Botulism in Seal Oil Sickens at Least 25 in Alaska
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/botulism-in-seal-oil-sickens-at-least-25-in-alaska/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 28, 2014)
According to Public Radio for Alaska’s Bristol Bay (KDLG), a botulism outbreak linked to a batch of contaminated seal oil has sickened more than 25 people. The seal oil was made in the village of Twin Hills. Several people have been hospitalized in this outbreak because they can’t breathe on their own.
The first botulism illnesses were reported December 19, 2014 when two people has to be flown from Quinhagak to Bethel for medical care. They were then medevaced to Anchorage on respiratory support. One child has been sickened in this outbreak. Those sickened live in Quinhagak, Twin Hills, and Dillingham. Several people are being monitored by public health officials.
Dr. Michael Cooper, the Infectious Disease Program Manager at the State Department of Epidemiology told KDLG, “This is a very concerning outbreak. This is one of the largest clusters of botulism we’ve ever seen.” There are usually only about 30 cases of botulism in the entire country every year.
The seal oil contains “particularly toxic” botulinum toxin. Cooper continued, “when it was tested, it came back at the highest level the lab instrument can measure for botulinum toxin.” After the family who made the oil were showed the results, they “sort of refused to stop eating or serving it,” according to Dr. Cooper.
Clostridium botulinum bacteria grow and produce botulism toxin under anaerobic (without oxygen) conditions. The toxin is very poisonous and a very tiny amount can cause illness and death. Clostridium botulinum bacteria spores grow in improperly canned foods. In Alaska, botulism usually occurs in fermented or preserved foods such as stink heads and improperly canned fish. Seal oil has caused 54 botulism outbreaks in that state over the years.
You cannot see, smell, or taste botulism toxin, and the food will look, taste, and smell perfectly ordinary. The toxin paralyzes your muscles. The first symptoms are blurred or double vision, since the smallest muscle in the body moves the eyes. Drooping eyelids, slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, symmetrical muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing then follow. Patients may need to be on ventilators for weeks. Symptoms of botulism poisoning can occur 18 to 240 hours after exposure to the toxin.
If you ate seal oil and have developed these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. Botulism toxin poisoning can be fatal when not treated.
If You Purchased Happy Apple Caramel Apples, Here’s What to Do
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/if-you-purchased-happy-apple-caramel-apples-heres-what-to-do/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 28, 2014)
A Listeria monocytogenes outbreak has been linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples and has sickened dozens of people. Five people have died in connection with this outbreak. Brands that may be associated with this outbreak include Carnival and Kitchen Cravings apples sold in Minnesota, and Happy Apple caramel apples sold in various states.
Happy Apple issued a recall for all of these caramel apples with a best by date between August 25 and November 23, 2014. Those apples are no longer available in stores, but they do have a shelf life of up to a month. Consumers may still have them in their homes. The recalled apples were sold in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.
If you purchased those apples, the FDA has sound advice. Check your pantry, fridge, and freezer to see if you have any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples. If you do, place them in a bag, seal it, and discard. Then wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for a least 20 seconds. Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards, countertops, and utensils that may have come in contact with any commercially prepared caramel apple with a mild bleach solution.
That solution should contain 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 gallon of hot water. Dry the surfaces with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not previously been used.
If you ate a commercially prepared caramel apple this fall, monitor yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, for 70 days. That’s how long it can take for the illness to appear after exposure.
Those symptoms include flu-like fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, nausea and diarrhea, loss of balance, and confusion. If you do get sick, see your doctor immediately. Pregnant women are especially susceptible to this bacteria, but may only have a mild illness. Listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and infection in the newborn baby, so it’s important to see your doctor and get treatment as soon as possible.
Bidart Apples Link in Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/bidart-apples-link-in-caramel-apple-listeria-outbreak/#.VKCvzZDm4s
By Patti Waller (Dec 28, 2014)
On Christmas Eve, Happy Apples announced that it had been working with the FDA in its investigation of the current outbreak of Listeriosis that has sickened 31 in the U.S. and Canada, which has been associated with caramel apples. Apparently, Happy Apples recently received notice from Bidart Brothers, one of the apple suppliers to the California facility that there may be a connection between this outbreak and the apples that they supplied to that facility.
California Snack Foods issued a voluntary recall of California Snack Foods brand caramel apples with a best use by date between August 15th and November 28th 2014, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Happy Apples used the last of the Bidart Brothers apples in the first week of November 2014. The caramel apples produced with Bidart Brothers apples should no longer be available in stores, however, out of an abundance of caution and concern for consumer safety, we are recommending that consumers follow the advice of the CDC and remove any caramel apples you may have in storage and dispose of them in a secure container to avoid potential contamination in animals.
Pacific Coast Fruit announced on its website that it was made aware that Bidart Brothers was recalling apples sold to caramel coated candy apple due to potential contamination with Listeria. Happy Apples purchased apples from Bidart Brothers and Pacific Coast Fruit in turn distributed Happy Apples to Pacific Coast Fruit customers. Pacific Coast Fruit Company is now in the process of contacting customers and recalling all Happy Apple brand apples sold after September 22, 2014.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
Food Safety Microbiology
February 5-6, 2015
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Norovirus Hitting Hard in Minnesota
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/norovirus-hitting-hard-in-minnesota/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 26, 2014)
Norovirus is hitting the state of Minnesota especially hard, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. This illness, often mistaken for the “24 hour flu” includes symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, headache, body aches, a mild fever, and a general run-down feeling. About 40 outbreaks of this illness have been reported to MDH since the beginning of November. Schools, restaurants, nursing homes, and private gatherings have all reported outbreaks.
Norovirus is the most common cause of food-related illness in Minnesota. Cases peak in the winter months when more people are together inside. People usually become sick 24 to 48 hours after exposure. Symptoms usually last 1-3 days, and most people recover on their own, although some people can become so ill they are hospitalized.
