FoodHACCP Newsletter
09/15 2014 ISSUE:617

E. coli HUS Strikes 3 Children in Hardin County, KY
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 14, 2014)
Three Hardin County, Ky. children are among a group of five who have been hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a life-threatening complication of E.coli infections that causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke and coma. The children, who range in age from 18 months to 10 years old, are part of an outbreak that also includes one child from Nelson County and another from Oldham.
Three Hardin Cty children have HUSHardin and Nelson counties are in the central part of the state. Oldham is northeast of Louisville on the state’s border with Indiana. Health authorities have not yet identified a source of the outbreak or determined if the cases may be linked to recent cases in Oregon and Washington.
Three Oregon children with E. coli infections were hospitalized with HUS at the beginning of this month. Aubrie Utter, 3, underwent five blood transfusions during her weeklong hospitalization and was released. Brad Sutton, 5, has been undergoing dialysis and remains hospitalized. Serena Profitt, 4, died on Monday. All three of those children spent time near the same river and all three ate watermelon purchased at Walmart before they got sick.

Salmonella Tomatoes Again
Source :
By Bill Marler (Sep 13, 2014)
Taylor Farms is issuing a recall of some lots of tomatoes and salad kits that include them because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
Taylor Farms of Tracy issued the voluntary recall Saturday night for Expo Fresh Roma tomatoes shipped to Costco locations in Los Angeles and Hawthorne in California, Tacoma and Lynwood in Washington, and Las Vegas in Nevada. Only tomatoes listed as packed on September 5 or September 6 are affected.
The recall also includes Sicilian Vegetable Salad served at deli counters at Safeway, Vons and Pavilions grocery stores in California, Nevada and Arizona with use-by dates of September 20 and September 21. The kits for the salad contained the tomatoes.
The company says the Salmonella was found in routine testing. No illnesses have yet been reported.

UAE food safety system among best in world
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By Caline Malek (Sep 13, 2014)
ABU DHABI // A new report has ranked the UAE moderately high in food safety and protein quality, placing the country 32nd globally and third regionally.
“A moderate performance implies a score between 25 and 75,” said The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Middle East analyst. “The UAE scores at the top of this range.”
Dr Basheer Yousef, a food safety expert with Dubai Municipality, said there was a close relationship between food safety and security.
“The UAE is very keen to base food safety on risk analysis and ensure that safe and wholesome foods are not rejected based on trivial reasons,” he said. “This policy has tremendous impact on food security as it does not result in wasting food unnecessarily.”
He said he was not surprised by the UAE’s high rating. “The food safety system here is considered one of the best in the world as it takes into consideration the best practices from around the globe.”
But there is room for improvement. In four of the five indicators, including protein quality, micronutrient availability, diet diversification and nutritional standards, the UAE had scores between 65 and 70.
“This implies that the UAE does well in these areas, but not sufficiently well for this to be considered a strength,” the analyst said.
“In general, there is room for improvement in the overall nutritional quality of the diet and a need for national dietary guidelines, especially in light of the extremely high levels of diabetes in the country. In particular, the average UAE diet has low availability of iron from animal and vegetal sources and a high percentage of starchy foods, including cereals, roots and tubers.”
Dr Yousef backed this analysis.
“Safety and quality of foods could be improved through various means,” he said. “This includes scrutinising food control at the source through availing our standards and specifications to the primary and secondary food producers abroad to ensure that foods comply with these standards and specifications.”
But the report stated that the UAE performed well on the regulatory side in terms of quality and safety.
“The country demonstrates a strength in the fifth indicator, food safety, exhibiting a perfect score of 100 in the category,” the analyst said.
This year’s index comprised 28 indicators and covered 109 countries. It used data from a wide range of international organisations, including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Health Organisation and the World Bank, along with the EIU’s own internal databases.




