www.wcpo.com/money/consumer/dont-waste-your-money/how-long-is-food-safe-in-a-summer-power-outage
By John Matarese (June 16, 2014)
It happens every summer during some of the hottest days of the year: Power outages caused by overwhelmed power grids, lightning storms or wind storms.
And when your power goes out for more than an hour or two, nervous homeowners start to worry if their food will still be safe when the power comes back on.
That's exactly the predicament much of Cincinnati's East Side experienced Monday , where a possibly heat-related outage knocked power out in Hyde Park, Kenwood, Oakley, Fairfax and other neighborhoods.
Don't Open the Fridge
The first rule of dealing with a summertime power outage is to not open the fridge.  If you have children, it's important to remind them of that, as kids tend to stand in front of the refrigerator with the door open.
Just opening it for 30 seconds can cause the temperature inside to rise 3 or 4 degrees, and if the power is out, you can't recover that cold.
In the winter, you can simply place perishables outdoors or in the garage, but that's not an option now.
So assuming your refrigerator is closed tightly, the US government's Food Safety program says all your perishables should be fine for four hours.
At the five hour mark, however, some foods will start to deteriorate.
What to Throw Out After the Outage
First of all, don't open the refrigerator to start purging during the power failure. You want whatever cold is inside there to remain there.
But the government says the following foods should be discarded after five hours in a fridge with no power:
• Milk
• Raw meat, fish, or chicken
• Tuna salad, macaroni salad, egg salad
• Sliced lunchmeats
• Casseroles
• Soft cheeses, sour cream, mayonnaise
What You Can Save
Some refrigerated items can be saved and re-cooled according to the government. They include:
• Butter (in the old days, it was never refrigerated)
• Unopened juice
• Most fruit
• Hard cheese such as Parmesan, Swiss, Romano (in some countries, it is never refrigerated)
• Jelly, ketchup, mustard
• Worcestershire sauce, steak sauce
• Beer (THANK GOODNESS)
Freeze Should Be OK
A mostly-full freezer should be OK for at least 12 hours, unless you notice thawing.
Which brings us to: If you still have ice, toss that into a cooler and place any steaks or chicken in it: as long as they are chilled to 34 degrees they are safe.
Unsure? Throw it out. It is better to be safe than sick.
As always, don't waste your money.

Amid Outbreak, Foster Farms Steps Up Food Safety
Source : http://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/amid-outbreak-foster-farms-steps-food-safety-n132641
By JoNel Aleccia (June 17, 2014)
oster Farms poultry producers announced Monday that they’ve dramatically lowered levels of salmonella in chicken parts — and invested $75 million to do it — even as the firm battles a food poisoning outbreak that has sickened nearly 600 people in more than a year.
Most recent 10-week data shared with the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that salmonella levels in the firm’s chicken parts had dropped to 2 percent — far below the industry benchmark of 25 percent, Foster Farms officials said.
“We’ve achieved these results by taking a multi-hurdle approach that attacks salmonella wherever it can present itself — at the breeder level, on the farm and in the plant,” Dr. Robert O’Connor, the firm's senior vice president of technical services, said. “We are actively sharing what we have learned with government officials, the industry and retailers in the interest of helping to create a safer food supply across the nation.”
The announcement came at a Modesto, California, gathering aimed at marking the family-owned firm’s 75th anniversary. Foster Farms was lauded by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Dr. David Acheson, former chief medical officer of the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service and former associate commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration.
"Certainly there was a problem," said Acheson, who is now serving as a paid member of the Foster Farms Food Safety Advisory Board. "They are definitely addressing the problem going forward."
“We’ve achieved these results by taking a multi-hurdle approach that attacks salmonella wherever it can present itself — at the breeder level, on the farm and in the plant."
The safety efforts, however, have not stopped what officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say is an ongoing outbreak of salmonella poisoning that has sickened at least 574 people since March 2013. Experts with the CDC say the outbreak includes seven strains of drug-resistant salmonella Heidelberg reported in 27 states and Puerto Rico. The cases continue to occur in freshly purchased poultry.
Nearly 40 percent of those sickened have been hospitalized and 13 percent have developed blood infections as a result of their illnesses, a rate nearly three times the typical rate of such serious side effects.
The outbreak follows another outbreak of salmonella Heidelberg tied to Foster Farms chicken that sickened 134 people in 13 states from January to July 2013.
Such cases are regrettable, said Ira Brill, a spokesman for Foster Farms. But he suggested that the cases are a tiny fraction of the 160 million people who eat chicken every day and that the active outbreak should wane very soon.
“The number of illnesses should decline,” Brill said.
It is not possible to eradicate salmonella from raw poultry products, Acheson said, adding that Foster Farms is committed to reducing levels to historic lows.
The effort includes testing incoming birds and refusing flocks that test positive for salmonella as well as intensive reviews of plant processes and equipment, officials said.
Foster Farms and food safety officials advise consumers to handle raw poultry safely, keeping it refrigerated and separated from other foods. The meat should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and all cooking surfaces, utensils and other contacts should be thoroughly washed with hot water and soap to avoid cross-contamination.
 
