FoodHACCP Newsletter
11/17 2014 ISSUE:626

Let’s talk turkey Balancing family traditions and food safety
Source :
By Elburn Herald (Nov 16, 2014)
As the holidays approach, special family meals take center stage, and with them come many family traditions of how to prepare and present those meals. However, some customs may contradict today’s food safety recommendations.
“Our food system, and what we know about food safety, has changed drastically in the last few decades, and that can contradict some more traditional methods of cooking the holiday feast,” said Laura Barr, Nutrition and Wellness educator with University of Illinois Extension, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. “We hear much debate this time of year about how to thaw, prep and stuff a turkey. Too often, misconceptions of recommended practices can lead to people getting sick.”
The truth about thawing
Thawing a turkey is done in many ways, but not all methods are safe. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that a package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter for more than two hours is not ever at a safe temperature.
“There is no bacterial growth in a frozen turkey, and the danger zone for food is between 41 degrees F to 135 degrees F,” Barr said. “A product starts thawing from the outer layer first at room temperature. Therefore, the outer layer is in the danger zone for an unacceptable amount of time. It is unsafe to thaw any meat at room temperature, especially a large bird.”
Barr said there are three safe ways to thaw food: in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave oven.
The USDA advises to allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds in a refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or below, and a fully thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator one to two days before cooking it. Be careful to contain juices from the thawing turkey so as not to cross-contaminate other foods and surfaces.
“It may seem simple, but this will take some planning,” Barr said. “For example, it will take at least three days for a 15-pound turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. Be sure to accurately schedule when to take out a frozen bird based on the cooking day.”
If thawing in cold tap water, water must be changed every 30 minutes until the product is completely thawed. Additionally, the product needs to be packaged in a waterproof container to prevent cross-contamination and an undesirable texture change in the meat, Barr said.
“The same 15-pound turkey would thaw in seven hours in cold water, versus three to four days in a refrigerator,” she said. “But the cold water method is more labor intensive, and you must always cook a cold-water-thawed turkey immediately.”
When using a microwave, the USDA advises to “follow microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions for defrosting a turkey.” It also recommends cooking the thawed product immediately because some areas of the food may be warm and susceptible to bacteria growth.
“However you choose to thaw, consider it a critical control point to ensure safety, taste and texture of your holiday meal,” Barr said.
The proper prep
In the past, families would start preparing their holiday birds much earlier in the food process. The bird was butchered, plucked, washed and cooked in the home, Barr said.
“Some consumers today wash poultry because the practice has been passed down through the generations,” she said. “However, running water in and over a turkey, or other poultry, is a waste of time, as it is cleaned in the packaging process.
“In fact, washing the bird at home actually increases the potential for food-borne illness, as it spreads salmonella and other pathogens in the sink and around the food preparation area. By cooking poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, and maintaining that temperature for 15 seconds, you will destroy any bacteria.”
Stuffing safety
There still remains the controversy about cooking holiday birds with or without stuffing.
“In support of optimal safety and consistent doneness, cooking the stuffing separately is the recommendation,” Barr said. “Following tradition, some cook the stuffing and turkey together. However, the turkey will reach doneness before the stuffing inside the bird. In this case, a probe food thermometer is essential to ensure stuffing has reached the proper internal temperature.”
If it has not maintained that internal temperature of 165 degrees F for 15 seconds, Barr said to keep cooking the turkey together with the stuffing until it does. Otherwise, the undercooked stuffing may likely contaminate the cooked meat, she said.
Critical cooling
It also is critical to refrigerate Time and Temperature Control foods (TCS) quickly after serving the meal. This includes meats, stuffing, casseroles, cooked grains and vegetables and sliced fruit. The fastest bacterial growth occurs between 70 degrees F and 125 degrees F, which is close to room temperature, Barr said.
“So, if a TCS food sits out for two hours, it is best to toss it,” she explained. “As the saying goes, ‘When in doubt, throw it out.’ As bacteria multiply, so does the risk of food-borne illness. The less time TCS foods are in the danger zone, the safer the food for consumption.
“A good rule of thumb is to monitor time and temperature carefully to ensure food safety with each and every step.”
For more information on the University of Illinois Extension programs in your county, visit University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.