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Food Safety Loophole Remains Intact Under New FDA Standards: Experts
Source :
By Connor Adams Sheets (Sep 12, 2014)
The process for reviewing chemicals added to the nation's food supply is being overhauled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but food safety advocates warn that the changes won't prevent unsafe additives from making their way into your meals.
Hundreds of chemicals that the FDA has little power to regulate, and most consumers have likely never heard of, are secretly -- but legally -- being added into processed foods manufactured by some of the world’s biggest food producers.
“The public thinks that if something is in [their] food, it was well-tested and tested by someone other than the guy who invented it, and that’s not what they’re getting,” Jaydee Hanson, senior policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety, said.
The FDA’s plan to strengthen its protocols for reviewing chemicals for use in food will update the agency's safety assessment guidelines while ensuring consistency within its processes. The plan is “a step forward, but it isn’t a solution to” the problem of ingredients not approved by the FDA being used in food and other consumer products without the knowledge of the agency or consumers, Natural Resources Defense Council senior attorney Tom Neltner said.
A report released earlier this year by the council said many major food companies have for years taken advantage of a loophole in federal law that allows them to include chemicals that the FDA has not approved as safe for human consumption in a wide range of foods, without notifying the agency.
Scientists, which may be hired by the food companies themselves, must independently determine that a chemical is “Generally Regarded As Safe” (GRAS) in order for it to be exempted from the FDA’s standard pre-approval process for food ingredients.
An FDA spokesperson said via email that companies are required by law to rely on conclusions by “experts qualified by scientific training and experience to evaluate the safety of an ingredient” to deem a chemical GRAS, but added that they are not required to make their scientific data public.
“The [GRAS] exemption allows manufacturers to make safety determinations that the uses of their newest chemicals in food are safe without notifying the FDA,” the NRDC report states. “The agency's attempts to limit these undisclosed GRAS determinations by asking the industry to voluntarily inform the FDA about their chemicals are insufficient to ensure the safety of our food.”
To produce the report, the NRDC says it “reviewed public records, the company websites, and trade journals to identify chemicals that appear to be marketed in the U.S. pursuant to an undisclosed GRAS determination, i.e., without notification to the FDA.” Neltner estimates that the number of such chemicals could in fact be as high as 1,000.
Chemicals cited in the report range from chrysanthemum extract, manufactured by NutraMax, to Health Texapon K 12 P PH, manufactured by BASF Cognis Nutrition.
In some cases, chemicals identified in the report were voluntarily submitted for FDA review. The agency raised concerns about their safety but did not have the authority to stop the companies from using them in food, according to the NRDC.
“We’ve found that when the FDA is asked to look at them, 20 percent of them are rejected,” Neltner said. “The FDA asks tough questions, and when they reject a claim, companies can still sell products containing [the chemical] despite these concerns. And there are no assurances that the companies have addressed the concerns.”
The FDA does have the authority to take action if any ingredient used in food is determined to be unsafe, but a number of lawsuits that raise questions about the safety of specific food ingredients have not resulted in meaningful action on behalf of the agency, Neltner said.
“Regardless of whether an ingredient is approved for use as a food additive or it falls under GRAS, the safety standard is the same,” an FDA spokesperson said via email. “That is, there must be a reasonable certainty of no harm under the intended conditions of its use.”
Hanson says that the FDA should be reviewing chemicals independently instead of relying on companies to make determinations based on independent research.
“The FDA needs to be more critical of the data they get from companies,” Hanson said. “They’ve been sitting on a revision of the way they handle GRAS for 15 years,” he added.
The food industry is taking a step toward greater transparency. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, the nation's biggest food industry trade group, said in a press release on Aug. 28 that it will create a database of information about food additives used in a wide range of foods.
The information will be provided to the FDA, but it will not be made available to the public. Hanson criticized the plan for applying only to chemicals already used in foods, not those introduced in the future.
“We’ve got a broken system,” Neltner, the Natural Resources Defense Council attorney, said. “No other country in the developed world allows a chemical to be added directly to food without making sure it’s safe.”