To prevent the spread of norovirus, first of all, stay home when you are sick. Don’t prepare food for others or go to work or school if you have any illness symptoms. Second, wash your hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom, changing diapers, and before eating or preparing food for yourself or other people. Discard any food prepared or touched by someone with norovirus symptoms unless they will be thoroughly cooked before serving.
The viruses are in the stool and vomit of infected people. Always clean and disinfect any surfaces that are soiled with vomit or diarrhea. If you have more than one bathroom in your home, have everyone who is ill use that bathroom to prevent the spread. You can spread the virus several days after you get better. Don’t prepare food for others for at least 72 hours after you are feeling better.
Health 101: Follow food safety guidelines to keep holidays jolly
Source : http://herald-review.com/lifestyles/health-follow-food-safety-guidelines-to-keep-holidays-jolly/article_5bde0caf-73f6-5e4b-8aa0-5a5620ea47c6.html
By EMILY STEELE H&R Staff Writer (Dec 25, 2014)
Forget the ugly sweaters, nothing turns a holiday gathering south faster than a sour stomach from eggnog that’s been sitting out too long.
The Centers for Disease Control estimated that 76 million people become sick from their foodborne illnesses each year. Whether it’s too many cooks in the kitchen, the challenge of specialty dishes or a lack of refrigerator space, the risk for illness causing bacteria increases with holiday spreads.
“Holidays are a time of celebration and joy, but holiday feasts can be tricky; home chefs are often preparing a meal they don’t normally cook, and they’re preparing it for a larger group than usual,” said Dr. Michael Wahl, the Illinois Poison Center medical director.
Wahl recommended holiday cooks follow four rules in the kitchen: clean, separate, cook and chill.
Every person handling the food should wash their hands. Keep preparation and storage areas, including counter tops, stove tops and refrigerators clean. With flu season widespread in Illinois, Poison Center said no one who is sick or has any nose or eye infection should prepare food.
Use separate cutting boards for meats, poultry and fish to avoid cross contaminating other foods. Never re-use utensils without washing them, because dirty utensils can be a source of contamination.
When cooking and serving, the foods to be most concerned about are the temperature are meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dressing, gravy, cream pies, pudding and dishes made with these foods.
“One of the biggest sources of foodborne illness during the holidays is salmonella from handling turkey and other poultry,” Wahl said in a news release. “Salmonella bacteria can result from raw or undercooked poultry, and may be particularly harmful to people in poor health, young children and the elderly.”
Dishes with raw or undercooked eggs are also dangerous for people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, the very young, pregnant women and those with chronic disease.
Never leave hot foods out at room temperature for more than two hours. Put small quantities of food on the table. Replace them often from the heat sources in the kitchen or from the refrigerator, according the Texas A&M University System’s food safety guidelines for holiday entertaining.
If unsure about how long perishable food, particularly meat, poultry and dairy have been left out, throw the items away to eliminate your risk of illness according to the Illinois Poison Center.
Divide large quantities of foods into smaller portions and store them in covered, shallow containers, Deep containers keep food warm longer and encourage bacterial growth.
People who develop food poisoning may experience symptoms that include nausea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and diarrhea, Symptoms may last from several hours to several days.
Salmonella Poisoning from Reptile Pets Most Often Affects Children
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/salmonella-poisoning-from-reptile-pets-most-often-affects-children/
By Carla Gillespie (Dec 25, 2014)
Salmonella poisoning from reptile pets most often affects children, according to a 2014 study. The study, which looked at 15 years of data from Minnesota, was published in the June issue of Zoonoses Public Health.
Researchers from the Acute Disease Investigation and Control division of the Minnesota Department of Health in St. Paul, MN looked at “reptile-associated salmonellosis” cases reported in Minnesota from 1996-2011. During this period, about 290 such cases were reported.
The median age of case patients in these outbreaks was 11, with 31 percent under the age of 5 and 67 percent under the age of 20. Most of the patients were sick for about eight days. Twenty three percent of them required hospitalization.
The reptiles most commonly reported in association with the illnesses were lizards, snakes and turtles. Forty seven percent of the cases were associated with reptiles, 20 percent with snakes and 19 percent with turtles.
The finding of this study mirror statistics from nationwide outbreaks. In August, a Salmonella outbreak linked to pet bearded dragons (lizards native to Australia) ended after sickening 166 people in 36 states, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At least 44 people were hospitalized.
Although the case patients in this outbreak ranged in age from younger than 1 year to 79 years old. The median age was 3, 59 percent of the case patients were children 5 and under.
Can fruitcake last forever? A food-safety expert answers.
Source : http://www.vox.com/2014/12/25/7445005/fruit-cake
By Susannah Locke (Dec 25, 2014)
The legend of the fruitcake is that there is only one, which gets passed from person to person, year after year, at least according to a joke attributed to Johnny Carson.
But how long can fruitcake really last? In an entertaining post over at North Carolina State University's news blog, press officer Matt Shipman decided to get down to the bottom of this and interviewed one of the university's food scientists to find out:
"All of these dried and candied ingredients have what we call ‘low water activity,’ meaning they have very little moisture available," says Ben Chapman, a food safety researcher at NC State. "Low water activity is important because many microorganisms, including foodborne illness-causing bacteria, need moisture in order to reproduce.
"In practical terms, this makes most fruitcakes extremely shelf stable, so they would be safe to eat for a long time – a really long time," Chapman says. "But it might taste pretty bad."
The USDA cites two to three months, refrigerated, according to Shipman. Chapman comes up with something somewhat vague, but a lot longer. Head over to the post to read the whole thing.
California Department of Health Warns Public About Happy Apples
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/california-department-of-health-warns-public-about-happy-apples/#.VJy-B5Dm4s
By Bill Marler (Dec 25, 2014)
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director Dr. Ron Chapman warned consumers today not to eat all varieties of Happy Apple Brand Caramel Apples because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. CDPH is coordinating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other state and local agencies in the investigation of 29 cases of Listeriosis in 10 states which appear to be linked to the consumption of multiple brands of caramel apples. All 29 cases have been hospitalized and five deaths have been reported. A single case-patient in California has died.
