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FoodHACCP Newsletter
01/19 2015 ISSUE:635

Chia Seed Powder Salmonella Outbreak Sickened Nearly 100
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/chia-seed-salmonella-outbreak-sickened-nearly-100/#.VLyj49j9ns1
By Drew Falkenstein (Jan 18, 2015)
The CDC reported a total of 31 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Newport (20 persons), Salmonella Hartford (7 persons), or Salmonella Oranienburg (4 persons) were reported from 16 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state was as follows: Arizona (1), California (4), Colorado (1), Connecticut (3), Florida (1), Illinois (2), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (1), New York (7), Ohio (1), Rhode Island (1), Texas (2), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Five ill persons were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
In Canada, four strains of Salmonella were associated with this outbreak: Salmonella Newport, Salmonella Hartford, Salmonella Oranienburg, and Salmonella Saintpaul. In total, 63 cases were reported in British Columbia (14), Alberta (10), Ontario (35) and Quebec (4). Twelve cases were hospitalized; nine cases were discharged and have recovered or are recovering. No deaths were reported.
Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that organic sprouted chia powder was the likely source of this outbreak. Sprouted chia powder is made from chia seeds that are sprouted, dried, and ground.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

Listeria Outbreak: 4 Queseria Bendita Cheeses Recalled After 1 Death and 2 Illnesses
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/fda-listeria-outbreak-4-queseria-bendita-cheeses-recalled-after-1-death-and-2-illnesses/#.VLykHtj9ns1
By Patti Waller (Jan 18, 2015)
More on Listeria Lawsuits.
Queseria Bendita LLC of Yakima, WA, is recalling all lots of Panela, Queso Fresco, Requeson and Cotija fresh soft cheese products and Sour Cream to include those with best-by dates up to 4/16/2015 due to the possibility they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Panela, Queso Fresco, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and Sour Cream were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon.
The company also sold products from its on-site store in Yakima.
The recalled products are packaged with a clear plastic wrapper or plastic tub and are stamp-coded with the best-by date up to 4/16/2015. The products are refrigerated and have a shelf life of up to 90 days.
So far there are a total of 3 cases of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to eating soft cheese produced by Queseria Bendita, including two hospitalizations and one death.
The FDA says the recall was the result of the investigation and samples collection by the Food and Drug Administration. The company has currently agreed to cease the production and distribution of all products.
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 caramel apples, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

Malaysia Bans US Apples Over Listeria Fears
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/legal-cases/malaysia-bans-us-apples-over-listeria-fears/#.VLyf-Nj9ns2
By Bill Marler (Jan 17, 2015)
And, we seem so worried about imports?
Malaysia News reports that the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry has restricted the entry of Gala and Granny Smith apples from the United States into Malaysia, as the products have been suspected to be tainted with Listeria bacteria.
Its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the restriction was imposed by the Department of Malaysian Quarantine Inspection Services (Maqis) after the Ministry received a notice on the contamination two days ago.
“We received a notice from US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informing us about the contamination and it is understood that it has caused three deaths and many fallen ill in the US and Canada,” he said.
The issue related to the ban on the apples had spread via the social media for the past few days. In fact a media portal had also reported that the spread of the bacteria was detected at an apple processing centre in Bidart Bros near Bakersfield, California involving apples coated with caramel.

 

 





 

