McDonald's, Yum release supplier data after China food safety scare
Source : http://www.todayonline.com/business/mcdonalds-yum-release-supplier-data-after-china-food-safety-scare
By todayonline.com (Aug 11, 2014)
SHANGHAI - Five fast food chains including McDonald's and Yum Brands Inc have published details of their suppliers on their Chinese websites, following a request from Shanghai authorities after the latest food safety scare.
Shanghai's Municipal Food and Drug Administration said on Saturday that it had asked the two chains, along with Burger King , Dicos and Carl's Jr, to publish the usually closely-guarded information as part of efforts to strengthen oversight of food suppliers.
The five firms were among a range of companies that were supplied meat by Shanghai Husi Food, a unit of U.S.-based OSI Group LLC, which was alleged by a TV report to have improperly handled meat and used expired food. The Shanghai authority said the companies published the information on Aug. 9.
Details published on Yum's Chinese website showed it had 26 suppliers that provided it with products such as chicken pieces and shortening, while McDonald's issued supplier lists according to items such as beef patties and frozen chicken wings.
The scare is testing local consumers' loyalty to foreign fast-food brands. Yum said earlier this month that the scare had caused "significant, negative" damage to sales at its KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants across the country while McDonalds on Friday reported its worst monthly performance in a decade. REUTERS
Wal-Mart caught in food safety scandal in Shenzhen
Source : http://www.ecns.cn/business/2014/08-11/128772.shtml
By Global Times (Aug 11, 2014)
An unnamed employee at a Wal-Mart store in Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province, has claimed that the outlet has been using expired meat to cook prepared food for consumers, media reported over the weekend.
According to a video on the Internet, which was taken by the whistle-blower, who reportedly has worked in the store for over eight years, the Shenzhen Wal-Mart store has been using expired meat to make prepared food and does not replace the old cooking oil used for fried food as stipulated - sometimes the oil is not changed for over 15 days.
Sometimes, the cooking oil for fried foods is so old that the color has turned "as black as soy sauce," said the employee in a voiceover in the video.
Other problems include using rice infested with insects to cook food, according to the video.
An employee at the Shenzhen store told the Global Times on Sunday that people from Wal-Mart China's headquarters and the local quality authorities have been making spot checks at the store during the past few days.
Wal-Mart China said in a statement e-mailed to the Global Times on Sunday that the company had "sent an investigation team to the store, and no such irregularities were found so far."
The firm had also invited a third party to make quality checks in Wal-Mart stores every month, the statement said, adding that it does not tolerate any irregularities.
A manager surnamed Liu at the Shenzhen store also denied the old cooking oil accusations during an interview in a report on a local TV station.
The Shenzhen quality authority is currently looking into the matter but no concrete conclusion has been drawn so far, Guangzhou-based newspaper New Express reported on Saturday.
The Shenzhen quality authority was not available for comment on Sunday as it was outside of regular office hours.
The Wal-Mart case is the newest example of China's food safety problem, which has intensified with a slew of scandals involving foreign multinational corporations in recent years.
The China branch of US food provider OSI Group, Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, was found in July to have provided food containing expired materials to its customers such as McDonald's. Also, fast-food chain KFC, which was also involved in the Husi scandal, reportedly provided ice cubes made using "water that is dirtier than toilet water" in July 2013.
Wang Danqing, a partner at Beijing-based ACME Consultancy, noted that the food safety problem remains a "pressing" issue in China.
The media plays an increasingly important role in supervising food safety at present, as both of the reported Wal-Mart safety scandals as well as the Husi scandal were first revealed by the media, he noted.
This is not the first time that Wal-Mart has been involved in similar scandals in China. In December 2013, media reported a Wal-Mart store in East China's Shandong Province mixed fox meat into the donkey meat that was sold in the store.
In 2011, a Wal-Mart store in Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality was fined over 340,000 yuan ($55,235) for selling expired duck meat.
Similar safety problems also exist in other major retailers. A supermarket operated by China Resource Vanguard in Shandong Province was also found selling expired food, according to a report on news portal health.sina.com.cn on Tuesday.
Liu Xinwu, a food safety lawyer at Jiangsu-based Hengjiu Law Firm, told the Global Times Sunday that if the accusations against the Shenzhen Wal-Mart store were confirmed, the company may be fined or ordered to suspend operations for rectification.
Xiao Qiang, a Beijing resident in his 40s, told the Global Times Sunday that he will not buy any prepared food from Wal-Mart in the short term.
"If the Shenzhen store is selling expired food, such irregularities may also exist in Wal-Mart's Beijing stores," Xiao said,
Wang from ACME Consultancy noted that such news may dent Wal-Mart sales in the short term, but in the long run, the impact will be limited.
"It [the safety scandal] has presented an opportunity for Wal-Mart to improve its services in China," Wang noted.
Worldwide Food Safety Report Puts America Near Bottom
Source : http://guardianlv.com/2014/08/worldwide-food-safety-report-puts-america-near-bottom/#tp8XOxx6z30VMJ7P.99
By Tabitha Farrar (Aug 10, 2014)
According to a worldwide report on food safety, America is near the bottom of the list when it comes to delivering food that is safe to eat to consumers. Global food source monitoring company, Food Sentry published a report showing which countries had the most food safety violations in the year 2013.
There were over 3,400 reported and verified incidents were food safety was violated in 2013 across the globe. These violations were associated with products that were exported from 117 countries. The data was taken from many different sources and regulatory bodies operating within Europe, the United States and Japan. The number of incidents for each country were then categorized to show which countries were the worst offenders.
For the most part, these incidents were concerning minimally processed items, and raw versions of seafood, dairy, meats grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables and seeds. According to Food Sentry, many of the problems stemmed from excessive use of pesticides, in some cases the chemicals or quantities were illegal. Pesticide levels accounted for almost one-third of all the safety issues that were recorded last year.
In this worldwide report, America was not the worst, but she was at the bottom of the list, and was one of the top ten worst countries for upholding food safety standards. The United States, with 180 reported incidents of recorded food safety violations was the fifth worst country on the list. America had a worse record than Brazil, Vietnam, Turkey, Spain and the Dominican Republic.
The United States did marginally better than France, which had 190 violations, and quite a good deal better than Mexico’s 260. China came in second worst with 340 incidents, and the list was topped by India, where there were 380 incidents reported in 2013.
The majority of the violations were concerning pesticide levels, however pathogen contamination was also responsible for many of the cases. Production conditions which did not reach sanity level standards were also recorded in many incidents, excessively filthy conditions were also a common food safety issue.
Food Sentry Senior Intelligence Analyst Zak Solomon says that violations pertaining to food safety standards are nothing new. The only thing that has changed is the attention that these violations have been getting of late. Solomon thinks that is right that food safety violations are getting brought to the public eye more. Solomon also points out that the United States imports food from every other country that made the top ten list of worst food safety offenders.
Alarmingly, Food Sentry have pointed out that the most that any county will inspect is 50 percent of the food that it brings in, so the figures reported represent half of the problem at best. Most countries inspect far less than 50 percent of imports. In the United States, only two percent of imported food is inspected and tested for quality.