Happy Apple Company, with manufacturing facilities in Orosi, CA and Union, MO, is voluntarily recalling all varieties of Happy Apple Brand Caramel Apples, after learning of the recall of apples used to produce the caramel apples by one of their apple suppliers. These caramel apples were packaged in clear, plastic containers as a single pack, three pack, four pack, or eight pack. All Happy Apple Brand Caramel Apples with “Best if used by dates” between August 25, 2014 and November 23, 2014 are being recalled.
The Happy Apple Brand caramel apples were sold at multiple retail, club and discount store locations throughout California, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. Although the recalled caramel apples are not likely to remain on grocery store shelves, consumers may still have the caramel apples in their homes. Anyone in possession of the recalled caramel apples should place them into a garbage bag and dispose of them in the trash.
The CDC continues to recommend that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, pre-packaged caramel apples, including plain caramel apples as well as those containing nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings, until the investigation can determine all of the brands that may be implicated in the outbreak. Whole in-tact apples, apple based beverages such as juice or cider, and apple sauce do not appear to be associated with this outbreak.
Symptoms of Listeria infection may include high fever, headache, and neck stiffness. Infants, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for severe illness and death. Listeria infection in pregnant women can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn baby.
The Food Safety News Nominees for Santa’s 2014 Naughty List
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/12/naughty/#.VJy_iJDm4s
By Dan Flynn (Dec 24, 2014)
How did the media, our professional associates in corporate and government information, Maine Governor Paul R. LePage, Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel, Sheldon Lavin, POTUS (the president of the United States), and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg end up on the Food Safety News 2014 naughty list?
It’s complicated. Make yourself an eggnog and sit back. (You may need something to stiffen that eggnog.) But here’s the view as we look down on food-safety news land and as we all get ready to enjoy Christmas, or just use this much-needed break to rest up.
We, the media
We, the media, produced the Ebola scare for the U.S. because it generated ratings and readers. We made up stories and sold them to magazine editors who were both gullible and lazy. We helped instigate riots when we presented information we knew was incomplete.
The Ebola scare in the U.S. was so intensely hot for awhile that it was the most searched-for word of 2014, according to Google. Would a foreign army landing on the beaches of the Gulf Coast have gotten more panicked coverage than one man sickened with Ebola got when he landed in Dallas?
The panic ended when no cases originated in the U.S., the White House named an Ebola czar and stopped talking about it, and someone made the merciful decision to stop CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden from doing anymore TV interviews.
When the scare ended, so did almost all coverage of the real Ebola crisis in Western Africa.
How far back this sent infectious disease reporting remains to be seen. Few American who got that hot shot of Ebola scare reporting were left with any useful understanding of the far greater risks we face on a routine basis, including the foodborne variety. The damage from all that sloppy reporting is outside our wheelhouse, but other than to put paper sacks over our heads, there is not much we can do about it. But we know naughty when we see it, and 2014 was a very bad year for the media. Sorry about that.
Our professional associates in corporate and government public information
We are talking here about the corporate public-relations people and the so-called public information officers (PIOs) we work with daily.
There are some exceptions, we might call them old-school types, who still know how to develop working relationships with reporters based on trust and professionalism. No Christmas presents are exchanged, but these are the folks who still have a human face.
Unfortunately, old-schoolers, including some who are in their 20s, are rare today. We’ve come to find that corporate public relations exists to create an illusion of openness for the company without any intention of ever delivering.
An even more disturbing trend is underway among the government PIOs, whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers. It used to be that PIOs would be driven by the information they could quickly get out from their agencies. The really good ones could be quoted by their bosses.
Today, PIOs are on a mission, which, again with rare exceptions, is to minimize or extinguish the information coming from their agency or department. Anyone doing real journalism is viewed as a threat, and your tax money is now going for those communications tools where the government has total control of the message and is able to meter the real information down to a trickle.
These are not new trends, but the feeling that they’ve reached a tipping point was very much part of the journalistic atmosphere in 2014.
Gov. Paul R. LePage
Moving on to a single individual, Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage falls on the naughty list for a very specific reason.
It’s not that, during 2014, the narrowly re-elected Republican governor let the Maine Center for Disease Control go without the leadership of a director or state epidemiologist, or even the agency’s weird decision to keep secret the name of a restaurant where someone worked while infected with Hepatitis A.
No, LePage falls on the naughty list because he really messed up what might have been a teachable moment regarding when a state’s top public health authority may, or may not, order someone held in quarantine. Everyone remembers the healthcare worker traveling home from West Africa, first to New Jersey and then home to Maine.
LePage took time out from his close campaign to put state police outside the woman’s Fort Kent house, and, for three days, he made one strong statement after another.
“Maine has established protocols for the monitoring of any individual who returns to Maine after traveling from West African regions that have been impacted by Ebola,” he said. “These protocols include monitoring the individual for 21 days after the last possible exposure to Ebola. Twenty-one days is the longest time it can take from the time a person is infected with Ebola until that person has symptoms of Ebola,” he continued, adding, “But we must be vigilant in our duty to protect the health and safety of all Mainers, as well as anyone who may come in contact with someone who has been exposed to Ebola.”
“We commend all healthcare workers for their humanitarian work in West Africa and other regions of the world, and we are proud that they are always ready to help others,” LePage went on. “Upon the healthcare workers’ return home, we will follow the guidelines set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control for medical workers who have been in contact with Ebola patients. Additionally, we will work with the healthcare worker to establish an in-home quarantine protocol to ensure there is no direct contact with other Mainers until the period for potential infection has passed. We will help make sure the healthcare worker has everything to make this time as comfortable as possible.”
The quarantined nurse went bicycle riding and hired an attorney, who went to a lower state court and got her sprung short of her 21-day quarantine period. LePage then just said he did everything he could, but the judge had lifted the restrictions and he’d abide by state law.
Maybe his campaign polling showed he was on the wrong side of the issue. Governors usually don’t accept lower-court decisions, and they can get their appeals heard all the way up to the state supreme court pretty fast.
