FoodHACCP Newsletter
09/29 2014 ISSUE:619

Wisconsin School Cancels More Football due to Campylobacter
Source :
BNews Desk (Sep 28, 2014)
Wisconsin-Campylobacter-LawThe Durand School District is continuing to reschedule various student activities as the western Wisconsin community grapples with a sweeping outbreak of Campylobacter food poisoning. According to the official school calendar, Monday’s C-squad and junior varsity Panther football games against Amery have been canceled. Meanwhile, school volleyball matches canceled last week have been rescheduled for Thursday. The moves were made as the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene continues to offer testing for any ill students and staff. The most recent school district announcement notes that the source of the outbreak is still actively under investigation by the Pepin County Health Department and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
“To date, Campylobacter has been detected in multiple specimens from ill individuals,” the district announced late Friday. “Any person ill with diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever or other gastrointestinal symptoms should remain home from school and follow good hand washing and other hygienic practices to prevent the spread of the bacteria to other people.”
The weekend’s varsity football game between Durand and Amery was canceled after more than half the football team and most of its coaches fell ill. The team is hoping to resume its normal activity this week to prepare for Friday’s homecoming game against Osceola. High fevers and dehydration have sent some of the victims to local hospitals for treatment and observation. Campylobacter infection can be treated with antiobiotics, but it also can lead to more serious disease, including life-threatening meningitis, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), Guillain-Barrè syndrome (GBS), and gall bladder inflammation. Located in Pepin County’s seat of government, the Durand school system is hoping this week to regain normal absentee rates following last week’s exceptional phenomena of numerous empty seats.
Campylobacteriosis is a bacterial infection that affects the intestinal tract and, in rare cases, the bloodstream. It is the most commonly reported cause of bacterial diarrhea in Wisconsin and the United States. Most cases are seen in the summer months and occur as single cases or outbreaks. Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within 2-5 days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. Depending on variables, victims of Campylobacter outbreaks can sue for recovery of medical expenses, pain and suffering, loss of wages and some future considerations.

5 Kitchen Habits to Break (Let’s Get Some Food Safety Up in Here)
Source :
By Toby Amidor in Food Safety (Sep 27, 2014)
We often think those small bad habits in the kitchen are no big deal. But it’s the little things that can lead to food-borne illness. In honor of Food Safety Month (September!), here are five less-than-squeaky-clean practices worth quitting.
The Habit: reusing grocery bags
A survey conducted by the Home Food Safety program found that 85 percent of Americans aren’t washing their reusable grocery bags. The problem: Raw foods, including meat, chicken and eggs, leave potentially harmful bacteria inside those totes. And those bacteria can be transferred to produce if the same bag is reused without being cleaned.
The Solution
Wash reusable bags frequently. Cloth bags can be tossed into the washing machine or cleaned by hand with soap and warm water. Wipe down plastic-coated bags with antibacterial spray or wipes.
The Habit: loving the five-second rule
Researchers from Aston University in England examined the accuracy of the storied five-second rule, assessing how bacteria were transferred on food on different types of flooring, such as carpet, laminate and tile. They found that E.Coli and Staphylococcus aureus are least likely to get on food after five seconds if the food falls on the carpet. But, uh, that’s not to say that you won’t get fuzz balls and dirt in your food.
The Solution
Just toss any food that hits the floor.
The Habit: eyeballing doneness
Many cooks rely on visual cues to check the doneness of meat and poultry. But as with so many things in life, looks can be deceiving. According to a USDA test, 1 out of 4 hamburgers will turn brown in the middle before reaching a safe cooking temperature.
The Solution
Use a thermometer to check the internal temperature of the food, using the Home Food Safety website to find out proper cooking temperatures for various ingredients.
The Habit: half-baked hand washing
 Not using soap, wiping on a contaminated towel and not washing long enough are typical sins when it comes to hand washing. And people often don’t wash their hands after mundane tasks such as talking on the phone, going to the restroom or touching their hair or face.
The Solution
Follow these five simple steps to get hands washed properly — and be sure to wash hands often.
The Habit: rinsing meat in the sink
You may think you’re decreasing bacteria on meat or poultry by rinsing it before cooking. But that water splashes everywhere — including on dishes in the sink and on counter tops — contaminating everything.
The Solution
According to USDA guidelines, it’s best never to rinse meat and poultry. Instead, cook them to the proper minimum internal temperature to ensure that any bad bacteria are destroyed.