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February 5-6, 2015
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The Food Safety Law Firm Files First Caramel Apple Listeria Lawsuit
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/first-caramel-apple-listeria-lawsuit-filed-by-the-food-safety-law-firm/#.VLygKtj9ns1
By Bill Marler (Jan 17, 2015)
Attorney Bill Marler of Seattle’s Marler Clark, the nation’s only law firm dedicated to representing victims of foodborne illness, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Safeway Inc., in the Superior Court of Santa Cruz on behalf of James Raymond Frey, 87, and the estate of his deceased wife, Shirlee Jean Frey, 81, who died tragically on December 2, 2014 after consuming a Listeria-tainted caramel apple purchased at the Safeway in Felton, California. The case number is CISCV180721.  The complaint was amended to add in two additional parties – Happy Apple and Bidart Brothers.
The events leading up to Mrs. Frey’s death began just before Halloween 2014, when she went to the Safeway store in Felton, California, and purchased, among other things, a commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apple. Shortly after consuming the caramel apple later in the week, Mrs. Frey suddenly began to feel ill.
On November 6, due to weakness and instability related to her illness, Mrs. Frey fell and hit her head. She was rushed to the emergency room, where the decision was made to airlift Mrs. Frey to Stanford Hospital for surgery on what was thought to be a brain-bleed. On November 14th, after the surgery, Mrs. Frey was deemed well enough to be discharged and admitted for rehabilitative care. She appeared to be improving over the next ten days, however, her condition soon started to deteriorate.
On Thanksgiving Day, Mrs. Frey could not be awakened and was immediately readmitted to care at Stanford Hospital. On December 2, the doctors at Stanford Hospital informed the family that Mrs. Frey was suffering from a listeria infection—listeriosis (later confirmed by health department investigators). Already shocked and devastated, the family was informed later that day that Mrs. Frey had died as a result of the infection.
“My deepest sympathies go out to the Frey family,” said Marler. “Listeria is a brutal illness, but it is completely preventable. It is sickening and shocking when outbreaks like this one occur as it means the most basic precautions were not taken.”
The FDA has traced the distribution of the caramel apples eaten by eight ill people involved in the outbreak.  Although the Happy Apple Company and Merb’s Candies receive apples from other growers, the FDA’s ongoing traceback investigation has confirmed that Bidart Bros. is the only apple grower that supplied apples to both companies.  On December 22, 2014, Bidart Bros. issued a recall of Granny Smith apples it sold in 2014 to those customers known to produce caramel apples.  Then, on December 24, 2014, Bidart Bros. notified all customers receiving Granny Smith apples in 2014 to recall those apples if they had been used to make caramel apples.  Bidart Brothers from California, who processed Granny Smith and Gala Apples this last fall, have been the common denominator as the source of apples used in the production of caramel apples implicated in the latest illnesses and deaths.  It is unclear if Bidart Brothers also supplied Del Monte or Giant Eagle in earlier recalls.  However, to date Bidart Brothers have not recalled any apples, although I expect that to change.
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.
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.
Pacific Coast Fruit announced on its website that it was made aware that Bidart Brothers was recalling apples sold to caramel coated candy apple.  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, of 2014.
Merb’s Candies is issuing a voluntary recall of the Merb’s Candies brand Bionic Apples and Double Dipped Apples.  Merb’s Candies has been working with the Food and Drug Administration in their investigation of the current outbreak of Listeriosis, which has been associated with caramel apples. Bidart Brothers, who is one of Merb’s Candies apple suppliers, has initiated a recall, as there may be a connection between this outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes and apples they supplied Merb’s Candies.
Although no recall has been announced, Minnesota cases purchased caramel apples from Cub Foods, Kwik Trip, and Mike’s Discount Foods, which carried Carnival brand and Kitchen Cravings brand caramel apples.  These apples were produced by H. Brooks and supplied indirectly by Bidart Brothers.
The CDC reports as of December 30, 2014, a total of 32 people infected with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 11 states: Arizona (4), California (2), Minnesota (4), Missouri (5), Nevada (1), New Mexico (6), North Carolina (1), Texas (4), Utah (1), Washington (1), and Wisconsin (3). Dates when the Listeria strains were isolated range from October 17, 2014, to December 11, 2014. Ten illnesses have been associated with a pregnancy (occurred in a pregnant woman or her newborn infant). One fetal loss has been reported. Among people whose illnesses were not associated with a pregnancy, ages ranged from 7 to 92 years, with a median age of 66 years, and 32% were female. Three invasive illnesses (meningitis) occurred among otherwise healthy children aged 5–15 years. Thirty-one ill people have been hospitalized and six deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to three of these deaths, and it is unclear whether it contributed to an additional two deaths. The sixth death was unrelated to listeriosis.  The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has identified 2 cases of listeriosis in Canada with the same PFGE patterns as seen in the US outbreak.  PHAC is working with its provincial and territorial partners to determine the source of these illnesses.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that 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. Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1,000 cases result in death.
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.

Why Chinese food safety is so bad
Source : http://edition.cnn.com/2015/01/16/world/china-food-safety/
By Katie Hunt, CNN (Jan 16, 2015)
Almost half of Chinese food-processing plants fail to meet internationally acceptable standards, new figures suggest.
Quality control specialist AsiaInspection said 48% of the "several thousand" inspections, audits and tests it conducted in China last year failed to meet the requirements stipulated by some of its clients -- Western food trading companies and retailers.
"There are horror stories, obviously," Mathieu Labasse, AsiaInspection's vice president told CNN by phone. "We find factories that just have no basic idea about hygiene standards. People that handle the food, they have no gloves, nothing."
Labasse said there was a host of reasons for the failings. In some cases, laboratory tests found abnormal levels of pesticides, antibiotics, heavy metals, bacteria or viruses that could put consumers at risk.
Other transgressions included mislabeling packaging, abnormal coloring and odors, bruising and, in the case of seafood, adding water to make the fish appear to weigh more than it does.
China has experienced a string of stomach-churning food scandals in recent years.
The most high-profile recent case involved a U.S.-owned meat factory operating in China that was accused of selling out-of-date and tainted meat to clients including McDonald's, Starbucks, KFC and Pizza Hut chains.
"We see awareness growing but we don't see on the ground a concrete improvement yet -- it will come," Labasse said.
Labasse said the extremely fragmented nature of China's food chain -- the country has 500,000 food production and processing companies, 70% of which have fewer than 10 employees -- made it very difficult for authorities to control and foreign buyers to understand.
"Companies like McDonald's or KFC are dealing with their suppliers at arm's length. So they know well the people they communicate with on a daily basis but they don't know what's going on behind the scenes," said Labasse.
"The buyers are focusing their efforts on the people they signed a contract with but they should take the extra step and take control of the full supply chain and going as far as the third or fourth level of suppliers. "

