Role of animal husbandry, food safety, MC officials under scanner
Source : http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/role-of-animal-husbandry-food-safety-mc-officials-under-scanner/39528.html
By tribuneindia.com (Feb 09, 2015)
The role of officials of the Animal Husbandry Department, Food Safety Standard (FSS) and Municipal Corporation (MC) is under the scanner for giving a free run to a Shoghi-based private slaughterhouse. Two recent joint inspections during the bird flu scare has exposed that the slaughterhouse is not being run as per FSS norms as reports have pointed out blatant shortcomings there.
The six-member team’s report of the slaughterhouse, run by the Goels Food World, Shoghi, which is with The Tribune, revealed that the slaughterhouse was compromising on health and hygiene as 20-30 dead birds were lying on the dirty floor. Also, the slaughterhouse had no rendering facility.
Besides, the staff used no protecting gears and thhe effluent treatment facility was non-functional. It had no veterinarian to conduct the ante-mortem and post-mortem of the birds and cull the dead or unfit birds, the inspection revealed. Though the slaughterhouse was being run since 2006, the unit was registered as a food technology unit.
The inspection was carried out on August 6, 2014, and followed by another inspection on December 27, which found similar shortcomings.
The report also exposed the paperwork being done by the government agencies. The six-member team included officials from the Animal Husbandry Department, MC, veterinary officers, Pollution Control Board, but no official from the Directorate of Health and the FSS was involved.
Neither the MC-run slaughterhouse here nor the private slaughterhouse was quarantined for bird flu, as mandated under the FSS rules and WHO norms for bird and swine flus, revealed health experts.
The Municipal Commissioner, Shimla, said they had issued a notice to the private operator to stop the unethical practice of selling uncertified meat in the municipal limits after the joint inspection report pointed out the shortcomings at the slaughterhouse. “We have set up a modern slaughterhouse and monitor it daily but we cannot check the private one directly as it falls outside the limits of the corporation,” he added.
The operator of the private slaughterhouse had procured a health certificate signed by a veterinary doctor, Dr Ashish H Deogade, on December 30, 2014. It stated that 4,076 birds were fit for human consumption, though it was mandatory that the certificate is issued on a day-to-day basis by the government agency, as per a recent direction of the apex court on slaughterhouses, claimed veterinary experts.
Dr KS Pathania, Director, Animal Husbandry, said he was not aware as to who had authorised the private veterinarian to issue health certificate and the matter should be probed. But the department had asked the Goels Food World to employ full-time veterinarian registered with the veterinary council of HP and improve hygiene. However, it has got no response from the owner so far, he added.
When Naveen Goel, who runs the private unit, was quizzed about the condition of the slaughterhouse, he claimed that they had a full-time veterinarian and supplied healthy meat. “We are adding an AC van for supply, an effluent treatment plant and are improving shortcomings pointed out in the inspection,” he added.
Farm Rich Frozen Snacks Carried E. coli O121 Across Country
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/farm-rich-frozen-snacks-carried-e-coli-o121-across-country/
By News Desk (Feb 07, 2015)
HUS Lawyer for Farm Rich OutbreakThree federal agencies traced a 2013 outbreak of E. coli O121 to Farm Rich brand frozen snacks, including mini pizza slices, mozzarella bites, mini quesadillas and philly cheese steaks. A broad recall of those products was launched, including Schwan’s and Market Day brand frozen snacks produced at the same Farm Rich plant in Waycross, Georgia. Across 19 states, a total of 35 people were confirmed as case patients in this outbreak, including two who suffered kidney failure and other harms from a toxic E. coli complication known as HUS E. coli.
Ohio, Texas, Michigan and New York were among the hardest hit states in the Farm Rich E. coli outbreak, which lasted six months as consumers went to their freezers while unaware of the contamination. Farm Rich E. coli lawsuit evidence clinched in this case includes the outbreak strain of E. coli O121 identified in two different Farm Rich brand frozen products collected from the homes of two ill persons in New York and Texas. Even if your illness was not life threatening, you could still receive substantial compensation from the parties responsible for this outbreak.
Contact an E coli LawyerWhen the outbreak was declared over at the end of May 2013, public health officials voiced concerns that some consumers would remain unaware of the broad recall of snacks produced by Farm Rich — a recall that encompassed 196,222 pounds of frozen food. “Many of these products have a long shelf-life, and they may still be in peoples’ freezers,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said in a Sept. 12, 2013, update. “Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat these products and potentially get sick.”
