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FoodHACCP Newsletter
02/02 2015 ISSUE:637

Food safety starts in your kitchen
Source :
By Mark Huffman (Feb 02, 2015)
Researchers find most consumers spread germs when they cook
Over the last decade food safety has become a hot button issue in Washington, resulting in the recently-passed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) more power to regulate food production.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that food-related disease and illness make millions of people sick each year and kill thousands. CDC spends a lot of resources tracking single cases of foodborne illness and investigating outbreaks.
While many outbreaks have been traced to stops along the food production chain, the biggest food safety threat to the average U.S. consumer may be lurking in their own kitchen. Researchers at Kansas State University have documented it.
They videotaped people in a kitchen, preparing a meal containing raw meat and a ready-to-eat fruit salad. The raw meat contained a nonpathogenic organism so researchers could trace contamination in the kitchen.
90% contamination
The result? Researchers found that 90% of the participants had prepared the meal in such a way that the tracer organism in the meat found its way to the salad.
"Almost all of the fruit salads we analyzed contained levels of the tracer organism, which we were representing as being salmonella," said Randy Phebus, professor of food safety at Kansas State University and one of the authors of the study.
The purpose of the study was to test which of the government's food safety messages and campaigns directed at consumers were most effective. It turned out that almost none of them were very effective.
In the past, researchers have relied on consumer surveys to rate food safety. They asked groups of consumers about their methods of food preparation and caution exercised in the kitchen.
What the consumers said and what they did turned out to be very different, making the previous studies, in Phebus' words, unreliable.
Pictures don't lie
"When you actually videotape it and observe it, most consumers are doing a really bad job in terms of preventing food contamination," he said.
In fact, the study found that all the consumers made mistakes in the kitchen that could lead to potential foodborne illnesses. The kitchen was wiped down after each participant prepared a meal, making it pristine for each new cook.
Afterward, the team looked for contamination. It found it on handles of pots and pans, on countertops and faucets. It was especially prevalent on hand towels, suggesting the participants were at least trying to be careful. They just fell short.
"We found that most people tried to wash their hands, but did it very ineffectively — either only using water or not washing for long enough," Phebus said. "By not washing their hands correctly, they spread contamination to the hand towels.”
The hand towels get used over and over, and each time they recontaminate things in the kitchen.
“It ultimately leads to contamination in the food product," Phebus said.
The U.S. government's food safety experts say one way to reduce kitchen contamination is to use paper towels for drying hands, not the dish towel. It offers other safety tips in the short video below.

Salmonella Tuna Scrape Sickened 425 in 2012
Source :
By Patti Waller (Feb 2, 2015)
Local, state, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collaborated in an investigation of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nchanga infections which was ultimately shown to be associated with consumption of an imported frozen raw yellow fin tuna product, known as Nakaochi Scrape, from Moon Marine USA Corporation. Nakaochi Scrape is tuna backmeat that is scraped from the bones of tuna and may be used in sushi, sashimi, ceviche, and similar dishes.
Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nchanga are unusual serotypes of Salmonella in the United States. Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Salmonella bacteria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that were counted as outbreak associated cases.  They used data from PulseNet, the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories that performs molecular surveillance of foodborne infections.
A total of 425 individuals infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Bareilly or Salmonella Nchanga. Four hundred and ten persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly were reported from 28 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly identified in each state was as follows: Alabama (5), Arkansas (1), California (8), Colorado (1), Connecticut (11), District of Columbia (3), Florida (1), Georgia (20), Illinois (30) Indiana (1), Kansas (1), Louisiana (6), Massachusetts (36), Maryland (39), Missouri (4), Mississippi (2), Nebraska (2), New Hampshire (2), New Jersey (39), New York (62), North Carolina (12), Pennsylvania (37), Rhode Island (6), South Carolina (5), Tennessee (4), Texas (14), Virginia (33), Vermont (1), and Wisconsin (24).
Fifteen persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga were reported from 7 states. The number of ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga identified in each state was as follows: Georgia (2), Maryland (1), New Jersey (3), New York (6), Texas (1), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (1).
Illness onset dates ranged from January 1 to July 7, 2012.  Ill persons ranged in age from less than 1 year to 86 years, with a median age of 30 years; 60% of patients were female. Among 326 persons with available information, 55 (17%) reported being hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
Interviews of ill persons conducted by states in March and April, 2012 suggested consumption of sushi made with raw tuna as a source of these infections. By April 11, 2012, 43 (81%) of 53 ill persons interviewed with a detailed questionnaire reported eating sushi. This proportion was significantly higher when compared with results from a survey of healthy persons in which 5% reported eating “sushi, sashimi, or ceviche made with raw fish or shellfish” in the 7 days before they were interviewed. Of the 43 ill persons reporting eating sushi, 39 (91%) reported eating a sushi item containing tuna and 36 (84%) reported eating a sushi item containing “spicy tuna.”
Several methods were used to evaluate the association between tuna and illness in this outbreak. On March 29, 2012, a study was launched to estimate the frequency of consumption of tuna and “spicy tuna” among all sushi eaters. Investigators assembled a comparison group from 1) diners who ate at one of the cluster restaurants or grocery stores or 2) a restaurant where a single ill person, who was judged to have a reliable memory, recalled consuming sushi only once in the week before illness. Records were collected on sushi orders that were placed at the same time of day (lunch or dinner) and as close to the date when the ill person ate at the restaurant.
On April 9, 2012, preliminary results of the comparison study using information available from 4 illness clusters at restaurants or grocery stores showed that the proportion of sushi orders that contained tuna as an ingredient averaged 61% (ranging from 43% to 71%). The proportion of sushi orders that contained “spicy tuna” as an ingredient averaged 37% (ranging from 29% to 53%). These data suggested there was an association between illness and consumption of sushi made with tuna, and specifically “spicy tuna.”
State and local public health and regulatory officials worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct a traceback investigation of tuna. Investigators visited restaurants and grocery stores associated with ill persons and collected information about the ingredients used in “spicy tuna” recipes. Raw tuna was found to be a common ingredient used to make “spicy tuna” among all 5 restaurant or grocery store clusters for which ingredient information was available. FDA selected 4 of the clusters, which were located in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin, as the focus of the initial traceback investigation. All 4 establishments received the same imported frozen raw Nakaochi Scrape tuna product from a single tuna processing facility in India, Moon Fishery Pvt Ltd.
On April 13, 2012, Moon Marine USA Corporation (also known as MMI) of Cupertino, California voluntarily recalled 58,828 pounds of a frozen raw yellow fin tuna product, labeled as Nakaochi Scrape AA or AAA. A Seafood HACCP (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point) inspection was conducted by FDA April 19–24, 2012 at the Moon Fishery Pvt Ltd. processing facility in Aroor, India. Based on the initial tour of the facility, inspectors identified several seafood HACCP deficiencies, such as lack of controls for histamine at receipt of product, lack of controls for Clostridium botulinum at storage, and several significant sanitation observations of concern. A copy of the inspection observations document is available.[1]
During the investigation, samples of the implicated product were collected for laboratory testing. On April 24, 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced that the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection laboratory had found Salmonella Bareilly contamination in recalled yellow fin tuna and in a spicy tuna roll made with the recalled tuna.
On April 26, 2012, FDA announced finding the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly from two samples taken from unopened packages of recalled Nakaochi Scrape tuna from Moon Marine USA Corporation. One of the samples also yielded another type of Salmonella with a PFGE pattern indistinguishable from a cluster of Salmonella Nchanga infections. Based on an epidemiological link and results of laboratory testing, CDC combined the Salmonella Bareilly investigation with an ongoing Salmonella Nchanga investigation, and the 2 associated PFGE patterns were grouped together as the “outbreak strains.”
By May 17, 2012, laboratory testing conducted by state public health laboratories in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin isolated Salmonella from 53 (96%) of 55 samples taken from intact packages of frozen yellow fin tuna scrape from Moon Marine USA Corporation or from sushi prepared with the implicated scrape tuna product. Of the 41 Salmonella isolates for which PFGE results are available, 36 samples yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly, and 12 samples yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Nchanga. Seven samples yielded the outbreak strains of both Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nchanga.
On May 10, 2012, Moon Fishery (India) Pvt. Ltd., the manufacturer of the frozen yellow fin tuna Nakaochi Scrape, expanded the voluntary to include its 22-pound boxes of “Tuna Strips”, Product of India, marked as “AA” or “AAA Grade” because the product has the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. The recall was announced after FDA laboratories isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Bareilly from a sample of tuna strips from Moon Fishery (India) Pvt Ltd collected as part of increased surveillance efforts. The shipment in question did not enter into U.S. commerce and no human illnesses were associated with this product.[2]
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.
[2]           See CDC Final Update dated July 26, 2012,