Salmonella Egg Titans Face 1 Year in Jail and Millions in Fines
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By Andy Weisbecker (Nov 15, 2014)
According to letters received by victims of the 2010 Salmonella Outbreak that sickened 2000 and forced the recall of 500,000,0000 eggs, U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett has scheduled a February sentencing for the father and son whose Iowa egg farms were linked to the outbreak.
U.S. District Judge Mark W. Bennett ruled Thursday that Quality Egg owners Austin “Jack” DeCoster and Peter DeCoster will be sentenced during hearings that begin February 9, 2015 in Sioux City and could last five days.
The DeCosters pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. They face up to one year in jail, but their attorney is arguing for a fine and probation.
Quality Egg also faces a fine after pleading guilty to bribing a federal inspector, selling misbranded food and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce.  The fine may be as much as $7,000,000.
See full charging document.  Also, see Victims’ Statement.




Click here for more information


McDonalds Rejects Simplot GMO Potatoes
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By Linda Larsen (Nov 16, 2014)
McDonald’s, which is one of the largest fast food chains on the planet, has said they will not use the J.R. Simplot Company’s Innate GMO potato, according to Food & Water Watch. Pressure from food safety advocates and the public have forced this move.
The Simplot potato has been genetically altered to silence the expression of genes in the plant that produces sugar and asparagine, which together produce acrylamide, a potential carcinogen when the potato is cooked at high heat. Some food safety advocates are concerned that this manipulation will turn off other genes in the plant, since many genes have the identical stretches of DNA. One of the genes that may be turned off naturally protects the potato against pests.
Wenonah Hauter, director of Food & Water Watch said in a statement, “this victory for consumers is another indication that the food industry recognizes that consumers do not want to eat GMO foods. Many parents are already limiting the amount of fast food that their children eat,and GMO french fries would give them another reason to pass by the golden arches.”
Food & Water Watch submitted over 90,000 petitions asking McDonalds to reject the potatoes. They are now planning to do the same for Burger King. The agency claims that genetically engineered foods are inadequately tested. GMO fries are especially targeted to children, whose bodies are more susceptible to problems in the food they eat.
You can sign the petition to Burger King at the Food & Water Watch web site. The agency calls the Simplot potato “Frankenfries”.

Campylobacter Uses Chicken “Juice” to Form Biofilms
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By Linda Larsen (Nov 15, 2014)
A new study by the Institute of Food Research has shown how the bacteria Campylobacter uses “chicken juice” to persist in the food chain, attaching to surfaces and forming biofilms that make it more impervious to cleaning. Helen Brown, a Ph.D. student at the Institute, led the study.
Scientists collected liquids produced from defrosting chickens, and found that Campylobacter used those liquids to form biofilms just like Salmonella bacteria, which are special structures that help the bacteria protect the colony from environmental threats. Brown said in a statement, “we have discovered that this increase in biofilm formation was due to chicken juice coating the surfaces we used with a protein-rich film. This film then makes it much easier for the Campylobacter bacteria to attach to the surface, and it provides them with an additional rich food source.”
The study emphasizes the important of thorough and complete cleaning of food preparation surfaces when working with raw chicken to limit pathogenic bacterial growth. Campylobacter aren’t as hardy as Listeria bacteria, for instance, and are sensitive to oxygen, so research is conducted to understand how they survive outside of the chicken’s intestinal tract, which is their natural habitat.
Thorough cooking will kill Campylobacter, but cross-contamination and undercooking sickens 1.3 million Americans and 500,000 in the U.K. every year. Reducing this number is the number one priority of the Food Standards Agency in the U.K. This study may give researchers new ways of cleaning to limit the bacteria’s growth and development.