Scientific, regulatory and investigative response to this outbreak came from plaintiffs’ lawyers like PritzkerOlsen Attorneys, the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and multiple public health agencies at the state level. The traceback effort was successful in linking Farm Rich and its Waycross plant to the outbreak, but there were no additional findings as to what ingredients or cross-contamination may have been at the root of the toxic E. coli food poisoning.
Apple Valley Creamery Raw Milk Campylobacter Warning
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/apple-valley-creamery-campylobacter-warning/#.VNgWstj9ns1
By Bruce Clark (Feb 7, 2015)
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has warned consumers who bought raw milk from Apple Valley Creamery in Adams County to immediately discard it due to Campylobacter contamination found in a recent sample.
The dairy is located along the 500 block of Germany Road in East Berlin.
The raw milk sample was collected from the farm Jan. 28 during required routine sampling by a commercial laboratory and later tested positive for the bacteria.
Apple Valley Creamery sells directly to customers at an on-farm retail store and through home delivery services. Several retail facilities in Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry counties also carry the creamery’s products. The packaged raw milk is sold under the Apple Valley Creamery label in half gallon and quart glass containers with the sell-by dates of Feb. 9 and Feb. 11. It is labeled as “raw milk.”
Apple Valley Creamery also bottles pasteurized milk. This notice does not affect the pasteurized milk bottled by the creamery.
Agriculture officials have ordered the owner of the dairy to stop the sale of all raw milk until further notice. Multiple samples must test negative before the farm can resume raw milk sales.
Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized.
Pennsylvania law allows farms to sell raw milk but requires the farms to be permitted and inspected by the agriculture department to reduce health risks associated with unpasteurized products. There are 150 farms in Pennsylvania permitted to sell raw milk or raw milk cheese.
Symptoms of Campylobacter include fever, abdominal pain and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and diarrhea. Symptoms usually appear within 1-7 days after consumption.
To date, the Pennsylvania Health Department is not aware of any illnesses related to these products. Any person who consumed raw milk from Apple Valley Dairy and has symptoms should consult their physician, visit their local health center or call 877-PA Health (724-3258).
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Campylobacter outbreaks. The Campylobacter lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Campylobacter 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 Campylobacter lawyers have litigated Campylobacter cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as raw milk and municipal water.
Food Safety Microbiology
February 5-6, 2015
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SENATOR GILLIBRAND ANNOUNCES NEW PUSH TO IMPROVE FOOD SAFETY STANDARDS
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-policy-regulation/as-an-est-3-million-new-yorkers-contract-foodborne-illness-each-year-senator-gillibrand-announces-new-push-to-improve-food-safety-standards/#.VNgW8tj9ns1
Posted By Bill Marler (Feb 07, 2015)
Gillibrand Introduces Legislation to Consolidate Food Safety Agencies Under One Roof
Gillibrand Proposes New Legislation to Compel Stores with Customer Loyalty Card Programs to Call and Email Customers When Products They Purchased Get Recalled
Washington, DC – As an estimated 3 million New Yorkers get sick from the food they eat each year U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand announced a new push today to prevent foodborne illness and improve food safety standards. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that each year approximately 1 in 6 Americans get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die of foodborne diseases. According the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates, nearly a quarter of all cut-up chicken parts are contaminated by Salmonella and another Consumer Reports study found that one third of all chicken breast with Salmonella carry a drug resistant strain of the disease.
Gillibrand is a pushing a new bill introduced last week, the Safe Food Act of 2015, which would consolidate food safety authorities into a single independent food safety agency called the Food Safety Administration. Under the current system, 15 different federal agencies oversee food safety functions including inspections, enforcement, recalls and restrictions on pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli. According to a Government Accountability Agency study, the fragmented and inefficient system is a high risk to the public’s safety.
The proposed consolidated agency would help prevent foodborne illness by allowing food recalls to happen more quickly once illnesses are confirmed, improving inspections, and enhancing enforcement against unsafe food. The Food Safety Administration would also protect and improve the public’s health by focusing resources to prevent and detect foodborne illness before it spreads rather than responding after New Yorkers have already fallen ill.
