Tomato production company teaching Nigerians food safety standards
Source : http://blogs.windsorstar.com/news/tomato-production-company-teaching-nigerians-food-safety-standards
By Derek Spalding (Oct 03, 2014)
Nigerian business owners are turning to Leamington’s massive tomato production company to learn Canadian-made food safety skills, according to an announcement from Thomas’ Utopia Brand on Friday.
The company is already providing training sessions in Nigeria that are then applied to that country’s food production, but an official agreement with the federal government’s food regulator is expected to be signed on Monday.
Transplanting Canadian food production and food handling practices to the African country is expected to improve standards overall, while further demonstrating the presence of Thomas’ Utopia Brand in Nigeria. Company CEO Bill Thomas worked out a $25-million export deal earlier this year that put tonnes of his Essex County product on Nigerian shelves.
The training program is a way to diversify the company by using staff expertise, Thomas said in an interview. It also allows for government, food producers and the hospitality industry to improve their standards.
“Our training raises the level of their standards,” Thomas said. “We’re trying to teach industry to make their own safety plans and take responsibility for themselves.”
A representative from the Nigerian government will sign the official documents on Monday at Douglas Marketing Group on Walker Road, which will establish Utopia as the official provider of food safety training. Kingsley Ejiofor from Nigeria’s national agency for food and drug administration and control is flying to the region to ink the deal on behalf of his government.
Thomas says the benefits of improving the food safety standards include having fewer recalls, higher quality products and the creation of international markets because more people will want the product.
He and his trainers also offer training recipients the opportunity to come to Canada and do hands-on training in the Canadian factory.
Offering the paid food safety courses also allows Thomas to build further inroads in Nigeria, laying the groundwork for his long-term plan to build a production facility there. The idea is simple: start exporting, establish the brand, train the workers and eventually build the factory.
The exporting component is well on its way. Utopia’s agreement was predicted to put at least 2.2 million cases of product in to Nigeria when announced earlier this year. This was welcome news in Essex and Kent counties, where about 20 farmers produce tomatoes.
The deal required the harvest of 3,000 additional acres of tomatoes and helped fill the void left behind when Heinz pulled out of Leamington. Thomas is still in the process of getting financing for a new factory on Talbot Road.
Constructively commenting on revised Food Safety Modernization Act rule
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/constructively_commenting_on_revised_food_safety_modernization_act_rule
By Phil Tocco (Oct 3, 2014)
With the release of the draft produce safety rule under the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and subsequent comment period extensions, growers and other industry professionals spoke loud and clear about their concerns over the rule in over 15,000 comments. These comments and interactions with industry gave the FDA insight that ultimately led to the Agency revising a number of portions and reopening only these portions for comment. The comment period ends Dec. 15, so time is of the essence.
There are a number of things to keep in mind when making comments on the rule in order to make them more effective. First, it is helpful to reference the section of the rule you have particular issues with. The regulation is broken up into individual chunks and labeled to easily reference a particular section. Referencing these sections reduces the confusion on what aspects of the rule you have an issue with. In addition, it frames the discussion and can improve the credibility of the comments. Keep in mind that the only parts of the rule that are open for comment are the revised sections. If the regulation you want to comment on wasn’t part of the revision, it isn’t up for comment.
Another component of an effective comment is being specific about the issue you are presenting. Disparaging the institution or the rule in total generally is ineffective in changing the content of the rule, despite possibly improving a commenter’s mood. By making specific comments about proposed produce safety practices, there is a greater likelihood that the content or scope of the rule will change in the commenter’s favor. At the ends of each section, the FDA has taken pains to outline specifically the kind of information they need guidance on from you, the commentator. Use these statements to provide structure to your own comments.
Finally, offering alternatives is an important way to create the most effective rule. As much as it is important to state the food safety recommendations that growers feel are untenable, it is important to share ideas that provide similar outcomes that would be tenable.
These rules will become law and all growers, irrespective of size, will need to make at least some changes as a result of them. Taking the time now to become familiar with what is being proposed and commenting when necessary is the only way to shape the process. Waiting until Dec. 15 is too late.
You can submit comments online. Comments can also be written and faxed to the FDA at 301-827-6870 or mailed to:
Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305)
Food and Drug Administration
5630 Fishers Lane, Room 1061
Rockville, MD 20852
Go to the FSMA website to read more about the rule or if you would like to comment on the proposed rule. Also, see “Food Safety Modernization Act proposed revisions to produce rule made public” from Michigan State University Extension for more information.
If you have specific questions about the produce rule or have difficulty tailoring GAPs to your farm, contact the Agrifood Safety Work Group at firstname.lastname@example.org or 517-788-4292.