15 Postal Workers Hospitalized After Eating Potluck Leftovers
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By News Desk (Nov 14, 2014)
At least North Carolina 15 postal workers were taken to the hospital Thursday after consuming food from a Veteran’s Day potluck.
Dozens of employees at a U.S. Post Office on West Pointe Drive in western Mecklenberg County began experiencing nausea, diarrhea and vomiting after eating leftovers from a potluck held Tuesday evening, according to local NBC affiliate WCNC.
The source of the illnesses has yet to be determined. Over 200 people attended the potluck, many of them contributing dishes, which will make the source of the infections hard to trace.
Food from the potluck was refrigerated Tuesday night, and then served again Wednesday, according to WCNC. Some workers complained of stomach pains after eating the leftovers that day.
None of those sickened have a life-threatening illness.

Food safety lesson after workers get food poisoning
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By Pamela Escobar (Nov 14, 2014)
The U.S. Postal service says there are still five people in the hospital being treated for food poisoning after a potluck meal at a Charlotte distribution center Wednesday night went badly.
The Veterans Day potluck ended with several cases of food poisoning at the West Pointe Drive post office and sorting center. Fifteen employees were taken to hospitals.
The workers brought in food to share, and after it sat out for awhile Wednesday morning, they put it back in the fridge.
After eating it a day later, they became ill. Now, health officials are investigating what went wrong.
With holiday season just around the corner, certified safety specialists explain what everyone can do to avoid food poisoning.
Some things coming out of the fridge are obviously past their prime.
"We already know what's wrong with this one. You can see it right there," said Terra Baltosiewich, a certified professional in food safety, as she looked at pasta she pulled from a refrigerator. "That's called mold."
But Baltosiewich said sometimes it won't be so obvious.
"We're looking at handling, we're looking at how they're cooling it," Baltosiewich said.
Bacteria can grow on food. That's why it can't sit out.
"If you go longer than the four hours those spores that were potentially there were growing very very slowly in the four hours, very minimal. But right after the fours hours is when they start rapidly growing," said Baltosiewich.
She says people shouldn't avoid potlucks or the holidays, but they need to be careful with leftovers.
"If I had it out longer than four hours, I'd just discard it," said Baltosiewich.
Jessica Perry, a senior environmental health specialist with Mecklenburg County agreed.
"If your holiday dinners or group or office parties, you just want to make sure everyone understands let's refrigerate this food until we need it," Perry said.
She said when serving, hot foods need to be hot and cold foods need to be cold. Perry said during food preparation wash your hands often. And eaters standing in the buffet line need to use utensils.
"Don't touch the food with your bare hands. That's the big one," Perry said.
As for leftovers, if they are handled properly and kept in the fridge, you have up to seven days to enjoy them.
The Mecklenburg County Health Department food inspectors believe the incident at the Post Office in Charlotte is an isolated incident.
A full investigation is being conducted to determine the cause.

Sprouts to Blame for Two 2014 Food Poisoning Outbreaks
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By News Desk (Nov 14, 2014)
It’s been 15 years since a United States National Advisory Committee issued a special report on the problem of pathogen contamination in commercially grown sprouts and the associated outbreaks of E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria that have become a chronic foodborne illness risk for consumers. Based on a pair of multi-state food poisoning investigations so far in 2014, the chances of falling seriously ill or dying from eating contaminated raw sprouts is still a threat.
The latest outbreak confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is associated with mung bean sprouts produced in Chicago by Wholesome Soy Products Inc. Two people died and three other case patients were hospitalized in June, July and August from a strain of Listeria monocytogenes traced to the Illinois food company. According to the latest Listeria sprout outbreak report by the CDC, FDA inspections of the Wholesome Soy Products facility in August and October found Listeria and “unsanitary conditions, many of which were present during both inspections.”  The company has since decided to shut down and federal authorities have warned consumers not to eat any products that were produced by Wholesome Soy. Four of the sprouts Listeria case patients were from Illinois and one was from Michigan. “This investigation is ongoing, and new information will be provided when available,” the CDC said on Nov. 13.
Earlier this year, the CDC alerted consumers, retailers and restaurant chains to to an outbreak of E. coli O121 associated with raw clover sprouts sold by Evergreen Fresh Sprouts of Idaho. By the time the outbreak was declared over on August 1, a total of 19 people in six states had been confirmed as case patients and almost half of them were hospitalized. Eleven of the outbreak victims were from Washington and three were from Idaho. No deaths were reported.Contact a Listeria Lawyer
According to documents from the CDC, the sprouts were eaten in sandwiches at several food establishments located in the states of Washington and Idaho. Those places included Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches locations in King and Spokane counties, as well as two Pita Pit locations in Spokane County, and a Jimmy John’s location and Daanen’s Deli in Kootenai County. The documents describe a list of food safety production plant problems the FDA inspectors observed and recorded at Evergreen Fresh Sprouts after the facility was associated with the outbreak.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who represents victims of foodborne illness across the country, said many of the outbreaks related to consumption of tainted sprouts are caused by contaminated seed lots.  If pathogens are present on or in the seed, warm and most sprouting conditions favor their proliferation, Pritzker said. In sprout-related foodborne illness litigation, Pritzker’s law firm studies what precautions growers take to minimize the risk of contamination.
“These cases can be tragic and we see them over and over,” Pritzker said. “The neglect and unsanitary conditions we’re still finding at some sprout-growing facilities is dangerous and disgusting.”