State quarantine laws have not been used much in recent years, but, a generation or two ago, people commonly accepted orders to stay put until some infectious disease was brought under control. One thing is for certain: Such laws were never intended for use just to make a politician look tough during a campaign — or not.
Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture Ben Brancel, himself a dairy farmer for 22 years and who still runs Angus and Hereford cattle, took over the helm of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection in January 2011, six months before an outbreak from contaminated raw milk at a Racine elementary school. He makes his way on to our naughty list because he managed to keep the name of the dairy farm associated with that outbreak secret for 3.5 years.
Brancel, who now serves at the pleasure of WI Republican Gov. Scott Walker, is representative of those state departments of agriculture which sometimes put their mission to protect and promote their farm and ranch sectors ahead of food safety.
When state health departments or state agriculture departments attempt to hide such basic information — such as who, what, and why — from the public, they are only harming themselves by generating ever more reason to distrust government. Brancel certainly should know that. He also headed Wisconsin’s agriculture department under former WI Gov. Tommy Thompson.
After another school-related outbreak occurred in Wisconsin last September, causing numerous illnesses, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel decided it had had enough. The newspaper enlisted open-records advocates and used state law to force the release of the names of the involved raw-milk farms.
“It’s outrageous. The public has the right to this information. Who is the state of Wisconsin trying to protect, the public or bad operators?” said Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.
Naughty, Mr. Secretary.
With $6 billion in worldwide revenue, OSI Group Chairman and CEO Sheldon Lavin could not have gone into 2014 on a higher note. He’d just been inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame. He was introduced in November 2013 to the elite gathering at the Drake Hotel in Chicago by McDonald’s President Jeff Stratton, who spoke of Lavin’s connection to the “McFamily,”a reference to OSI’s meat-supplying relationship with McDonald’s going back to the legendary Ray Kroc.
Then 2014 dawned and brought an international food-safety crisis that landed Lavin on this year’s naughty list. That’s a bit of a step down from the Forbes 100 list of largest privately owned companies.
OSI Group in 2014 spanned the world, with the company supplying meat in China and Japan to McDonald’s, Yum! Brands’ KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants, and many others.
Then last summer, Dragon TV struck with a report that OSI’s Shanghai Husi Food Co. Ltd. was selling meat to these fast-food outlets that was past its expiration dates and that production facilities were far from sanitary. The Chinese public reacts strongly to food-safety threats, especially where American companies are involved.
Almost immediately, contracts were cancelled and the Shanghai unit closed down except for staff to deal with the investigation. Levin was forced into crisis mode. OSI continues to have expansive operations in China, but the cleanup from that Dragon TV airing will continue well into 2015.
More than a year ago, Dr. Elisabeth Hagen left government service, leaving open the position of Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. According to the law, the position shall be filled by presidential appointment and confirmed by the United States Senate.
Leaving this position open is not an option. And it’s enough to put President Barack Obama on the naughty list, no matter how meritorious his overall record on food safety.
When USDA was reorganized by Congress in 1993, the added currency of the agency’s top food-safety officer being a presidential appointment with Senate confirmation was recognized as being in the public interest.
Both the White House and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack have shown their flexibility and creativity in keep the food-safety shop in good hands. They’ve done it with an “Odd Couple” pairing. Brian Ronholm, who was Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety under Hagen, then named Acting Under Secretary after she departed, recently assumed the Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety title again.
Then, in late September, FSIS Administrator Al Almanza was also named USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. In other words, there are now two deputies at the agency, but the president did not make an appointment to the top job.
Only POTUS (the president of the U.S.) can move this one off the dime. It would be unfortunate if his food-safety legacy is scuffed by leaving the appointment of the next Under Secretary for Food Safety to whoever follows him into the Oval Office. Mr. President, the clock is ticking, and you shall not pass this way again.
Margaret A. Hamburg
Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg. Perhaps you’ve heard of her. But, if you are involved in food safety, even if you attend a lot of the various conferences and seminars held throughout the year, chances are you’ve never laid eyes on the commissioner.
It’s not unusual for the FDA Commissioner to spend most of his or her time on the drug side of the house. Approval of drugs and medical devices is where the glamor and big bucks can be found once you leave public office. Besides, when you’ve got talent like Mike Taylor holding down the food side, why not just let it be?
Still, we’ve been watching from afar for a long time and could not help but notice the only published remarks Hamburg made before a food group in 2014 were to the World Spice Congress in Cochin, India, last February. To be fair, she did also speak in Washington, D.C., last February on the nutrition facts label.
We understand favoring one kid over the other. We’d just like to see her around campus sometime.
Happy Apples Likely Link in Multi-State Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/happy-apples-likely-link-in-multi-state-listeria-outbreak/#.VJy-LpDm4s
PBy Bill Marler (Dec 24, 2014)
Listeria is Thankfully Rare – About 1,600 people in the US get sick from Listeria germs each year.
However, Listeria is a Killer – Listeria is the 3rd leading cause of death from food poisoning.
Listeria Attacks the Most Vulnerable – At least 90% of people who get Listeria infections are either pregnant women and their newborns, people 65 or older, or people with weakened immune systems.
From an FDA Christmas Eve Recall Notice: Happy Apples, is issuing a voluntary recall of Happy Apple Brand caramel apples with a best use by date between August 25th and November 23rd 2014, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
Happy Apple caramel apples are sold in single pack, three packs, four packs and eight packs and each package will have a best use by date on the front of the label. They were available for retail sale through grocery, discount and club stores, generally in the produce section and were distributed to retailers in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin.
As has been reported in the news, the Center for Disease Control has noted 29 illnesses in 10 states linked to the outbreak and they have advised consumers not to eat commercially produced, pre-packaged caramel apples until more is known. Canada has also reported two likely Listeria illnesses.
Happy Apple reported that it recently received notice from Bidart Brothers, one of its apple suppliers to the Orosi California facility, that there may be a connection between this outbreak and the apples that they supplied to that facility.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Happy Apples in 2007 agreed to pay $599,000 to settle federal charges following the raid by federal agents. Federal authorities said the company had employed dozens of people illegally for more than five years.
Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream Linked to Listeria Illnesses in Washington
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/snoqualmie-gourmet-ice-cream-linked-to-listeria-illnesses-in-washington/#.VJy-kpDm4s
By Drew Falkenstein (Dec 24, 2014)
Yesterday, Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, Inc. issued a voluntary recall of all ice cream, gelato, custard and sorbet for all flavors and container sizes produced on or after January 1, 2014 until December 15, 2014 because these products have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
The voluntary recall was initiated based on the confirmation positive result of Listeria monocytogenes in the samples collected within the production facility and analyzed by Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). However, today the Washington State Department of Health (WSDH), confirmed that at least two people – both men in their 50’s have been hospitalized in Seattle with Listeria infections linked to the recalled ice cream.
The ice cream, gelato, custard and sorbet were distributed in Arizona, Idaho, California, Oregon, and Washington may have been further distributed and sold in various retail outlets in Alaska, Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.
The products are labeled Snoqualmie Ice Cream, Snoqualmie Gelato, Snoqualmie Custard, Snoqualmie Sorbet or Emerald & Spruce Ice Cream or Top Pot Hand Forged Ice Cream and have a production date code located on the bottom of the container. The date codes included either end in “4”, e.g. XXX4 (pints and cups) or are listed by date: January 1, 2014 through December 15, 2014 (trays & tubs).
Listeria: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
Food safety expert shares tips on how a home kitchen can pass a restaurant inspection
Source : http://medicalxpress.com/news/2014-12-food-safety-expert-home-kitchen.html
by Lindsey Elliott (Dec 24, 2014)
With the holidays in full swing and family feasts being enjoyed, a Kansas State University food safety expert has cleaning tips on how your home kitchen could pass a restaurant inspection.
When it comes to inspecting a kitchen, Bryan Severns, food programs and services director at Kansas State University Olathe, says he looks at cleanliness, sanitation, food preparation and storage.
One cleaning mechanism that causes confusion: soapy sponges. They may clean dirt off your dishes, but they won't keep away the bacteria.
"Soap is a surfactant, which means it loosens dirt," Severns said. "A soapy sponge and water help pick up the dirt and carry it away, but the sponge does not kill anything. Unless you are replacing your sponge constantly or sanitizing it, it is an incubator for bacteria and dirt."
You can sanitize a sponge by boiling it, microwaving it or sanitizing it in the dishwasher on the sanitize setting. Instead of using a sponge, Severns suggests using dishcloths, which need to be changed daily.
Another important tip: wipe down all counters, handles and surfaces with a disinfectant—even the cutting board.
"Cutting boards often have cracks and grooves that will hold bacteria," Severns said. "The board needs to be disinfected after every use and let it air dry so the sanitizer sets in."
As for storing your food, where you place your raw meats could be a critical violation. Raw meats need to thaw on the bottom shelf to avoid dripping meat juice onto other foods and potentially contaminating ready-to-eat food.
When it comes to putting leftovers from a meal in the fridge, allow time for them to cool first.
"A lot of people will take their spaghetti, for example, put it in the container, put the lid on and pop it in the fridge," Severns said. "That lid and plastic container acts as an insulator and the food will stay warm longer than it should and start to get bacterial growth. Cooling the food off as fast as possible is safer and will improve the shelf life of the food. If the food is above room temperature, put the leftovers in the fridge without the lid then cover when cool."
Meat and poultry products typically have a shelf life of about four days, while fruits and vegetables last longer. Leftovers should be eaten in three to four days to avoid bacteria growth and always label your leftovers with the date it was made and the date it needs to be thrown out.
"We have to build that culture of food safety where everyone is thinking about taking care of each other and their food," Severns said.
The 10 Worst U.S. Foodborne Illness Outbreaks of 2014
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/12/the-10-most-harmful-us-foodborne-illness-outbreaks-of-2014/#.VJy_t5Dm4s
By James Andrews (Dec 23, 2014)
This year saw dozens of well-publicized foodborne illness outbreaks caused by everything from bean sprouts to cilantro to caramel apples. Food Safety News has compiled a list of the 10 most harmful U.S. outbreaks of 2014, in terms of both the number of people who died and the number sickened.
This list includes only foodborne illness outbreaks in which investigators determined both the pathogen involved and the food source, which eliminates a number of outbreaks from inclusion.