Vietnam's Ag Minister calls for better food safety system
Source :
By Thanh Nien News (Sep 27, 2014)
Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat asked the Plant Protection Department (PPD) to develop a plan to better screen imported fruit for prohibited preservatives, VnExpress reported Thursday.
The results are expected out next month.
During a government meeting held on food safety and hygiene, Phat said some residents had reported having purchased imported pears and apples at local markets that never rotted.
“The PPD must find out if excessive preservatives were used to keep the fruit fresh for too long, for example, a pear remained fresh for five months and an apple appeared fresh nine months after purchase,” he said.
He said people are very concerned about pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, including imported produce.
He asked the PPD to draft a circular on the management of plant protection chemicals and submit the plan to the government next month.
The department was also tasked with drafting a project on the supply of clean vegetables, while the Department of Animal Health was tasked with creating a supply chain to provide clean meat to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.



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31% Hospitalized, 344 with Salmonella in 42 States from Pet Chickens
Source :
By Bill Marler (Sep 26, 2014)
A total of 344 person infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 42 states and Puerto Rico. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (9), Arizona (3), Arkansas (3), California (3), Colorado (5), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (17), Idaho (4), Illinois (6), Indiana (4), Iowa (5), Kansas (2), Kentucky (14), Maine (9), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (2), Missouri (1), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), New Hampshire (3), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (2), New York (34), North Carolina (32), Ohio (30), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (33), Puerto Rico (1), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (4), Tennessee (19), Texas (3), Utah (2), Vermont (7), Virginia (25), Washington (9), West Virginia (18), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).
31% of ill persons have been hospitalized, and no deaths have been reported.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback findings have linked this outbreak of human Salmonella infections to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio.  Findings of multiple traceback investigations of live baby poultry from homes of ill persons have identified Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio as the source of chicks and ducklings. This is the same mail-order hatchery that has been associated with multiple outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to live poultry in past years, including in 2012 and 2013.

Center for Food Safety: The Truth About Produce Wash
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Sep 26, 2014)
Center for Food Safety has written about produce wash, those treatments for washing fruits and vegetables that are promoted as a way to avoid food poisoning. Many foodborne illness outbreaks are linked to fresh product, and consumers want to keep their families safe. So do produce washes work?
CFS states “it turns out the produce washes aren’t any better than water. Multiple studies have found that produce washes such as Fit and Earth Friendly are no more effective in cleaning produce than regular tap water. In a study of three commercial washes, University of Maine researchers found that distilled water was equally if not more effective in removing microbes such as bacteria and mold.”
Scientists at the Univeristy of Maine tested Fit, Ozone Water Purifier XT-301, and J0-4 Multi-Functional Food Sterilizer. Low-bush blueberries were cleaned with these products, along with a distilled water soak as a control. The researchers found that Fit washes got rid of “roughly the same amount of microbes as distilled water.” Both ozone systems removed microbes from the blueberries, but the distilled water wash was more effective.
Produce washes and systems can be expensive. The study’s conclusion was to use distilled water to wash fresh fruits and vegetables; soak all produce for one to two minutes. Distilled water is recommended because it has been filtered and purified. The FDA also recommends against produce washes. And dry the produce after washing to further reduce bacteria.
Researchers also advise consumers to not use soaps or detergents to wash produce. Use a vegetable brush on produce with thick skin. Produce with lots of nooks and crannies such as cauliflower should be soaked for 2 minutes in cold clean water. Once cut or peeled, all produce should be stored at temperatures below 40°F. And never purchase any cut produce that isn’t refrigerated.
CFS ends by stating that “the only way to be sure that your produce is not grown with toxic, synthetic pesticides is to buy certified organic produce. Organic produce can be more expensive than conveionally-grown produce, but you can buy organic and still stick to your budget. One way is to prioritize your spending by concentrating on organic versions of the foods your family eats the most often.”

Nine Salmonella Cases Reported in South Carolina
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 26, 2014)
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control is investigating nine cases of Salmonella in Beaufort County.
Several of the cases are laboratory-confirmed and one of the illnesses has reportedly been matched to a national cluster. This single case appears to be separate from the other eight.
There are no other details currently available about the victims or when they became ill.
Health officials are investigating whether the infections have a common source.