Five Kentucky Children Hit With Kidney Disease Usually Caused by E. Coli
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 12, 2014)
Five children were reportedly in a Louisville, KY, hospital on Friday being treated for hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which is a potentially fatal kidney disease typically caused by an E. coli infection.
Three of the children are from Hardin County, one is from Oldham County, and one is from Boone County. Their ages were not available.
Officials with the Kentucky Department for Public Health were trying to figure out how the children became ill. All the children were being treated at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville.
HUS can develop after two days to two weeks of diarrhea associated with infection by a strain of E. coli known as O157:H7. HUS can cause kidney failure, and patients are sometimes put on dialysis as a result.
E. coli bacteria is found in contaminated food or water and can be transmitted by drinking unpasteurized milk or eating undercooked meat. It can also be transmitted person-to-person if hands aren’t washed adequately after using the bathroom or changing a diaper. Symptoms include stomach cramps and bloody diarrhea.

Oregon Officials Say Source of Deadly E. Coli Infection May Never be Found
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 12, 2014)
Health officials in Oregon are testing several possible contaminants that could be the source of the E. coli infection that killed a 4-year-old Oregon girl this week, but they warn that the source may never be found.
Serena Profitt died on Monday in Portland after suffering from an E. coli infection for more than a week. Food Safety News spoke with her uncle on Tuesday when reporting on her death.
A family friend, 5-year-old Brad Sutton, is in critical condition and on dialysis in a Tacoma, WA, hospital but was reported on Thursday to be steadily improving. The two children were playing together over Labor Day weekend and apparently shared one meal — a turkey sandwich — at a restaurant.
The children also played in a pond, which has been connected to E. coli cases in the past. Both children later tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.
But health officials are not ready to place blame on the sandwich. Investigation into the restaurant where it was served showed no evidence of E. coli exposure, according to Dr. David Long from the Lincoln County Health & Human Services Department.
“We’ve investigated the places that the people have been in the public and so far we haven’t found any evidence that there’s a source that would be potentially dangerous to the public,” Long said at a Thursday news conference in Newport, according to KOIN 6 News.
On Sept. 5, a 3-year-old girl in Washington state also died from an unrelated E. coli infection.

Defense rests after an hour in peanut salmonella trial
Source :
By Paul Conley |(Sep 11, 2014)
Dive Brief:
•Closing arguments are set to begin this morning in the trial of three people charged in a deadly salmonella outbreak at the now-bankrupt Peanut Corporation of America.
•Prosecutors spent five weeks laying out a detailed case alleging fraud, conspiracy, and obstruction of justice in connection with an outbreak that killed nine people and sickened 714 in 46 states.
•Two of the defendants presented no defense. A third argued that he was a customer of Peanut Corporation rather than an employee, and was thus caught in the middle of the conspiracy rather than a participant in it.
Dive Insight:
The defense teams' decision to avoid offering little in the way of a defense is just the latest unusual development in a most unusual case. The trial marks the first time that prosecutors have pursued criminal charges in connection with a foodborne illness. Yet no one has been charged in connection with the nine deaths. Rather, prosecutors have argued that the executives committed fraud and then tried to cover it up.
Now it appears that the entire case will hinge on whether or not the jury believed the testimony of a former executive who testified against his colleagues, and will accept the no-defense defense as something other than petulance.
Recommended Reading
Asssociated Press/ABC: In 5-Week Salmonella Trial, Defense Takes 1 Hour
Albany Herald: Peanut salmonella trial in Albany goes to closing arguments