“Too many New Yorkers are getting sick and even dying from food they trusted was safe,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “New Yorkers should be able to walk into a grocery store and be confident that the food they are putting on their family’s kitchen table and serving at our schools or in our restaurants is properly inspected and safe to eat. We need to detect foodborne illness and stop it before it spreads rather than scramble to respond after New Yorkers have already fallen ill. My plan would give New York families more peace of mind when they sit down at the kitchen table by reducing bureaucracy and consolidating the 15 federal agencies that oversee food safety under one roof.”
Gillibrand is also proposing new legislation that would require stores to improve customer notification in the event of a food recall. Stores with customer loyalty card programs could use that data to call and email consumers when food they have purchased has been recalled. Gillibrand’s proposed legislation, the Meat and Poultry Recall Notification Act, would grant authority to the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service to require companies to recall dangerous food and notify consumers and local health officials. Gillibrand’s new legislation would also create a 1-page Recall Summary Notice that could be prominently displayed on the store shelf where the recalled food was sold or at the cash register for stores that lack customer loyalty card programs.
“We need to make sure that if dangerous food does end up at the grocery store that it gets recalled, pulled off the shelf and out of freezers faster,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Every time you swipe a loyalty card to save a few cents, the grocery store makes a record of what food you’re bringing home. When a recall happens, stores should use that information to call and email people to tell them to not eat the food they have purchased.”
The Safe Food Act of 2015
Senator Gillibrand introduced the Safe Food Act of 2015 to consolidate food safety inspections, enforcement, and labeling under a single independent food safety agency called the Food Safety Administration (FSA). The FSA would implement existing federal food safety law, including inspections, enforcement, standards-setting, and research.
The bill would also require more regular inspections of slaughterhouses and food processing plants; increase oversight of imported foods; establish enforceable performance standards for contaminants in food; require the tracing of foods to point of origin; and analyze new safety monitoring technology in our food system.
Building on the work of the Food Safety and Modernization Act (FSMA) that was signed into law on January 4, 2011, the FSA would continue to modernize federal food safety laws to protect and improve public health by:
· Providing authority to require the recall of unsafe food;
· Requiring risk assessments and preventive control plans to reduce adulteration;
· Authorizing enforcement actions to strengthen contaminant performance standards;
· Improving foreign food import inspections; and
· Requiring full food traceability to better identify sources of outbreaks.
Meat and Poultry Recall Notification Act
Senator Gillibrand is proposing the Meat and Poultry Recall Notification Act to improve consumer awareness in the event of a high priority food safety recall of meat, poultry and egg products by:
· Giving USDA mandatory recall authority.
· Encouraging retailers’ use of frequent shopper/shopper reward cards that monitor purchases to notify customers who may have purchased recalled products.
· Creating a 1-page Recall Summary Notice that could be prominently displayed at points of sale in retail outlets that sold a recalled product or on the store shelf where a product was sold.
Gillibrand’s legislation will give the Secretary of Agriculture mandatory recall authority for meat, poultry, and some egg products currently under USDA jurisdiction. Under the proposed bill, the Food Safety and Inspection Service would be granted authority to require companies to recall contaminated food and notify all related persons to cease all activities related to the recalled food. FSIS would have the authority to notify consumers and state and local health officials of an ongoing recall.
Under Gillibrand’s proposal, in the event of food borne illness or the detection of an adulterated or unsafe product, USDA can recommend a voluntary recall of a product to a manufacturer, importer, distributor, or retailer. If the request is refused, the Secretary can issue a mandatory recall and notify affected processors, packers, retail outlets, and the public. USDA will issue a Recall Summary Notice to all retail outlets that sold a recalled product. This Notice would be displayed at all cash registers or at the shelf location where the recalled product was presented for sale. Those retail outlets that use customer card systems to track customer purchases and demographics could call or email each customer that purchased a recalled food product or make available to each customer a targeted coupon with information about the recalled product. Penalties can be assessed for refusal to comply with a recall.
Before Hepatitis A Problem, Rosa’s Restaurant Cited for Handwashing Lapses
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/before-hepatitis-a-problem-rosas-restauranted-cited-for-handwashing-lapses/#.VNgXJNj9ns1
By Patti Waller (Feb 7, 2015)
“Do I think the procedures regarding handwashing could have been better? I think the past records show that we’ve been on them significantly for their handwashing procedures,” he said. “How hard is it to wash your hands or wear gloves or do personal sanitation things that are really fundamental?”
Jeff Plunkett, Hamilton Township’s health officer.