Seafood was by far the biggest problem, almost a quarter of all the incidents concerned seafood imports. Surprisingly, vegetables made up 20 percent of the violations, coming a close second to seafood for the most troublesome food category. 34.5 percent of the contaminant issues were to do with excessive pesticide use, which is probably why vegetables proved so problematic.
The worldwide food safety report from Food Sentry should act as an eye opener for many countries that export unsafe food, and as an indication that those who import need to make vigilant checks. America was by no means the worst offender, but she did come in the top ten list. As far as having a good food safety reputation, the United States is currently near the bottom by global standards.
FoodHACCP Annual Meeting
November 3-7, 2014, Chicago IL
Salmonella trial reveals US food safety relies on self-reporting
Source : http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/aug/09/salmonella-trial-us-food-safety-self-reporting
By theguardian.com (Aug 09, 2014)
Jurors in the first US federal criminal trial stemming from a deadly outbreak of food-borne illness are learning a disconcerting fact: America’s food safety largely depends on the honour system.
Witnesses say Stewart Parnell and others at Peanut Corporation of America knowingly shipped salmonella-tainted products, and that they sent customers lab results from other clean batches rather than wait for tests to confirm if their products were free of deadly bacteria.
Defence lawyers correctly noted for the jurors that salmonella tests are not even required by federal law.
Parnell and his two co-defendants face long prison sentences if convicted of knowingly shipping the contaminated peanut products linked to a nationwide salmonella outbreak that killed nine people and made 714 ill across 43 states in 2008 and 2009.
Their plant in rural Blakely, Georgia, was shut down and the company went bankrupt. Long after consumers ate contaminated peanut butter, ice cream, energy bars and other products, the outbreak prompted one of the largest food recalls in US history.
But Stewart Parnell, his brother and food broker, Michael Parnell, and quality assurance manager Mary Wilkerson are not charged with killing anybody. In fact, prosecutors agreed not to mention the death toll to the jurors.
The 76-count indictment instead accuses the Parnell brothers of defrauding customers that used Peanut Corporation’s contaminated products as ingredients. Stewart Parnell and Wilkerson are charged with concealing information from federal investigators.
Only some customers – such as Kellogg’s – required the plant to ensure its shipments were salmonella-free.
“If they didn’t require it, it did not get tested,” Samuel Lightsey, who managed the Georgia plant during the outbreak, told jurors on Friday.
Lightsey pleaded guilty to seven criminal counts in May and agreed to testify in exchange for a lighter sentence.
Food and Drug Administration investigators ultimately discovered that lab tests had showed contamination in the plant’s chopped nuts, peanut butter or peanut paste 12 times during the two years before the outbreak.
An FDA inspector, Janet Gray, walked the jury through documents showing at least eight of those salmonella-tainted lots were shipped to customers anyway.
“There is no legal requirement for testing at all for salmonella,” Tom Bondurant, Stewart Parnell’s defence lawyer, told jurors during opening statements on 1 August. “There wasn’t then, and there’s not now.”
That is true and it could be a problem for prosecutors in the case, said Jaydee Hanson of the Centre for Food Safety.
But defence lawyers have a problem of their own – and that goes back to the honour system.
“The problem is that the company committed big-time fraud,” Hanson said.
Public outcry over the peanut case and several other outbreaks of food-borne illness led Congress to pass the Food Safety Modernisation Act of 2011, which was supposed to give the FDA more resources and enforcement power.
Three years later, most of its rules have not been published, and the FDA still does not require that products be free of salmonella when shipped, said Hanson. His organisation sued the FDA and won a federal consent decree ordering the agency to implement the law by next year.
Salmonella causes an estimated 1.2m illnesses every year in the United States, with about 23,000 hospitalisations and 450 deaths, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria can cause severe diarrhoea and vomiting, with infections that spread throughout the body, killing people who are not quickly treated with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and people with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
The CDC says it has tracked salmonella outbreaks since 1962. It even has an interactive map with county-by-county information on the impact. And while many sources are never discovered, dozens of food producers have been identified through the years. Some egregious incidents have resulted in fines, and victims have found private attorneys to file civil lawsuits that often get settled out of court. But illnesses, and deaths, continue.
“Could all these people have been charged criminally with something? The answer is, hell yes,” said Bill Marler, an attorney who claims to have won $500m for victims of food-borne illnesses over the past two decades.
Three other cases – a salmonella outbreak traced to eggs in Iowa, a listeria outbreak blamed on dirty cantaloupes in Colorado and an E. coli outbreak linked to Odwalla juices in California – resulted in federal plea deals without prison time. This is the first to go to trial, Marler said.
“I’m a firm believer in using the civil justice system to hold people accountable. But these criminal prosecutions have really got people’s attention,” said Marler. “It’s a completely different viewpoint that these CEOs and managers have when they’re facing jail time and fines that aren’t insured.”
Meanwhile, the FDA lacks the resources to regularly inspect food producers, and when outbreaks happen, they largely depend on their goodwill to find the source.
Another FDA investigator, Bob Neligan, testified that when he first arrived at the Georgia plant on 9 January 2009, he immediately asked for any information or records related to positive salmonella tests. Lightsey told inspectors that the plant’s only brush with salmonella had turned out to be a false-positive test, Neligan said, and Stewart Parnell offered no further information.
“Records are voluntary,” Neligan told the jury. “It has been my experience in my 25 years [with the FDA] that, when there is a concern regarding a nationwide food-borne illness, a firm is usually more than willing to hand over as many records as they can to resolve the issue quickly.”
But in this case, it took five days of pressing before Lightsey said there had been three confirmed tests for salmonella, Neligan said, and only when investigators repeatedly asked for more information did he reveal two others. He said it took a rare FDA order demanding two full years of production, shipping and microbial testing records within 24 hours to come up with the rest.
Lightsey now says he should have spoken up after discovering the company was lying about its salmonella tests, but did not take it seriously enough at the time.
“I never would have shipped anything that I thought would hurt someone,” he testified. “In my mind, I wasn’t intentionally hurting anyone.”
UK Survey Finds Campylobacter on 59 Percent of Chicken
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/uk-finds-campylobacter-on-59-percent-of-chicken/#.U-hioE3lrs1
By News Desk (Aug 7, 2014)
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) in the U.K. has published its first-quarter results from a survey of Campylobacter on fresh whole store-bought chickens and the associated packaging.
The agency found that 59 percent of the birds and 4 percent of the outside of the packaging tested positive.
Campylobacter is the most common form of food poisoning in the U.K., affecting an estimated 280,000 people each year. FSA estimates that four of five cases come from contaminated poultry.
British officials hope that interventions such as improved biosecurity on farms, rapid surface chilling and antimicrobial washes will help reduce the pathogen’s prevalence.
The survey is running from February 2014 to February 2015 and will test 4,000 samples. The first quarter included 853 samples.
Catherine Brown, FSA chief executive, said that the survey “will give us a clearer picture of the prevalence of Campylobacter on raw poultry sold at retail and help us measure the impact of interventions introduced by producers, processors, and retailers to reduce contamination.”