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Food Safety Microbiology
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February 5-6, 2015
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43 Sick in 5 State Salmonella Pine Nut Outbreak in 2011
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (Feb 2, 2015)
In late October 2011 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis.  The outbreak was identified through routine surveillance of reported salmonellosis conducted by the CDC.  Several states were reporting a spike in case patients infected with Salmonella Enteritidis strain JEGX01.0008/JEGA26.0032, a designation assigned by PulseNet, a database of foodborne pathogen genetic test results maintained at the CDC.[1] The outbreak was assigned CDC Outbreak ID# 1109NYJEG-2.
Patients infected with the outbreak strain lived in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Virginia.  Early in the investigation patients were interviewed using the CDC hypothesis generating questionnaire.  Pennsylvania Department of Health epidemiologist Dr. Andre Weltman noted that many of the case-patients he interviewed had shopped at Wegmans stores and that they reported purchasing and consuming pine nuts from Wegmans.  Investigators obtained shopper card records and discovered that ill persons had in fact purchased the same brand of pine nuts from bulk bins at Wegmans stores located in different cities and states.  State and federal investigators conducted a traceback of the pine nuts consumed by ill persons and learned they originated in Turkey.  Further investigation identified Sunrise Commodities, Inc., an Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey firm, as the importer and supplier of the bulk pine nuts to Wegmans stores.
The outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis was isolated in 14 samples of Turkish pine nuts or pesto by public health laboratories in several states and at the FDA.
•The Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis from Turkish pine nuts that were purchased from bulk bins at Wegmans stores and collected from an ill person’s home, and from retail samples of Turkish pine nuts collected from a Wegmans store where ill persons reported shopping.
•The New York State Department of Health, Wadsworth Center Laboratory, isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritis’s from three separate samples of homemade pesto containing Turkish pine nuts from three unrelated ill persons’ homes. In addition, culture of two samples of Turkish pine nuts which were purchased from bulk bins at different Wegmans stores and collected from two ill persons’ homes (one who also provided one of the pesto samples) yielded the outbreak strain.
•The Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritis’s from two samples of homemade pesto containing Turkish pine nuts from an ill person’s home, and from Turkish pine nuts which were purchased from bulk bins at two Wegmans stores and collected from two unrelated ill persons’ homes.
•The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritis’s from a sample of pesto containing Turkish pine nuts, and from a sample of Turkish pine nuts which were purchased from bulk bins at a Wegmans store and collected from an ill person’s home. The outbreak strain was also isolated from a sample of bulk pine nuts collected from a second Wegmans store in Maryland that was not associated with any illnesses.
•The FDA collected Turkish pine nuts from a warehouse used by Sunrise Commodities and from a warehouse used by a customer of Sunrise Commodities.  The outbreak strain was isolated in samples from both warehouses.
Four lots of the product covering two different crop years were implicated as matching the outbreak timeframe.  On 11/3/2011, Sunrise initiated a recall of the lots with samples which were positive for Salmonella Enteritidis:  669510 (lot #29628) and 719885 9lot #27963).  Genetic testing by PFGE of isolates cultured from these samples showed the Salmonella Enteritidis isolated in the contaminated pine nuts matched the strain found in outbreak associated case patients.
These findings prompted several recalls.
•On October 26, 2011 Wegmans Food Markets, Inc. recalled approximately 5,000 lbs. of Turkish Pine Nuts sold in the Bulk Foods department of most Wegmans stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, and Maryland between July 1 and October 18, 2011. [2]
•On November 4, 2011, Badia Spices, Inc. recalled approximately 3,800 lbs. of pine nuts. Badia Spices, Inc. repacked bulk pine nuts which were imported from Turkey and subsequently recalled by Sunrise Commodities of Englewood Cliffs, N.J. These pine nuts were sold in retail stores in Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and New Jersey between June and October 2011. [3]
On November 9, 2011, FDA confirmed the presence of Salmonella on tested Turkish pine nuts distributed by Sunrise Commodities. The company voluntarily recalled four lots of the bulk Turkish pine nuts, totaling more than 21,000 pounds. Each lot was packed in 22-pound boxes. Sunrise Commodities distributed the Turkish pine nuts in bulk to various food vendors in Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Canada. Sunrise Commodities issued a recall notification to its customers dated November 4, 2011, alerting them of the test results and of the epidemiologic investigation and asking them to notify their subsequent customers of the recall. [4]
In summary, a total of 43 individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis was reported from 5 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state with the outbreak strain was as follows: Maryland (1), New Jersey (2), New York (28), Pennsylvania (8), and Virginia (4). Ill persons ranged in age from < 1 year to 94 years.  The median age was 43 years old.  Sixty percent were female.  Two patients were hospitalized.  There were no deaths.[5]
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.
[1]           See for a description of PulseNet and how it is used in foodborne illness outbreak detection and investigation.
[5]           Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Enteritidis Infections Linked to Turkish Pine Nuts, November 17, 2011, Final Update,