Don't wash raw chicken, cook it, UK food safety campaign advises
Source : http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/don-t-wash-raw-chicken-cook-it-uk-food-safety-campaign-advises-1.2677605
By CBC News (June 16, 2014)
Don’t wash raw chicken, British health officials are telling consumers in a new awareness campaign that aims to reduce the risk of food poisoning.
Campylobacter is the most common source of food-related illness in Canada and the UK, authorities say.
The illness can cause abdominal pain, severe diarrhea and vomiting.
"Although people tend to follow recommended practice when handling poultry, such as washing hands after touching raw chicken and making sure it is thoroughly cooked, our research has found that washing raw chicken is also common practice. That’s why we’re calling on people to stop washing raw chicken and also raising awareness of the risks of contracting campylobacter as a result of cross-contamination," Catherine Brown, chief executive of the Food Standards Agency said in a release announcing the campaign on Monday.
The concern is washing chicken could help spread contaminated droplets to hands, counters, cooking equipment and clothing.
Every year during holiday seasons, health officials in Canada remind consumers to wipe areas with bleach to kill bacteria that can cause foodborne illness.
Prevention tips include:
°ŠThoroughly cook all food, especially poultry, to the appropriate cooking temperature. Use a digital food thermometer.
°ŠKeep raw food away from other food while shopping, storing, preparing and serving foods.
°ŠWash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them, clean counters and cutting boards and wash your hands regularly.
Most people recover from campylobacteriosis without treatment. Those suffering from illness should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and oral rehydration fluids are helpful, the Public Health Agency of Canada says.
Young children, the elderly and people with other illnesses are at greatest risk for dehydration.
In certain cases,  campylobacteriosis can lead to irritable bowel syndrome, reactive arthritis and Guillain-Barré syndrome, a serious condition of the nervous system, the UK agency said.
This is Food Safety Week in the UK.

Food safety delivery concerns rise with fuel prices
Source : http://www.meadvilletribune.com/local/x1760103331/Food-safety-delivery-concerns-rise-with-fuel-prices
By John Finnerty CNHI News Service (June 15, 2014)
HARRISBURG — A few weeks ago state agriculture inspectors forced a trucker to toss 2,000 pounds of food in the garbage after finding the cargo had not been kept at safe temperatures.
Federal rules specify that meat and dairy products be trucked at less than 40 degrees. The trucker stopped on May 28 near New Castle was carrying a cargo — which included meat — at 63 degrees, said Agriculture Department spokeswoman Samantha Krepps.
He’d already delivered to seven restaurants in eastern Ohio, and he was headed to six more near Sharon and New Castle, said Krepps.
Pennsylvania officials notified their counterparts over the border, who forced the restaurants there to discard the food, said Lydia Johnson, director of the Agriculture Department’s Bureau of Food Safety.
The incident, regulators fear, reflects a larger problem as rising fuel prices create an incentive for shippers to cheat on food safety. For the past year, state police and agriculture inspectors have been stepping up checks of refrigerated tucks.
Trucks handle 80 to 90 percent of food consumed in the United States, but state police Col. Frank Noonan said relatively little attention has been paid to monitoring the safety of food in transit.
“Unfortunately most efforts aimed at protecting our food supply are focused on the beginning or end of the food chain,” said Noonan.
Officials say heightened scrutiny of the middle of the delivery process is needed for a couple of reasons.
One, said Johnson, truck refrigeration units are powered by diesel. Regulators worry that penny-pinching drivers may shut off cooling units to cut costs.
Also, in the past, a division of labor between state police and agriculture officials muddled enforcement efforts.
Troopers who can stop trucks to check for safety violations were not trained to recognize food safety problems. On the other hand, agriculture inspectors who monitor food safety have no authority to stop trucks, Johnson said.
The Bureau of Food Safety has now trained the state police’s trucking enforcement officers. Last spring, food inspectors rode with state police during a day-long check of refrigerated trucks.
Teams stopped 400 trucks shipping food during the crackdown and found 10 with unsafe conditions. Seven of those had unsanitary cargo areas, while three were shipping food at unsafe temperatures, according to state police.
In the more recent case, Johnson said agriculture officials believed forcing the shipper to absorb the cost of the discarded food was financial penalty enough, so the trucking company nabbed in western Pennsylvania in May was not given any additional penalty.
James Runk, chief executive officer of the Pennsylvania Motor Transport Association, agreed that the specter of covering the cost of a lost load deters all but the most desperate haulers from tinkering with a truck’s temperature.
Larger companies certainly will frown on anyone adjusting up the temperature in the cargo area, he said. Any problems would most likely happen with independent operators, he said, trying to save money any way they can.
Johnson said agriculture officials and state police plan additional enforcement details this summer.
In the meantime, she said, trained police are recognizing dangerous situations — such as the incident a few weeks ago in Lawrence County. Numbers of incidents involving unsafe food were not immediately available.
Even as the state focuses on the safety of food delivery, Johnson said it’s ultimately up to a restaurant or store owner to recognize the food they’re getting is unsafe — and to protect consumers.
“If the receive food that is obviously not refrigerated, they should refuse delivery,” she said.
John Finnerty reports from the CNHI Harrisburg Bureau for The Meadville Tribune and other Pennsylvania newspapers owned by Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. Email him at jfinnerty@cnhi.com and follow him on Twitter @cnhipa.

 

 

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