Two Mechanisms for Fetal Infection with Listeria Bacteria
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/two-mechanisms-for-fetal-infection-with-listeria-bacteria/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 15, 2015)
Pregnant women are at high risk for Listeria monocytogenes infections. Almost thirty percent of patients sickened in the current Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples and plain apples packed by Bidart Brothers are pregnant women. One woman suffered a fetal loss. How are babies infected with this pathogenic bacteria when the mother eats contaminated food?
There are two mechanisms for fetal infection, called early onset and late onset. Early onset occurs when a transplancental infection occurs: the bacteria has progressed to the placenta, where it is shielded from the mother’s immune system and grows rapidly. A Listeria infection in pregnant women usually only produces mild symptoms including fever, headache, chills, back pain, and diarrhea. Those symptoms mimic the flu, which can delay diagnosis.
This type of infection can cause septicemia, pneumonia, and meningitis in the fetus and can result in miscarriage. Another complication from this infection is called granulomatosis infantisepticum that is a serious whole-body infection. The third trimester is the time of highest risk for these infections, since cell-mediated immunity is highest at this point, although miscarriage can occur during any of the three trimesters.
Scientists think that miscarriage is the body’s way of protecting the mother from the bacteria. After miscarriage, the mother usually recovers physically.
The second mechanism for fetal infection is late onset, which affects full term babies who are otherwise healthy. The baby is infected during birth, since the mother sheds the bacteria in the vagina. Symptoms appear in the baby within a few days to a few weeks after birth. Babies infected this way usually develop meningitis, although recovery rates are better than those of early onset listeriosis.
Pregnant women should avoid eating several types of food, including soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk and cheese, deli meats, hot dogs, smoked meats, and undercooked and uncooked meat, shellfish, and eggs.  Those foods present the highest risk of contamination by Listeria and other pathogenic bacteria.
Wash produce well before preparation, and avoid cross-contamination between uncooked meats and eggs and foods that are to be eaten raw. Fruits and vegetables can be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and other bacteria. The fact that apples were contaminated in this outbreak may be surprising, but there have been recalls of apples for Listeria in the past several years.
Be aware of the symptoms of listeriosis when you are pregnant, and see your doctor immediately if you do become sick with flu-like symptoms. Effective treatment is available if the infection is caught early.

Listeria in Caramel Apples Sickens Four in Arizona
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/listeria-in-caramel-apples-sickens-four-in-arizona/
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 15, 2015)
Four people in Arizona have been sickened by Listeria in caramel apples.  The cases are part of an 11-state outbreak that has sickened 32 people, killing seven of them.
Three of the case patients, who range in age from newborn to 76, are female. All of them required hospitalization. No fatalities were reported, Food Poisoning Bulletin has learned.
Geographically, the cases were spread throughout the state reported from Apache County, in the northeast, Coconino County in the north central part of the state and Maricopa County in south central Arizona.
The outbreak has been linked to apples packed at Bidart Brothers in Shafter, Calif. The company has recalled a full year of Granny Smith and Gala apples packed at the plant.  A complete list of stores and brand names has not been released.