2014 Salsarita Shigella Outbreak in Arkansas
Source :
By Bruce Clark (Feb 2, 2015)
In June 2014 Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) and Benton County Local Health Unit (BCLHU) epidemiologists and environmental health specialists investigated an outbreak of Shigella among persons who consumed food from Salsarita Mexican food bar, a food service vendor at the Walmart Home Office employee cafeteria. Salsarita’s is one of five food services in the Home Office cafeteria operated under contract with Eurest Dining Services. The Home Office cafeteria is not accessible to the general public; only Walmart employees and their guests have access to the café.
Initial reports of three patients who were laboratory confirmed with Shigella were received by ADH on June 17. One patient consumed salsa at a birthday party held on June 13. Both the birthday honoree and the host of the party work at the Walmart home office.  Thus, the host had access to the employee cafeteria where she purchased salsa from Salsarita’s. Other patients reported to ADH consumed food from Salsarita’s while dining in the Home Office cafeteria.
To identify other ill Salsarita customers, ADH initiated active surveillance in area hospitals and doctors’ offices.  Walmart assisted with case-patient finding by notifying all Home Office employees that a foodborne illness outbreak was underway.  Ill employees were asked to report illnesses to ADH or BCLHU.  All ill persons were interviewed by public health nurses or ADH epidemiologists. As of July 30, 2014, a total of 275 case patients were reported from nine states. This included 48 confirmed cases of Shigella and 227 probable cases which were defined as persons with diarrhea or fever and exposure to food from Salsarita’s.  Dates of onset of symptoms ranged from June 10 to June 29. There were 122 case-patients who sought medical care. Eleven persons were hospitalized. There were no deaths.  Public health investigators also identified secondary case patients who had close contact to a confirmed or probable outbreak associated case but no exposure to food prepared by Salsarita’s.
BCLHU environmental health staff inspected Salsarita’s on June 18. Nine violations were documented including 5 critical violations. Violations included improper hand washing practices, bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods, raw chicken stored above ready to serve drinks, and improper cold holding temperatures for several salad bar items. Salsarita’s was closed after lunch meal service on June 18. In the days that followed BCLHU environmental health staff conducted several on-site inspections at the Walmart Home Office employee cafeteria kitchen. Repeated violations of poor employee hygiene were noted over the course of several visits. Finally on July 10 the Walmart Home Office cafeteria kitchen inspection concluded with no violations. Salsarita’s was allowed to reopen on July 16.
Menu items containing fresh produce prepared at Salsarita’s and served during the outbreak were discarded on June 17 prior to the first visit by BCLHU inspectors on June 18. During the June 18th inspection, BCLHU environmental health staff collected a sample of diced tomatoes from the self-serve salad bar and submitted the sample to the ADH Public Health Laboratory for testing.  A sample of salsa collected from the refrigerator of a Salsarita’s employee was collected on June 19 and sent to ADH for testing. Both samples were negative for Shigella but high counts of fecal coliforms and E. coli were evident.
Stool samples were collected from all food handlers working at the Walmart Home Office employee cafeteria. None of the food handlers tested positive for Shigella although specimens were collected at least one to two weeks after the outbreak occurred.
Public health investigators concluded that an outbreak of Shigella occurred among persons who consumed food from Salsarita’s Mexican food bar. They suspected that despite negative stool tests in food workers, the outbreak was caused by an ill food handler. They based this conclusion on repeated food handling violations noted during multiple inspections and reports of employees with diarrhea working prior to and during the outbreak. Epidemiologic evidence suggests a point source of exposure to Shigella beginning the week of June 8, a time when an ill food handler reportedly worked at Salsarita’s.  This peak could be explained by person to person transmission, or by continued exposure to contaminated products from the Walmart Home Office cafeteria kitchen.
Shigella:  Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Shigella outbreaks. The Shigella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Shigella 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 Shigella lawyers have litigated Shigella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as tomatoes, airplane and restaurant food.

Every day food safety
Source :
By Jane Hart (Feb 01, 2015)
Don’t get food poisoning from your home kitchen.
When it comes time to cooking a meal, there are procedures to remember to ensure we consume safe food. Cross-contamination in the kitchen is a major issue and needs to be taken seriously, as it can cause illnesses if one isn’t too careful.
Did you know that the way food is put into the refrigerator is very important? Raw meats, poultry and seafood always need to be placed on the bottom shelves in tightly sealed containers. Fruits, vegetables, mixed salads and other ready-to-eat foods should be placed on the top shelf. Why? Juices from meats could potentially leak and drip onto the foods below. If lettuce leaves have chicken juice on them, they are contaminated and could make you very sick.
When you’re preparing a meal and you need to thaw a frozen item, there are three safe ways:
1.Place the item in the refrigerator until it thaws
2.Microwave the item and finish cooking immediately
3.Rinse with cold, running water until thawed
Thawing food in hot water is not safe because there may be bacteria present that will multiply when it has reached a temperature warmer than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This is also why it is unsafe to thaw food on the countertop.
When preparing a meal, do not forget to wash your hands. The proper way is to wet your hands, lather with soap between fingers, back of hands and under fingernails. Then scrub for 10 to 15 seconds. Once finished, rinse and dry using a single use paper towel or a clean towel. The process should take about 20 seconds.
Marinating meat is a great way to add flavor, but be sure you marinate in the refrigerator and not on the countertop. This will prevent bacteria from multiplying. Do not use the original marinade from the thawed meat once the meat is cooked, as it may contain bacteria. It is fine to make a new marinade to use, or save some from the initial batch to use separately on your cooked meat.
If you’re making a mixed dish with meat and veggies, use two different cutting boards and knives or clean and sanitize them between uses. If you notice that your cutting board is worn and has deep grooves, it should be replaced. Bacteria can grow in the deep grooves and spread onto your food as well as the utensils. Disinfect your countertop after cleaning with a sanitizing solution – one teaspoon of bleach per one quart of water. Don’t forget that anytime you touch raw meat, you need to wash your hands before beginning another task.
After eating the delicious meal you prepared, it is equally important to treat the leftovers safely and store them properly. If you refrigerate them, store in an airtight container and do not keep for more than four days. If you decide to freeze them, they will maintain their flavor for about four months. Michigan State University Extension recommends that you label and date your food so you don’t forget what it is or how long it has been kept.
There are many ways that bacteria can grow and flourish in your kitchen and your food. It is crucial that you take the proper precautions to keep you and your family safe. More resources can be found on MSU Extension’s website or at Happy cooking!