Vaccines would have worked too.
The Trentonian reported last week that in the month before a Rosa’s Restaurant employee was diagnosed with Hepatitis A — sending residents scrambling for vaccinations — sickening four – the eatery was cited for numerous handwashing violations.
According to an Octtober 8, 2014 food inspection report obtained by The Trentonian through a public records request, the restaurant was listed as out of compliance for employees conducting handwashing in a timely manner, workers performing proper handwashing and the business providing paper towel for handwashing facilities. Also marked as a violation, an employee was observed making sandwiches and handling rolls with his bare hands, while another worker was shredding and handling lettuce with his bare hands, the report states.
“Due to the number of critical violations, the person in charge is not demonstrating proper knowledge of food safety principles pertaining to this operation,” Hamilton Township food inspector Kelly A. Thomas wrote in her report, which gave the restaurant a conditionally satisfactory evaluation. “No proof of food handling certification was available on-site at time of inspection.”
After the first case of Hepatitis A was reported in late November, officials disclosed three other Hamilton area residents contracted the virus that had eaten at Rosa’s during the time period the worker was affected.
The symptoms of hepatitis A are typically: Fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice (a yellowing of the skin or eyes). According to the Centers For Disease Control symptoms usually present themselves two to six weeks after exposure and that symptoms generally last less than two-months.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food. The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.
Could a Single Food-Safety Agency be the Answer?
Source : http://reason.com/archives/2015/02/07/could-a-single-food-safety-agency-be-the
By Baylen Linnekin (Feb 7, 2015)
If a new federal food-safety agency would help eliminate inefficiencies, it might earn widespread support.
This week, with little fanfare, the Obama administration released a proposed 2016 budget that would dramatically remake the FDA and USDA. The plan would strip each agency of its extensive food-safety oversight responsibilities and hand them over to a new food-safety agency, to be housed within the Department of Health and Human Services.
The plan would be a big loss for the FDA—an agency within HHS—which saw its food-safety budget and staff increase thanks to passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011. It was likely no coincidence that Margaret Hamburg, who has served as FDA commissioner for the past six years, announced this week that she was leaving the agency.
At the cabinet level, the proposal can be seen as mixed bag. It's a big win for HHS, where the new agency would reside. But HHS's gains mean the USDA would likely lose all of its food-safety budget and staff.
It’s unclear at this point if the proposal has legs. I expect much will ride on two factors. First, will big players within the regulated industries support the measure? Second, will the Obama administration pitch the idea to the GOP-dominated Congress as a cost-cutting measure or, alternately, as a take-it-or-leave-it regulatory buildup?
The answer to all these questions remains to be seen. “[T]he devil is in the details,” wrote Marion Nestle, who commonly supports increased food-safety regulations, of the Obama administration’s proposal.
While I disagree with Nestle about the manifest need for more regulations—which often cost hundreds of millions of dollars but make our food no safer—I do agree with her call to wait for more details. I said as much during an appearance on HuffPost Live this week.
While we wait, there are several factors to consider that will help to determine whether creating a single food-safety agency would benefit the ones who matter: consumers and taxpayers.
One key issue is the problems caused by current regulatory overlap. No case better illustrates this overlap—and the serious food-safety issues it raises—than the 2010 recall of more than 300 million eggs.
While the FDA regulates eggs in the shell—like the kind you purchase by the dozen—the USDA is in charge of grading the eggs. As I wrote in recounting the egg recall in a 2012 law-review article, this overlap meant that the USDA’s egg graders, who were on site at the offending egg-laying facility and saw its filthy conditions firsthand, ignored their key food-safety responsibilities because they saw the safety of the eggs as the FDA’s problem. (The FDA might inspect such facilities once every few years.)
“Yet the presence of these egg graders at the laying facility did nothing to ensure the eggs were safe—in spite of the graders’ duty,” I wrote in the article. “The egg graders’ presence and oversight merely offered a false veneer of safety—a facade that made food less safe.”
A related problem is the differing standards imposed by USDA and FDA regulations on similar products. The egg case illustrates but one example. Frozen cheese pizzas sold at your local grocer are regulated by the FDA, for example, while the same manufacturer’s frozen pepperoni pizzas are regulated by the USDA. The USDA requires all food labels to be pre-approved by the agency before the food may be marketed and sold. On the other hand, the FDA has no such requirement. That means if you were to put one piece of pepperoni on an FDA-regulated frozen cheese pizza, it would be subject both to label pre-approval requirements and USDA regulations.