2014 E. Coli Outbreak Linked to Rare and Medium-Rare Restaurant Burgers
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/01/fsn-exclusive-medium-rare-restaurant-burgers-caused-e-coli-outbreak/#.VLyhCNj9ns1
By James Andrews (Jan 14, 2015)
An outbreak of E. coli this past spring that sickened at least 12 people — and hospitalized seven of them — was caused by ground beef burgers cooked rare and medium-rare at restaurants, according to health department documents obtained by Food Safety News through records requests made over several months.
This is the first time the exact cause of the outbreak, which occurred in April and May 2014, has been disclosed to the public. Public health experts speaking with Food Safety News say the outbreak is a stark reminder that undercooked ground beef poses a serious health risk and that consumers should be aware of the risk when ordering their burgers rare or medium-rare.
The outbreak was first publicly reported by federal health authorities on May 19, 2014, with an announcement that ground beef produced by Detroit-based Wolverine Packing Company had sickened at least 12 people in 4 states. At the same time, the company and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a recall of 1.8 million pounds of ground beef produced by Wolverine between March 31 and April 18, 2014.
In notices to the public, health agencies warned consumers against eating undercooked ground beef since cooking burgers to only rare or medium-rare does not kill potentially harmful bacteria such as E. coli that might be present in the center. The recommended temperature for beef burgers is 160 degrees F, according to the outbreak announcement from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What the public health warnings did not spell out, however, was that the illnesses were all connected to undercooked burgers served at restaurants, including an Ohio “gastropub” chain specializing in medium-rare burgers.
That chain is Bar 145. The name is a reference to what the company’s website calls the perfect temperature for medium-rare burgers, 145 degrees F.
Health department documents show that four of the five people sickened in the outbreak in Ohio ate medium-rare burgers at Bar 145 locations — three at the Toledo restaurant and one in the city of Kent. They came down with E. coli infections within days, and the illnesses prompted a restaurant inspection that found the beef came from Wolverine.
Each of the 12 people with confirmed cases told health officials that they ate burgers at restaurants within the outbreak window, with eight of them specifically noting that they ate rare or medium-rare burgers. For every laboratory-confirmed case of E. coli infection, CDC estimates another 26 cases go unreported.
Documents also show that the cases are all connected by an uncommon variety of E. coli O157:H7, one seen only once before in PulseNet, the national epidemiological database.
That evidence adds up to a “really clear-cut” outbreak caused by the burgers, said Carlota Medus, principal epidemiologist with the Minnesota Department of Health.
“It’s extremely unlikely that these illnesses could have been caused by a different source, based on the evidence,” she said.
Two cases involved people who ate “very rare” burgers at Stella’s Lounge in Grand Rapids, MI. That beef also came from Wolverine.
Other patients ordered burgers from a brew pub in St. Louis, MO, a burger bar in Farmington, MI, and a steakhouse in Kent, OH, not connected to Bar 145. Each of the restaurants received Wolverine beef, although documents do not specify how those burgers were cooked.
According to Dave Theno, the many risks associated with serving rare ground beef mean that restaurants need to take a number of additional safety precautions — and these restaurants weren’t doing them all. Theno is a food-safety consultant and former vice president of technical services at Jack in the Box, where he was hired to rebuild the fast-food chain’s quality-assurance procedures following the 1993 E. coli outbreak from undercooked burgers that sickened hundreds of people and killed four children.
“Obviously, serving rare ground beef is just super ill-advised,” he said.
Understanding the risk
While there’s nothing stopping consumers from ordering a rare burger, they should make sure they’re well-informed about the risks beforehand, said Benjamin Chapman, associate professor of food safety at North Carolina State University.
Chapman is currently leading a nationwide study to assess how well restaurants inform their customers about the risks of undercooked burgers. Restaurants that serve undercooked meat or seafood are required by the federal food code to provide a warning on their menus and have the server verbally inform customers when they want something considered risky.
While the study is still underway, Chapman said that he believes adults should be able to order a burger cooked however they want as long as they’re well-informed about the pathogenic risk. The jury is still out on whether or not they are.
“The thing that I’m most interested in is whether the advisory is useful,” he said. “Does someone who goes into a restaurant and orders an undercooked meat product — are they given enough information to make a good decision based on their risk tolerance?”
That question gets more tricky when the customer is a child or an elderly person. Both demographic groups are more susceptible to illness and permanent injury due to their relatively weaker immune systems.
“The menu warning is a very weak control because you don’t really have any control,” said Roy Costa, owner of Environ Health Associates, a food-safety consulting firm for restaurants.
Restaurants can’t guarantee an adequate level of food safety when leaving it up to servers to inform customers and make decisions on who should or shouldn’t eat a medium-rare burger, Costa said.
Legal until someone gets sick
The laws regarding serving undercooked ground beef put restaurants in a peculiar situation. While serving rare burgers is perfectly legal, it’s illegal to serve a burger that’s contaminated with E. coli. It’s considered an adulterated, defective product.
But there’s no way for a restaurant to know that their beef is free of E. coli unless they take a number of major precautions.
To start, restaurants need strict supplier control, Costa said. They should only buy beef from suppliers who perform microbial testing and provide certificates of analysis.
On top of that, Costa recommends that the restaurants perform random testing of beef in addition to the supplier’s testing to make sure the supplier is doing things right.
When asked if he knew of any restaurants performing both those steps, Costa said he did not. He knows of one gastropub that does require certificates of analysis from its suppliers for its medium-rare burgers, but they don’t perform their own additional testing, despite his recommendation.
“You just need to have a strong operation overall. No cross-contamination,” Costa said. “You have to show you can meet the food code from A to Z, with really good supplier control and a very active person at the counter who’s empowered to decide who can and can’t eat these burgers. That’s the best you can do.”
“That, and carry a $10-million insurance policy,” he added.
Another option, Theno said, is to use cold-pasteurized beef.
Through processes such as irradiation and electron-beam pasteurization, beef suppliers and restaurants can eliminate any bacteria and parasites from raw beef. They’re then free to cook the beef however they like without the threat of sickening customers, he said.
While some restaurants and grocery stores now offer cold-pasteurized beef, the practice is still far from mainstream.
“If you want to serve undercooked products like this, you’ve got to use cold-pasteurization,” Theno said.
Who’s responsible?
But what about the segment of the population who are fully aware of the risk and still want to enjoy a medium-rare, irradiation-free burger? If they get sick despite knowing the risk, are they responsible for their illness, or is the restaurant still on the line?
Legally speaking, the restaurant is ultimately responsible. The disclaimers on the menu won’t absolve anyone in court, Theno said.
“If someone wants to buy ground beef, take it home and cook it rare, that’s a personal choice,” he said. “But as soon as someone walks in my restaurant, I take responsibility for their health.”
Even if restaurants cook food to order, they’re legally not allowed to sell products considered defective, which would include a contaminated burger, Costa added.
Word travels fast through the food-safety world, and Theno said that when he heard about Bar 145 and their connection to the outbreak, he tried to get in touch with the owners to give them some advice, but he couldn’t get a return call. Food Safety News also contacted Bar 145’s Toledo location and spoke with a manager, but the owners did not return a call looking for comment.
Ultimately, Costa said, consumers are the ones who risk illness and injury from a contaminated burger, and everyone should do the best they can to educate themselves on the risks and make informed choices.
“You have to make a decision as a consumer if you’re going to expose yourself to a potentially life-threatening infection,” he said. “My advice is to do what you want, but understand what the risk is. Make an intelligent decision.”
Theno, on the other hand, placed the final responsibility on restaurant owners.
“Short of pasteurization, there’s no way to guarantee that there aren’t harmful microbes in ground beef,” he said. “Restaurant owners have a responsibility to protect public health and ensure no one gets sick from your products. They’ll tell you they have it under control, but they don’t.”