Food Safety Summit Serves Contaminated Chicken Marsala
Source :
By Amanda Bernocco (Sep 26, 2014)
It goes without saying that ingesting contaminated food is a very bad thing – but when it happens at the annual Food Safety Summit it's a disaster.
Chicken Marsala was the lunch of choice for the majority of attendees at the 16th annual Food Summit held at the Baltimore Convention Center on April 8-10, 2014. As it turned out, however, the entree was contaminated with Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens), a spore-forming gram-positive bacterium commonly found on raw meat and poultry, reports Food Safety News.
"When we learned that attendees to the Food Safety Summit were ill after attending the 2014 event we fully cooperated with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding this matter and assisted them with their investigation as requested," the organization said in a statement distributed by spokesperson Amy Riemer.  "We have continued to do so in the past six months while the investigation was conducted and the final report was being prepared."
The 216 afflicted individuals reported diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, chills, vomiting and fever, and a report on the incident was released yesterday.
The next Food Safety Summit will be held on April 28-10, 2015. Riemer also said on behalf of the organization that they will work with the convention center and catering company prior to next year's event to avoid another food contamination.

Live Poultry Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 344 in 42 States
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 25, 2014)
A Salmonella outbreak linked to live poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio has sickened 344 people in 42 states an Puerto Rico, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). One third of the patients are children under 10.
This is the third straight year that Mt. Healthy has been linked to a Salmonella outbreak. Some of the outbreak strains which include Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, or Salmonella Hadar are resistant to antibiotics. Thirty one percent of those sickened have required hospitalization. Many of the patients,
Since the last update on August 8, 2014, 44 new cases have been reported. By state, they are as follows: Alabama (1), Arizona (1), Connecticut (1), Georgia (1),  Illinois (1), Iowa (2), Kansas (1), Kentucky (3), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (2), New Jersey (1), New York (4), North Carolina (4), Ohio (6),  Pennsylvania (4), South Carolina (3), South Dakota (1), Tennessee (2), Texas (1), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (1).
Total case counts by state are as follows: Alabama (9), Arizona (3), Arkansas (3), California (3), Colorado (5), Connecticut (2), Florida (1), Georgia (17), Idaho (4), Illinois (6), Indiana (4), Iowa (5), Kansas (2), Kentucky (14), Maine (9), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (2), Mississippi (2), Missouri (1), Montana (3), Nebraska (5), New Hampshire (3), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (2), New York (34), North Carolina (32), Ohio (30), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (33), Puerto Rico (1), South Carolina (9), South Dakota (4), Tennessee (19), Texas (3), Utah (2), Vermont (7), Virginia (25), Washington (9), West Virginia (18), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).
Onset of illness dates range from February 3, 2014 to August 23, 2014. Fifty-four percent  of case patients, who range in age from less than 1 year to 95 years old, are female. The median age is 32.

Manufacturers told to boost food safety
Source :
By (Sep 25, 2014)
Local manufacturers have been told they must comply with the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) which is designed to strengthen food safety protection in ways that help minimise the risk that unsafe food will enter the US market. “‘You must ensure that your products are in keeping with these global food standards if you are to be internationally competitive and increase our country’s export capacity,” Susan Singh Seerattan, director Business Development at the Ministry of Trade told participants at a stakeholder consultation hosted by ExporTT Limited and the ministry.
“There are severe implications for our local manufacturers for non-compliance, as your products run the risk of being recalled or even barred from entering the US market.
“It is therefore imperative that we put in place the systems and infrastructure that are needed to support our local companies in their drive to conform to the FSMA requirements.”
Singh Seerattan said ensuring local companies become compliant with FSMA and other international food safety regulations will contribute to the development of the industry and result in successful diversification of the T&T economy.
Also addressing the 50 plus audience of local food and beverage manufacturers at the session at the Kapok Hotel was Dr. Carmen Booker, assistant regional director of the United States Food and Drug Administration, Latin American Office. She emphasized the importance of becoming FSMA compliant and addressing food safety at every step of the manufacturing and exporting process.
 Christopher Lewis, CEO of exporTT said the agency’s primary goal is to assist exporters in realizing their potential and goals toward the development of competitive and sustainable export sector.  “ExporTT is committed to assisting companies in becoming aware of and compliant with requirements for market access in particular the US as it is one of T&T’s main export market.” he said.
 Lewis urged manufacturers present to “participate in discussions and provide feedback on the rules and to keep abreast of the changes in this evolving legislation.”
The FSMA Act was signed into law on January 4, 2011. The legislation is a proactive approach to dealing with the threat of foodborne illnesses on the citizens of the United States. It also represents a shift in focus from responding to food contamination to preventing outbreaks. Under the Act, among other procedures, food and beverage manufacturers are required to have their food tested by an accredited laboratory; share their food safety plans with the US Food and Drug Administration upon request; write and implement food protocols to mitigate potential hazards and implement acceptable traceability and recall mechanisms. Other presenters at the consultation were Karen Jo Bennett, food safety consultant, Food Safety Systems Consulting Limited; Crisen Maharaj, manager ,Capacity Building Unit, ExporTT; Rachel Fefer, international policy analyst, US FDA and Michael Rogers, regional director, US FDA.