10. Chia seeds and powder contaminated with Salmonella, 83 sickened. One of the more eyebrow-raising outbreaks of the year was tied to sprouted chia seeds and powder sold in the U.S. and Canada. At least 52 people from Canada and 31 from the U.S. were found to be sickened. [News report]
9. Bean sprouts from Wonton Foods contaminated with Salmonella, 111 sickened. New England residents were hit hard by this recent Salmonella outbreak, in which at least 29 people were hospitalized. [CDC outbreak information]
8. Chicken dish at Food Safety Summit contaminated with Clostridium perfringens, 216 sickened. This outbreak was the perfect recipe for a snarky news headline: Hundreds of people sickened with a foodborne illness at none 0ther than one of the nation’s biggest food-safety conferences. The likely source was a chicken marsala dish served by the conference’s hired catering company. [News report]
7. Foster Farms chicken Salmonella outbreak, 634 total sickened, including 218 in 2014. Coming in at number two on our list of the worst outbreaks from 2013, the nationwide Salmonella outbreak from Foster Farms chicken continued into 2014, sickening another 218 people this year before finally being declared over in July. The outbreak spanned more than 17 months, making it one of the longest-running outbreaks in recent memory. [News report]
6. Wedding dish contaminated with Clostridium perfringens, more than 300 sickened. Contaminated gravy allegedly ruined a special day for more than 300 of the 750 attendees at a wedding in Missouri. Shortly after the wedding, guests began reporting cases of diarrhea and vomiting. [News report]
5. Mexican-grown cilantro contaminated with Cyclospora, 304 sickened. Following a massive outbreak last year involving Cyclospora-contaminated salads and cilantro grown in Mexico, Texans once again faced the brunt of a Cyclospora outbreak from Mexican cilantro this year. The bulk of the illnesses once again hit at the height of summer. [CDC outbreak information]
4. Raw milk contaminated with Campylobacter in Utah, 1 dead and 80 sickened. This outbreak was the subject of a state legislative inquiry in Utah after it contributed to the death of one immunocompromised man. While Utah state law requires that raw milk carry a warning about the potential to carry harmful pathogens, the milk in this outbreak did not. [News report]
3. Bean sprouts from Wholesome Soy Products contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, 2 dead and 5 sickened. 2014 was a bad year for bean sprouts, which saw numerous outbreaks and even more recalls. The most deadly of the sprout outbreaks was linked to Wholesome Soy Products, where FDA investigators found several problems related to unsanitary conditions during inspections of their facilities earlier this year. [CDC outbreak information]
2. Dual Listeria outbreaks linked to Mexican-style cheese, 2 dead and 13 sickened in total. Mexican-style cheeses were linked to two deadly outbreaks this year. In one, a patient died and eight were sickened by cheese produced by Maryland-based Roos Foods. The other outbreak, linked to cheese produced by Florida-based Oasis Brands, killed one patient and sickened five. [News report for Roos Foods outbreak] [News report for Oasis Brands outbreak]
1. Caramel apples contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, 5 dead and 29 sickened. The year’s most deadly outbreak was also its most recent to be announced and likely its most unexpected. While illnesses first appeared in mid-October, public health officials didn’t trace the outbreak back to store-bought, prepackaged caramel apples until mid-December. A complete list of brand names has yet to emerge, but so far we know that Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples are among those affected. [News report]
The Top 10 Food-Safety News Stories of 2014
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2014/12/top-ten-food-safety-news-stories-of-2014/#.VJjAfpDm4s
By Dan Flynn (Dec 22, 2014)
The top 10 food-safety news stories for 2014, as chosen for the sixth consecutive year by the editors of Food Safety News, were announced today. According to the Internet news site, here are this year’s most important food-safety stories:
1. The U.S. Department of Justice backs up federal food-safety agencies, including USDA and FDA, with unprecedented criminal prosecutions of food-industry defendants in multiple states.
Beginning in 2014, with the sentencing of two Colorado cantaloupe growers, and continuing with the guilty pleas from the nation’s one-time king of egg production, Austin “Jack” DeCoster, and his son, Peter, and then the historic jury trial of former Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) officers and managers, federal criminal law rarely used before in such circumstances was put to work this year in the name of food safety.
Through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the food industry was getting warnings as far back as 2010 that federal criminal law was going to be used a food-safety enforcement tool. The defense bar picked up on those signals and began warning food-industry executives that they, too, could be charged with “no fault” federal criminal misdemeanors if their businesses shipped adulterated food, even though it was outside the executive’s personal knowledge or consent.
Colorado’s Jensen brothers each did six months of home confinement in 2014 after pleading guilty to six of those “strict liability” federal criminal misdemeanors. No one had to prove that the brothers knew the cantaloupes from their farms were contaminated. They just had to be distributed with the deadly pathogen. Likewise, the DeCosters are awaiting sentencing for “strict liability” misdemeanors because their contaminated eggs became part of interstate commerce.
Taken together, these federal prosecutions represent an entirely new toolbox for food-safety enforcement.
2. Parnell Brothers and Mary Wilkerson found guilty in jury trial.
Peanut butter produced in 2008 at a Blakely, GA, processing plant owned by Peanut Corporation of America did more harm to humans and damage to property than just about any outbreak on record. Tragically, nine of the more than 700 victims of the Salmonella-laced peanut butter died. And PCA peanut butters and paste were so widely used as ingredients in food products manufactured by others that it led to the nation’s largest recall of such products. The recall cost industry an estimated $1 billion.
PCA’s owner, Stewart Parnell, his peanut-broker brother Michael Parnell, and three of the company’s top managers were indicted in February 2013 on multiple federal felony counts. Daniel Kilgore, the operations manager, and Samuel Lightsey, the plant manager, who had both worked at the Blakely plant, pleaded guilty before trial under agreements that saw them testify for the government.
The Parnell brothers and Mary Wilkerson, who was PCA’s quality-assurance manager at Blakely, went to trial in late July and, after a two-month jury trial, were together found guilty on 98 federal felony counts. The case the government successfully presented to the jury was one involving fraud and conspiracy, along with specific food-safety violations.
All five defendants will likely be sentenced sometime in 2015, although a sentencing date has not yet been set.
3. Obama administration puts aside opposition from activists and partisans normally associated with the president to back USDA in adopting the first new poultry-inspection regime since Eisenhower.
For almost 20 years, top Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) managers have wanted to change the way poultry inspection is done, and, for just as long, unions representing inspectors have held off. So it was a bit of a surprise on July 31, when the Obama administration sided with USDA and its FSIS management by announcing it was implementing the new poultry policies.
USDA said it was “a critical step forward in making chicken and turkey products safer for Americans to eat. Poultry companies will have to meet new requirements to control Salmonella and Campylobacter, and up to 5,000 foodborne illnesses will be prevented each year as a result of the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS), an updated science-based inspection system that positions food safety inspectors throughout poultry facilities in a smarter way.”
Under the NPIS, FSIS now requires that all poultry companies take measures to prevent Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination, rather than addressing contamination after it occurs. Also, for the first time ever, all poultry facilities are required to perform their own microbiological testing at two points in their production process to show that they are controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter. These requirements are in addition to FSIS’ own testing, which the agency will continue to perform.
4. Michael R. Taylor, the FDA’s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, moves the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) closer to full implementation with some skillful rule-making.
Taylor’s move came on Sept. 19, when FDA released revisions to four critical draft proposals to implement FSMA. While showing flexibility on his part, the revisions also show FDA is committed to changing from responding after the fact to preventing food-safety problems.
Since FSMA was signed into law in January 2011, FDA has proposed seven rules to implement FSMA. The four updated proposed rules include produce safety, preventive controls for human food, preventive controls for animal food, and the foreign supplier verification program.