Food Safety officials seal two jaggery units in Omalur
Source : http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/food-safety-officials-seal-two-jaggery-units-in-omalur/article6787048.ece
By thehindu.com (Jan 14, 2015)
Two jaggery manufacturing units that were producing adulterated products in Omalur were sealed by Food Safety officials on Monday.
A team led by T. Anuradha, Designated Food Safety Officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety and Drug Administration Department, and food inspectors inspected the units and found sugar and banned chemical being used in producing jaggery.
Adulteration
Mixing of sugar and the banned chemical is considered as adulteration.
The officials said that the manufacturers were warned not to involve in such production activities.
They had been given sufficient training on the usage of prescribed chemicals.
Despite these, they continued to involve in such activities that harmed the consumers.
Hence, the units were sealed, they added.
Manufacturing of jaggery in Omalur areas is in full swing to meet the demands for the Pongal festival. So, the officials are closely monitoring the units.

Why are Pregnant Women So at Risk for Listeria Infections?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/why-are-pregnant-women-so-at-risk-for-listeria-infections/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 13, 2015)
The ongoing Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples and that may be associated with plain apples packed by Bidart Brothers has sickened 32 people and killed seven. Ten of these illnesses were in pregnant women; one woman suffered a fetal loss. Why is this infection so serious in pregnant women?
One theory is that in pregnancy, the immune system is suppressed so the body doesn’t reject the embryo and fetus. This reduction in immunity may be why these women are so susceptible to listeriosis and why the complications can be so severe. Researchers at Berkeley, however, discovered that Listeria monocytogenes bacteria use the immune system suppression to invade the placenta where they are protected from the mother’s immune system.
Once the bacteria are in the placenta, they can grow rapidly, then emerge to infect the maternal liver and spleen. One theory is that miscarriage occurs as a defense mechanism so the body is protected from the source of the bacteria’s growth. It is difficult for any bacteria to cross the placental barrier, but once they do, complications can be very serious. Scientists think that the bacteria can cross the endothelium of the maternal blood vessels, and get into the fetal circulatory system of the placental villi.
In most people, most Listeria bacteria that get into the body are destroyed in the liver. But some can hide out in cells called hepatocytes in the liver. This leads to “hepatocyte lysis” and the bacteria are then released in large numbers into the bloodstream. The bacteria can also hide out in macrophages, a type of white blood cell, where they are protected against immune response and some antibiotics.
Children, the elderly, and those with chronic illness or compromised immune systems are also more susceptible to Listeria infections because of suppressed immunity and other problems with the liver and other organs. People who have undergone organ transplants, those with liver and kidney disease, diabetes, and AIDS are also at greater risk for complications from a Listeria infection.
The time it takes for the bacteria to reproduce in hepatocytes and macrophages, and the time it takes to get into the placenta, reproduce, and emerge into the blood stream may be why the incubation period between exposure to Listeria monocytogenes and the onset of symptoms is so long. The incubation period can range from three days to 70 days. Most pregnant women become ill about six weeks after infection. Knowing this time frame will help doctors trace back the food or water that is the source of the bacteria.
Pregnant women should always be careful about what they eat to avoid any food poisoning, especially listeriosis. Common advice is to avoid eating deli meats, smoked meats, undercooked and uncooked eggs, undercooked and raw meat and seafood, raw milk, sprouts, raw milk cheeses, soft cheeses, and unpasteurized cider. These products are all susceptible to bacterial contamination, especially Listeria bacteria. And since Listeria bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, all of these foods are risky. Wash all produce thoroughly, and avoid cross-contamination between uncooked meats, seafood, and eggs and foods eaten raw.
In the current outbreak, if you ate any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples this fall or winter, monitor yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis. They include high fever, severe headache, muscle aches, confusion, diarrhea, nausea, and stomach and abdominal cramps. Pregnant women, unfortunately, may only have a very mild flu-like illness, but listeriosis can cause stillbirth, miscarriage, and infection in the newborn baby that can be very serious.
If you do get ill, treatment is available. It’s important to get to your doctor as soon as you suspect something is wrong to receive antibiotic treatment.