History of food safety in the U.S. – part 2
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/history_of_food_safety_in_the_us_part_2
By Michelle Jarvie (Oct 2, 2014)
Welcome to the second instalment of the history of food safety in the U.S. This time we’ll take a look at food policy and legislation over time. As discussed in History of food safety in the U.S. – part 1, the collection of foodborne illness data is relatively new. “The Jungle,” written by Upton Sinclair and published in February 1906, was a fictional novel that portrayed the lives of immigrants in industrialized cities of that time, but the book inadvertently raised public concern about the health, safety and sanitation practices of the Chicago meat packing industry. Although the book was published as fiction, Sinclair spent nearly nine months in 1904, undercover, as an employee in a Chicago meat packing plant. Upon reading the book, President Theodore Roosevelt called on Congress to pass the Pure Food and Drug Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act, which were both passed in June 1906. They were the first U.S. laws that addressed the safety of the public food supply. Both of these laws defined “misbranding” and “adulteration” in food, which primarily means they were concerned with truth in labeling and food additives – in those days many food preservatives (like formaldehyde and borax) were added to products to disguise unsanitary production processes. One of the first major court battles involving the Pure Food and Drug Act was an attempt to outlaw Coca-Cola due to its excessively high caffeine content. This law was the precursor to the formation of what is now called the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The Meat Inspection Act led to the formation of the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service. Recorded U.S. deaths from food-related illness (pdf) dropped significantly over the first decade after these laws were enacted.
Between 1906 and 1938 many more similar acts were created that monitored food additives like colors and chemical additions, as well as labeling and marketing of foods. The winter of 1924-1925 brought what is possibly the worst foodborne illness outbreak known to date. The outbreak was typhoid fever that had been spread through improperly handled oysters, and was the first outbreak to gain nation-wide attention. Unfortunately it wasn’t until 1969 that the FDA began sanitation programs, specifically for shellfish, as well as milk and the food service industry as a whole.
In 1970 the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began keeping records on foodborne illness related deaths in the U.S. This is really the starting point for data on modern foodborne illness outbreaks. A nationwide illness outbreak from canned mushrooms in 1973 lead to the first major food recall in the U.S., causing the removal of over 75 million cans of mushrooms from store shelves. Due to this outbreak, the National Botulism Surveillance System (pdf) was developed to collect reports and data from all confirmed botulism cases in the U.S. In the same year, low acid foods processing regulations were set forth to ensure proper heat treating of canned foods.
In 1997, a few years after the Jack-in-the-Box incident, the Clinton Administration put $43 million into a food safety initiative that created many of the regulations we see and hear about today. This initiative brought regulations on seafood, meat and poultry processing, and shell eggs. It also created a program for DNA fingerprinting that would help track outbreaks and determine sources of outbreaks. Finally, the initiative called for a cooperative detection and response effort between the CDC, FDA, USDA and local agencies called FoodNet.
Today, we have the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), which was signed into law in 2011and is considered the most significant food safety legislation in over 70 years. The major difference between this act and those of the past is that the focus has switched from responding, to contamination, to prevention. The law gives the FDA authority to regulate the way foods are grown, harvested and processed. Although the act is still in its infancy, many are hoping to see fewer illness outbreaks in the future due to tighter regulations.
Stay tuned for part three in this series, where we’ll try to finally answer the question: Why do we hear more about food safety issues today compared to the past? Michigan State University Extension advises that if you think you may have contracted a foodborne illness, contact your doctor or local Health Department office.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://bit.ly/MSUENews. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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Update: CDC Says Salmonella Outbreaks in Michigan, South Carolina Are Not Related
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/10/berries-and-melons-on-suspect-list-in-quiet-8-state-salmonella-outbreak-investigation/#.VDIKcE1WHs1
By Dan Flynn (Oct 2, 2014)
UPDATE: An investigation by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) into both the Michigan and South Carolina Salmonella outbreaks has concluded that they are not related and are not part of any multi-state outbreak.
Dr. Ian Williams, who heads up CDC’s foodborne outbreak unit, told Food Safety News on Thursday that genetic fingerprinting is used to determine if a local cluster of illnesses is connected other around the country. Williams said that, about 200 times a year, CDC’s search ends with the determination that local clusters are not connected to any multi-state event. These illnesses in Michigan and South Carolina are such events, he said.
CDC’s investigation, which also did not identify any specific food source for the local clusters, comes three years after one of the most deadly outbreaks involving fresh produce in U.S. history. Local media reports have named melons and berries as suspects in the two outbreaks.
A spokesman for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network said they “have not been involved in an investigation of a Salmonella outbreak linked to melons or berries.”
The spokesman said that outbreak investigations typically begin with CDC working with the state and local health departments, and then, when a regulated product is identified, FDA gets involved.
Three years ago in July, there was a deadly Listeria outbreak caused by contaminated cantaloupe grown in southeastern Colorado. That outbreak sickened 147 people in 28 states, resulting in 33 immediate deaths and another 10 who died in the aftermath. A woman who was pregnant at the time of her illness also suffered a miscarriage.