White House Wants More Funding to Fight Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Jan 29, 2015)
President Obama wants to increase federal funding to fight antibiotic resistant bacteria. The White House released a fact sheet this week detailing this investment to protect public health.
The CDC estimates that every year at least 2,000,000 illnesses and 23,000 deaths are caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria in this country. These infections cost at least $20 billion in direct health-care costs and up to $35 billion in lost productivity and sick days.
In September 2014, the President signed an Executive Order launching federal efforts to fight the increase in these bacteria, along with the National Strategy on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.
The President’s FY 2016 Budget nearly doubles the amount of Federal funding for combating and preventing antibiotic resistance to more than $1.2 billion. These funds will be used to improve antibiotic stewardship; strengthen antibiotic resistance risk assessment, surveillance, and reporting capabilities; and drive research innovation in the human health and agriculture sectors.
The Budget will allocate more than $650 million to expand the country’s investment in the development of antibacterial and new rapid diagnostics, along with $280 million to support outbreak surveillance, antibiotic use and resistance monitoring, and research and development. It will also give $47 million to the FDA to support evaluation of new antibacterial drugs for patient treatment.
The number of the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program sites will be doubled from 10 to 20 across the country. A Detect Network of Antibiotic Resistance Regional Laboratories will be established, serving as a resource to characterize emerging resistance and identify outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant organisms. Increased surveillance for antibiotic-resistant zoonotic and animal pathogens will help scientists understand what bacteria will generate outbreaks.

Norway finds first case of mad cow disease, says food safe
Source :
By Reuters (Jan 29, 2015)
Norway reported its first ever case of mad cow disease on Thursday, saying the instance was an isolated one and telling consumers it was still safe to eat beef and drink milk.
Tests at a British laboratory confirmed the disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), in a 15-year-old cow, which had been slaughtered, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority said.
The case was atypical, meaning there had been no transmission through the feed supply and it was not related to any wider outbreak, the authority said.
Since BSE was first identified in Britain in 1986, strict controls have tempered the spread of the disease.
But after its emergence, scientists became concerned about possible links, via the consumption of contaminated tissue, between BSE and a human illness called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. A new variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, nvCJD, killed dozens of people in Europe beginning in the mid-1990s.
Norwegian authorities said several other cows that had been in contact with the dead animal would also be slaughtered.
"The discovery of BSE has no impact on food safety and it is just as safe to eat meat and drink milk as before," it said.
However, the discovery would affect some food export certificates.
Awaiting the test results, Norway last week suspended issuing export permits saying that there had been no known cases of mad cow diseases in the country. Export certificates would have to be rephrased, and perhaps renegotiated.

Washington Calls for a Single Regulatory Agency for Food
Source :
By (Jan 28, 2015)
Lawmakers are talking about what the food industry itself has bantered about for years: creating a single food safety agency, bringing together the oversight functions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies.
Democratic Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois and Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro from Connecticut said the bill would create a single federal agency with an administrator directly appointed by the President.
Introduced as the Safe Food Act of 2015, the bill was co-sponsored by 10 other Democrats and would elevate food safety as a national priority, important as the U.S. food supply continues to source food globally.
"The fragmented Federal food safety system and outdated laws preclude an integrated, system-wide approach to preventing foodborne illness," it says.
Currently most of the responsibility for food safety lies with FDA. USDA oversees meat, poultry and processed eggs.
The bill would merge food safety oversight into a single agency, providing authority to recall unsafe food and improve inspections of imported food.
The purpose of the proposed bill is to build on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSNA), which was signed into law in January 2011. The focus of FSMA is on prevention of foodborne illness by contaminated food instead of response to such events.
Lawmakers said greater public awareness of food safety makes this an opportune time to initiate change. While the costs for creating a single agency were not discussed, the new agency would save money over time by improving efficiency.
DeLauro said that until the passage of FSMA, "the whole issue of food safety was a step-child at the FDA."
FDA has not commented on the proposed legislation.

OVERNIGHT REGULATION: Dems call for new food safety agency
Source :
By Lydia Wheeler (Jan 28, 2015)
Welcome to OVERNIGHT REGULATION, your daily rundown of enforcement news from Capitol Hill and beyond.
It's Wednesday night here in Washington and we're gearing up for day two of Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch’s confirmation hearing. But before we get too wrapped up in whether Lynch really is or isn’t Obama’s wingman, here’s a look at the biggest news and tomorrow's most compelling stories from the agencies and Congress.
By 2050, Patricia Buck said there will be more people in the world than available food.
"That is a startling statement," said the executive director of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research and Prevention on Wednesday. "And that means every morsel of food that gets produced has to be delivered as safely as possible to the consumer."
It's why she’s cheering the Safe Food Act of 2015 introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) on Wednesday. The bill would create one new agency to enforce the nation’s food safety regulations, rather than the 15 agencies that play a role in rulemaking and enforcement now. It would be called the Food Safety Administration.
With Republicans in the majority, however, Durbin said he knows many will ask, "Why would they ever look at this?"
But he’s ready to make his case.
"Why do you want to waste money," Durbin plans to ask opposing Republicans. "Why do you want to expose Americans and their families to unsafe foods and all the health consequences?"
Having one central agency, he said would reduce costs, as other agencies tend to duplicate efforts.
Beyond saving money, Buck said one agency would also coordinate research efforts.
"It would help us strategically plan for the future to ensure the safety of the food supply," she said.
Other experts say a Food Safety Administration would lead to greater transparency and predictability for consumers.
"Our current legal and administrative structure for food regulation is tremendously fragmented," Jennifer Herbst, an associate law and medical sciences professor at Quinnipiac University School of Law, said in a statement.
"As a result, it is difficult for food growers, processors, distributors, vendors, and consumers to successfully navigate the multiple agencies."
Durbin is hoping to gain bipartisan support, but he’s willing to offer the bill as an amendment to other legislation if he can’t get it through a committee.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold it’s second day of hearings on the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. attorney general.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Permitting Certainty and Transparency Act, which passed the house on Wednesday by a 277-133 vote.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee will hold a full committee hearing to discuss the better health outcomes and lower costs of employer wellness programs.
The Environmental Protection Agency will hold a meeting to discuss the national ambient air quality standards for ozone.
The Commerce Department, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service will hold a meeting to review the permit requirements for Atlantic shark fisheries.
The Obama administration will publish 185 new regulations, proposed rules, notices and other administrative actions in Thursday's edition of the Federal Register.
Here's what to watch:
Health Insurance: The Department of Treasury is moving forward with rules that nonprofit health insurance issuers participating in the Affordable Care Act’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plan program must comply with in order to be exempt from paying federal income tax.
Human trafficking: The Department of Defense, the General Services Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are issuing a final rule to strengthen protections against human trafficking in federal contracts.
Exports to Ukraine: The Department of Commerce is moving forward with a rule that will make it almost impossible to export or re-export goods to the Crimea region of Ukraine and to transfer goods within the region.
AEDs: The Food and Drug Administration final rule Wednesday that will require automated external defibrillator manufacturers to go through more rigorous reviews and submit premarket approval applications.
Whistleblowers: House Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller (R-Fla.) has introduced the Veterans Affairs Retaliation Act of 2015, which would establish mandatory disciplinary penalties for employees who retaliate against whistleblowers: a 14-day minimum suspension for the first offense and removal for the second offense.
Football: In preparation for the Super Bowl on Sunday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a warning reminding the public that it’s illegal to fly a drone over professional sporting events.
D.C. drones: The manufacturer of a drone that crashed on the White house lawn this week announced plans to introduce technology to keep its machines from flying around downtown D.C.
AG: Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch defended President Obama's executive actions on immigration Wednesday, but said she was not involved in the decision.
Executions: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delay the executions of three Oklahoma death row inmates until the justices rule on whether the state’s protocol for lethal injection is constitutional.
Congressional audits: Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) re-introduced a bill that would subject the Federal Reserve's monetary policy discussions and decisions to a congressional audit, Reuters reported.
Immigration: The Justice Department has delayed thousands of immigration hearings by nearly five years, The Wall Street Journal reported.
48 million: Number of people who are likely to get sick this year from foodborne diseases.
128,000: Roughly the number of people who will be hospitalized for foodborne illnesses this year.
3,000: The number of people who will die from foodborne illnesses this year.
"You’re a Knicks fan. It’s a lot tougher being a Knicks fan than going through these questions today," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said to U.S. Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch during day one of her nomination hearing.