Wholesome Soy Listeria Outbreak Timeline
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Nov 14, 2014)
Listeria in Wholesome Soy products has killed two people and sickened three others. In the absence of a publicly announced recall, health authorities are warning consumers and retailers about the Chicago-based company’s products.
Children, seniors, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems are at special risk for Listeria infections, called listeriosis. Among pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and birth defects.  Symptoms of listeriosis can take up to 70 days after exposure to develop and include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, headache, stiff neck and muscle aches. Treatment almost always requires hospitalization.
This outbreak sickened four people in Illinois and one person in Michigan. All of them were hospitalized. Here is a timeline of key events:
From June to August 2014, five people in two states develop listeriosis. Two of them die. During interviews, two of the surviving patients include bean sprouts on the list of foods they ate before become ill.
On August 12, officials from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) begin a three-week routine inspection of Wholesome Sy Products Inc. on W. 40th St in Chicago.
On August 13,  the FDA finds Listeria in samples of mung bean sprouts and sprout irrigation water.
From August 13 through September 3,  the FDA continues its investigation collecting 25 environmental swabs and observing 12 food safety violations for unsanitary conditions and poor equipment maintenance.
On August 28, the FDA notifies Wholesome Soy of confirmed test results that are positive for Listeria. The company agrees to temporarily halt production of mung bean sprouts and perform a voluntary recall of the sprouts by calling its customers.
On September 15, the company resumes production of mung bean sprouts, saying it has cleaned and sanitized the facility and the sprouts have tested negative for Listeria according to an independent consultant the company has hired.
On September 25, a Whole Genome Sequencing analysis of the Listeria isolated from mung bean sprouts, sprout irrigation water and environmental swabs from the facility, reveals that the strains are highly related to the strain isolated from those who became ill.
On October 7, FDA investigators began a follow-up inspection of the Wholesome Soy facility. They collect samples of mung bean sprouts, soy bean sprouts, tofu; spent irrigation water, seeds and more environmental samples.
On October 14,  Wholesome Soy ceases tofu and soy drink production, but continues to produce and distribute sprouts.
On October 16,  nine of the environmental samples taken October 7 are positive for Listeria.
On November 3, Whole Genome Sequencing analysis of the nine samples are found to be highly related to the Listeria from the samples collected from the facility in August and September, and to samples from the five case patients.
On November 7, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announces the outbreak.
On November 7,  Wholesome Soy verbally agrees to close its facility, cease production and distribution of sprouts, and recall sprouts that are already on the market.  But a public recall is not announced.
On November 13, the CDC updates its report on the outbreak, warning consumers and retailers about the product.