Deadly E. coli Cases in Pacific NW Have Officials Scrambling to Find Source
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 11, 2014)
E.coli illnesses that have killed two children and left another hospitalized in serious condition have health authorities in the Pacific Northwest scrambling to find the source. At this point in the investigation, they believe two of the cases are linked but do not believe that there is a public health threat.
The two cases that are likely linked are Brad Sutton, 5, and his friend Serena Profitt, 4. Their families have been lifelong friends and spent the last two weekends of August together. During that time, the children swam in a pond fed by running irrigation water, shared a turkey sandwich at a restaurant and had exposure to a goat and other animals. All three are potential sources of the infection.
Symptoms of an E. coli infection, which include bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps, usually set in three to four days after exposure but can take as little as 24 hours or as long as 10 days to appear.
The children shared a sandwich on Saturday, August 30 and began to feel ill the next day. Both experienced bloody diarrhea. Serena’s family brought her to the hospital several times and she was sent home each time without being tested for E. coli. On Saturday, the Profitts brought their daughter to a different hospital where she was admitted going into shock and kidney failure.  On Sunday, she suffered a stroke and later a massive seizure. She died on Monday.
Brad, who also has kidney failure brought on by the E.coli infection, is in critical condition and on dialysis at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma. Kidney failure, seizure and stroke are all possible complications of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a condition that develops in about 15 percent of pediatric E. coli infections. Children under 10 are at most at risk for HUS because their immune systems have not fully developed.
County health authorities are working  with state and federal authorities to investigate the illnesses. Tests results from the patients, food and common environmental exposures could help to pinpoint the source of the illness.  Investigators say they will release the results of those tests when they are available.
At this point, health officials do not think Serena and Brad’s cases are linked to Brooklyn Hoksbergen’s case. Brooklyn, a 3-year-old Washington girl died Friday from an E. coli infection.
If your child has bloody diarrhea, see a doctor and discuss the possibility of an E.coli infection as treatment with antibiotics makes E. coli infections worse.

U.S. House Votes to Prevent Clean Water Act Expansion
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Sep 11, 2014)
The U.S. House voted on Monday to approve legislation that would prevent the development of regulations expanding the scope of the federal Clean Water Act. Groups such as the National Pork Producers Council supported this action, stating that the regulations would be detrimental to agriculture.
Chesapeake BayThe bill, HR 5078, entitled the “WOTUS Regulatory Overreach Protection Act” was sponsored by Rep. Steve Southerland (R-FL). WOTUS stands for Waters of the United States. The EPA wanted to expand the Clean Water Act to include the country’s water bodies, ditches, and gullies used by farmers for drainage and irrigation. Many farmers support the bill, stating that the EPA’s regulations are burdensome.
The Clean Water Act is one of the most successful laws in this country. Forty years ago, 2/3 of this country’s lakes and rivers could not be safely used for fishing or swimming. Now that trend has been reversed; 2/3 of this country’s lakes and rivers are safe for fishing and swimming.
Agricultural runoff pours millions of tons of nitrogen and  a year into public waters, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Phosphate and nitrate pollution causes algae blooms, such as the one that rendered Toledo’s water unusable last month, and creates dead zones in lakes and the sea such as the Chesapeake Bay.
Clean Water Action issued a statement about this bill. President and CEO Robert Wendelgass said, “though I can’t say I’m surprised, it is disappointing to see Congress choose polluters over protecting clean water. H.R. 5078 is a disaster. Not only does it stop the current rulemaking, which is supported by science and common sense, but it locks in the current confusion over which streams and wetlands are protected or not protected. And, as if disregarding science and common sense weren’t enough, H.R. 5078 silences the public.”
The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy on September 8, 2014, stating that they strongly oppose H.R. 5078 and will veto it if it passes the Senate. According to the Statement, “H.R. 5078 would derail current efforts to clarify the scope of the CWA, hamstring future regulatory efforts, and create significant ambiguity regarding existing regulations and guidance. It would deny businesses and communities the regulatory certainty needed to invest in projects that rely on clean water.”