Paris Researchers Find Placental Breach Mechanism for Listeria
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Jan 27, 2015)
As the deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreaks linked to recalled caramel apples made from Bidart brothers apples, and to Queseria Bendita cheese point out, pregnant women are very susceptible to these bacterial infections. In the caramel apple outbreak, ten pregnant women were sickened; one woman suffered a fetal loss. In the Queseria Bendita cheese outbreak, one infection was associated with a pregnancy.
Scientists believe that the bacteria get into the placenta and hide from the mother’s immune system, letting them multiple to dangerous levels. But the placental barrier usually acts as a barrier to bacteria. What makes Listeria different?
Researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Paris have found that Listeria survives and grows within the intestinal lumen (channels in the intestines). Protein pathways are responsible for letting the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria break through barriers. The results were published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.
Listeria bacteria use two surface proteins, called InIA and InIB, or internalins, to take them across mucosal tissue barriers. These proteins bind to receptors on cells. The host cells release enzymes called phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K) that are critical to the invasion process.
In the intestines, the bacteria only need InIA to get into the lumen. But in the placenta, Listeria needs InIB to “flip a switch” and turn on the PI3K pathway. The study shows how bacterial pathogens evolved to invade human tissue. If the placental PI3K activity was somehow blocked, the placental barrier against Listeria might be strengthened.
Because pregnant women are so susceptible to infection from this bacteria, they are advised to avoid many foods that carry a higher risk of Listeria monocytogenes contamination. Those foods include deli meats, bean sprouts, hot dogs, smoked meats, raw milk and raw milk products, soft cheeses, unpasteurized cider, and undercooked and raw meat, poultry, shellfish, and eggs.
When a pregnant woman contracts a Listeria infection, she usually only has mild symptoms that are similar to the flu. Many women dismiss those symptoms because they are so mild. But listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and fatal infection of the newborn baby.
If you ate recalled commercially prepared caramel apples or recalled Queseria Bendita soft cheeses and sour cream and have experienced flu-like symptoms, please see your doctor immediately. Antibiotic treatment can prevent serious complications, especially if the illness is caught early.

Louisiana Senator’s Bill Seeks to Enhance the Safety of Imported Seafood
Source :
By News Desk (Jan 27, 2015)
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) introduced a bill this past week that would amend the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act to ensure the safety of imported seafood.
According to the American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA), which supports the bill, S. 190 increases inspection standards on foreign imported seafood, requires foreign exporters to meet U.S. safety standards, mandates increased inspection of foreign imported seafood, imposes penalties on foreign exporters who fail inspections and safety tests, and imposes stiff fines on those who attempt to mislabel their products.
“Our industry has battled waves of unfairly traded shrimp from overseas for many years,” said ASPA Director David Veal. “Many foreign countries producing farm-raised shrimp may not use the same safety standards as required in the U.S., as such, unapproved chemicals and antibiotics may find their way if the product ships to the U.S. for consumption. This potentially puts consumers at risk.”
Vitter’s bill has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

CDC: Investigation Into Sprout-Linked Listeria Outbreak is Over
Source :
By News Desk (Jan 27, 2015)
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a final update Tuesday on the 2014 Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to bean sprouts which killed two people and hospitalized five (four from Illinois and one from Michigan).

The agency declared the investigation over and noted that, as of Nov. 7, 2014, Wholesome Soy Products Inc. of Chicago, IL, has closed its facility and ceased production and distribution of sprouts.
“Sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy Products Inc. are likely no longer available for purchase or consumption given the 5-day shelf life reported by the facility,” the update stated.
Wholesome Soy Products recalled mung bean sprouts last Aug. 28 after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) isolated Listeria bacteria from samples during a routine inspection. Subsequent FDA inspections in August and October 2014 found unsanitary conditions at the company’s facility.
Whole genome sequences of the Listeria strains isolated from Whole Soy Products’ mung bean sprouts and environmental isolates collected at the firm’s production facility were found to be highly related to sequences of Listeria strains isolated from the five people who became ill between June and August 2014, CDC noted.
“Although limited information is available about the specific sprout products that ill people consumed, the whole genome sequencing findings, together with the sprout consumption history of two patients and inspection findings at the firm, suggest that these illnesses could be related to products from Wholesome Soy Products, Inc.,” CDC’s report stated.
The agency recommends that consumers, restaurants and other retailers always follow food safety practices to avoid possible illness from contaminated sprouts. Children, older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems should avoid eating raw sprouts of any kind, CDC stated. These include alfalfa, clover, radish and mung bean sprouts.
CDC advises people to reduce the risk of illness from potentially contaminated sprouts by cooking them thoroughly.