When first announcing the survey, FSA stated that the agency would published findings at a store-specific level — to “name and shame” supermarkets and processors. In late July, the agency walked back from that pledge, deciding instead to wait until the entire survey is completed and publish all the names next summer.
This has upset Which?, a consumer organization calling for FSA to stick to its initial plan and publish the names of retailers “so that consumers are aware of the best and worst performing shops.”
To avoid Campylobacter infection, FSA reminds consumers to cook chicken thoroughly, avoid washing it, store it at the bottom of the fridge so juices don’t drip onto other foods, and wash hands frequently, along with all utensils, chopping boards and surfaces used to prepare raw chicken.
Looking Back: 100 Years of U.S. Food Safety History
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/looking-back-100-years-of-food-safety-history-in-the-u-s/#.U-hixk3lrs1
By James Andrews (August 7, 2014)
In the winter of 1924, oysters grown in polluted waters near Long Island, NY, caused an outbreak of typhoid fever from Salmonella Typhi that killed 150 people and sickened at least 1,500. To this day, it holds the record for the highest body count of any foodborne illness outbreak in U.S. history.
At the time of that outbreak, the oyster industry was very loosely regulated. But, in the aftermath, U.S. regulators honed in.
Much of the progress made in food safety during the past 100 years has resulted from reactions to crises, according to a panel of food safety experts who spoke Wednesday at the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) conference in Indianapolis.
“We tend to wait until there are sufficient illnesses in our country to justify a control and eventual prevention strategy,” said Dr. Ewen Todd, a private food safety consultant and former director of the National Food Safety and Toxicology Center at Michigan State University.
In the past 100 years, we’ve made great strides in coming to understand and control the risk of foodborne pathogens, but not completely eliminate it. The human propensity to make mistakes still leads to millions of illnesses each year, Todd said.
Some threats have been conquered, while others have persisted and new ones have emerged. The threats of Salmonella Typhi, Mycobacterium and Trichinella have been significantly diminished, while Listeria monocytogenes, E. coli O157:H7 and other Salmonella species still cause pervasive illness.
One fact has remained constant: 100 years later, the top three sources of foodborne pathogens remain, in order, fresh produce, meat and poultry, and dairy products.
Microbiologist Dr. William Sperber, formerly at companies such as Cargill and Pillsbury, described the past 100 years as “a bumpy ride.” The century was first characterized by 50 years of industry reacting to public opinion and new federal regulations, followed by 30 years of industry-led progress in what he called “the golden age of food safety management,” and finally the past 20 years of “further progress hindered by complications and unproductive regulation.”
Sperber argued that the decision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to classify E. coli O157:H7 as an adulterant in ground beef in 1994 was an example of overreactive regulation by the then-new Clinton administration.
The “golden age” of food safety progress, on the other hand, occurred around the time that large corporations realized that even if small companies caused foodborne illness outbreaks, it reflected poorly on the entire industry. That was when companies began openly sharing food safety information, he said, fostering a culture of cooperation on safety issues.
Dr. Robert Buchanan, director of the Center for Food Safety and Security Systems at the University of Maryland, outlined the regulatory side of the food safety evolution. Federal food safety regulation really started in 1906 when President Theodore Roosevelt signed two bills, the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Meat Inspection Act.
The Pure Food and Drug Act established what would eventually become the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, while the Meat Inspection Act established the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, which assumed that meat was inherently unsafe unless inspected prior to release into commerce.
With the Administrative Procedures Act of 1946, regulatory agencies were required to ensure a scientific basis for regulations. And, in the wake of World War II, accelerated international trade gave way to World Trade Agreements establishing ground rules for the trade of food.
In 1996, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched PulseNet, a network of public health and food regulatory laboratories around the country that shares data on disease-causing microorganisms.
“You cannot understand the impact that PulseNet has had on how regulatory agencies detect, investigate and manage foodborne disease,” Buchanan said.
Overall, in the past 100 years, food safety developments have become “increasingly science-based, risk-based, transparent and quantitative,” he said, adding that trend is likely to continue for the next 100 years.
At least two of the panelists predicted that it might be another 100 years before humans learn to completely eliminate the threat of foodborne illness. However, based on the past 100 years of progress, the next generation of food safety specialists has at least been given a considerable head start.
Vibrio Illnesses Prompt Closure of Samish Bay’s Oyster Harvest Until Sept. 30
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/illnesses-prompt-wa-to-close-samish-bays-oyster-harvest-until-sept-30/#.U-hjDE3lrs1
By News Desk (Aug 6, 2014)
Confirmation that shellfish from Samish Bay in northwest Washington state was the source of at least one illness, and possibly three others, caused by the bacterium Vibrio parahaemolyticus, has prompted the state’s health department to close commercial oyster harvesting in the bay until Sept. 30.
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, Vibrio parahaemolyticus is a bacterium in the same family as those that cause cholera and Vibrio vulnificus. It lives in brackish saltwater and causes gastrointestinal illness in humans. V. parahaemolyticus naturally inhabits coastal waters in the United States and Canada and is present in higher concentrations during summer. It is a halophilic, or salt-requiring, organism.
Taylor Shellfish Farms, which has one of its facilities on Samish Bay, will be bringing oysters from its other shellfish farms to its store on Samish Bay so it can continue selling oysters to customers in that location.
In the meantime, clam, mussel and geoduck harvest will continue at the farm.
A smaller oyster farm on the bay, Blau Oyster Co., is hoping to obtain an exemption from the state that will allow it to sell shucked oysters with labels warning customers to cook the oysters.
Bill Dewey told the Skagit Valley Herald that the low tides and hot sunny weather boost the potential for the Vibrio bacteria to proliferate. He warned that, just to be safe, recreational harvesters should cook the oysters they harvest during this hot weather.
For more information about shellfish closures in Washington state, as well as maps showing which beaches are closed, go here.
Clostridium botulinum – One Nasty Bug – The Cause of Botulism
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/clostridium-botulinum-one-nasty-bug-the-cause-of-botulism/#.U-hjNE3lrs1
By Bill Marler (Aug 6, 2014)
Botulism is a rare, life-threatening paralytic illness caused by neurotoxins produced by an anaerobic, gram-positive, spore-forming bacterium, Clostridium botulinum. Unlike Clostridium perfringens, which requires the ingestion of large numbers of viable cells to cause symptoms, the symptoms of botulism are caused by the ingestion of highly toxic, soluble exotoxins produced by C. botulinum while growing in foods.
These rod-shaped bacteria grow best under anaerobic (or, low oxygen), low-salt, and low-acid conditions. Bacterial growth is inhibited by refrigeration below 4° C., heating above 121° C, and high water-activity or acidity. And although the toxin is destroyed by heating to 85° C. for at least five minutes, the spores formed by the bacteria are not inactivated unless the food is heated under high pressure to 121° C. for at least twenty minutes.
The incidence of foodborne botulism is extremely low. Nonetheless, the extreme danger posed by the bacteria has required that “intensive surveillance is maintained for botulism cases in the United States, and every case is treated as a public health emergency.” This danger includes a mortality rate of up to 65% when victims are not treated immediately and properly. Most of the botulism events that are reported annually in the United States are associated with home-canned foods that have not been safely processed. Very occasionally, however, commercially- processed foods are implicated as the source of a botulism events, including sausages, beef stew, canned vegetables, and seafood products.