Holiday Food Safety Tips
Source :
By Erin Barnett (Nov 13, 2014)
The holidays are just around the corner and so are many of those wonderful holiday meals, so Andrea Woodard with the Knox County Health Department’s Food Protection division has some important food safety tips.
"We always see an increase in foodborne illnesses during the holidays, so it’s a good time to talk food safety," said Woodard.
Woodard says one of the biggest things to remember is proper hand washing.
"It’s important to wash them well to remove all the germs and bacteria, which means scrubbing with soap and water for 20 seconds and using paper towels to dry your hands instead of cloths," said Woodard.
Common Mistakes:
- Not keeping raw and ready-to-eat foods separated.
- Be aware of where you’ve had raw foods so you don’t contaminate your ready-to-eat foods.
Thawing your turkey:
- never thaw at room temperature. This puts parts of the turkey in dangerous temperature ranges where bacteria can grow.
- Thawing over time in the refrigerator is the best practice.
- Depending on the weight of your turkey, let it thaw for several days in the refrigerator.
- Always use a thermometer when cooking poultry to ensure the internal parts reach at least 165 degrees F.
- It’s really important not to leave food sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours because harmful bacteria can begin to grow.
- Check the refrigerator to be sure it’s holding food at 41 degrees F or less.

Food Poisoning Strikes Charlotte Postal Workers
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B Carla Gillespie (Nov 13, 2014)
Fifteen postal workers in Charlotte, NC were taken to taken to the  hospital this morning with food poisoning symptoms after eating leftovers yesterday from a Veterans Day potluck, according to local reports. The employees who received care at  Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center had eaten leftovers from a Veteran’s Dat potluck.
About 200 employees held a potluck dinner Tuesday night to honor co-workers who are veterans.  Those who became ill, ate the refrigerated leftovers.
The bacterial source of the illness has not been identified. None of the illnesses are said to be life-threatening. Delivery and retail operations at the West Point Drive postal facility are expected to continue normally.
Potlucks are a frequent source of food poisoning because there are so many potential sources of contamination:  the food itself, the people who prepare the food, large numbers of people handling the same utensils, food left out too long, food not properly cooled before being refrigerated.
Recently, 38 members of a high school football team in Durand, Wisconsin were sickened after attending a potluck when they were unknowingly served raw milk that was contaminated with Campylobacter. The milk was provided by a parent. And, in Minnesota, dozens of people were sickened by foods containing celery contaminated with E.coli.

FDA’s Taylor Visits China to Strengthen Food Safety Ties
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Source: Food Safety News (Nov 13, 2014)
Today, 15 percent of America’s food supply is imported from other countries, including 80 percent of seafood and 50 percent of fresh fruit. An increasing amount of that food is coming from China, a country with a food safety track record that leaves many American consumers uneasy.
Part of the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) grants the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority to verify that imported foods meet the same safety standards to which the domestic food industry is held. Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, visited China last week to meet with food safety authorities in Beijing to discuss collaboration between regulatory systems.
Speaking with Food Safety News, Taylor acknowledged China’s recent history of food safety problems while expressing confidence about the country’s progress.
“There have been incidents, and those incidents undermine confidence,” Taylor said. “I think we’re invested in making sure the Chinese government understands — and it’s evident they understand — the importance of food safety. They’ve made a number of efforts to strengthen the safety of their food supply.”
With the passing of FSMA, the FDA has been tasked with developing strategies for ensuring that food importers are producing food at the standards expected of American companies. A big aspect of that is getting cooperation from the importing countries’ food safety agencies to conduct inspections and verify that producers are meeting safety requirements.
Of course, verification is a two-way street. While the U.S. is asking China and other countries to meet American expectations, China demands the same. Thanks to a similar directive recently issued by the Chinese government, goods sent to China from the U.S. and elsewhere need to meet its standards as well.
“Both domestically and for imports, there’s room for improvement when it comes to food safety verification,” Taylor said. “This is why implementation of FSMA is so important. There’s a lot of effort going into strengthening the system.”
Taylor said that the goal is to have China and other importing countries employing strategies similar to what the U.S. outlines with FSMA: Using inspections, sampling and testing to verify that a company’s food safety systems are actually working and preventing foodborne illness.
To do this, FDA has introduced the Foreign Supplier Verification Program to handle documentation and to perform its own inspections of importer facilities.
Taylor said that in the increasingly globalized economy, it’s important for FDA to have an established presence in the countries of major importers. As a result, the agency has offices in China, India, Europe and Latin America, with plans to bolster the team in China.
While in China, Taylor also spoke at the China International Food Safety and Quality Conference and Expo. His full speech from that conference is available on FDA’s website.
Photo of Michael Taylor speaking at the China International Food Safety and Quality Conference and Expo courtesy of FDA.