Voluntary compliance, not enforcement, key to food safety regulations
Source : http://www.bovinevetonline.com/news/industry/voluntary-compliance-not-enforcement-key-food-safety-regulations
By American Farm Bureau (Jan 13, 2015)
Working under tight court-mandated deadlines to finalize a series of Food Safety Modernization Act rules, Food and Drug Administration Deputy Commissioner Mike Taylor said his agency is focusing on three broad themes in implementing the 2011 law: the farm-to-table approach, practical common standards, and holding imports to the same standards as domestically produced foods.
Taylor was speaking to a group of farmers and ranchers from across the country during a workshop at the American Farm Bureau Federation's 96th Annual Convention.
FSMA, Taylor said, codified the agency's farm-to-table approach for food safety, which means everyone from farmers and ranchers, to transporters, food processors, retail outlets and consumers, we all have a role in food safety.
In drafting rules that work for across a broad spectrum of farm type and regions, the agency is aiming to craft consistent standards applicable across the food system while ensuring those standards are workable for everyone.
"It's our job to be clear about expectations-practical expectations-and to work with the [regulated] community to achieve them," Taylor said.
Central to FDA's efforts with FSMA is ensuring imported food is as safe as U.S.-grown food. Currently, FDA inspectors only get a good look at 2 percent of imports. The proposed FSMA rules would shift that onus from FDA to importers who provide verification that the food meets U.S. standards.
In putting all of these rules in place, FDA is focusing on voluntary compliance, rather than enforcement, Taylor emphasized.
"Our operating assumption is that most people want to do the right thing. We'll get a bigger public health bang for our buck if we're working together with stakeholders on implementation," he said. "We really see the agriculture community as a primary constituency, a collaborative partner."
Taylor also touched upon the agency's implementation of a voluntary process to phase out the use of medically significant antibiotics (those used to treat humans for illness) for feed efficiency and animal growth promotion, while retaining their use for the treatment and prevention of specific diseases, under veterinary supervision.
"Most important in transitioning to this oversight is ensuring adequate access to veterinary services," he said. "This is something we're working on with USDA and AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association.)."

Market food safety at retail: Consumer group says UK supermarkets ‘must act on food bug’
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/01/market-food-safety-at-retail-consumer-group-says-uk-supermarkets-must-act-on-food-bug/
By Doug Powell (Jan 13, 2015)
Supermarkets should make a joint stand and show consumers they are serious about Campylobacter by taking a “more visible and co-ordinated industry wide approach” against the problem.
Which? has written to the UK’s seven major supermarkets to demand they take more action to tackle campylobacter, a bacteria which can be found in chickens and lead to serious illness.
The group has called on Asda, Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose to make publicly available plans for how they will tackle Campylobacter, along with clear timeframes for when this will happen.
In its letter to the supermarkets, sent today, Which? says that almost six weeks have passed since the Food Standards Agency (FSA) released data showing “scandalously high levels” of the bacteria in chicken, and that “consumers need reassurance that supermarkets are taking this seriously and doing all they can to address the problem”.
Some 30,000 people have signed a Which? campaign to make chicken safe, and the organization said 60% of consumers were concerned about high levels of campylobacter in supermarket chickens, with 75% saying they thought they were too high.
Half of consumers were unhappy about the amount of information about campylobacter levels in chicken.
“We have previously been in touch with your teams and are calling for every major supermarket to publish a plan of action by the end of January and to make this publicly available and published on your website, with a timeframe for taking action.”
The plan should include both immediate and planned interventions along the food chain, Which? said, such as incentivizing farmers to improve controls to the use of blast surface chilling, to reduce levels of campylobacter as quickly as is feasible.
Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said food safety was retailers’ “top priority” and that initiatives such as leak-proof and oven ready packaging, safe handling information on labels, websites and in in-store magazines had been introduced to help people understand the risks and minimize contamination.
Set goals and publish the data.