C. perfringens Likely Source of Food Poisoning Outbreak at Food Safety Summit
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 25, 2014)
Chicken marsala tainted with C. perfringens was the likely source of a food poisoning outbreak that sickened 216 people who attended the April Food Safety Summit in Baltimore, Maryland health officials have concluded. C. perfringens is a common source of food poisoning, sickening an estimated 1 million Americans  each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Outbreaks often happen at schools, banquet centers and catered events.
Clostridium perfringensMore than half of those who were sickened developed symptoms, which include diarrhea and abdominal cramps, within 16 hours of  of exposure. For most of them, illness lasted about 28 hours, which is typical for C. perfringens poisoning.
The CDC has recently compiles tips on preventing illness from the bacteria.  Temperature control is key especially in foods commonly associated with C. perfringens outbreaks including beef, poultry and gravies. These foods should be cooked to recommended temperatures and served immediately. If they can’t be served right away they should be kept a temperature warmer than 140°F (60°C) or cooler than 41°F (5°C) to prevent bacterial growth. Leftovers should be refrigerated at 40°F or below within two hours of preparation.

Durand High School May be Facing a Campylobacter Outbreak
Source :
By Andy Weisbecker (Sep 25, 2014)
According to press reports, there are now eight confirmed cases of the Campylobacteriosis infection.
More tests are pending, and Pepin County Wisconsin health officials hope to have those results by Thursday morning.
We’re told the infection can be contracted by eating or drinking food or water that has come into some type of contact with fecal matter from either an infected person or an animal.
So far more than 50 Durand High School students have been forced to stay home with flu-like symptoms.
The Pepin County Health Department says it will continue to investigate these illnesses.

China's Other Food-Safety Problem
Source :
By Gwynn Guilford (Sep 25, 2014)
Forget Colorado, stoners. The real frontier of narcotic edibles is in Shaanxi province, China. A restaurant owner there just confessed to police that to keep customers coming back, he had infused his noodles with 4.4 pounds of pulverized poppy buds—which can contain narcotics like morphine and codeine—that he bought in August for $98.
Apparently, it worked; the restaurant boss said customer numbers leapt after he started using his “special” seasoning. Chinese authorities say doses were enough to addict frequent diners, reports the South China Morning Post. Police launched an investigation only after one of the restaurant’s repeat customers tested positive for opiates in a routine urine screen.
But Zhang, the shop owner, wasn’t the first Chinese restaurateur to strike upon this idea—not by a long shot. An investigative report in 2011 found that illegal poppy products are available in Shaanxi markets—with restaurant owners being the prime customers.
In the opiate-dining market, however, Shanghai gives Shaanxi a run for its money. Just last May, a Shanghai restaurant owner was sentenced to 10 months in jail for zesting up soups with morphine. In March 2014, police jailed Shanghai restaurant owners for using Narceine, another poppy-shell opiate, to dope up a famous crayfish dish called xiaolongxia. In 2010, three Shanghai hotpot restaurants were shuttered for adding opiates.
Restaurant owners all over China have long embraced this customer-retention trick. Last year, two restaurants in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou were caught adding pulverized poppies to their food. The prior year, seven restaurants in Ningxia were found to be dousing their hotpot soups with morphine. A Sichuan restaurant has repeatedly been found to feature "codeine as a secret ingredient." In Guizhou province in 2004, police busted 215 restaurants for morphine-laced hotpots.
These are only the ones that have been caught, amid a broader spate of food-safety scandals dogging the Chinese government and inspiring public outrage. The source of the opium supply isn’t clear, but western China abuts the Golden Triangle—the prime poppy-cultivation areas of Myanmar, Laos, and Vietnam. The drug's first noted use in China was as a surgical anesthetic as early as 220 AD, and the commodity played a major role in China’s struggle against the British Empire in the 1800s (its double defeats in the Opium Wars are still a national sore spot).
Note that while all parts of the poppy plant contain some level of opiates, the seeds common on bagels and muffins aren’t typically used in large enough quantities to be psychoactive (or, as popularized on Seinfeld, to cause drug-test failures).
Not everyone is as lucky as a Seinfeld character. The 26-year-old diner whose urine test exposed the noodle shop’s secret is still in prison for drug use—even though further police testing suggested he tested positive as a result of the poppy-laced noodles. “Whether it’s through self-inflicted drug use or unwitting food consumption, it’s still drug use,” local police chief Ma Yubin told the Xi’an Evening News. “The law doesn’t draw a sharp distinction between the two."