On Monday, the first report of an eight-state Salmonella outbreak possibly involving berries or melons came not from any federal or state food safety officials, but from a local health department director in Michigan. Williams said there was some miscommunication in that report.
Steve Todd, who heads the Branch-Hillsdale-St. Joseph Counties Community Health Agency, told local media outlets that a Salmonella outbreak at the Reading Summer Festival Days during the last week of July was a “cluster” in the larger outbreak.
Todd said his agency had 12 laboratory-confirmed cases stemming from the festival and several other secondary cases involving family members of those sickened.
Only a tiny percentage of the fresh fruit and produce reaching the U.S. market is ever tested before it is consumed. Todd said CDC had told his agency that the Michigan outbreak was a sub-cluster in the larger multi-state outbreak.
At about the same time, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said it was investigating nine cases of Salmonella poisoning in Beaufort County, SC, that the agency said matched a national cluster of Salmonella. The first of those reports came in Sept. 19, but it’s not clear when the first onset of the illnesses occurred.
South Carolina health officials declined to provide more information on that state’s nationally connected Salmonella cases, saying that the investigation is ongoing.
This summer saw only one major fresh produce recall. It was from the Wawona Packing Company of Cutler, CA, over a testing sample that came back positive for Listeria. There was great consumer interest in that major recall, but no related illnesses were ever confirmed by laboratory analysis.
Berries, melons, and other fresh fruit are rarely tested before they hit the market, where they are sold and quickly consumed. That can make finding unconsumed contaminated fresh fruits a very difficult task.
The testing that resulted in the Wawona recall was actually done by a foreign government testing product being imported into that country.
For several years, USDA had a program with participating states to randomly test fresh produce. It was called the Microbiological Data Program, or MDP, and, during its run, MDP did about 80 percent of the fresh produce testing that was done in the U.S. for less than $5 million a year.
Congress and the White House, at the behest of the politically powerful fresh fruit and vegetable industry, killed MDP two growing seasons ago. FDA did step up its fresh fruit and produce testing after MDP’s demise. It conducted 7,592 unique sample tests in 2013, up from 5,882 tests in 2011 and 5,174 tests in 2012, according to figures the agency provided to Food Safety News.
While their testing levels varied widely, the 10 state labs affiliated with MDP were testing 10,000 to 15,000 unique samples each growing season. That’s the data that are no longer available for any outbreak investigations that might be underway.
Durand High School Campylobacter Outbreak Case Count at 22
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/durand-high-school-campylobacter-outbreak-case-count-at-22/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 1, 2014)
The Campylobacter outbreak at Durand High School in Pepin County, Wisconsin has now sickened 22 people as of Tuesday, September 30, 2014; all are members of the football team. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene have confirmed that the outbreak was caused by Campylobacter bacteria.
Campylobacter bacteria has been found in specimens from ill patients. The Pepin County Health Department is working with the DHS and the Durand School District to investigate the outbreak. Public health officials are working to compile a list of food and beverages consumed by ill persons days before they got sick.
Campylobacter has a two- to ten-day incubation period. The first symptoms of the illness are muscle pain, headache, and fever, followed by abdominal pain, nausea, and watery and/or bloody diarrhea. Complications of a Campylobacter infection can be serious, including Guillain-Barrè syndrome, meningitis, arthritis, gall bladder inflammation, and severe dehydration.
A final report on the outbreak will be issued later this month by the Health Department. People began reporting illnesses and samples were collected starting September 22, 2014. There was a football team event held on September 18, 2014.
The school has been disinfecting and cleaning the school since the outbreak began. More than 100 students were sick while the outbreak was at its peak.
Campylobacter bacteria are spread through the fecal-oral route, for instance, if someone who is ill doesn’t wash their hands thoroughly, then prepares food or touches objects. Chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria; nearly half of all chicken sold in the U.S. is contaminated. Untreated water and raw milk can also carry the bacteria.
To prevent the spread of this illness, any person who has diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, or other symptoms should stay home from school and work. Follow good hand washing and other hygienic practices. Never prepare food or drink for someone else when you are sick. If you have been sick, stay home until you are free from symptoms for 24 hours. Always cook chicken to 165°F, never consume raw milk or other dairy products, and avoid cross-contamination between raw poultry and other foods. For questions and more information, call the Pepin County Health Department at 715-672-5961.
Food safety summit struck by food poisoning
Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/11133496/Food-safety-summit-struck-by-food-poisoning.html
By Laurence Dodds (Oct 01, 2014)
There were hundreds of attendees at the Food Safety Summit’s annual conference in Baltimore earlier this year – and 216 fell ill after lunch.