Chicken Industry Acts More Like Ostriches
Source :
By Leah Garces (Jan 27, 2015)
Last month, something unprecedented happened that rocked the chicken industry’s world.
Perdue contract farmer Craig Watts decided he’d had enough. Together with my organization, Compassion in World Farming, he released a video that gave the public a unique view into the secretive world of the chicken industry.
He revealed what the National Chicken Council (NCC), USDA, and Perdue mean by “humanely raised” and “cage-free”: 30,000 chickens stuffed into a windowless warehouse, on feces-ridden litter, made to grow so big so quickly that they can hardly stand on their own two legs.
Consumers were outraged. More than half a million people viewed the video in the first 24 hours alone on YouTube. Media coverage was widespread, led by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s hard-hitting piece. Perdue’s Facebook page was inundated with fuming customers who felt betrayed.
Watts revealed a truth that the chicken industry, like ostriches with their heads in the sand, refuses to acknowledge. Americans don’t want factory-farmed chickens. And they certainly don’t want USDA to put a stamp on it calling it humane and cage-free.
Hours after the release, Perdue turned up at Watts’ farm to conduct a surprise animal-welfare audit, the first he had ever received in his 22 years of raising chickens. Perdue handed CIWF’s video over to the “Center for Food Integrity’s” panel of industry spokespeople to review the footage.
CFI’s CEO Charlie Arnot has made clear the purpose of the “review panel.”  He stated, “This program creates an opportunity for animal agriculture to re-frame the public conversation related to undercover video investigations.”
Predictably, CFI’s “re-framing” was to blame Watts for poor management. Industry press regurgitated the panel’s review. Feedstuffs, a farming newspaper, stated that the “video misrepresents the broiler industry” and grasped at straws, trying to blame selective editing of the film and poor management.
They failed to check Watts’ history and records. Not only are the conditions of his farm within industry norms, but Watts has been awarded by Perdue as a top producer.
But the public was not to be fooled again. Consumer Rickie Colonna posted this on Perdue’s Facebook page: “Nice retaliation against a farmer who wants his unhealthy chickens to see the light of day. I will never buy Perdue again.“
In the weeks that followed, Watts had six visits in total from Perdue. More than 22,000 emails were sent by consumers to supermarkets across the country asking for better treatment of chickens. Letters of encouragement poured into CIWF’s office, thanking Watts for his efforts and hoping other farmers might do the same.
With the eyes of the media on Perdue and Watts receiving pro bono legal counsel from the Government Accountability Project, his contract with Perdue has been kept intact — so far.
Watts risked everything to tell this story. He risked his friendships with his neighbors, his livelihood and his future for his family. He had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Instead of condemning Watts, the industry could learn from his courage.
The chicken industry is presented with two options. One is to continue to blame “farm management” as the culprit every time a video comes out revealing the cruel realities of factory farming. This approach clearly backfired in this situation. Trying to silence farmers who question the status quo is not an effective way to win Americans’ trust.
The other is to listen to what consumers, and Watts, are saying. Go beyond the NCCs anemic guidelines, beyond keeping animals in windowless, barren, packed warehouses, on feces-ridden litter, with genetics that result in crippled, inactive birds. If the industry doesn’t take its head out of the sand soon, the chasm between it and its customers will only continue to grow.