After their ingestion, botulinum neurotoxins are absorbed primarily in the duodenum and jejunum, and pass into the bloodstream and travel to synapses in the nervous system. There, the neurotoxins cause flaccid paralysis by preventing the release of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter, at neuromuscular junctions, thereby preventing motor-fiber stimulation. The flaccid paralysis progresses symmetrically downward, usually starting with the eyes and face, and then moving to the throat, chest, and extremities. When the diaphragm and chest muscles become fully involved, respiration is inhibited and, unless the patient is ventilated, death from asphyxia results. Classic symptoms of botulism include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, dizziness, double vision, drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and dryness of skin, mouth, and throat, lack of fever, muscle weakness, and paralysis. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, and have a weak cry and poor muscle tone. Throughout all such symptoms, the victims are fully alert and the results of sensory examination are normal.
In foodborne botulism cases, symptoms usually begin anywhere between 12 and 72 hours after the ingestion of toxin-containing food. Longer incubation periods—up to 10 days—are not unknown, however. The duration of the illness is from 1 to 10 (or more) days, depending on host-resistance, the amount of toxin ingested, and other factors. Full recovery often takes from weeks to months. And, as earlier indicated, mortality rate can be from 30% to 65%, with rates generally lower in European countries than in the United States.
Detection and treatment
Although botulism can be diagnosed based on clinical symptoms, its differentiation from other diseases is often difficult—especially in the absence of other known persons affected by the condition. Once suspected, the most direct and effective way to confirm the diagnosis of botulism in the laboratory is testing for the presence of the botulinum toxin in the serum, stool, or gastric secretions of the patient. The food consumed by the patient can also be tested for the presence of toxins. Currently, the most sensitive and widely used method for the detection of the toxins is the mouse neutralization test, which involves injecting serum into mice and looking for signs of botulism. This test typically takes 48 hours, while the direct culturing of specimens takes 5-7 days. Some cases of botulism may go undiagnosed because symptoms are transient or mild, or are misdiagnosed as Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
If diagnosed early, foodborne botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks the action of toxin circulating in the blood. This can prevent patients from worsening, but recovery still takes many weeks. The mainstay of therapy is supportive treatment in intensive care, and mechanical ventilation in case of respiratory failure, which is common.
Long-Term and Permanent Injury
Although a minority of botulism patients eventually recovers their pre-infection health, the majority does not. For those who fully recover, the greatest improvement in muscle strength occurs in the first three months after the acute phase of illness. The outside limit for such improvement appears, however, to be one year. Consequently, physical limitations that still exist beyond the one-year mark are more probably than not permanent. Recovery from acute botulism symptoms may also be followed by persistent psychological dysfunction that may require intervention.
According to a recently published study that tracked the long-term outcomes of 217 cases of botulism, a large majority of patients reported “significant health, functional, and psychosocial limitations that are likely the consequences of the illness.” These limitations included: fatigue, weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty lifting things. The victims also reported difficulty breathing caused by moderate exertions, such as walking or lifting heavy items. They were also more likely to have limitations in vigorous activities, like running or playing sports, climbing up three flights of stairs, or carrying groceries. Summarizing its finding, the study concluded that:
Even several years after acute illness, patients who had botulism were more likely than control subjects to experience fatigue, generalized weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, difficulty lifting things, and difficulty breathing caused by moderate exertion. In addition, patients reported worse overall psycho-social status than did control subjects, with patients being significantly less likely to report feeling happy, calm and peaceful, or full of pep.
There is, as a result, no question that the damaging effects of botulism are life-long.
Botulism Associated with Commercial Carrot Juice—Georgia and Florida, September 2006
On September 8, 2006, the Georgia Division of Public Health (GDPH) and CDC were notified of three suspected cases of foodborne botulism in Washington County, Georgia. On September 25, the Florida Department of Health and CDC were notified of an additional suspected case in Tampa, Florida. This report describes the joint effort.
On September 8, the three patients from Washington County, Georgia, went to a local hospital with cranial nerve palsies and progressive descending flaccid paralysis resulting in respiratory failure; the patients had shared meals on September 7. On the evening of September 8, physicians suspected foodborne botulism, notified the state health department, and collected clinical specimens for testing at CDC. On the same evening, CDC provided clinical consultation and dispatched botulinum antitoxin, which was administered to each of the patients the following morning. After receiving antitoxin, the patients had no progression of neurologic symptoms, but they remain hospitalized and on ventilators.
On September 9, the Washington County Health Department, Richmond County Health Department, and GDPH launched an investigation. The three patients had consumed several food items during their two meals together on September 7, including juice from a single 1-liter bottle of Bolthouse Farms carrot juice. The bottle had a “best if used by” date of September 18, 2006. Clinical specimens and leftover food and juice were collected and sent to CDC for testing. On September 13, botulinum toxin type A was identified in the serum and stool of all three patients. On September 15, leftover carrot juice recovered from the home of one of the patients also tested positive for botulinum toxin type A.
During September 8-15, FDA, the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the Georgia Hospital Association, and public health officials in all 50 states were notified of the outbreak and the implicated product as information became available. After these notifications, no additional cases of botulism in Georgia were reported to the state and local health departments or to CDC. During this time, FDA launched an investigation of the Bolthouse Farms, Inc., manufacturing plant in Bakersfield, California. FDA and CDC tested other bottles of the implicated brand of carrot juice, including bottles from different lots, and all were negative for botulinum toxin. Because botulinum toxin was found only in the bottle of carrot juice consumed by the three patients, a lapse in refrigeration of the carrot-juice bottle during transport or storage was suspected, which would have allowed for growth of Clostridium botulinum and subsequent production of botulinum toxin. Based on the CDC test results, on September 17, FDA issued a consumer advisory on the importance of keeping carrot juice refrigerated. However, information obtained from patient interviews regarding storage and transport of the carrot juice did not confirm mishandling by the patients.
On September 25, officials at the Florida Department of Health, the Hillsborough County Health Department, and CDC were notified that a patient had been hospitalized in Tampa, Florida, on September 16, with respiratory failure and descending paralysis. On September 28, botulinum toxin type A was identified in the patient’s serum. Circulating toxin persisted more than 10 days after illness onset in this completely paralyzed patient, indicating ingestion of a massive toxin dose. Accordingly, the patient was treated with antitoxin, which prevents binding of circulating botulinum toxin to nerve endings. The patient remains hospitalized, paralyzed, and on a ventilator. The Hillsborough County Health Department collected an open, 450-milliliter bottle of Bolthouse Farms carrot juice, which had been found by a family member in the hotel room where the patient had been staying during the month before being hospitalized. The hotel room had no refrigerator. The bottle, which had a “best if used by” date of September 19, 2006, had a different lot number than the bottle associated with the Georgia cases. On September 29, botulinum toxin was identified in carrot juice from the bottle found in the patient’s hotel room; the toxin was subsequently identified as botulinum toxin type A. The Hillsborough County Health Department and CDC notified FDA, public health officials in all 50 states, and infection-control practitioners in Hillsborough County about the botulism case and implicated product.