Now health investigators in Maryland, USA, have confirmed that, for the first time in the Summit’s 16-year history, they were indeed victims of contaminated food.
The state health department said Clostridium Perfringens, a quick-multiplying bacteria which is the third most common cause of food poisoning in the USA, was the most likely cause of the outbreak.
They added that despite several reports of illness while the conference was still going on, Centerplate, the catering company, failed to notify authorities.
“Our epidemiologic findings suggest that a single exposure and agent accounted for the majority of the cases associated with this outbreak,” said their report, which laid the blame as squarely as scientists ever do on the chicken marsala served at lunch on April 9.
Two thirds of those who fell sick had eaten the treacherous dish, which left only 7 per cent of those who consumed it unscathed.
Several people had phoned the emergency services suffering from diarrhoea, and a subsequent survey revealed 216 cases from the 1,300-strong conference.
The bacteria, which can cause cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and fever, is also responsible for deadly gas gangrene when it gets into a wound.
The authors noted that chicken was a “suitable medium” for the bacteria, and that failure to keep the chicken continuously above 60c after cooking would have given it time to multiply to toxic levels.
Centerplate, which received a violation notice in April for the incident, has been “reminded” of its obligations and given a list of recommendations.
Trailer Tracking and Food Safety
Source : http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fleet-management/article/story/2014/10/trailer-tracking-and-food-safety.aspx
By Jim Beach, Technology Editor (Sep , 2014)
Trailer tracking technology has been around a number of years, with a growing number of refrigerated and other food-related carriers deploying the technologies. But upcoming federal regulations will make it even more important.
“Trailer tracking was used as a ‘throw-in,’ but now if you aren’t tracking trailers, you are behind the curve,” says Chris MacDonald, vice president sales, StarTrak business for Orbcomm. MacDonald estimates that up to 80% of the top 100 fleets use trailer-tracking technologies. “The ROI comes from having the ability to effectively manage your trailer community in a more cost-effective way.”
For refrigerated carriers, industry estimates say that about a third of all refrigerated units on the road use some type of telematics, says Mark Fragnito, product manager, telematics, for Carrier Transicold. “The number of refrigerated fleets that use telematics systems has been steadily growing.”
Rules currently being developed as part of the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law in 2011, will likely drive more refrigerated and food carriers to adopt systems to comply with a new Sanitary Transportation of Food rule, expected to be published by the Food and Drug Administration in 2016.
Speaking at an industry event last spring, Bud Rodowick, manager, fleet performance at Thermo-King, said the act is “the most expansive change to food safety laws since 1938” and gives sweeping new powers to the FDA. While the law places the primary responsibility on food producers and processors instead of carriers, the new rule will require producers and processors to maintain records on transportation, storage and distribution.
“You need to be proactive and get out front,” on this, Rodowick said. “Find out where your shippers are in developing their plans and work with them.”
While it’s unclear what the final rules will include, Fragnito said the FDA’s “intent is to establish greater accountability in maintaining food safety throughout the distribution process.” As a result, he expects to see more data recording and tracking throughout the cold chain.
“There are a lot of things about this act that nobody knows what is going to be expected,” MacDonald said. “A lot of carriers are getting more proactive in tracking their loads, while some carriers are waiting to pull the trigger.”
A final rule could require the monitoring of cargo air temperature or product temperature or both, as well as documentation of these temperatures throughout the haul.
Norman Thomas, vice president operations at CarrierWeb, says the rule changes may require carriers “to not only ensure the continuity of temperatures in the trailer during transit, but that the carrier be required to validate that their drivers are certified to actually load/unload and monitor the foods being carried.” The certification required will vary by product type.
Thomas says that the rules will likely require carriers to install two-way data communication and tracking devices capable of monitoring and controlling the refrigerated engine status, remotely monitor and set the correct temperature setting, and note door open and close locations and duration.
Recordkeeping requirements will vary from food to food, but Thomas says the ability for carriers to associate temperature and environmental conditions for specific loads and shippers will be critical.
As a result, some fleets are deploying remote monitoring technologies now, according to Gayatri Abbot, director, smart products and telematics at Thermo King. “Rather than remain unaware of cargo traceability practices or wonder if temperatures are properly maintained during the journey, companies are investing in remote temperature and asset monitoring technologies now to generate proof of delivery reports and get ahead of upcoming regulations,” she says.
A key element of meeting the expected guidelines will be close integration between the trailer tracking device, the reefer unit’s microprocessor, the truck’s telematics system and a carrier’s transportation management software.
An integrated system can deliver more benefits than a stand-alone system.
“While connected to the tractor, the trailer tracking device can report through the in-cab mobile computing platform,” says Jim Sassen, senior product marketing manager, Omnitracs. This means more frequent reporting intervals at a lower cost. Plus, using the vehicle’s telematics system to report status won’t drain the trailer tracking device’s battery.