Another key issue is the same that arose during the FDA’s FSMA rulemaking process. Simply put, the FDA crafted inane and costly rules for regulating agricultural producers that demonstrated—charitably—how little agricultural expertise the agency possesses. There’s no reason to believe that the FDA’s parent department, HHS, possesses such expertise, either.
Who would lead this new food-safety agency within HHS? Noted food-safety litigator Bill Marler nominated himself for the job. Agricultural and restaurant interests might chafe at the idea of Marler, who has won civil suits against them for food-safety violations. Other food producers, such as grocery food makers, would no doubt balk at other potential choices for the job.
What would the removal of food-safety oversight from the FDA mean for the agency’s ban on the interstate shipment of raw milk? Recall that the ban came into being in the late 1980s thanks to a court decision that is based solely on FDA data. Could a new challenge to the ban argue that since the FDA no longer plays a role in food safety, there is no longer a legal basis for the ban?
Calls for some unitary food authority are nothing new. Nestle notes food-safety advocates have urged the federal government to consolidate its food-safety authority for decades. Other big ideas for big new government action have also appeared from time to time.
In 2008, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof urged the Obama administration to scrap the USDA and FDA altogether, in favor of a “Department of Food.” More recently, fellow Times food columnists Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan called for the creation of a national food policy. (Interestingly, neither piece focuses on food safety.)
If a new federal food-safety agency would help eliminate redundancies in staffing and inefficiencies in budgeting while establishing simpler, uniform requirements, then the new agency might earn—and even deserve—widespread support. But if such an agency would not save consumers and taxpayers money, wouldn’t make our food safer, would put those with little expertise in charge of key regulations, and would double down on existing FDA and HHS campaigns targeting everything from caffeine to soda to trans fats and salt, then this proposal is rightly dead in the water.
Outgoing FDA chief saw changes to food safety, tobacco regulation
Source : http://www.sharonherald.com/news/business/outgoing-fda-chief-saw-changes-to-food-safety-tobacco-regulation/article_79d1f8c1-b9d9-57d9-8803-8425991c22ba.html
By sharonherald.com (Feb 06, 2015)
From food safety to tobacco regulation and politically charged drug approvals, Margaret Hamburg reset the course of the embattled Food and Drug Administration.
After nearly six years as FDA commissioner, Hamburg announced her resignation Thursday in an email to staff. She said the agency’s chief scientist, Stephen Ostroff, will serve as acting head of FDA.
President Barack Obama named Hamburg to the post in 2009 following a series of high-profile safety problems at the agency ranging from contaminated blood thinners to salmonella-tainted peanut butter that required one of the largest U.S. food recalls.
“What she offered was stability, accomplishment, effectiveness and restoring some of that prestige that it had lost,” said Steven Grossman, a former FDA official who now heads Alliance for a Stronger FDA, which advocates for increased FDA funding.
Still, agency critics sometimes questioned Hamburg’s judgment. She was criticized by anti- addiction groups for not doing more to combat prescription painkiller abuse, which is linked to over 17,000 U.S. deaths annually. Hamburg defended the agency’s ongoing approval of powerful new opioid drugs, saying they are an important option for patients with chronic pain.
The agency regulates one-fourth of the U.S. economy. Hamburg stayed on the job longer than her three predecessors combined.
Is It Possible to Streamline America's Fragmented Food Safety System?
Source : http://wnpr.org/post/it-possible-streamline-americas-fragmented-food-safety-system
By Patrick Skahill (Feb 05, 2015)
Let's take a frozen cheese pizza. We'll add a little pepperoni to it -- and ship it off to a supermarket. Now, the question: who makes sure that pizza is safe to eat?
"As soon as you add the pepperoni, you introduce the Department of Agriculture," said reporter Wil Hylton. "Otherwise it will be under Health and Human Services and the FDA."
Hylton recently wrote about food safety for The New Yorker. "It's very funny, at first, to think about how some of these categories are defined," he said. "Fish is the province of the FDA, but if it's catfish, then it's the USDA."