The carrot juice consumed by these four patients was manufactured by Bolthouse Farms, Inc., and distributed in all 50 states, Mexico, Canada, and Hong Kong with the labels “Bolthouse Farms 100% Carrot Juice,” “Earthbound Farm Organic Carrot Juice,” and “President’s Choice Organics 100% Pure Carrot Juice.” Investigations of these cases by state and local health departments and investigations of the manufacturer by FDA are ongoing. On September 29, GDPH and the Georgia Department of Agriculture recommended that Georgia residents not purchase or consume Bolthouse Farms carrot juice. The same day, the FDA warned consumers not to drink Bolthouse Farms carrot juice with “best if used by” dates of November 11, 2006 or earlier (i.e., all bottles produced before the date the warning was issued), and Bolthouse Farms issued a voluntary recall of these products.
The 2007 Castleberry Botulism Outbreak
On July 7, 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) learned that two siblings in Texas were critically ill with botulism and that their illnesses were likely acquired by eating contaminated food. The two children were admitted to pediatric intensive care, and there required mechanical ventilation. The CDC released doses of botulinum antitoxin, which was administered to the children the next morning.
Four days later on July 11, public health officials in Indiana reported to the CDC that a married couple in Indiana were suspected of having foodborne botulism. Serum samples were collected from each of them on July 10 and then sent to the Botulism Reference Laboratory at the CDC. On July 16, one day after the lab received the serum samples, botulinum toxin type A was detected by mouse bioassay in the man’s serum sample. Botulinum toxin was also detected by mouse bioassay in serum submitted by the wife, but the sample volume was insufficient to determine the toxin type. Investigations conducted by state and local health departments in both Texas and Indiana revealed that all four patients had eaten types of Castleberry’s hot dog chili before symptom onset.
Texas investigators found an unopened can of Castleberry’s Austex Hot dog Chili Sauce Original date stamped with a manufacture date and time of May 7 at 9:41 p.m. at the children’s home and tested it for botulism. The Texas Department of Health Services laboratory tested an aliquot from this can using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) for botulinum toxin and did not detect the toxin.
The Indiana couple had an unlabeled, sealed plastic bag of leftover chili mixture in their refrigerator that local health officials collected and sent to the CDC for C. botulinum toxin testing. On July 16 the CDC detected botulinum toxin type A by mouse bioassay in the chili mixture. Empty, well-rinsed cans of Castleberry’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce Original and chili made by another company were found in the couple’s recycling bin. CDC re-rinsed the two cans and tested the rinse water for botulinum toxin by mouse bioassay; both were negative. The label on the can of Castleberry’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce Original indicated a production-date of May 8, and a time of 2:23 AM—less than five hours after the production-time indicated on the can collected from the Texas home.
On July 17, CDC staff provided information regarding the production-dates and times to the FDA. The evidence strongly suggested that brands of Castleberry’s hot dog chili sauce were the common source of the four ill persons with botulism. On July 18, FDA issued a consumer advisory. On that same day, after being informed about the outbreak, and findings from the FDA investigation of the canning facility, Castleberry’s Food Company issued a voluntary recall that included a limited number of production dates of Castleberry’s Hot Dog Chili Sauce Original, Castleberry’s Austex Hot Dog Chili Sauce Original, and Kroger Hot Dog Chili Sauce. The recall was expanded on July 21 to include all production dates for 91 types of canned chili sauce, chili, other meat products, chicken products, and dog food that were manufactured in the same set of cookers, or “retorts” as the hot dog chili sauce at the Castleberry’s facility in Augusta, Georgia.
By August 24, eight cases of botulism had been reported to the CDC. In addition to the Indiana couple, the mother of the children in Texas had developed symptoms of botulism, which brought the total number of Castleberry-associated cases in Texas to three. There was also three unrelated residents of Ohio who had developed botulism consuming Castleberry’s hot dog chili sauce in the week before symptom onsets. Botulinum toxin was identified in leftover chili sauce collected from the refrigerator belonging to one of the Ohio cases.
The Castleberry’s manufacturing facility in Georgia produces products regulated both by the FDA and USDA-FSIS. Initial reports of illnesses were linked to meatless hot dog chili sauce and thus, fell under the jurisdiction of the FDA. The agency’s Atlanta District Office took the lead in the investigation of facilities.
The inspection started on the evening of July 17. FDA investigators requested company maintenance records, which were not immediately available because they were stored on a laptop of a vacationing employee. Finally, three days later, under threat of severe penalty, the company produced some of the requested records. Included in records provided to federal investigators was a 42-page report written by a consultant hired by Castleberry’s to investigate swollen cans of stew, chili, and hash produced in April and May 2007. The consultant had attributed spoilage to post-process handling operations in one of the plant’s cooking equipment. Reports by two other company-hired consultants would also implicate post processing as the reason for swollen cans. Unfortunately, Castleberry’s had not investigated the issues further.
On July 18 and 19, a team of federal investigators were sent to the firm’s warehouse. Samples of Castleberry’s Austex and Castleberry’s brand Hot Dog Chili Sauce with the “best by May 7, 2009” and “best by May 8, 2009” lot codes were collected and sent to FDA laboratories for testing. FDA testing of sample 428113, consisting of 17 swollen cans, found C. Botulinum toxin in 16 of the cans. This sample included the same time-stamp and lot code from the May 8, 2007 production as the can found in the Indiana home. FDA testing of sample 420352, consisting of six swollen cans, found C. Botulinum in four cans. FDA sample 420353 included one swollen can, and its contents tested positive for C. Botulinum toxin.
Federal investigators conducted extensive tests on Castleberry equipment. The findings are presented in an FDA report issued on August 10, 2007, Attachment No. 1, FDA Inspectional Observations dated 08/10/2007, (Summary pages only). Noted observations include:
The system, equipment, and procedures used for thermal processing of foods in hermetically sealed containers were not operated and administered in a manner that ensures commercial sterility is achieved.
Each retort did not have an accurate temperature records device.
Failure to supply a suitable water valve used for water cooling to prevent leakage of water into the retort during processing.
The condensate bleeder was not checked with sufficient frequency to ensure removal of condensate or equipped with an automatic alarm system for the continuous monitoring of condensate bleeder functioning.
Required information was not entered on designated forms at the time the observation was made by the retort or processing system operator or designated person.
Failure to maintain fixtures in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated.
Failure to properly adjust the temperature-recording device. The temperature recorded on the temperature-recording device chart was higher than the mercury-in-glass thermometer during processing.
The report ultimately placed blame on Castleberry management saying there was no commitment from employees in making the products and there was not adequate management oversight. As one Castleberry employee noted: “Two years ago the [implicated retorts] were maintained very well, but they are maintained poorly now.” The FDA plainly agreed, citing Castleberry’s for the “failure to maintain fixtures in repair sufficient to prevent food from becoming adulterated.”