Carriers have options when deploying systems to track and monitor refrigerated and other food loads. If product temperature monitoring is required, temperature probes that feed data into the refrigeration unit’s data recorder or to the vehicle’s telematics system can be used. Fragnito says another option for monitoring the product temperature would include portable, stand-alone data loggers attached to the cargo packaging. These devices would stay with the load from the point of origin to its final destination.
Orbcomm’s MacDonald notes that “the technology keeps getting better. From a sheer food safety perspective, the technology has come a long way” to include multiple temperature probes, the availability to multiple temperature readings and a variety of sensors that monitor reefer unit fuel level, trailer door openings, and trailer tire pressure monitoring.
With a final rule still at least two years away, carriers who have not deployed these technologies have time to do their homework.
Raw Milk Warning Comes After E.coli HUS Sickens 4 Kids in KY
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/milk-warning-comes-after-e-coli-hus-sickens-4-kids-in-ky/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 30, 2014)
A raw milk warning has been issued in Kentucky after five children got E.coli poisoning and four of them were hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome, (HUS) a form of kidney failure that can be fatal. The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services issued the warning today after weeks of investigating the outbreak.
raw milk e.coli outbreak kentucky“At this time, we know that all of the children consumed unpasteurized milk, which is different from the milk and dairy products you purchase at the grocery store,” said DPH Commissioner Stephanie Mayfield, M.D. “Unpasteurized milk is dangerous and has not undergone a process to kill bacteria before it is consumed, meaning it could contain disease-causing agents such as E. coli. The health of anyone who drinks unpasteurized milk can be affected if they are exposed to E. coli or other bacteria that can cause very serious illness, but the risk is even greater for children.”
Laws governing the sale of raw milk vary from state to state. In Kentucky, the sale of raw milk is illegal. However, some consumers obtain it through buying clubs or herd-share programs.
“Raw milk, no matter how carefully it is produced, may contain pathogens,” said Mayfield. “Just as we recommend that you don’t eat raw hamburger, pork or fish, we also advise that consumers don’t drink raw, unpasteurized milk.”
Children under five are at the greatest risk for serious complications from E. coli infections such as HUS which can cause kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death.
Contact an E coli LawyerKentucky health officials say confirming a direct link to the source of an outbreak can difficult, especially in situations where exposures occurred over a brief window of time. Lab tests have not yet shown a definitive link to the milk that all of the children drank before becoming ill.
Training Teachers Helps Students Learn Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/09/training-teachers-to-help-students-understand-food-safety/#.VDIMmk1WHs1
By Lydia Zuraw (Sep 30, 2014)
One way to teach kids about food safety and nutrition is to teach their teachers. That’s the idea behind a training program the Food and Drug Administration has been running for the past 15 years.
“Science and Our Food Supply” is a week-long program held in the summer that brings together teachers from all over the country who teach biology, chemistry, food science and health.
Its aim is to improve food safety and nutrition education in schools using a curriculum co-developed by FDA and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), which looks at the science behind issues such as foodborne illnesses.
The participants learn about the journey of food from farm to table, basic microbiology techniques, FDA’s role in regulating products, new research on food safety, nutrition and nutrition labeling, and food allergies.
This year, 32 teachers from 22 states participated and then returned to their own schools to teach the curriculum to students and hold day-long sessions to train their fellow teachers.
One teacher was Emma Dawe of Marriotts Ridge High School in Marriottsville, MD, whose classes include Food & Nutrition and Culinary Sciences.
“This information is incredibly important and relevant,” Dawe says. Education gets students ready for college and a career, and “this program takes it one step further by also helping to create informed consumers.”
One thing that surprised her about what she learned from FDA was how many foodborne illnesses are contracted every year despite advancements in science and technology.
She added that the program also opened her eyes to how many potential careers there are in the foodservice industry.
“Many people assume that a student who enrolls in Food & Nutrition wants to be a chef or go to culinary school, but this industry is so much larger than that,” she says. “It includes engineers who design new machines to scan for bacteria, microbiologists who track the spread of foodborne illnesses, and agricultural scientists who determine whether soil contains traces of Salmonella.”
Dawe says there are two experiments from the curriculum that she thinks students will really enjoy. For “Bacteria Everywhere,” students swab items that they think contain a large number of bacteria and then let their samples grow in a petri dish.
“Students are amazed where they do and do not find bacteria,” she says. “For example, they may think there would be a lot of bacteria on a light switch, but there might be more on the sink handle.”
For the other experiment, hamburger patties are cooked to different temperatures and then swabbed to see how much bacteria they contain. Teachers can tell their students that, if food isn’t handled, cooked or stored properly, it can make you sick, but the information is more valuable when they get to see firsthand how much bacteria is on undercooked food, Dawe says.
When “they see the process and get to play with science, it’s enjoyable and their learning comes full circle,” she says.