Closure orders for food safety breaches
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By Joe Leogue (Sep 10, 2014)
Four restaurants and three pubs have been hit with closure orders for breaches of food safety regulations.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland also revealed that it served a prohibition order on a SuperValu store in Ballymun.
One of the seven closure orders issued in August was served under the FSAI Act, 1998, on Akash Restaurant in Blackrock, Co Dublin, while the others, served under the EC (Official Control of Foodstuffs) Regulations, 2010, were issued to Juno’s Café Deli, Parkgate St, Dublin; Tasty Bite in Bantry, Co Cork; the Abbey Tavern pub in Tuam, Co Galway, and Fuchsia House & Gables Bar in Ardee, Co Louth.
Two pubs in Mayo were issued with closure orders relating to their food service. TJ O’Toole’s pub in Tourmakeady had its supply of food from the kitchen issued with a closure order while a similar order on preparing and serving foods was imposed on The Larches Bar in Claremorris.
Alan Reilly, FSAI chief executive, called on businesses to use the resources provided by the authority to ensure they are providing safe food for consumers.
“The legal onus is on food businesses to act responsibly and ensure that the food they serve and sell is safe to eat. There is absolutely no excuse for putting consumers’ health at risk through negligent practices.
“We are urging businesses to take full advantage of the information and support provided by the inspectorate and the FSAI to ensure that they have the correct food safety management systems in place.”

E. coli Leaves 1 Child Dead, Another Fighting for Life
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 10, 2014)
Brad Sutton, 5, and his friend Serena Profitt, 4, went swimming and shared a restaurant sandwich on Labor Day weekend. Days later, both children became gravely ill with E.coli infections. Now Brad is on dialysis fighting for his life and both families are mourning the loss of Serena who died on Monday at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.
E. coli leaves one child dead, another on dialysisBoth children developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a complication of E.coli infections that leads to kidney failure. HUS, which generally occurs around the eighth day after of an E. coli infection,  most often affects young children.  About 15 percent of  children under ten who contract an E. coli infection develop HUS.  In addition to kidney failure, HUS can cause blindness, convulsions, heart attack, seizures, stroke and coma. Dialysis is one of the treatments for HUS.
State and county health authorities are investigating the illnesses. Tests will show if the E. coli strains that sickened the children are genetic matches to each other. Any environmental swabs positive for E. coli taken from the restaurant or the swimming area will also be “genetically fingerprinted” to help determine the source of the infections.
A gofundme site has been started to help Serena’s family with medical bills. Click here to visit the site and make a contribution.

New Food Police Unit Coming Soon to the UK
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Sep 10, 2014)
An independent report suggesting that the United Kingdom needs a special food police unit uses the Danes and the Dutch as examples and not the United States, where more than a dozen food industry executives this year have been subjected to investigations resulting in felony criminal charges.
Professor Chris Elliott from Queen’s University Belfast is the author of the report, which looks to the Danish Food Crime Unit, established in 2006, and the Dutch Food Crime Unit, started in 2002, as examples for the U.K. to emulate.
No mention is made in the 146-page report of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) 23-year-old Office of Criminal Investigations (OCI) or USDA’s investigative units, including the Office of the Inspector General (IG).
The Elliott report stems from Europe’s 2013 horse meat scandal, where organized crime was found to be substituting cheaper equine meat for beef in both fresh and packaged products. The food security professor was named to make independent recommendations aimed at better deterring, identifying and prosecuting food adulteration.
In calling for a new food crime unit, the professor makes it clear that it won’t be for “low grade infraction of the law,” or “harmless minor breach of technical regulations,” but rather for going after “organized crime” where “the profits can be substantial.”
“The government must take action to prevent and deter criminal activity, requiring effective cooperation at a strategic level across the UK, Europe, and internationally,” the Elliott report states.
Many in Europe think that governments were slow to bring prosecutions in the horse meat scandal. It was not until this past spring that four executives were charged in Westminster Magistrates’ Court of breaching food regulations by the Crown Prosecution Services. About a month later, a Dutch businessman was arrested and charged in France in connection with the scandal.
In response the Elliott report, the British government says it will:
•set up the new Food Crime Unit,
•ensure a resilient network of food analytical laboratories to test food consistently, and,
•improve coordination across government to protect food integrity and “tackle food crime.”
How closely the new unit will resemble either the Danish or Dutch examples remains to be seen.
The Danish Food Crime Unit is attached to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and was created after a scandal involving meat being sold after its “use-by” date. It began with six full-time employees and has since expanded to 18 people at three locations in Denmark. Its duties have also expanded to include supplements fraud. It conducts about 16 major investigations per year.
Many Danish investigations involve illegal slaughter and financial fraud. The unit invites anonymous reporting. Unit employees can enter public and private property without warrants, but its investigators have no power to arrest, which means it must also rely on local police.
The Dutch Food Crime Unit is housed in the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority, which is jointly sponsored by the Ministrys of Economic Affairs and Public Health. It is one of six divisions and currently has 110 full-time employees, including 90 special investigators. It also employs three forensic accountants who are expert at electronic data processing and whose job it is to mine computers for information. Many of the unit’s employees came from other police agencies.
The Dutch Food Crime Unit’s focus is on international and organized crime.
In the U.S., which is going though some unprecedented criminal prosecutions of food executives, both FDA’s OCI, USDA’s IG, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have played prominent investigative roles in the recent cases.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Food Standards Agency published its response and the final Elliott report on the U.K.’s official website on Sept. 4.  The official title of the independent review is the “Elliott Review into the Integrity and Assurance of Food Supply Networks—Final Report.”