Castleberry made substantial fixes at its plant and then reopened in the fall of 2007. The company re-branded its line to American Originals, and redesigned product labels. But in March, 2008, the plant was forced to close again after a February 27 joint-inspection by the FDA and USDA revealed deviations in some equipment operations on the processing line. The line was not related to deficiencies noted in the summer of 2007 but because under-processing caused the botulism outbreak, the plant’s operating permit was suspended.
Some background information on canning
The canning process dates back to the late 18th century in France when the Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, concerned about keeping his armies fed, offered a cash prize to whoever could develop a reliable method of food preservation. Nicholas Appert conceived the idea of preserving food in bottles, like wine. After fifteen years of experimentation, he realized if food is sufficiently heated and sealed in an airtight container, it would not spoil. More than fifty years later, Louis Pasteur provided the explanation for effectiveness of canning when he was able to demonstrate that the growth of microorganisms is the cause of food spoilage.
An Englishman, Peter Durand, took the idea one step further and replaced the breakable glass bottles with cylindrical tinplate canisters (later shortened to “cans”). Durand did not can foods himself, but sold his patent to two other Englishmen, Bryan Donkin and John Hall, who set up a commercial canning factory. By 1813, Donkin and Hall were busily producing their first canned goods for the British army, thus continuing the connection of canning to the military.
The basic principles of canning have not changed dramatically since Nicholas Appert and Peter Durand developed the process. Heat sufficient to destroy microorganisms is applied to foods packed into sealed, or “airtight” containers. The canned foods are then heated under steam pressure at temperatures of 240-250°F (116-121°C). The amount of time needed for processing is different for each food, depending on the food’s acidity, density and ability to transfer heat.
Processing conditions are chosen and designed to be the minimum needed to ensure that the foods are made “commercially sterile,” while still retaining the greatest flavor and nutrition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must first approve all canning-processes. Once the cans are sealed and heat processed, the resulting canned food must maintain its high eating quality for more than two years and be safe to eat as long as the can is not damaged in any way. Historically, commercially canned food has a near-perfect track record, having caused only four outbreaks in over forty years. The last outbreak occurred in 1974 and involving beef stew.
Bleck, supra note 15, at 2547. See also P. Wilcox, et al., Recovery of Ventilatory and Upper Airway Muscles and Exercise Performance After Type-A Botulism, Chest, 98:620-26 (1990); J. Mann, et al., Patient Recovery From Type-A Botulism: Morbidity Assessment Following a Large Outbreak, Am. J. Public Health, 71 (3): 266-69 (Mar. 1981).
Bleck, supra note 15, at 2547. See also F. Cohen, et al., Physical and Psychosocial Health Status 3 Years After Catastrophic Illness—Botulism, Issues Mental Health Nurs., 9:387098 (1988).
S. Gottlieb, et al., Long-Term Outcomes of 217 Botulism Cases in the Republic of Georgia, Clin. Infectious Disease, 45: 174-80, at 180 (220).
St Louis ME, Peck SH, Bowering D, et al. Botulism from chopped garlic: delayed recognition of a major outbreak. Ann Intern Med 1998;108:363.
Morse DL, Pickard LK, Guzewich JJ, et al. Garlic-in-oil associated botulism: episode leads to product modification. Am J Public Health 1990; 80:1372.
See J. Sobel, et al., Foodborne Botulism in the United States, 1990-2000, Emerging Infectious Diseases, Vol. 10, No. 9, at 1606 (Sept. 2004).
James M. Jay, MODERN FOOD MICROBIOLOGY, 466 (6th Ed. 2000).
Id. at 469-71; see also Sobel, supra note 2, at 1606.
Jay, supra note 3, at 467-69. See also, generally H. Houschild, Clostridium Botulinum, in FOODBORNE BACTERIAL PATHOGENS, at 112-89 (M. Doyle Ed. 1989). With botulism, the broader term “event” is used to encompass both outbreaks—i.e., two or more cases of botulism caused by a common-source, as well as individual (or sporadic) cases.
Thomas P. Bleck, Clostridium botulinum (Botulism), in MANDELL, DOUGLAS AND BENNETT’S PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF INFECTIOUS DISEASE 2543, 2544 (5th ed. 2000). see also BOTULISM FACT SHEET, National Agricultural Bio-Security Center, Kansas State University, online at http://nabc.ksu.edu/content/factsheets/category/Botulism#f26.
R. Shapiro, et al., Botulism in the United States: A Clinical and Epidemiologic Review, Ann. Intern. Med. 1998; 129:221-28.
FDA/CFSAN Bad Bug Book, Clostridium Botulinum, available at http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/chap2.html
The following introductory material is based on information from the Wikipedia entry on canning, online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canning, and the sources there cited.
Tony Baird-Packer, The Production of Microbiologically Safe and Stable Foods, in Volume 1 of THE MICROBIOLOGICAL SAFETY AND QUALITY OF FOOD, 4 (B. Lund, et al. Eds. 2000).
See, e.g. MMWWR, supra note 1, at 3 (citing P. Blake, et al., Type A Botulism from Commercially-Canned Beef Stew, South. Med. J. 1977; 70:5-7).
The information about the outbreak comes primarily from the CDC-published report issued July 30, 2007. See MMWR, supra note 1, at 1-2.
Stall in market visited by queen receives food safety closure order
Source : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/environment/stall-in-market-visited-by-queen-receives-food-safety-closure-order-1.1889470
By Mark Hilliard (Aug 06, 2014)
A market stall that displayed its cakes for the Queen of England during her historic Irish visit was one of seven food businesses to receive closure orders from food safety officials last month.
Heaven’s Cakes, which operates in Cork’s famed English Market – a focal point of Queen Elizabeth’s trip in 2011 – was handed the order on July 14th, although it was lifted two days later. The stall was among those visited by the queen in Cork.
The exact reason for the order, which was made under EU regulations, is not clear, but it was subsequently lifted and the premises did not close.
Other businesses to receive closure orders last month were Sur La Mer restaurant in Rosslare Strand, Co Wexford; Monsoon Valley restaurant, Bundoran, Co Donegal, the Swiss Cottage Kitchen, Santry, Dublin; Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant in Dundalk, Co Louth; Ruposhi Indian Restaurant in Whitworth Road, Dublin 9 and the Coachman’s Tearooms in Dundalk, Co Louth. All of these establishments had their orders lifted after a follow-up inspection days later.
The orders were served by environmental health officers at the Health Service Executive (HSE) and reported, as standard, by the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI).
There were also three successful prosecutions brought by the HSE, against the Omniplex Cinema in Drinagh, Wexford (Cameo Cinema Ltd); the Indian Taste takeaway on the Ballybough Road in Dublin and the House Pizza takeaway in Thomondgate, Limerick.
The Omniplex Cinema was prosecuted for offences under hygiene laws in 2013 and pleaded guilty, incurring a €1,000 fine plus costs.
Indian Taste was fined €500 for hygiene offences and the House Pizza fined €15 with additional costs for an unspecified offence.
FSAI chief executive Professor Alan Reilly said vigilance was always required in relation to food safety and there was a legal onus on business owners to live up to regulations.