This year’s teachers are estimated to reach 3,200 new students and 640 additional teachers. To date, 652 teachers (from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and some U.S. Territories) have completed the weeklong training.
It is time to make Salmonella an Adulterant
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/lawyer-oped/it-is-time-to-make-salmonella-an-adulterant/#.VDIRrk1WHs1
By Bill Marler (Oct 1, 2014)
The Center for Science in the Public Interest today asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to declare four antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella as adulterants under federal law. In a petition filed with the agency CSPI says antibiotic-resistant strains on meat and poultry were linked to at least 2,358 illnesses, 424 hospitalizations, and eight deaths—facts that CSPI says obligates USDA to keep those strains out of the food supply.
I think this is a very good idea.
The meat industry fought the E. coli ban, too, recalled Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety lawyer who represented families of children sickened by that outbreak. It won’t be easy to eradicate Salmonella from meat and poultry, and it will be expensive, he said. But Salmonella is already banned from ready-to-eat produce, he noted. And it doesn’t have any place in other foods.
“Why do chicken manufacturers and why do beef manufacturers get a free ride on Salmonella when carrot and lettuce producers don’t?” Marler said. “Salmonella is an adulterant.”
Bill Marler, a food poisoning attorney who filed a successful petition on most of the now-banned E. coli strains, said the Salmonella petition has a good shot of being acted on by the USDA this time around. CSPI filed a similar petition that was rejected in 2011.
“It is long past due to give salmonella the same legal standing that pathogenic E. coli has. The beef industry has thrived with E. coli as an adulterant,” Marler said. “The meat industry as a whole will benefit ridding its product of Salmonella. What’s good for its consumers and public health will be good for the industry.”
Raw Milk Myths Debunked for Food Safety Month
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/raw-milk-myths-debunked-for-food-safety-month/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 30, 2014)
September is Food Safety Month, a good time for debunking food myths. There are a lot of myths about raw milk on the Internet, some of them mislead people into thinking that raw milk is a safe health food that can cure illnesses. It’s not.
Before we get to why, it’s important to note that between 60 and 75 percent of adults worldwide are lactose intolerant, meaning they are physically unable to digest lactose, the main sugar in milk. Most of us lose this ability by the time we start school. But many of us don’t stop drinking milk when we reach school age. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting.
Lactose intolerance is not the same a milk allergy. About 2.5 percent of Americans have milk allergies meaning the have a dramatic immune response to one or both of the proteins found in milk, whey and casein. Symptoms of a milk allergy appear immediately after drinking milk or eating a product made from milk. They include hives, wheezing and vomiting, Other symptoms that develop include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, coughing, wheezing, runny nose, watery eyes and itchy skin.
Whether its pasteurized or raw, milk contains lactose, casein and whey. If you are allergic or lactose intolerant to pasteurized milk, you will also be allergic or lactose intolerant to raw milk. A recent study by nutritionists at Stanford University confirms this science.
Those who have trouble digesting milk should not despair. Because most people can’t digest milk there are plenty of examples of dairy-free diets around the globe with centuries-long track records of delivering calcium and Vitamin D from other sources. A study from the Harvard School of Public Health shows that milk is not the only or best source of calcium.
Now for the myths.
Myth No. 1 If you know the farmer, the milk is safe. False. Knowing the farmer who grows some of the food you eat or milk you drink is nice but it does not mean the raw milk he or she sells is safe. How could it? Food Poisoning Bulletin has covered lots of raw milk outbreaks and lots of the people who got sick or whose children got sick knew the farmer.
Myth No. 2 Milk from grass-fed cows does not harbor pathogens. False. Organic and grass-fed cows have been the source of raw milk outbreaks and E.coli outbreaks linked to beef.
Myth No. 3 Raw milk has the ability to kill off pathogens. False. If this were true, everybody under the sun would be trying to harness the power of that key ingredient and put it use in all of our food. And there wouldn’t be raw milk outbreaks. But every year there are food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk that was contaminated with Campylobacter, E.coli or other pathogens.
These myths are often accompanied by claims that raw milk can sure asthma, allergies and ADD. There is no scientific evidence to support these claims. There is only anecdotal evidence.
Similarly, there are people who say they drink it all the time and haven’t gotten sick. This is not evidence of raw milk’s safety. Pathogens are not evenly distributed in raw milk and it only takes a small number of them to make someone sick. In addition, one of the most dangerous strains of E.coli, E.coli O157:H7, is a relative newcomer to the scene, making its outbreak debut in 1982.