Report: Chicken on Menu at 2014 Food Safety Summit was Contaminated
Source :
By Dan Flynn (Sep 25, 2014)
The pan-seared breast of Chicken Marsala served by the Baltimore Convention Center’s exclusive caterer was the food item most commonly consumed by the 216 attendees sickened by the lunch served last April 9 at the Food Safety Summit’s annual conference. It was likely contaminated with Clostridium perfringens (C. perfringens), a spore-forming gram-positive bacterium commonly found on raw meat and poultry.
Attendees at the popular conference were from 42 states, Canada, Mauritius and Costa Rica. The local health department learned of the illnesses not from the organizers of the event, the convention center, or the caterer, but from calls by attendees to the city’s 311 service.
According to the report being released today by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the illnesses experienced at the 2014 Food Safety Summit in Baltimore were attributed to C. perfringens. Those sickened experienced symptoms of diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea, headaches, chills, vomiting and fever between April 8-12, 2014.
About two-thirds of those sickened experienced the symptoms after eating the chicken lunch that was served by the Baltimore Convention Center’s catering company called Centerplate, according to the final report of the investigation that used epidemiological, environmental and laboratory methods to reach its conclusions.
As for the pathogen involved, the report states: “The frequency of signs and symptoms, duration of illness, and possible incubation period were consistent with outbreaks caused by C. perfringens. In this outbreak, almost all of the cases had diarrhea and only 10 percent reported vomiting, which is typical of outbreaks caused by C. perfringens.”
The outbreak was the first in the 16-year history of the Food Safety Summit. “When we learned that attendees to the Food Safety Summit were ill after attending the 2014 event we fully cooperated with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene regarding this matter and assisted them with their investigation as requested,” the organization said in a statement distributed by spokesperson Amy Riemer.  “We have continued to do so in the past six months while the investigation was conducted and the final report was being prepared.”
The statement adds that the Food Safety Summit is working with the convention center and its catering company prior to its 2015 event “to insure that an outbreak of this nature does not happen again.”

Administration Relaxes Food Safety Rules for Farmers
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By Mary Clare Jalonick (Sep 24, 2014)
The Food and Drug Administration has revised sweeping food safety rules proposed last year after farmers complained that the regulations could hurt business.
The new proposals would relax water quality standards and allow farmers to harvest crops sooner after using raw manure as fertilizer.  
The final rules are due in 2015, and the FDA has been haggling over how to write them since Congress passed a food safety law in 2010. Regulators say balancing the need for tighter food safety standards after major food-borne illness outbreaks in spinach, eggs, peanuts and cantaloupe against the needs of farmers who are new to such regulations has been a challenge.
Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods, says the agency is trying to “achieve the goal of food safety in a practical way.” The rules are new terrain for the agency, he says.
The rules originally proposed in January 2013 would require farmers to take new precautions against contamination, making sure workers’ hands are washed, irrigation water is clean and that animals stay out of fields, among other things. Food manufacturers would also have to submit food safety plans to the government to show they are keeping their operations clean. Those changes would in many cases require new equipment, paperwork and record-keeping.
None of those priorities would change in the revised rule. But after complaints from farmers big and small who said the rules were too burdensome, the new proposal would relax some standards for the amount of bacteria that can be found in irrigation water and reduce the frequency with which it is tested, in some cases. The proposal also reduces the amount of time required between fertilizing crops with raw manure and harvest and allows farmers to hold produce in a packing house without further regulations. The smallest farms would continue to be exempted from many of the rules.
The organic industry had expressed concerns about the rules, especially because many organic farmers use raw manure as fertilizer and try to treat irrigation water with fewer chemicals.
“This approach has less potential to impose economic hardship on organic farmers, while at the same time supporting the safest food supply in the world,” said Gwendolyn Wyard of the Organic Trade Association.
The revised rules will also benefit brewers who sell leftover grain from making beer to ranchers and dairy farmers as animal feed. Brewers were concerned that they would have to comply with new rules for animal food — including testing, audits and other safety measures. Friday’s revisions clarified the brewers will not have to follow the animal food rules because they already follow rules for human food.
The Food safety law marks the first time the FDA would have real authority to regulate food on farms. The agency said when it proposed the rules that they could cost large farms $30,000 a year.
The law was passed by Congress at the end of 2010, weeks before Republicans assumed control of the House. Since then, many GOP lawmakers have said the rules are too burdensome for farmers. Some Democrats advocating for organic farmers have also been critical.
Supporters have said the new laws are needed after several high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks. While many farmers and food manufacturers already follow good food safety practices, the law would aim to ensure that all of them do. Government inspectors have pointed to dirty equipment, unsanitary conditions and animal feces as likely causes for salmonella, E. coli and listeria poisonings that have sickened hundreds in recent years. There are an estimated 3,000 deaths a year from foodborne illness.
The rules governing produce are already somewhat tailored to make the changes easier on farmers. They would apply only to certain fruits and vegetables that pose the greatest risk, like berries, melons, leafy greens and other foods that are usually eaten raw. A farm that produces green beans that will be cooked and canned, for example, would not be regulated.
In addition to regulating farms and food manufacturing facilities, the food safety law authorized more inspections by the FDA and gave the agency additional powers to shut down facilities. The law also required stricter standards on imported foods.
The new proposal will have a 75-day comment period. The FDA is legally required to finalize the rules by next year after being sued by an advocacy group last year for missing deadlines.