Food scandal: Menu of death
Source :
By Ghinwa Obeid (Nov 12, 2014)
Lebanese watched in shock and horror as Health Minister Wael Abu Faour revealed Tuesday that some popular restaurant chains and supermarkets are serving customers food that contains sewage and fecal matter.
With the nation already burdened by terrorism, sectarian division, and a raft of social and economic problems, Abu Faour revealed that failure to meet basic food safety standards posed a potentially deadly risk to citizens.
“I regret saying that the Lebanese don’t know what they’re eating, and if they did it would be a great catastrophe,” Abu Faour said at a news conference held at the ministry.
“I can say with a clear conscience, with corroboration from science, that Lebanese [food] is covered ... with disease and microbes.”
Major chains such as Spinneys, Hawa Chicken, Roadster Diner, Fahed Supermarket, Abdel Rahman Hallab, Kababji, MacDonald’s, Metro Supermarket, TSC Mega and Bedo were among those found to be storing items in violation of food safety protocols, Abu Faour said.
“The violations entail that certain [products] had microbes that could have negative health implications for Lebanese,” Abu Faour said, adding that some products tested positive for Salmonella and E. Coli.
The ministry issued a list of places, which included supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants found to be in violation of food safety requirements. In certain places, which Abu Faour did not name, bacteria were found in samples that were traced back to sewage.
Among the myriad of establishments examined by the ministry was Tanmiya, a fast food place.
The results revealed that the eatery had been falsely publishing production dates three months ahead to trick customers.
Referring to An-Natour Butcher Shop, Abu Faour said: “We found that they were using expired Brazilian meat.” The shop was since closed down for importing and distributing expired and diseased meat.
The shocking revelations were the result of a 20-day campaign that scrutinized 1,005 establishments across Lebanon and was carried out by the Health Ministry’s food safety inspectors.
Inspectors were tasked to examine food establishments and evaluate them for cleanliness, compliance with food safety protocols and the personal hygiene of employees, and to ensure legal certification was in order.
They also took samples of products being sold to the public for analysis.
Abu Faour said that 3,600 of the samples were sent to the laboratories of the Agriculture Ministry.
“The samples were taken from various kinds of food including red meat, chicken, chicken derivatives, frozen fish, bread, kaak and desserts, as well dairy products,” he added.
Abu Faour stressed that the aim of the inspection was neither to undermine the institutions found to be in violation nor affect their revenues. He said the campaign was crucial to secure the safety and health of Lebanese consumers.
Results of samples taken from Beirut establishments would be announced Thursday, he said, adding that similarly shocking outcomes were likely.
Places found to be in violation of safety codes would be given a warning and some establishments would be shut down until they meet standards.
The minister also listed other, less severe, violators, including establishments found to be reusing frying oils, putting toilets in close proximity to kitchens and placing food next to garbage.
Following Abu Faour’s revelations, some establishments, such as Kababji said they would retest their food products.
“We have taken the statement into consideration,” Eddy Massaad, Kababji’s general manager told The Daily Star. “We have our food safety system properly implemented which complies [with] international standards. We are going to take samples from the same product to test it at AUB’s lab and IRI [Industrial Research Institute] and get back to you with the results.”
Hoda Diab, a concerned citizen, said she was “surprised” by the revelations and could no longer trust any establishments when it came to food in Lebanon. Diab said that in the wake of the minister’s announcement she would no longer buy meat products, saying that the best solution might be to become a vegetarian.
For some, the results were far from shocking; they were expected.
“I wasn’t surprised,” said Zouhair Berro, head of Consumers Lebanon. “These tests confirmed what we’ve always been certain of.”
Although Berro said that the ministry’s clampdown was a step in the right direction, he added that it would not be complete without the implementation of a proper food law.
He said a good food law should govern all food-related sectors in Lebanon, and dictate proper food production.
“Monitoring is the last piece of the chain and it has some importance. What’s more important is creating the principles and systems for proper production,” Berro said, adding that the food should be monitored beginning with imported food and local produce. – Additional reporting by Justin Salhani