Contact an E coli LawyerCurrently, there are four children in Kentucky hospitalized with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) a condition that develops in some E.coli cases that causes kidney failure, seizure, stroke, coma and death. The youngest patient is an 18-month old who has been receiving dialysis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers raw milk a high-risk food and an ongoing public health threat. Because children are at high risk for developing HUS and other serious complications of food poisoning, the American Academy of Pediatrics wants raw milk sales banned. They are joined by a host of medical, scientific and public health organizations including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Medical Association, the American Veterinary Medical Association, the International Association for Food Protection, the National Environmental Health Association, and the World Health Association in endorsing the consumption of pasteurized milk and milk products only for pregnant women, infants, and children.
Importers, food safety authority at loggerheads over packaging rules
Source : http://www.livemint.com/Companies/NHPrriSxJCtQPmQIc7L12H/Importers-food-safety-authority-at-loggerheads-over-packagi.html
By Sapna Agarwal, Khushboo Narayan (Sep 30, 2014)
India’s food safety authority and companies importing packaged food are increasingly at loggerheads over the country’s labelling and packaging rules, with several disputes ending up in courts.
On 16 September, the Bombay high court directed the release of detained canola oil consignments imported by Dalmia Continental Ltd. The court called the detention by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) “arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.” Article 14 guarantees equality before law.
In Mumbai alone, at least five companies including Barry Callebaut India Pvt. Ltd, the Indian arm of Swiss chocolate firm Neulife Nutrition Systems Pvt. Ltd; Tata Starbucks Ltd and Vital Nutraceuticals Pvt. Ltd have gone to court after the food safety authority detained their consignments. The Vital Neutraceuticals and Barry Callebaut cases are now pending in the Supreme Court.
Barry Callebaut declined to comment. Emails to Neulife Nutrition and Vital Nutraceuticals did not elicit any response. Tata Starbucks said in email that it did not want to comment on the issue as the case is sub judice.
According to the Food and Safety Standards Act, all imported food, except single-ingredient products, must display a list of ingredients and mention the manufacturing and expiry dates on the label.
In August, Dalmia Continental approached the high court after the authority detained at least three consignments of canola oil imported from Canada, totalling about 80 tonnes, citing non-compliance with rules. The authority alleged that the oil contained “genetically altered ingredients”, before rejecting it citing consumer interest. The high court, however, ruled that the authority has “acted contrary to the provisions” of the food safety and standards norms.
“The FSSAI is yet to release our consignment as it is planning to appeal against the Bombay high court order in the apex court,” a spokesperson for Dalmia Continental said.
FSSAI data shows that during January-June, out of 1,777 samples tested at its laboratories, nearly one-fifth failed to meet standard safety and quality parameters.
FSSAI’s measures have caused processed food importers losses worth Rs.26,000 crore by seizing or stopping imported goods, according to Amit Lohani, convenor of the Forum of Indian Food Importers, a lobby group.
He says this will only get worse. “The losses will double next year if the laws don’t change,” Lohani said.
FSSAI works under the health and family welfare ministry, while some of the companies impacted by the law are under processed foods makers whose interests are represented by the ministry of food processing industries.
Lobbyists say that bifurcating FSSAI and bringing it under the food processing ministry will help them resolve their issues.
“The growth of the processed foods industry is not the concern of the ministry of health and family welfare and hence our concerns are not getting addressed. The FSSAI Act should be bifurcated to be addressed by the relevant ministries,” said Firoz Naqvi, secretary, Food Ingredients Manufacturers and Suppliers of India Association, a lobby of 50 importers who supply to institutions.
Importers complain that there aren’t enough product standards under the law. “Currently, there are only 377 standards for imported food items, whereas the government is supposed to have updated the list by August to be a few thousands. But that has not happened,” said Lohani.
The government formed a committee of experts in July to study the issues in product approval and decide on the course of action.
However, a lawyer said that till rules are amended, companies must follow them.
“If it is a statutory requirement, companies have to follow it. The world over, companies have to meet labelling and packaging requirements of the country that they do business in,” said Anuradha Salhotra, partner at Delhi-based law firm Lall Lahiri and Salhotra. “If a company thinks India is going to be a major market, then they should look at the labelling requirement of the country at the time of manufacturing and package accordingly.”
Food safety 101: Recommended shelf-life of food in your kitchen
Source : http://english.alarabiya.net/en/life-style/healthy-living/2014/09/29/Food-safety-101-Recommended-shelf-life-of-food-in-your-kitchen.html
By Racha Adib (Sep 29, 2014)
You open your fridge door, reach for your favorite cheese only to spot a blue mold – sound familiar? Food spoils because it contains tiny micro-organisms, and as food sits beyond its shelf-life, these micro-organisms proliferate and cause food to go bad. Sometimes when food spoils, it can be harmful and lead to food poisoning if consumed.
Determining the safety of food however isn’t always all that easy. Sometimes unsafe food isn’t characterized by the appearance of discoloration, off-odors, and slime. The best way to ensure your food is safe to eat is by knowing how to store it properly and for how long.