Food safety: Are you being served?
Source :
By (Sep 23, 2014)
Eminent scientists and researchers will tonight join food safety experts in a debate to tackle questions raised on the quality of local produce following reports by Times of Malta.
This newspaper has revealed various facts related to the production of our food that results in the contamination of the environment. The debate will address the main question of the impact of all this on public health.
Reports revealed that the spread of slurry (animal waste) on agricultural fields continues, despite the practice being illegal.
Experts will be available during the debate to address concerns on the possible spread of disease from such practices and to discuss any precautions that could be taken to ensure food is safe to consume.
The discussion will go beyond farming practices to discuss the impact of fireworks on public health after revelations by chemical expert Alfred Vella that research by the University of Malta discovered toxic chemicals from fireworks were present in Maltese homes and agricultural produce.
Experts representing the authorities responsible for food production and monitoring will join the scientists present to address public concerns.
Moderated by Times of Malta journalist Caroline Muscat, the debate, open to the public at no charge, will be held today at 8pm at the University’s Valletta campus in St Paul Street, as part of the Science in the City programme of activities organised by the University of Malta.

Fast facts about cutting boards and food safety in your kitchen
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By Matt Shipman (Sep 23, 2014)
Anything that touches your food can be a source of contamination and foodborne illness – including cutting boards.
For example, if you cut up a raw chicken, and then use the same cutting board to slice a tomato for your salad, you run the risk of cross-contamination – with bacteria from the chicken being transferred to the tomato. That, of course, would be bad.
And vegetarians aren't off the hook either. Fruits and vegetables can also carry pathogens (and transfer them to cutting boards).
To reduce the risk of foodborne illness in your kitchen, here are some things you should know about cutting boards.
Plastic Versus Wood
For a long time, most (if not all) cutting boards were made of wood. But at some point people began using plastic cutting boards. The idea was that they were easier to clean (and sanitize), and therefore were safer.
But in the late 1980s, a UC Davis researcher named Dean Cliver – the de facto godfather of cutting board food safety – decided to investigate whether plastic cutting boards really were safer. Answer: not really.
Plastic cutting boards, Cliver found, are easier to sanitize. But cutting on them also leaves lots of grooves where bacteria can hide. Wood is tougher to sanitize, but it's also (often) tougher in general – you won't find as many deep scratches in the surface.
In addition, researchers have discovered that the type of wood your cutting board is made from also makes a difference.
"Hardwoods, like maple, are fine-grained, and the capillary action of those grains pulls down fluid, trapping the bacteria – which are killed off as the board dries after cleaning," says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State. "Soft woods, like cypress, are less likely to dull the edge of your knife, but also pose a greater food safety risk," Chapman explains. "That's because they have larger grains, which allows the wood to split apart more easily, forming grooves where bacteria can thrive."
Which type of cutting board should you use? Chapman recommends using plastic cutting boards for meat and wood cutting boards for fruit, vegetables, or any ready-to-eat foods (like bread or cheese).