California Celery Likely Link to Minnesota E. coli Outbreak
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By Denis Stearns (Nov 12, 2014)
According to a recently released report by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH), 57 individuals who met the case definition[1] were deemed to be part of the outbreak linked to Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering.
Of those ill, 65% were women.  All cases reported diarrhea, 96% cramps, 61% bloody stool, 37% vomiting and 19% fever.  37% sought medical treatment with 16% hospitalized.  No one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
After an exhaustive investigation, MDOH concluded that the common server at the five events between July 1 and July 17 on the Fond du Lac Reservation was Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering.  MDOH also found that the most common food items were the celery and onions.  Potato Salad, which included celery and onions was found to be tainted with E. coli O157:H7.  Cases were also identified at events where potato salad was not served, but celery was.  The celery was traced back to a field adjacent to a defunct dairy operation near Gonzales, California.
We represent several of those hospitalized due to E. coli O157:H7. See additional documents at Outbreak Database.
E. coli:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products.  The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s.  We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
[1] A case was defined as an individual who attended an event catered by Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering and subsequently developed diarrhea that was bloody or at least three days of duration, or an individual who had E. coli O57:H7 isolated from a stool culture with a PFGE pattern indistinguishable from the main outbreak pattern.

WA Custom Slaughterhouse Fined $6,000 and Shut
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By Bruce Clark (Nov 12, 2014)
The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) has revoked the license of the custom slaughter establishment of Rickson Vilog (also known as Vilog LLC) after inspections found on-going sanitation problems at the Auburn business. In addition to revoking the company’s license, WSDA also assessed a civil penalty of $6,000.
As a result of WSDA’s action, the company cannot slaughter and process animals, including those purchased live on-site. Goats, sheep, swine and cattle are among the livestock slaughtered at the business.
Custom slaughter establishments are typically used by farmers, livestock owners, and practitioners of some religions to have their meat animals processed for personal consumption.
This week’s enforcement action follows several inspections of Rickson Vilog in which WSDA food safety inspectors found problems with unsanitary conditions, poor employee sanitation practices, and a general failure to protect food products from contamination. During the most recent inspection in October, inspectors noted ongoing failures to meet sanitary meat processing conditions, including lack of refrigeration and improper carcass handling. The firm failed to perform required compliance actions.

Fond du Lac E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak from Jim-N-Jos Northland Katering
Source :
By News Desk (Nov 12, 2014)
The Minnesota Department of Health has released a report on the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened people at the picnic for Elders of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other events. The picnic was held on July 11, 2014 and was catered by Jim-N-Jo’s Northland Katering. The caterer is licensed by the University of Minnesota and operated out of the Cloquet Forestry Center. Jim-N-Jo’s catered at least 12 events in the Upper Midwest from July 5 to July 17, 2014. Five of those events resulted in illness and 57 patients met the outbreak criteria.
The Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Minnesota Department of Environmental Health, and MDH Tribal Relations conducted an investigation into this outbreak. They interviewed 199 individuals from seven catered events. Of these, 74, or 37% reported recent gastrointestinal illnesses. Fifty seven people met the case definition. Of those 57 people, 48 lived in Minnesota, four in Wisconsin, 2 in Alabama, and one each in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio.
The median case age was 62 years, and the patient age range was from 4 to 85 years. All cases reported diarrhea, and almost all reported cramps. Sixty-one percent had bloody stools, 37% vomiting, and 19% reported fever. Illness onset dates ranged from July 8 to July 23, 2014. Twenty-one people sought care at a clinic. Nine people were hospitalized. No one was diagnosed with hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and no one died as a result of their illness.
E. coli Lawsuit - 5 Reasons to Sue
Raw celery and onions were the only food items served at all five events with identified cases. Potato Salad, which included celery and onions, was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 that matched the outbreak strain. The celery was traced back to a field near Gonzales, California that was right next to a defunct dairy operation.
The caterer ordered all fresh produced from Upper Lakes Foods. ULF sent bills of lading from ProAct, Inc. and Mann Packing Co. to investigators. The celery was traced back to Martignoni Ranch block 5c in the Salinas Valley. Investigators with California and the FDA visited the field in August 2o14, but didn’t identify cross-contamination issues. No E. coli were found in water and soil samples, so the investigation was closed.
The conclusion reached is that the foodborne outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 infections were associated with multiple events catered by Jim-N-Jo’s Katering. Potato salad served at three events was contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria, identified by PFGE. Two other events where the potato salad was not served sickened people, but celery from the same shipment as the celery in the potato salad was served. Contaminated celery was the most likely vehicle of transmission. The source of the bacteria was not identified, but field sampling was limited.