“Each closure order undermines consumer confidence in food safety which not only affects the food business involved but the industry as a whole,” he said.
“While most food businesses are committed to high standards for the health of their customers, this is not always the case. We’re urging food businesses to make sure that they have a food safety management system in place and that it is consulted on a regular basis and updated.”
Under the FSAI Act, a closure order is served where there is, or is likely to be, a “grave and immediate danger to public health at or in the premises”.
A Victory for Activism: Worker Safety and Line Speed
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/a-victory-for-activism-worker-safety-and-line-speed/#.U-hrPE3lrs1
By Alvin Sewell (Aug 6, 2014)
The Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection final rule moved forward like a dog digging under a fence.
While concerned activist groups certainly have issues yet to be resolved, there is a huge victory for plant workers’ and consumers’ safety within the final version of the rule. Line speed.
I have said all along that line speed is everything in the proposed changes in slaughter line configuration. Whether discussing increases in contamination through processing errors or injury to line workers through increases in repetitive tasks, line speed is everything.
While problems remain within the current system at the current line speed, FSIS made a bold and logical move by holding line speed at the current rate. They really had no choice. The NIOSH study and follow-up reaction to the FSIS administrator’s comments made on the FSIS blog post made increasing the line speed seriously problematic.
Activist groups should skip the victory lap but take measured satisfaction in this significant success. This is not an easy pill to swallow for industry. All along, the promise of increased production rates was incentive for taking on the duty of sorting activities. Of course, industry still retains the benefit of controlling the line and preventing line stops or slowdowns for the most part.
For activist groups, the lesson is this: Perseverance and organized networking pays off in achieving meaningful goals. This is, after all, a major win for worker health and safety. Industry will benefit as well. Increased line speed would undoubtedly result in increases in worker’s compensation claims, employee turnover, liability, litigation and injury to public image.
The lesson for consumer and worker representative groups is clear. Focus on quantifiable issues, focus on moving forward and not backward, persevere and push hard on important issues but avoid the minutia, and never give up.
Any hope of derailing change and keeping the old system was, and is, unrealistic. This was known long ago in the late 1990s when the inspector’s union proposed changes to the traditional model of inspection. The matter then was how to improve the system to change with scientific trends and processing movements while improving working conditions for inspectors. It was only when FSIS reneged on key elements of the union’s proposal that it was faced with filing a lawsuit to gain leverage over a faulty program. One of those features that FSIS gutted from the proposal was keeping the line speed at current rates.
The next frontier will be holding the line on the Zero Tolerance Rule for Fecal Contamination. Many plants will not be able to do as well as others on sorting or on-line reprocessing. It may be the case that there could be an increase in some plants of Zero Tolerance failures. This is a HACCP issue, and plants are required to apply an effective preventive measure to any HACCP deviation. Visible fecal contamination going into the chilling system is an extreme measure of processing failures. The standard must be held on this critical issue. Dilution of pollution is not a good manufacturing practice.
In the meantime, chalk one up for organized activism and accountability. Well done.
Real-Life Stories Reveal the True Impact of Foodborne Illness
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/08/victim-stories-make-food-safety-real-for-the-public/#.U-hj_U3lrs1
By James Andrews (Aug 6, 2014)
Alex Donley was a tender-hearted 6-year-old who dreamed of someday being a paramedic when he was stricken with an E. coli infection in 1993 after eating a hamburger made from contaminated ground beef. Four days later, he died in a hospital room after suffering a horrific bout of hemolytic uremic syndrome, a kidney disease stemming from the worst E. coli infections.
In the wake of Alex’s death, his mother, Nancy Donley, chose to dedicate her life to fight for improvements to the safety of the U.S. food system. She took Alex’s story to whoever would listen: food companies, trade groups, media, politicians, FDA and USDA.
After starting the nonprofit STOP Foodborne Illness, Donley and other parents of foodborne illness victims worked to advocate for tougher regulations on food contamination while educating consumers about proper food handling techniques to prevent illness.
Throughout her work, Alex’s story was the main driver of Donley’s activism. His story made others feel the impact foodborne illness has on families in a way that reciting statistics never could.
In the U.S., discussions of foodborne illness often refer to CDC estimates that 48 million Americans are sickened by foodborne pathogens each year, with as many as 3,000 dying as a result. But the real-life story of one of those 3,000 victims can do more to communicate the true nature of foodborne illness outbreaks, as food safety advocates such as Donley discussed on Tuesday at the International Association of Food Protection (IAFP) in Indianapolis.
“After Alex died, my mom said that not only did she lose a grandson, she lost a mother, because a part of me died when he died,” Donley told the audience at IAFP.
She referred back to Alex’s dream of becoming a paramedic to help others and save lives. Through sharing his story, his dream has come true.
“Because people have heard his story, lives have been saved, and he has gone on to help others the way he wanted to when he was 3 years old,” she said.
Donley was part of a panel discussion on the impact that stories have on communicating the effects of foodborne illness on families and included presentations by a handful of other victims and their family members.
The presentations were kicked off by Dr. Benjamin Chapman, food safety professor at North Carolina State University, who spoke of the importance of stories in eliciting emotion — and eventually changes of perspective — from those who hear them.
Chapman used the example of the trichinosis scare from undercooked pork that caused his grandmother and an entire generations of cooks to overcook their pork chops. The media of the time had shown so many stories of victims infected with worms from the disease that no one dared to risk eating undercooked pork.
Similarly, stories like Alex’s have worked to redefine the cultural attitude toward undercooked hamburger and any other food produced with lax food safety standards.
Another story presented was that of Dana Dziadul, who, in 2001, fell ill at age 3 with an infection of Salmonella Poona in her bloodstream after eating contaminated cantaloupe. Now 16, Dziadul has spent the past five years speaking to audiences about her experience.
A classic picky eater at that age, Dziadul said she liked three foods: mac and cheese, grilled cheese, and cantaloupes. At a buffet with her family, she chose to pile her entire plate with cantaloupe.
The next day, she had a headache, which eventually progressed to a stomach ache, a fever of 104 degrees F, cramping, and bloody diarrhea. Her parents took her to the emergency room, but it was a week before she was diagnosed with a blood infection from Salmonella.
Dziadul recovered in time, but years later she was still stricken with difficult joint pain. It was even longer before she was diagnosed with reactive arthritis, a condition brought on by her infection.
“It’s been 13 years since my Salmonella illness, yet I still suffer from it because of reactive arthritis,” she told the audience.
Dziadul has written a forthcoming children’s book about her experiences entitled, “Food Safety Superstar.” She said that her relationship with her younger sister, Jenna, inspires her to continue advocating for food safety.
“I can never imagine Jenna going through the pain and suffering that I had, so I want to continue to support food safety causes,” she said.
China’s food safety problems could be good for the world’s biggest pork producer
Source : http://qz.com/244853/chinas-food-safety-problems-could-be-good-for-the-worlds-biggest-pork-producer/
By Lily Kuo (Aug 5, 2014)
Shares in the world’s largest pork producer, China’s WH Group, surged as much as 10% today in the company’s first day of trading in Hong Kong. The third-largest Asia Pacific IPO this year comes at a time when anxiety about food safety is at a high in China, a potential boost for the company that spent $4.7 billion on the American hog producer Smithfield last year, in part to bring Western expertise to China.