Almond Butter Salmonella Outbreak Includes High Risk Ages: 3, 83
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By Carla Gillespie (Sep 23, 2014)
MaraNatha Almond Butter Salmonella RecallThe Salmonella outbreak linked to almond butter and peanut butter sold at Tradee Joe’s, Whole Foods, Safeway, Kroger and other stores includes cases from high risk groups: small children and the elderly. One of the four reported cases is a 3-year-old, another is 83.
Children under 5, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems- including pregnant women are all at high risk for Salmonella poisoning which sickens 1.2 million Americans each year and kills 400. Of all the high risk groups, children under 5 account for the largest percentage of cases.
The peanut butter, produced by nSpired Natural Foods, Inc., was sold under a variety of brand names including: Arrowhead Mills, MaraNatha, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Safeway, and Kroger. It has been recalled but because it has a long shelf life, health officials are concerned that some consumers may still have it in their pantries.
So far, cases have been reported in Connecticut, Iowa, Tennessee, and Texas. One person has been hospitalized.
Contact a Salmonella Lawyer - Free Case EvaluationSymptoms of Salmonella poisoning, which include diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramping, nausea, chills and headache, usually develop within 12 to 72 hours of exposure and last about a week. For some people, the diarrhea can be so severe that hospitalization is required. These patients can develop a more serious, sometimes fatal infection that spreads from the intestines to the blood stream.

Guilty Convictions in Salmonella Trial May Signify Landmark in Criminal Food-Safety Prosecutions
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By By Michelle Gillette and Mina Nasseri (Sep 22, 2014)
This space has thoroughly explored the various forms of civil liability food companies face for the mislabeling and/or deceptive marketing of their products.  Last week, a set of landmark convictions in a criminal food-safety prosecution potentially signal increased criminal liability for food companies when matters of public health and safety are at play…
On Friday, September 19, 2014, a federal jury convicted two former executives of a peanut-processing company of conspiracy and other charges in connection with a massive Salmonella outbreak in 2009, which killed nine people, sickened 700 others, and led to one of the largest U.S. recalls ever.  Stewart Parnell, former owner of Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), and other former employees were convicted of conspiracy, mail, and wire fraud in violation of federal anti-fraud and conspiracy statutes, and the introduction of misbranded food into interstate commerce in violation of Sections 331(a) and 333(a)(2) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Parnell alone was also convicted of the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce in violation of Sections 331(a) and 333(a)(2) of the FDCA; he could face more than three decades in prison.
At trial, prosecutors presented evidence to establish that Parnell and other PCA employees knowingly and willingly participated in a conspiracy to conceal that PCA’s products were contaminated with food-borne pathogens, such as Salmonella.  For example, prosecutors argued that the PCA employees defrauded customers (such as Kellogg Co. and General Mills Inc.) by concealing the fact that their products tested positive for pathogens and for fabricating test results to show their products were pathogen-free when in fact there had been no testing or tests had actually revealed the presence of pathogens.
According to experts, the case is one of the first felony convictions of a food processor under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.  Over the last several years, there has been an increased focus by federal prosecutors on food-safety cases such as this one.  Earlier this year, the owners of an Iowa egg company were indicted in connection with a 2010 Salmonella outbreak and, last year, the owners of a Colorado cantaloupe farm pleaded guilty to federal misdemeanor charges related to a 2011 listeria outbreak.  So what does all this mean?  Food processors should perk up and pay more attention to their products’ food safety than they have in the past, or else they risk facing criminal liability for their actions.  Food companies incorporating ingredients from processors into their products, meanwhile, should evaluate their supply agreements with those processors to ensure they are indemnified by the processor for any deceptive or criminal actions taken by the processors without their knowledge.