FDA has made changes to key provisions of the four proposed rules based on feedback received from the public during meetings and thousands of comments submitted to the agency. Among the changes made as a result of public involvement is FDA’s decision to not apply its produce rules to farms with $25,000 or less in produce sales and easing up on water-quality testing so the source of the water is taken into account.
5. Raw milk takes a beating with a mother’s story, lower demand than thought, being named as the cause of more outbreaks, and gaining no traction in statehouses.
A Food Safety News story on Feb. 18 took on a life of its own on the Internet as our readers passed it on to their friends and it sparked discussion around the horn. The mother of a two-year old, who was infected with E. coil from drinking raw milk, and her dairyman warned of the dangers.
The year ended with the report that the January issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases states that the number of outbreaks associated with raw milk is increasing. Raw milk was involved in 30 outbreaks from 2007 to 2009 and in 51 outbreaks from 2010 to 2012.
In that time, 81 percent of raw milk-related outbreaks occurred in states that allow the legal sale of raw milk. Retail sale of raw milk is legal in 10 states, on-farm sales are legal in another 16, and seven states have legalized herd-share programs, in which a number of people “buy in” to owning dairy cows from which they receive raw milk.
And then there was a survey report early in the year that calls into question how much demand there really is for raw milk. Official “guesstimates” usually come in around 3 percent of the total milk supply. But the Vermont survey found that the amount of raw milk actually produced is far less than that — maybe 1 percent.
6. Foster Farms tries to go from goat to hero by moving during an outbreak to hire blue-chip consultants to work on new protocols.
Livingston, CA-based Foster Farms rarely had anything to say during the dozen or so times the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued updates on the Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak, except when it ended last July 31.
Just two weeks before the outbreak ended, Foster Farms had issued its first recall for an undetermined amount of chicken products produced last March 7-13. Foster Farms had come in for criticism because the company took so long to recall any product during the outbreak, which began on March 1, 2013, before it spread to 29 states and Puerto Rico.
“Food safety is, and always will be, our top priority,” Foster Farmer stated when CDC called the outbreak over. It then used the occasion to say that Salmonella is found on an average of 25 percent of all raw poultry parts, and Foster Farms had “made progress” by reducing that to less than 5 percent for its products. The company also announced that it had committed to a $75-million food-safety program to reduce naturally occurring Salmonella at each stage of the production process.
Top outside experts were said to be involved. Foster Farms clearly wants to be seen as a food-safety leader, not an unwilling participate in an outbreak. Messy little details from that completed outbreak include that most of the illnesses, 77 percent, were among Californians. There were no deaths, but 38 percent of those sickened did require hospitalization.
7. Growing concern about antibiotic resistance puts more pressure on animal agriculture and FDA over whether voluntarily controls are sufficient.
Antibiotic resistance is real, as any number of foodborne illness victims have discovered at the hospital. The issues involved are complex and the potential causes are many. A few days before 2014 dawned, FDA adopted a voluntary plan for animal agriculture to phase out the use of some antibiotics used in food production.
Farmer and ranchers use antibiotics both to treat animals that are ill and also in feed to enhance growth. Antibiotics in feed are provided at “sub-therapeutic” levels. Nobody really knows why, but their use promotes weight gain. FDA has been working to phase out antibiotics in animal feed since 2010.
Perhaps it was that combination, or the timing of events, but 2014 was a year when antibiotics may not have dominated; however, the issue has been steady and consistent. At year-end, the Obama administration set up an Interagency Task Force for Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. It’s likely to become the focus of efforts by those who say FDA’s voluntary approach is not moving fast enough, or that not enough jurisdiction exists over veterinarians..
Meanwhile, there were technical or scientific developments involving antibiotics, including prize money being put up for a quick answer test for determining if antibiotic resistance exists and whether antibodies might replace antibiotics.
8. The U.S. cannot figure a way out of COOL, the country-of-origin labeling scheme. It wants to avoid punitive tariffs, but it also wants to keep the origin labels on meat. It kicks the can down the road with yet another WTO appeal.
Grounds for any successful appeal of a World Trade Organization (WTO) finding are very narrow. It’s not possible to re-open the “facts of the case,” so arguments to the dispute panel are limited to points of international law. So it’s not surprising that nothing is really known about the details of the appeal the U.S. filed with WTO on Nov. 28 over its COOL law.
USDA’s current COOL regulations require that meat processors and retailers keep track of where meat is “born, raised, and slaughtered.” WTO has consistently sided with Canada and Mexico, which argue that COOL is an unfair trade barrier in its application.
The processing of the U.S. appeal is the only thing now preventing Canada and Mexico from imposing billions of dollars in tariffs on U.S. products as punishment. Those tariffs will take the COOL dispute into a whole new arena as Canada and Mexico will be able to harm any number of U.S. industries.
9. After doubling down but again losing with state voters, the GE-labeling dispute moves to Capitol Hill.
Oregon’s Right to Know GMO-labeling campaign did win the right to an automatic recount, but their effort still lost by about the same number of votes as it did in the first count. It means the national campaign to label food containing genetically engineered ingredients is 0 and 4 when it comes to state ballot measures. The GMO right-to-know side has now lost California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington state. It did win a couple of labeling proposals in the Northeast U.S., but only Vermont has voted to require GMO labeling on its own. A federal court now has that under review.
The next stop for this one is Congress. Michael Landa, director of Food Safety and Applied Nutrition for FDA, told an outgoing congressional hearing that nothing has changed. FDA sees no reason for labeling GE food because 20 years of research into 100 types of food shows there is no greater or lesser food-safety risk with or without genetic engineering. He also said FDA requires that food labeling not be false or misleading, and a GE-labeling requirement would be inconsistent with that responsibility. At the same hearing, a food-association executive suggested the best compromise is the “GMO Free” campaign, which currently is a private, market-based approach, not a government mandate.
That hearing may have been a preview to what will play out in 2015 as a Republican-controlled Congress works on the issue with the Obama administration.