All about Clostridium Botulinum ( Botulism )
Source :
By Bruce Clark (Sep 9, 2014)
Botulism is a rare but potentially life-threatening bacterial illness. Clostridium Botulinum bacteria grows on food and produces toxins that, when ingested, cause paralysis. Botulism poisoning is extremely rare, but so dangerous that each case is considered a public health emergency. Studies have shown that there is a 35 to 65 percent chance of death for patients who are not treated immediately and effectively with botulism antitoxin.
Infant botulism is the most common form of botulism. See below for symptoms specific to infant botulism.
Most of the botulism cases reported each year come from foods that are not canned properly at home. Botulism from commercially canned food is rare, but commercial canned chili products were identified as the source of a botulism outbreak in 2007.
Botulism neurotoxins prevent neurotransmitters from functioning properly. This means that they inhibit motor control. As botulism progresses, the patient experiences paralysis from top to bottom, starting with the eyes and face and moving to the throat, chest, and extremities. When paralysis reaches the chest, death from inability to breathe results unless the patient is ventilated. Symptoms of botulism generally appear 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.  With treatment, illness lasts from 1 to 10 days.  Full recovery from botulism poisoning can take weeks to months.  Some people never fully recover.
In general, symptoms of botulism poisoning include the following:
 Double vision
 Dry skin, mouth and throat
 Drooping eyelids
 Difficulty swallowing
 Slurred speech
 Muscle Weakness
 Body Aches
 Lack of fever
Infant botulism takes on a different form. Symptoms in an infant include lethargy, poor appetite, constipation, drooling, drooping eyelids, a weak cry, and paralysis.
The majority of botulism patients never fully recover their pre-illness health. After three months to a year of recovery, persisting side-effects are most likely permanent. These long-term effects most often include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, dry mouth, and difficulty performing strenuous tasks. Patients also report a generally less happy and peaceful psychological state than before their illness.
If a patient displays symptoms of botulism, a doctor will most likely take a blood, stool, or gastric secretion sample. The most common test for botulism is injecting the patient’s blood into a mouse to see whether the mouse displays signs of botulism, since other testing methods take up to a week.
Sometimes botulism can be difficult to diagnose, since symptoms can be mild, or confused with those of Guillan-Barre Syndrome.
If found early, botulism can be treated with an antitoxin that blocks circulation of the toxin in the bloodstream. This prevents the patient’s case from worsening, but recovery still takes several weeks.
Since botulism poisoning most commonly comes from foods improperly canned at home, the most important step in preventing botulism is to follow proper canning procedure. Ohio State University’s Extension Service provides a useful guide to sanitary canning techniques.
Further botulism prevention techniques include:
Not eating canned food if the container is bulging or if it smells bad, although not all strains on Clostridium Botulinum smell
 Storing garlic or herb-infused oil in the refrigerator
 Not storing baked potatoes at room temperature
 To prevent infant botulism, do not give even a small amount of honey to an infant, as honey is one source of infant botulism.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Botulism outbreaks. The Botulism lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Botulism 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 Botulism lawyers have litigated Botulism cases stemming from outbreaks traced to carrot juice and chili.