Speaking to reporters today, WH Group chairman Wan Long said the deal was “good for the country, the company, and China’s agricultural industry,” comments that seem aimed at consumers wary about the country’s seemingly endless food scandals.
China is home to the world’s largest pork industry, which raises and consumes about half of the world’s pigs. But consumer mistrust of the country’s lightly regulated agricultural industry and convoluted supply chain abound. Chinese meat suppliers are under scrutiny after local media accused a Shanghai factory of using rotten meat in products sold to McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut and other fast food chains.
For WH Group, which changed its name from Shuanghui to adopt a more international identity, this anxiety may work to its advantage. By exporting meat from hogs raised in the US, WH Group is using Smithfield’s brand as well as its industrial technology to attract customers. WH Group now has access to Smithfield’s approximately 460 farms that raise around 15.8 million hogs a year, as well as the company’s cold-chain system that keeps pork products good for as many as 50 days.
But the scandal has also illustrated that there are no easy fixes: the Shanghai factory was owned by a US company, OSI Group, which proves that Western expertise is not a panacea.
Even though food scandals have become an inescapable part of life in China, nothing suggests that the country is losing its taste for pork: per capita consumption is about 39 kg a year (pdf. p. 14), compared to 27 kg per person in the United States. Moreover, although Chinese consumers have long preferred fresh pork bought small producers, wealthier Chinese families are increasingly opting for industrially produced (pdf, p. 22) pork, seen as safer and produced under stricter management. As a result, mass commercial pork production in China is growing while the number of small-scale, or backyard farmers, is shrinking.
WH Group has already started selling Smithfield-branded meat at stores in Henan province, where the company is based, and will start selling outside of the province next year.
Food safety advice for power outages
Source : http://www.cramahe-now.com/5077-food-safety-advice-for-power-outages
By Bill Eekhof (Aug 05, 2014)
Bill Eekhof from the local health unit sends us this advice for summer power outages When it comes to food safety, severe summer weather that knocks out power to homes and communities can be a recipe for disaster.
Extensive blackouts and extended electricity disruptions can affect the safety of food stored in refrigerators and freezers. For that reason, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit encourages area residents to take precautions to avoid getting sick from food that thaws and becomes spoiled.
“We want people to be safe, not sorry, when it comes to the food they eat, and that is never more important than during unexpected power outages,” says Richard Ovcharovich, the Manager of Environmental Health with the HKPR District Health Unit. “The best and simplest advice is this: if in doubt about the safety of any food item, throw it out.”
Local residents are encouraged to consider the following safety tips when it comes to storing food in fridges and freezers during power outages:
? Keep the refrigerator or freezer door closed at all times to maintain the temperature inside. Avoid unnecessary opening and closing of the fridge or freezer to check the food inside. Typically without power, the refrigerator section will keep foods cool for four to six hours if the door is kept closed. During a blackout, an upright or chest freezer that is completely full can keep food frozen for about two days. A half-full freezer will keep food frozen for one day.
? If possible, add bags of ice to the refrigerator or freezer to keep temperatures cooler for a longer period.
? If the power is going to be off for an extended period of time, consider taking food to a freezer belonging to a friend or neighbour who has power.
? Throw out perishable foods such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs and leftovers that have been at temperatures above 4°C for more than two hours.
? As soon as possible, throw out any food that is off-colour or has a bad odour.
? Contact a health care provider for information about proper storage of medication that requires refrigeration, such as insulin.
“Another way to prepare for an unexpected power outage is to keep an extra supply of food in your home that doesn’t need to be kept cool in a fridge or freezer,” Ovcharovich adds. “Ready-to-eat, non-perishable items such as canned ham, tuna and salmon, energy bars, and dried foods are invaluable when electricity is knocked out and it may be impossible to cook or warm up food.”
How Cyclospora Parasite Gets on Food, Causes Illness
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/how-cyclospora-parasite-gets-on-food-causes-illness/
By Carla Gillespie (Aug 4, 2014)
Cyclospora, a single-celled parasite that can cause months of illness, is considered a rare parasite in the United States, but for folks in some states its becoming a little too familiar. Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Tennessee and Texas have had cyclospora outbreaks for two straight summers. Mayland, Montana and Oregon missed last summer’s outbreaks that sickened at least 631 people, but they are getting to know about the little bug this summer as they investigate spikes in reported illnesses. So, how is this rare parasite, normally associated with tropical climates, making its was onto our food an into the headlines?
Cyclospora is transmitted when an infected person passes immature oocysts in their stools. If these oocysts make their way onto food and are eaten before they are mature, they do not cause illness. However, if they have a chance to mature while on food and are then ingested, they cause an illness, cyclosporiasis, that can last up to two months. Readers who have had these infections have described experiencing diarrhea that is so frequent and forceful they have missed days of work.
Contamination can occur through unsanitary conditions at a farm, processing plant or distribution center; or from fields where human waste was used as fertilizer or fields contaminated water was used for irrigation.
A number of outbreaks have occurred in the U.S. since a 1996 outbreak linked to raspberries imported from Guatemala. Other outbreaks has also been linked to imported produce items including , snow peas, basil, cilantro, mesclun and salad.
If yo experience symptoms including watery diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, cramping, bloating, increased gas, nausea, fatigue,vomiting and low-grade fever, see a doctor.
E coli Outbreak Traced to Rice County, MN Fair
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/e-coli-outbreak-traced-to-rice-county-mn-fair/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 4, 2014)
According to the Faribault Daily News, an E. coli outbreak in Rice County, Minnesota has been traced back to the Rice County Fair. An email was apparently sent to the Rice County Agriculture Society board of Directors from the Minnesota Department of Health informing them that a case of E. coli had been reported. Between nine and twelve people are sick; several have been to the hospital.
The Rice County Fair was held between July 15 and July 20, 2014. The Department of Health believes that the pathogenic bacteria came from an animal in the barns or the petting zoo and is not related to food. Hand-washing stations are available outside the petting zoo and barns on the fairgrounds, but not everyone uses them. Operators at the Fair have been cooperating with investigators. Some of those infected were at other fairs around the state before this fair.
Last year there were two E. coli outbreaks linked to petting zoos and live animal exhibits. Then, six children contracted E. coli infections, and three of them developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious complication that can cause kidney failure.
And in 2012, a deadly E. coli outbreak sickened 106 people at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina. One child died as a result of the infection. Last year, operators of that Fair decided against having another petting zoo, which was linked to the outbreak. In 2011, an E. coli outbreak sickened 25 people at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh, and a toddler in Wisconsin got sick at the 2011 Fond du Lac County Fair that same year.
It’s important that anyone who visits a barn or petting zoo wash their hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after touching animals, especially ruminant animals, which harbor the bacteria in their intestines.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often watery and/or bloody, and vomiting. Very young children and the elderly are most likely to suffer serious complications from this infection. If you visited that fair and have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor immediately.
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