Tackle your Big Game party with food safety plays
Source :
By Lisa Treiber (Jan 26, 2015)
Hosting a party for the Big Game on Sunday? Providing a buffet is the easiest way to feed a crowd with a variety of delicious appetizers and snacks to munch on during the big game. Keep in mind that the pre-game, during the game and post-game could go on for several hours; consider setting food out at halftime or feeding your crowd prior to kickoff. Regardless of your decision follow these guidelines from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to keep your fans safe:
Keep it clean. Before handling food, thoroughly wash hands, food, prep areas, tools, fruits and vegetables. Remember, meat does not need to be washed.
Cook it well. Purchase a food thermometer to measure minimum internal temperatures of your favorite food items like wings, hot dips and grilled foods. Never rely on color or juices running clear as the determining factor of whether or not it is done.
Watch the time. Follow recommended microwave cooking and standing times (the extra minutes needed for food to cook completely). Keep an eye on your buffet and discard foods after two hours if it hasn’t been properly kept hot or cold with heating or cooling sources.
Keep it safe. Use slow cookers or warming trays to keep hot food hot at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Keep in mind before you put food on the buffet, it has to have been heated to a minimum internal cooking temperature first. Never use the heat holding devices to heat your food. Keep all of your cold foods, like cut fruits and veggies, salsa and dips at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Utilize the double bowl system with ice in the bottom bowl and your dip or produce in the top bowl to keep the food at its coldest. Replace ice often.
Avoid mix-ups. Separate raw meats from ready-to-eat foods, like veggies. Make sure you have enough serving utensils for each food item you are offering. Keep an eye out for the “double dippers;” try to prevent this from happening by having small plates to discourage eating directly from bowls with dips or sauces.
Protect all “to go’s.” Anything that has been out two hours or longer that is perishable needs to be discarded at the end of the game. Divide leftovers into smaller containers, place in shallow containers and refrigerate. Never place a large pot of chili, stew or sauce in the fridge to cool; it will not cool properly in a safe amount of time. Advise guests to refrigerate “to go” items as soon as they reach their home.
Michigan State University Extension recommends football fans take some time to plan for their event, regardless if it is big or small. It is estimated that Americans consume one billion chicken wings during the Big Game, it is important to make sure they are cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before serving. By investing in a good food thermometer, being aware of the temperature danger zone (between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, where harmful bacteria grows) you set yourself up for a victory – regardless of who wins the game.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Food Safety in Numbers
Source :
By Advik Shreekumar (Jan 26, 2015)
(This article by Advik Shreekumar was published Jan. 6, 2015, by the Harvard Political Review and is reposted here with permission.)
On March 23, 2013, the civic organization Smart Chicago launched an ambitious program to enhance the city’s food-safety efforts. Using a mix of statistical techniques and computer science, Foodborne Chicago searches Twitter for complaints of food poisoning, then follows up with users and generates formal investigations. Chicago is not alone in these efforts; San Francisco, Boston, and New York City are all in the process of implementing similar initiatives to better enforce their health codes.
Foodborne Chicago and its sibling programs are bold attempts to modernize governance, harnessing the massive streams of information on social-media sites. However, while these initiatives have the potential to dramatically improve public health, they also grant additional power to the companies holding the data. This, in turn, will challenge traditional notions of privacy and property.
City health departments have historically played two roles in maintaining food safety: they coordinate with the Centers for Disease Control to manage foodborne outbreaks as they arise, and they work to prevent future outbreaks through inspections of food retail locations, including restaurants. Traditionally, these departments have relied on reporting from clinics and consumers to gather information. The Chicago Department of Public Health, for example, performs annual inspections of all restaurants, but it can also perform additional announced or unannounced investigations based on complaints it receives. Foodborne’s innovation is in its use of data to cast a wider net than traditional efforts have done, thereby reaching people who may not know that they can report food poisoning cases to the city.
Under the hood
At the core of Foodborne is a technique called machine learning, the use of computers to comb through large datasets and discover deep patterns that human analysts would likely miss. Broadly, the computer’s task is to develop a model that can correctly place observations into categories of interest — say, identifying tweets as complaints or ordinary chatter. Researchers start by feeding the machine a training dataset containing pre-classified data. Using this information as a springboard, the machine tests a series of models, eventually converging on an equation it can use to classify future observations. The training data serve as a cheat sheet, allowing the machine to check its guesses throughout the model-building process.
Despite their sophistication, these machines do not run on their own. As Brian Richardson, director of public affairs for the Chicago Department of Public Health, explained to the Harvard Political Review (HPR), Foodborne Chicago depends on human judgment, in addition to computerized predictions. First, the algorithm “surfaces tweets that are related to foodborne illnesses.” Next, “a human classifier goes through those complaints that the machine classifies, […determining] what is really about food poisoning and what may be other noise.” The Foodborne team then tweets back at the likely cases, providing a link for users to file an official complaint. In short, computers deal with the massive quantity of Twitter data, and humans ensure the quality of the result. According to its website, between its launch on March 23, 2013, and Nov. 10, 2014, the Foodborne algorithm flagged 3,594 tweets as potential food-poisoning cases. Of these tweets, human coders have identified 419 (roughly 12 percent) as likely cases meriting a reply on Twitter.
At first glance, an algorithm that has only 12-percent accuracy in spotting cases of food poisoning may seem highly inefficient. However, Foodborne has proven a valuable tool for the Chicago Department of Public Health. In its first nine months of operation, Foodborne initiated 133 health inspections. Approximately 40 percent of these investigations uncovered critical or severe violations of the health code — the kinds of violations that force restaurants to shut down or to remain open only under strict conditions. As Richardson noted, “that percentage is equivalent to the … percentage of violations we find based on reports we get from 311” (the phone number citizens can call to report food poisoning to their city’s municipal services). Though its program is not as expansive as Chicago’s, the City of New York has found that Yelp data can also be a useful tool, uncovering three previously undiscovered outbreaks after sifting through the restaurant reviews.
At Harvard Business School, Dr. Michael Luca has proposed an even more ambitious project: using Yelp review data to target future restaurant investigations. In an interview with the HPR, Luca explained that, in addition to following up on complaints, city health departments also perform periodic investigations of restaurants. However, due to limited personnel and resources, health departments are often forced to select restaurants at random, hoping that the risk of investigation will be enough to cause all restaurants to comply. By combining Yelp review data with previous investigation results, Luca’s team has been able to develop an algorithm that correctly identified 80 percent of restaurants with egregious health-code violations in the previous year. Armed with this model, city health departments could target their investigations more finely, tailoring inspections to match Yelp complaints about restaurants.
Limits of the machine
The main limitation of data-mining approaches is that they rely on the consumer. Tweets and Yelp reviews are based entirely on the experiences of average people, who are good at noticing traits such as food quality and restaurant cleanliness, but will almost never notice technical mistakes such as improper food labeling, or see breaches of the health code behind kitchen doors. No matter how promising machine-learning techniques are for identifying front-of-shop violations, they will tend to miss these more hidden violations.
In a statement to the HPR, the Illinois Restaurant Association, an advocacy group for restaurateurs, declared itself supportive of Chicago’s efforts to improve food safety but cautioned the Department of Public Health “to be as vigilant as possible when it comes to assessing the validity of claims submitted via this public forum.” The restaurant association’s reaction strikes at an unease surrounding crowdsourced solutions and the herd mentality of the Internet. It isn’t hard to imagine unscrupulous customers or managers tweeting out false complaints in the hope of targeting investigations to tarnish a restaurant’s reputation.
Foodborne’s use of human analysts and integration into the broader investigative process is one check against abuse of the system. A false tweet would have to undergo the same scrutiny as a complaint received by phone. In that respect, Foodborne’s system is no more vulnerable than traditional means of reporting. Whether complaints come from phone calls or Twitter, the same human team evaluates their legitimacy.
More broadly, the vast amount of data that machine-learning algorithms process is another bulwark against abuse, particularly in the case of Yelp reviews. Writing a single false negative review on Yelp carries very little weight when placed among the pool of dozens, if not hundreds, of legitimate reviews. Furthermore, machine-learning algorithms can zero in on completely unexpected trends. Luca explained that, “It’s easy to guess the intuition of an inspector who is picking five words that are triggering [an investigation]. It’s not clear to me that it’s easier to game an algorithm. There are so many words that go into this that it would be a pretty complicated game.” For example, his research has shown that reviews mentioning basic ingredients tend to be more negative than reviews mentioning preparations such as grilling and toasting. As long as the inner workings of a food-safety algorithm stay under wraps, the complexity of its methods will be a defense against misuse.
A shift in power
The Illinois Restaurant Association’s concern reveals a deeper problem than simple misuse of the system, one centered on the nature of human error and machine error. By shifting humans out of the picture and trusting machines to do our analysis, we cede power to computers and equations that cannot fully understand the world. Any model is an approximation of reality at best, and the predictions machines make will inevitably be a mixture of success and failure, depending on how well reality and the model match.
However, machine-learning algorithms aren’t competing against a perfect system; human analysis in the status quo comes with its own set of biases and misconceptions that can lead it astray. Just as replacing humans with machines increases the risk of mechanical error, continuing to rely on human judgment will leave us liable to human error. Society will have to decide what mix of human and machine error it prefers.
Yet machine learning does more than empower machines. An expansion of such programs would also vest more power in Yelp and Twitter, the holders of these datasets. Dr. Elaine Nsoesie, a member of the team developing Boston’s program, explained to the HPR that the project is “very dependent on [Yelp and Twitter]. If they [were] not willing to provide the data, we wouldn’t have the data to use.” To its credit, Yelp has been very cooperative with New York City and San Francisco; in addition to providing New York with a daily data feed, Luca noted that the review website sat down with his team to match its database of reviews with San Francisco’s database of restaurants. Similarly, Twitter has a general policy of providing interested groups with open access to tweets and encouraging innovative use of its data, including providing a data grant to the Boston team.
Cooperation aside, the fact remains that these companies now own and curate datasets that are increasingly valuable to the public and are becoming integrated into the government’s function. At the same time, the government does not have a right to these datasets in the current legal framework, nor are companies required to provide information to the extent that Yelp and Twitter have. As machine learning becomes a standard aspect of public life, we may see a reconceptualization of data from a belief that it is uniquely a right of companies to a view that would move to guarantee society continued access to information for the social good. Especially in the case of foodborne disease, the state could make a strong claim that it needs access to these datasets in order to carry out its duty to protect the lives and health of its citizens. In all likelihood, these arguments will never need to be made in courtrooms, and cities and companies will continue to collaborate on projects such as Foodborne. Still, we are moving toward a status quo in which we expect companies such as Yelp and Twitter to cooperate with the government, even in the absence of a legal requirement to do so.
Rethinking privacy
At a time when the National Security Agency’s use of metadata has received heavy criticism, Foodborne and its sibling programs represent a constructive use of the public’s data, one with popular support and minimal privacy concerns. However, not all extensions of machine learning will be as non-controversial. For example, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have recently turned their attention toward cyberbullying, developing algorithms that can identify victims and perpetrators based on the content of their tweets. A second initiative is Flu Trends, an effort by Google to track flu infections by monitoring people’s search queries. Supplementing Google’s model with data from Twitter may give city health departments a better grasp of outbreaks in their city than conventional methods have.
Given access to these datasets, cities could certainly improve social outcomes. The issue lies in entrusting such information to the state, which would require us to loosen the right to information privacy. Although Chicagoans have taken well to their city’s use of public Twitter data through Foodborne, citizens may not be as receptive to governments looking through private search queries or monitoring children’s online activity outside of school, even if it is for the social good.
Our notions of privacy and property do not have much time to catch up; data-driven techniques are poised to spread rapidly across the nation. In just slightly more than a year, four of America’s largest cities have created their own prototypes for data-driven governance, and more cities are on the horizon. Luca told the HPR that his team has already reached out to several cities to develop specialized versions of the San Francisco algorithm that will allow health departments to target their inspections. The Foodborne group has been just as active, collaborating with Boston’s team to modify Chicago’s approach to work in a new city. Together, these early adopters have laid the groundwork for health departments nationwide, and their successes are the first step toward smarter and more responsive cities.