Food Industry Launch Initiatives To Upgrade Food Safety Measures
Source :
By Bruce Kennedy, Benzinga Staff Writer (Sep 09, 2014)
Concerns about food quality and safety, especially in light of recent, widespread scandals in China and scores of food-borne illness outbreaks in the U.S., have prompted America's food industry to become more transparent about what's in our food.
Late last month, the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced a five-part initiative to update the ways the industry determines the safety of the ingredients used in food products.
“Our industry is committed to providing consumers with safe, quality, affordable and innovative products," Dr. Leon Bruner, the GMA's chief science officer, said in a press statement.
"In the spirit of that ongoing commitment,” he added, “we are launching a modernization initiative that will improve the process and increase transparency for making Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) determinations of ingredients added to food."
Related Link: Consumers Still Demanding Bacon, Despite Record-High Pork Prices
As part of the initiatives, the GMA says it will “take the lead” in defining those standards, by providing “clear guidance on how to conduct transparent state of the art ingredient safety assessments.”
The Association is setting up a program to make sure the FDA has increased access to GRAS-determined ingredients via a database, as well as expanding GRAS-related, regulatory, education, communications, outreach and training programs.
GMA also notes it has “taken the lead” in the establishment of the recently-launched Center for Research and Ingredient Safety at Michigan State University.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association represents some of the food industry's  global giants, including The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO), Kraft Foods Group Inc (NASDAQ: KRFT) and the Kellogg Company (NYSE: K).
According to the activist group Food & Water Watch, the GMA "lobbies the federal and state governments to keep business costs low for its members by keeping regulations loose or even voluntary.”
GMA is also contending with the The FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that was signed into law by President Obama in 2011 and is described by The Hill magazine as the biggest U.S. food safety update in 70 years.
“We are confident that this initiative along with the industry’s efforts to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act will strengthen the food safety programs used by the entire food industry,” said Dr. Bruner, “and thereby provide consumers more assurance that food products produced by U.S. manufacturers are and will remain the safest available in the world.”

OK, Do Not Eat Raw Oysters with Vibrio parahaemolyticus
Source :
Posted By Bill Marler on September 8, 2014
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) today announced the precautionary closure of oyster beds in Katama Bay in the community of Edgartown effective September 3, 2014. This precautionary closure is due to the presence of environmental conditions conducive to the growth of Vibrio parahaemolyticus (Vibrio) in oysters harvested from the area based on information relative to closures in 2013.
Harvesting and possession of oysters from these areas for commercial purposes is prohibited for seven days. This is the first time a specific harvest area in Massachusetts has been closed due to Vibrio this year. The decision to issue a precautionary closure was made jointly between DPH and DMF officials in response to warming waters in Katama Bay, anticipated high air temperatures forecast for this week, and identification of a fourth confirmed case of Vibrio tied to the area. Current water temperatures in Katama Bay are consistent with water temperatures and environmental conditions that were associated with Vibrio illnesses in 2013.
The Vibrio season in Massachusetts runs from May to October. Health officials are reminding all persons who are at high risk, especially those who are elderly or immune compromised, to avoid eating any raw shellfish.
This year, DPH has linked four cases of Vibrio illness to oysters consumed from the Katama Bay area.
Vibrio is a bacteria that occurs naturally in coastal waters in the United States and Canada. It has caused illnesses in the Gulf Coast and West Coast of the United States for a number of years. It is not related to pollution of Massachusetts shellfish.
When ingested, Vibrio causes watery diarrhea, often with abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Usually these symptoms occur within 24 hours of ingestion and last three days. Severe illness, increased risk of infection, and serious complications, including death, may occur in the very young, elderly, pregnant women, and immune impaired individuals such as people with underlying medical issues, such as liver disease or alcoholism. About 10 percent of cases will develop a blood infection that may require hospitalization. Vibrio can also cause an infection of the skin when an open wound is exposed to warm seawater.



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