Keep Children Safe at Petting Zoos to Avoid HUS E. coli
Source :
By News Desk (Sep 22, 2014)
HUS E. coli is a life-threatening disease that children can contract from exposure to pathogenc E. coli at petting zoos or other animal exhibits commonly visited in summer and fall by families on outings to apple orchards, pumpkin patches, festivals and fairs. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians sets a compendium of safety measures for animal venue operators to follow, but the health of children who touch animals, feed animals or even touch railings or enclosures comes down to handwashing and vigilance supported by the operators.
In Minnesota, where state officials have investigated two sizable outbreaks of toxic E. coli infections at petting zoons in the past two years, the state Department of Health has published a Prevention Fact Sheet. It emphasizes two precautions for attendees: Hand washing and keeping children’s hands away from their mouths. “We encourage people to interact with animals while at the same time taking precautions,” the agency says in its Staying Safe at Petting Zoos and Fairs advisory.
Most recently in Minnesota, the Zerebko Zoo Tran traveling petting zoo was linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that sickened 15 people, including seven who were hospitalized. Two of the most severely injured patients fought kidney failure and other health deficits caused by HUS, also known as hemolytic uremic syndrome. No deaths were reported. Health officials confirmed illnesses in four places where the petting zoo operated: Nashwauk, Minn.; Olmsted County, Polk County and Rice County in Faribault. One of the victims was only 2 years old.
HUS lawyer Fred Pritzker, who filed an E. coli lawsuit on behalf of a 2-year-old boy who died from HUS in North Carolina in 2012, said parents are often disadvantaged at petting zoos and animal exhibits. That’s because some operators don’t do a good job of maintaining hand-washing stations or of clearing manure from animals on display. The same operators are supposed to provide ample warning signs to remind people of the danger. E. coli organisms harbor in the feces of cattle, sheep, goats, deer and other ruminants. A child can become contaminated merely by touching a dirty railing and then putting that hand to their mouth. The pathogens also lodge in the fur of petting zoo animals from contact with the ground.
Contact an E coli Lawyer - Free Case Evaluation “Operators need to be far more aggressive on sanitation issues,” said Pritzker, who sued the Cleveland County Fairgrounds and one of its vendors for negligence that included a lack of hand-washing supplies in the tragic case of Hunter “Gage” LeFevers. “Vendors understand the terrible threat to children better than anyone. Why don’t they go absolutely overboard to keep their guests safe?”’
Two-year-old Gage LeFevers of Bessemer City, N.C., died Oct. 12, 2012 after struggling days in the hospital. He was an only child and one of more than 100 other people who reportedly were sickened by E. coli while attending the Cleveland County Fair that year.
From the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, families are advised to wash hands with soap and water for a good 20 seconds immediately after exposure at any petting zoo, livestock show or other animal exhibit. Hand sanitizers are less effective, but should be used if soap and water is not available. Then wash with soap and water at your earliest convenience. Avoid drinking, eating or the use of pacifiers while in attendance at the exhibit and closely attend small children to keep their hands away from their mouth. Be aware that E. coli bacteria can follow you home in the form of dirt on shoes or clothing. Immediately clear any obvious debris from shoes and clothing and clean those items after the outing.

U.S. National Food Safety Month
Source :
By Tim Sandle (Sep 22, 2014)
Atlanta - September is National Food Safety Education month in the U.S. The CDC has issued some new guidance to help producers and consumers to avoid food poisoning.
To assist consumers, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued some new material related to foodborne illness and food safety. The main September feature is about how food outlets handle and process chicken.
Chicken, when handled badly, is a major cause of bacterial triggered illness. Most of these illnesses arise from the bacteria Salmonella and Campylobacter. One CDC study found that in 2011, four-fifths of raw chicken breasts tested in California were infected with Campylobacter.
Illness linked to chicken often comes from cross contamination. This occurs when raw, contaminated chicken touches other foods or kitchen equipment. Illness can also come from cooked chicken not reaching a high enough temperature (this is recommended to be above 165°F) to kill any bacteria that might reside inside it.
In applying the research to food outlets, the CDC researchers came across some alarming statistics when restaurant managers were surveyed:
[About 1 in 3 managers said they wipe equipment with sanitizer but do not wash or rinse it first.
One in four managers said that their workers do not always use gloves while working with raw chicken.
Four in ten managers said that they do not always have cutting boards assigned for use only with raw meat.
Many restaurants did not take steps to stop cross contamination when preparing chicken.
In many restaurants, managers did not know the right cooking temperature for chicken.
Food workers in many restaurants did not use thermometers to check the temperature of cooked chicken.]
There are also resources for food producers. This includes a new portal called the “e-Learning on Environmental Assessment of Foodborne Illness Outbreaks”. This is a free-to-use, new interactive course on dealing with a foodborne illness outbreak and for making an environmental assessment. Another new innovation is a video featuring CDC workers Martin Kalis and Rob Blake. This covers how the food industry can best prepare for the next natural disaster before it strikes. The feature is called “Lessons Learned: Food Safety Preparedness before the Next Natural Disaster.”
The CDC hopes that these resources will help to promote food safety more strongly.



Job Openings

09/28. Food Safety Assoc Mgr - Greenwood Village, CO
09/26. QA/HACCP Coordinator- St Petersburg, FL
09/26. Food Safety Engineer, QA & Sanit – Lakeville, MA
09/26. QA Supervisor - Fife, WA
09/25. Food Safety Manager – Loxahatchee, FL
09/25. Quality Assurance Manager - Enid, OK
09/23. Dir of Food Safety, Qual & Reg Affairs – Fresno, CA
09/23. Quality Coordinator Natural/Organic – Denver, CO
09/23. Food Safety & QA VP - West Columbia, SC







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