Norovirus Report Released
Source :
By Patti Waller (Nov 11, 2014)
I just received the Final Summary Report on the 2014 Royal Hawaiian Norovirus Outbreak from the State of Hawaii Department of Health (HDOH).  It was well done and to the point.
On May 17, 2014, management at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel (RHH) reported illnesses linked to a wedding reception at the Azure Restaurant held on May 15th.  Illnesses were reported on May 16th.
The investigation found that 114 individuals reported illnesses compatible with a confirmed (stool culture positive for Norovirus) or probable case.  Illness onset ranged from May 14th to May 26th.
Ill persons identified a wide variety of food consumed at various venues.  The common denominator was that the food was prepared in the kitchen at the RHH.
17 RHH employees reported illness during the outbreak period.  On employee reported and episode of diarrhea on May 14th just prior to serving dinner.  On May 15th another employee reported vomiting into a kitchen area trashcan.
On May 19th HDOH inspected the RHH kitchen and observed violation of sanitizing procedure and cold holding temperatures.
The HDOH conclusion was “[t]his was a confirmed outbreak of Norovirus GL3B associated with consumption of a meal prepared by the [RHH]….  Of the 114 primary ill persons identified, 17 were employees of the [RHH]….  Illness among food handling personnel and coincident environmental contamination were likely contributing factors which served to propagate the infection among hotel guests and employees.”
Norovirus is a very contagious virus. You can get norovirus from an infected person, contaminated food or water, or by touching contaminated surfaces. The virus causes your stomach or intestines or both to get inflamed (acute gastroenteritis). This leads you to have stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea and to throw up.

Foodborne Illness Victims Request Additional FSMA Funding
Source :
By Lydia Zuraw (Nov 11, 2014)
Victims of foodborne illness and their families are urging Congress to appropriate additional funding for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Several Congress members and plenty of food safety advocates have written to the leaders of the House and Senate appropriations committees this year asking that they increase FSMA funding in the next federal budget.
The authors of the latest letter are 75 people in 34 states who fell ill from eating contaminated food and their relatives who refer to themselves as “the names behind the statistics.”
Geoff Soza of Encinitas, CA signed the letter and supports FDA’s efforts to finalize strong food safety regulations because he nearly died from an infection of Hepatitis A in 2013 after eating contaminated frozen berries.
An email his wife of 30 years wrote to their daughter at the time described him as “Gagging, retching, burning to the touch, aching and lacking even the energy to sit up. He lay lifeless on the hospital bed, his face and eyes bright yellow. He has refused to eat for 48 hours.” There was the possibility he would need his gall bladder removed or a liver transplant.
Even after he left the hospital, Soza says, it was four months before he felt healthy again.
It’s important for him to do anything he can “to prevent things like this from happening again to anybody” and that victim stories can have a stronger impact on effecting change, he told Food Safety News.
“We should have better food safety rules,” Soza said. “The country thinks pretty highly of itself, but if we can’t take care of our population, we’re lacking, no matter what else we do.”
The House and Senate agriculture appropriations bills for FY2015 included an increase of as much as $25 million for FDA food safety activities. When FSMA was approved in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that FDA would need an increase of more than $580 million to fund the expanded food safety activities. FDA has since revised that estimate to between $400 and $450 million.
Soza and the other victims who signed the letter, sent to to Reps. Harold Rogers (R-KY) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) and to Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) Monday, requested that an additional $300 million be allocated to FDA over the next two years.
“As Congress continues to consider funding for Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) food safety budget, we hope you will keep in mind the estimated 48 million Americans who are sickened annually by foodborne illness,” they wrote.


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