Pet Food Safety Study is Not Junk Science
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/01/pet-food-safety-study-is-not-junk-science/#.VLyixtj9ns1
By Susan Thixton (Jan 12, 2015)
Opinion
It is sad to report that the credibility of our results has been attacked. And by someone who knows nothing of the two scientists who oversaw the testing for us. There were no questions asked prior – just bashing. Makes one wonder.
Phyllis Entis is probably known to many readers here — she was known as “The Food Bug Lady” when she had a blog about food safety. She just came out of her retirement from blogging to call our pet food test results “junk science.” You can read her unflattering response to our testing here.
So — for starters, in response to the “junk science” claim — the scientists who oversaw our testing project were Dr. Gary Pusillo and Dr. Tsengeg Purejav of INTI Service Corp. For any doubters to the credibility of our testing, below is a bio of INTI Service:
INTI Service Corp. provides animal and agricultural forensic science services to companies all over the world. Dr. Gary Pusillo, a board-certified veterinary nutritionist, has more than 300 professional forensic investigations to his credit, in addition to personally reviewing and evaluating hundreds of cases that never made it into the judicial system. Dr. Gary’s investigative and expert reports are peer-reviewed, scrutinized and analyzed by the some of the best minds in science and the legal system. Dr. Gary has been an associate member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists (AAFS) since 2012 and has presented two papers at national meetings. In Washington, D.C., in 2013, Dr. Gary received the AAFS General Section Achievement Award. This was the first an animal professional ever received the award since 1948.
Those who know me and my consumer advocacy work know very well that I would not have trusted our very serious pet food testing project to anyone other than the absolute best. We had the best with Dr. Gary Pusillo and Dr. Tsengeg Purejav.
Ms. Entis calls our testing “a wild goose chase after low-level pathogens of minimal risk to either humans or their pets.” Interesting perspective — but incorrect.
The information provided in the full report was quoted from FDA, the Centers for Disease Control, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. I am by no means a scientist, so I relied on information from these well-known organizations to provide risk information to consumers.
As an example, Ms. Entis states that Acinetobacter (found in 8 pet foods) is a “low-grade pathogen that is mainly associated with hospital-acquired infections … .” FDA, on the other hand, has classified Acinetobacter as a “Qualifying Pathogen” – it is listed in the Federal Register as a qualifying pathogen. As for this bacteria mainly being associated with hospital-acquired infections, yes, I’ve read that, too. But why was a bacteria mainly associated with hospital-acquired infections found in pet food?
Ms. Entis states about Pseudomonas bacteria, “These bacteria are present in the environment, in our water, and in food. It is a cause of ‘swimmer’s ear’… .” However, specific to meat (such as meat in pet food), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations lists Pseudomonas as “microorganisms causing microbiological spoilage of meat,” and states specifically that Pseudomonas is a bacteria that causes “putrefaction” of meat. Again, why was this bacteria — linked to swimmer’s ear AND putrefaction of meat — found in pet food?
Ms. Entis discounts the risk of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, and Bacillus. On the other hand, FDA discusses these bacteria and their risks to humans — at length — in its “Handbook of Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins.” Note the word “foodborne.” Not even to mention the risk to pets consuming the bacteria.
Ms. Entis states, “the study organizers decided to troll through the foods for a long list of other irrelevant microbes.” The bacteria testing on the pet foods was performed at Baylor University. The results they provided were for full bacteria content of pet foods tested. There was no “trolling” for microbes. What was found, was found. What wasn’t, wasn’t. We did not “select” what bacteria to look for — our testing searched for all bacteria in each pet food. Salmonella and Campylobacter were not found in our testing — we didn’t avoid them as Ms. Entis suggested. Had she bothered to ask me prior to her post, she would have learned this. As for species identification, my apologies. Consumers didn’t have the funding to perform this for you.
Ms. Entis also took offense at how our mycotoxin results were provided. She suggests that we (me) intentionally changed the results from parts per million to parts per billion to make “the data appear more shocking.” Wrong again.
The results were provided to me as parts per billion, and, in turn, I provided them to consumers as parts per billion. Ms. Entis suggests that FDA states mycotoxin levels in parts per million. But, as you can see in this FDA Guidance document, FDA states aflatoxin levels in parts per billion — just as we did.
Ms. Entis states, “I am appalled at the way in which this study was designed and carried out. The portions of the study relating to bacterial analysis and presentation of the mycotoxin results are the epitome of junk science.”
Junk science? You call a board-certified veterinary nutritionist and a member of the American Academy of Forensic Scientists junk science? You call science performed by a leading university junk science? I beg to differ.
It does NOT matter if bacteria found in our test results are known to be found in hospital-acquired infections — they were found IN PET FOOD. They are linked to serious human illness. They are linked to spoilage of meat.
If doubters wish to question Baylor University and the results they provided us, go right ahead. No one — to our knowledge — has ever tested pet food at this level before. So perhaps the shock and disbelief from doubters should be expected. But I must say I was disappointed that Ms. Entis never bothered to reach out to learn more from me prior to her publicly discounting our testing. She not only insulted pet food consumers, she insulted numerous professionals. That is a shame.

‘Disgusting’ Quinn’s of Drumcondra fined for breaking food safety laws
Source : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/crime-and-law/courts/district-court/disgusting-quinn-s-of-drumcondra-fined-for-breaking-food-safety-laws-1.2063302
By irishtimes.com (Jan 12, 2015)
Evidence of rat infestation and overflowing sewage discovered in stockrooms
Landmark Dublin pub Quinn’s in Drumcondra has been fined €1,750 after health inspectors found a dead rat, raw sewage and soiled toilet paper in their main stockrooms.
The pub – one of the most popular spots for GAA fans because it of its proximity to Croke Park – is regularly packed on big match days. However, following a damning hygiene inspection the day after the 2014 All Ireland hurling final, it was ordered to close for 48 hours by Health Service Executive (HSE).
Its owners, Quinn Hospitality Ireland Operations 2 Ltd, with an address at Church View, Cavan, Co Cavan, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court to breaking hygiene and foodstuff laws.
Senior environmental health inspector Chris Counihan told Judge John O’Neill that in his 17 years of professional experience he had not seen anything as bad.
Mr Counihan told prosecution solicitor Adrian Lennon that on September 8th last he went to the popular pub in Dublin 9. He said he found “evidence of rat infestation” in two cellars where drinks were stored.
In one cellar he found a dead rat on the floor and he said no effort had been made to clean it up. There were also rat droppings on the floor as well as fragments of dried sewage and pieces of soiled tissue on the walls and on a manhole cover. Mr Counihan said the dried fragments of toilet paper was a result of over-flowed sewage which contained human waste.
In the poorly lit, cellar there was evidence of “uncovered drainage” and pipes had no “pest protection”. Mr Counihan said, “raw sewage over-flowed from a manhole.”
The manhole had also allowed rats to enter, the court was told. The floor was in a state of disrepair with gaps that could have also let in pests.
Drinks placed in the basement cellar were at risk of contamination from diseases including E.coli, salmonella and hepatitis which are spread by human waste as well as the bacterial infection Leptospirosis which can be carried in rat droppings.
The health inspector gave the court photos showing the rat droppings, human waste and dirty toilet paper. Mr Counihan said there was no pest control and he described the condition of the place as “the worst I’ve seen” in 17-years.
In the bar areas, the surfaces were in a “filthy condition”, a sink was filled with tissue paper and cigarette butts and there was mould on fridge doors. There was “extensive rust” in the ice machine and ice was at risk of contamination and a dirty ice scoop was also found.
There was also a large amount of small flies in the back bar area, the court heard. The pub had to be served with a closure notice and remained shut for two days because of “risk of contamination” and all its drinks, worth €25,000, had to be destroyed.
The inspector agreed with defence solicitor Kenneth Morgan that there was no food stored in the pub’s basement just alcoholic and soft drinks in kegs, bottles, cans and packaged juices.
He also agreed with the defence that the sewage and rodents were confined to the cellar, the pub had no prior convictions and the gaps in the floor have been filled in with cement. Mr Counihan also said the pub has worked hard to “to remove the grave and immediate danger that was there”.
Judge O’Neill said the condition of the premises was disgusting but noted they had pleaded guilty, had been the subject of the two-day closure order and had not tried to minimise the situation.
He said he noted that the health inspector had visited the pub again last Friday and has confirmed there has been significant progress.
Judge O’Neill imposed a conviction and fines totalling €1,750. The pub owners have also agreed to pay the HSE’s costs of €2,000 plus VAT.