10. FSIS regulatory climate mixed as it slowly implements mechanically tenderized beef regulations and tosses CSPI petition on antibiotic-resistant Salmonella, while imposing grinding log regulations.
USDA’s meat and poultry safety unit is involved in a never-ending stream of regulatory issues and public requests.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been petitioning FSIS to list resistant antibiotics as adulterants in meat and poultry. So far, FSIS has not acted favorably on the CSPI petition.
When FSIS agrees to take a regulatory action, it, like other agencies, must take it up not only to the department level at USDA, but also to the Office of Management and Budget in the White House.
That’s where regulation requiring labels on mechanically tenderized may have gone. A couple months ago, some food-safety advocates met with USDA in hopes of smoking the meat regulations out by year end. It does not appear that happened and means the OMB might hold on to them — until 2018.
When beef is mechanically tenderized, pathogens from the surface can be pushed down into the center. If the cuts are cooked rare or not at a high-enough temperature, the pathogens pushed into the center can sicken the consumer.
Advice to Consumers About Caramel Apple Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2014/advice-to-consumers-about-caramel-apple-listeria-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 22, 2014 )
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is issuing advice to consumers about the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially produced caramel apples. Listeria can cause a serious, life-threatening illness.
The government is recommending that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples, including plain apples as well as those with additional nuts, sprinkles, chocolate, or other toppings until further notice. These products are usually made and sold in the fall, but they may be still be for sale in grocery stores and may be in consumers’ homes since they have a shelf life of more than a month.
If you have any of these products in your home, discard them immediately in a closed container so other people and animals can’t eat them. No illnesses linked to this outbreak have been linked to apples that aren’t caramel-coated or to caramel candy.
No homemade caramel apples have been associated with this outbreak. If you aren’t sure whether a caramel apple is homemade or commercially prepared, don’t eat it.
If you have eaten prepackaged, commercially produced caramel apples and have been ill with the symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, see your doctor immediately. Listeriosis can be serious, especially for children, the elderly, those with compromised immune systems, and pregnant women. The symptoms of a Listeria infection include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, along with nausea and vomiting. Pregnant women may only be mildly sick, but listeriosis can cause infection in the newborn baby, stillbirth, and miscarriage.
As of Friday, December 19, 2014, there are at least 28 U.S. consumers sickened with listeriosis, linked to commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples. Five people have died. The Minnesota Department of Health states that Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples are associated with this outbreak. Those were purchased from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods in that state. But other brands may be involved in this outbreak as well. We’ll keep you updated as further information is released.
Together: A Food Safe America
Source : http://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2014/12/together-a-food-safe-america/
By: Michael R. Taylor, FDA (Dec 18, 2014)
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the Consumer Food Safety Education Conference convened by the Partnership for Food Safety Education (PFSE). The conference brought together food safety educators from across the country – people in state and local health departments, universities, extension services, and food businesses who are working every day on the front line, with consumers, to reduce food safety risks by improving consumer food handling practices.
Michael R. Taylor is FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.The theme of the conference was “Together: A Food Safe America” – a theme that captures so well the sense of community, high purpose and energy that were present so abundantly at the conference. I shared the podium with two good friends and colleagues representing key FDA partners on food safety – USDA’s Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm, and Joe Corby, the Executive Director of the Association of Food and Drug Officials, which represents state and local food safety officials.
We regulators have a responsibility, through our oversight of the food industry, to do everything we reasonably can to make sure that the foods consumers bring into their homes are as safe as they can be. We are doing this by building into our food safety standards and compliance programs modern concepts and techniques for preventing the contamination that can make people sick.
Under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), we at FDA have a new mandate to build a farm-to-table system of prevention, encompassing work that must be done to make food safe at four major stages of the commercial food system. These pillars of prevention include:
?Production of produce on the farm,
?Practices in food processing and storage facilities,
?Transportation of food, and
?Practices in grocery stores and restaurants.
But there’s a fifth pillar of prevention, and that’s the consumer. We all know that, even with the best of efforts by commercial food producers and handlers, consumers still must play a crucial role in preventing the introduction and spread of contamination – by keeping their hands and food surfaces clean, by keeping raw meat and produce separate, and by being sure to cook food to proper temperatures and chill food through prompt refrigeration.
It seems like common sense – and the basic ideas are – but food safety educators know that it’s far from simple to provide consumers the information, tools, and motivation they need to turn common sense into sustained behavior change. But they are out there, every day, doing the hard work.
We in government and the food industry need to better support our food safety educators. FDA, USDA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) do some good work on food safety education. For example, at FDA, our current programs include targeting groups and individuals who are especially vulnerable to foodborne illness and partnering with the National Science Teachers Association to incorporate food safety into the science curriculum at the middle and high school levels. But there is more we can do to support food safety educators at the front line, in their daily work with consumers in clinics, in schools and in communities – where most of the food safety education, and all of the behavior change, takes place.
At FDA, we will be building food safety education into our risk-based priority setting paradigm, which means documenting better the contribution that education makes to reducing risk, evaluating what works to sustainably improve consumer practices, and targeting resources where they will make a real difference. Federal food safety agencies – and their finite resources – are overwhelmingly focused on the congressional mandate to prevent hazards arising from the commercial supply chain, which makes sense: that’s what we regulate. But, backed up by the right analysis, we can effectively target and increase our investment in consumer education in ways that will make a real difference for public health.
But the federal government can only do so much. And that’s where PFSE comes in. The Partnership brings together government, industry and consumer leaders to pool their expertise, share their perspectives, and collaborate on the hard work of food safety education. I applaud and thank the consumer groups, food companies, and trade and professional associations that are contributing their time, creative energy and resources to the work of the Partnership. And I salute the PFSE’s Executive Director Shelley Feist for her leadership and her sustained commitment to food safety and consumer education.
Working hard, and working together, we can have a Food Safe America.
- See more at: http://blogs.fda.gov/fdavoice/index.php/2014/12/together-a-food-safe-america/#sthash.cNj5Vb5g.dpuf
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