Some foods, such as dry goods and cans, can simply be stored in your pantry. Make sure, however, to store these in your coolest kitchen cabinets to avoid moisture which can spoil food. Although the food stored in your pantry storage could last a long time before spoiling, keep in mind that the longer the storage, the more the flavors and nutrients will gradually be lost. That’s why it’s important to date your purchases and follow the First In, First Out (FIFO) rule, which basically means you’re using the oldest items first. If you’re moving food from their original container, it’s best to store them in food grade or glass containers. As for canned foods, they must be preserved in their original containers and must be thrown out if they have any swollen ends or dents. Below are the shelf lives of the most common foods stored in your pantry:
• Nuts – 9 months
• Sugar – 2 years
• Rice – 2 years
• Beans – indefinite
• Cans – check expiry dates
• Dried fruits – 6 months
• Spices – 6 months, replace if aroma fades
• Flour – 1 year
• Tea, instant – 2 years
Keep refrigerator temperature between 1 to 4 degrees Celsius to slow down the growth of microorganisms. If your fridge doesn’t contain a built in thermometer, you can track the temperature by placing it in the warmest areas of the refrigerator, usually the door shelf. If it rises above that temperature range, you can guess that food will spoil very fast. When preserving food in the fridge, wrap it in plastic wraps to keep it from drying out and to avoid the transferal of odors from one food item to another. Raw and uncooked meats should be stored in the lowest shelf of the refrigerator. Below are the shelf lives of common food stored in the refrigerator.
• Beef, lamb, veal raw – 3 to 5 days
• Ground meat raw – 1 to 2 days
• Stew meat raw – 1 to 2 days
• Turkey and other cold cuts – 5 days
• Fish filet – 1 day
• Eggs – 1 month, keep small end of egg down
• Cheese, labneh, yogurt – check expiry dates
• Apples - 1 month, do not wash before storing - moisture encourages spoilage
• Citrus fruit - 2 weeks
• Apricots, avocados, bananas, grapes, plums, melons, peaches, pears - 5 days
• Berries, cherries - 3 days
• Beets, carrots, radishes – 2 weeks, remove leafy tops before refrigerating
• Cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, peppers, tomatoes – 1 week
• Lettuce, spinach, and all leafy greens – 5 days, rinse, drain then refrigerate
It’s important to keep freezer at a temperature between -15 and -18 degrees Celsius. You can monitor temperatures with a thermometer. Don’t forget the importance of defrosting your freezers regularly to keep the air flow regular.
What about refreezing food? The rule of thumb is to not refreeze foods that have been fully thawed unless they have been thoroughly cooked. You can safely refreeze partially thawed food as long as it still has ice crystals on it and has been held no longer than 1 or 2 days in the refrigerator. Keep in mind that in the freezer, food remains safe because microbial growth is stopped, but flavors can fade with time. Read below for the most commonly stored items in the freezer.
• Bread – 3 months
• Ice-cream - 1 month
• Cooked dishes - 3 months
• Fatty Fish such as salmon, raw – 3 months
• Lean fish such as cod, raw – 6 months
• Cooked meat – 3 months
• Ground or stew meat, raw – 3 months
• Beef, roasts, steaks, whole beef cuts, raw – 1 year
• Cooked chicken – 1 month
• Chicken, whole chicken, raw – 1 year
• Chicken, chicken parts, raw – 6 months
Mercer Island, Washington E. coli Boil Water Advisory Lifted
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/mercer-island-washington-e-coli-boil-water-advisory-lifted/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 29, 2014)
The City of Mercer Island, Washington was under a boil water advisory this weekend. Seattle Public Utilities, the City’s water supplier tests the water every month. The advisory was lifted this morning at 8:45 a.m. The Mercer Island School District decided to close school today to sanitize its systems.
City crews will continue to inspect system facilities and to monitor the system. Engineers were not able to identify a source of the contamination. All samples taken from the water reservoirs on the Island were clean. No increase in gastrointestinal illnesses have been reported, and no confirmed cases of E. coli were linked to the City’s water.
All food establishments on the Island were told to suspend operations until the boil water advisory was lifted. All owners of food establishments were asked to contact Public Health-Seattle & King County at 206-263-9566. Restaurants should remain closed until they are inspected by a public health inspector.
Residents are being told to flush pipes at home for at least five minutes by running the cold tap water at all faucets. For residences with multiple levels, start at the top of the house. If the water is discolored, run until it is clear. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning appliances such as water softeners and water filters. Throw away all ice from ice makers, make a new batch, throw that batch away, then make ice as usual. Wash and sanitize ice trays.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include diarrhea that may be bloody and/or watery, cramps, nausea, headaches, and vomiting. If you experience these symptoms, please see a doctor immediately. Complications of an E. coli infection can include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a serious illness that can cause loss of kidney function.
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