Genetic Link Between Bidart Brothers Apple Facility, Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/genetic-link-between-bidart-brothers-apple-facility-listeria-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Jan 12, 2015)
Since December 22, 2014, consumers have been told not to consume any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples because of a Listeria monocytogenes outbreak associated with those products. As the investigation unfolded, it became clear that Bidart Brothers, an apple packer in California, was the only grower to apply apples to Happy Apple Company and Merb’s Candies, two recalled brands.
Also on December 22, 2014, Bidart Brothers issued a recall of Granny Smith apples sold to customers who make caramel apples. That recall was expanded on December 24, 2014, to all Bidart Brothers caramel apple-making customers supplied with Granny Smith apples in 2014.
The California Food Emergency Response Team was sent on December 23, 2014 to investigate the outbreak. Environmental samples were taken from Bidart Brother’s apple packing facility and sent to laboratories. Results indicated that Listeria monocytogenes was found in the environmental samples. On January 6, 2015, the recall was expanded to include all Bidart Brothers Granny Smith and Gala apples shipped from its packing facility in Shafter, California in the entire 2014 calendar year.
Labs then conducted more extensive genetic tests on the Listeria monocytogenes samples collected at the packing facility and matched them to samples of bacteria taken from sick people. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) tests confirmed that the same bacteria found at the packing facility were the same found in case patients. And the same strain of bacteria was also found in Bidart brothers apples that were collected in the distribution chain.
PFGE is used to generate DNA pieces from bacteria and subjects them to an electric field. This generates a DNA fingerprint that is unique to each bacterial strain. That means that the bacteria that sickened 32 people in this outbreak most likely came from the Bidart Brother’s facility.
Consumers are still advised to avoid eating any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apples until further notice. The brands that have been recalled in this outbreak include Happy Apple, California Snack Foods, Kroger, and Merb’s Candies. In Minnesota, many brand names are associated with this outbreak, including Lund’s, Byerly’s, and Jerry’s, and were named by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture.
If you purchased any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apple, do not eat it. And if you purchased any plain whole Granny Smith or Gala apples shipped by Bidart Brothers, do not eat those either. Some of the brand names of plain apples include “Big B” and “Granny’s Best”, although they may not have a brand name or are sold under other brand names. Ask your grocer if the apples were supplied by Bidart Brothers.
Then clean out the fridge, freezer, or pantry with a mild bleach solution to kill any remaining bacteria. This is necessary because Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can grow at fridge and freezer temperatures.
If you ate any commercially prepared, prepackaged caramel apple this fall or winter, or Granny Smith or Gala apples supplied buy Bidart Brothers, monitor yourself for the symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning for 70 days from the date of consumption. Those symptoms include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, confusion, diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal cramps. The elderly, pregnant women, children, and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk for serious illness. If you do get sick, see your doctor immediately.

China hit by new food safety scandal
Source : http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/china-hit-by-new-food-safety-scandal-1.2897425
By The Associated Press (Jan 11, 2015)
More than 110 charged with selling pork from diseased pigs
Chinese police have arrested more than 110 people on suspicion of selling pork from diseased pigs in the country's latest food safety scandal.
Public Security said in a statement Monday that more than 1,000 tonnes of contaminated pork and 48 tonnes of cooking oil produced from the meat had been seized in the operation that began last year across 11 provinces.
ˇáChina tainted meat scandal spreads to Burger King, Starbucks
ˇáRat meat sold as lamb in China
The ministry said the suspects belonged to 11 different syndicates who purchased pigs that had died of disease at cut-rate prices from farmers, and then processed them into bacon, ham and oil.
It said the producers sourced the pigs by bribing government livestock insurance agents, several of whom are also facing prosecution.
A series of scandals in China has deeply undermined public trust in food safety.
Last summer, McDonald's and KFC had to apologize to customers in China and Japan after a Shanghai television station reported a supplier, Husi Food Co., Ltd. had sold them expired beef and chicken.
Chinese regulators also shut a plant after a report that workers picked up meat dropped on the floor and mixed expired meat with new.  The companies said they immediately stopped using meat from Husi.
Dragon TV said that Husi, owned by OSI Group of Aurora, Ill., repackaged old beef and chicken and put new expiration dates on the packages.

 

 

 

 

 

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