After 2014 Outbreak, Food Safety Summit Steps Up Precautions
Source :
By James Andrews (Jan 26, 2015)
The incident was tailor-made for snarky headlines: Foodborne illness sickens hundreds of attendees at conference dedicated to food safety.
That’s exactly what happened at last April’s Food Safety Summit (FSS) in Baltimore, when 216 of 1,300 attendees fell ill with symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramping and nausea. The culprit: A catered chicken dish served at lunch and likely contaminated with Clostridium perfringens, a bacteria commonly found on raw meat and chicken.
If any lesson could be learned from that outbreak, it was that foodborne illness can happen to anyone, anywhere. And while they admit that outbreaks can even strike the most food safety-conscious among us, the organizers of this year’s 17th annual Food Safety Summit are significantly bolstering their efforts to ensure that another outbreak doesn’t happen.
They’re also making the most of the unfortunate incident by turning the outbreak into a learning opportunity. Part of this year’s conference will include a panel event to look back at last year’s outbreak investigation from the perspective of the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and compare it to other state-level outbreak investigations.
The panel is an opportunity for food industry professionals to better understand outbreak investigations from the viewpoint of health departments, said Hal King, Ph.D., panel moderator and director of food safety for Chick-Fil-A. Some might also pick up pointers on how their companies can avoid similar outbreaks.
Attendees will also learn that such outbreaks are much more commonplace than they might think. The majority of outbreaks don’t cross state lines and therefore don’t draw much attention, nor the involvement of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If not for the ironic context, last year’s outbreak might not have even made the news, King said.
“How many state-level outbreak investigations of Clostridium perfringens have you seen in the news lately? Zero. How many have occurred? A lot,” he told Food Safety News.
“It’s kind of like a fire happening at the fire chief association’s trade show,” said Scott Wolters, director of tradeshows & conferences for BNP Media, producers of the Food Safety Summit.
While all of the catering at the Baltimore Convention Center is handled by national catering company Centerplate, FSS organizers are opting for a number of additional food-safety checks within their control, according to Wolters.
He was clear that Centerplate already follows their food-safety procedures “to a T.” But to make sure that risks are kept to a minimum, organizers will start by having a pre-event food-safety audit by a third-party consultant.
They’ll also have an independent food-safety consultant on site during the event to monitor for potential problems. And they’ve invited the Maryland state health department to send a representative to monitor conditions at the event.
Menu selection will be done a little more cautiously this year as well.
“You can’t really avoid putting meat and poultry on the menu, but you can avoid some susceptible items like gravy,” Wolters said. “We’ll be making sure internal temperatures are measured on a regular basis and recorded properly at regular intervals.”
Centerplate is also keen to avoid a repeat. The company’s regional head chef will oversee all cooking operations, and their regional vice president will even be on hand at the conference.
Wolters said that, in his experience planning and executing more than 1,000 events, foodborne illness outbreaks aren’t usual, but they aren’t necessarily unusual either.
King shared a similar sentiment, saying that the outbreak opened up the opportunity to discuss all the lower-key outbreaks that normally get investigated by state health officials but don’t involve CDC, which describes most of the outbreaks that draw relatively little attention.
“If you look at the Maryland outbreak, it’s a good opportunity to see at the state level,” he said. “These are going on all the time in states, and it’s an opportunity to be aware of that.”




Internet Journal of Food Safety (Operated by FoodHACCP)
[2014] Current Issues

Vol 16.59-67
Antimicrobial action of essential oils against food borne pathogens isolated from street vended fruit juices from Baripada Town, India
Chandi C. Rath and P. Bera

Vol 16.53-58
Conventional Microbiology, Salmosyst Method and Polymerase Chain Reaction
: A Comparison in the Detection of Salmonella spp. in Raw Hamburgers
Jorge Luiz Fortuna, Virginia Léo de Almeida Pereira, Elmiro Rosendo do Nascimento andRobson Maia Franco

Vol 16.45-52
Impact of Traditional Process on Hygienic Quality of Soumbala a Fermented Cooked Condiment in Burkina Faso.
Marius Kounbesioune Somda, Aly Savadogo, Francois Tapsoba, Cheikna Zongo,
Nicolas Ouedraogo, Alfred Sabadenedyo Traore

Vol 16.36-44
Prevailing Food Safety Practices and Barriers to the Adoption of the WHO 5-Keys
to Safer Food Messages in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities in Ghana
Rose Omari, Egbert Kojo Quorantsen, Paul Omari, Dorothy Oppey, Mawuli Asigbee

Vol 16.29-35
Microbiological Quality of Meat at the Abattoir and Butchery Levels in Kampala City, Uganda
Paul Bogere and Sylvia Angubua Baluka
Vol 16.26-28
Microbial Contamination of Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Ankita Mathur , Akshay Joshi* , Dharmesh Harwani

Vol 16.17-25
Consumer Food Safety Awareness and Knowledge in Nigeria
Olasunmbo Abolanle Ajayi and Taiwo Salaudeen
Vol 16.12-16
Microbiological Quality of Selected Meat Products from the Canterbury Region of New Zealand
Rui Huan, Christopher O. Dawson, Malik Altaf Hussain

Vol 16.9-11
Anusuya, S.Hemalatha

Vol 16.6-8
Effect of 2,4-D Pesticide on Fish Physiology and its Antioxidant Stress
Anushiya, Hemalatha

Vol 16.1-5
Edible Coatings of Carnauba Wax ??A Novel Method For Preservation and Extending Longevity of Fruits and Vegetables- A Review.
Puttalingamma .V


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