Hylton said that means that many products (think cheese pizza ) incorporating subproducts (think pepperoni) come under the bailiwick of a patchwork of different agencies -- 15 of them, to be exact. "You end up having this whole community of regulators who are involved in controlling the distribution cycle," he said.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro wants to change that. She's introduced a bill in Congress that would create a single independent food safety agency. "Almost nobody who works in food safety either at the federal level or in advocacy groups, or in academe, believes that this system makes sense," Hylton said. "This is sort of just the way, piecemeal elements of the food safety infrastructure came into existence. When you add it all up, it makes this very discombobulated system."
DeLauro said her bill would also improve food safety inspections and boost international consumer confidence in American products.
This week, President Barack Obama also proposed his own food safety agenda, calling for the creation of a stand-alone agency that would be folded into the Department of Health and Human Services.
McDonald's Japan sales have been devastated by food safety scandals
Source : http://www.businessinsider.com/r-mcdonalds-japan-pushed-into-loss-by-food-safety-woes-2015-2
By Thomas Wilson, Reuters (Feb 05, 2015)
The Japanese unit of McDonald's Corp <mcd.n> booked its first annual operating loss since going public in 2001 and its January sales plunged by a record 39 percent as food safety scandals drove customers away.
The earnings pain, made worse by a shortage of french fries late last year, is likely to continue with analysts saying they do not expect a quick turnaround in a country where consumers are highly attuned to food quality issues.
McDonald's Holdings Co (Japan) <2702.T>, which operates the fast food chain's second-largest restaurant network after the United States, did not give its customary earnings guidance but said it hoped to issue full-year forecasts by end-March.
The unit booked an operating loss of 6.7 billion yen ($57 million) in 2014, compared with an operating profit of 11.5 billion yen a year earlier.
Revenue tumbled 14 percent, the seventh straight year of decline.
The problems are an added distraction for McDonald's Corp, the world's largest restaurant chain by sales, which last month replaced its CEO with Chief Brand Officer Steve Easterbrook following one of its worst financial years in decades.
The Japan unit, 49.9 percent owned by McDonald's Corp, was hit last year after a major Chinese supplier of chicken was found to have been in breach of food safety standards. It was then forced to temporarily ration fries due to labor disputes at U.S. West Coast ports and take the costly step of shipping some by air.
Quality issues arose again last month with the news that customers had found foreign objects, including a tooth, in their food. January figures showed customer numbers down 29 percent from a year earlier.
McDonald's Japan Chief Executive Sarah Casanova said the company was determined to restore its reputation.
"We serve billions of menu items every year and in the food industry we understand these kind of issues should never happen. It's our responsibility to do everything we can to obtain as close to zero as possible," she told an earnings briefing.
The problems prompted Casanova last month to shift oversight of the supply chain to the chief financial officer.
The company has also announced plans for third-party inspections of its kitchens, fresh training for staff and sharing of information about suppliers on its website.
Shares in McDonald's Japan fell 1 percent prior to the earnings release. They have lost around 12 percent since last year's peak in June.
($1 = 117.1100 yen)
Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Nut Butters in 2014
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-nut-butters-in-2014/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 05, 2015)
A Salmonella Braenderup outbreak linked to nut butters made by nSpired Natural Foods sickened 6 people in 5 states in 2014. Almond and peanut butter by that company was the likely source of this outbreak, since the outbreak strain of Salmonella was found in environmental samples collected from the nSpired Natural Foods facility.
The company issued a recall of their products in August 2014. The number of recalled products was huge, and included organic and raw peanut and almonds butters in many varieties, sold under brand names Trader Joe’s, Kroger, MaraNatha, Arrowhead Mills, and Whole Foods. The nut butters were packaged in glass and plastic jars. These products have a long shelf life, and some may still be in consumer’s homes. Look at the recall list carefully. If you do have these products, discard them in a double bag or return to the place of purchase, then wash your hands thoroughly.
One person was hospitalized in this outbreak, and no deaths were reported. The case count by state is: Connecticut (1), Iowa (1), New Mexico (1), Tennessee (1), and Texas (2). Illness onset dates ranged from January 20, 2014 to May 16, 2014.
Routine inspections of the nSpired facility in February and July 2014 found Salmonella. The bacteria was analyzed using PFGE and whole genome sequencing. A search of the PulseNet database identified six ill persons who had the same strain of bacteria. Four of the five people interviewed reported eating peanut or almond butter the week before they got sick.
There are several ways foods can be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria. Since the bacteria was found at the plant, it’s possible that animals got in and contaminated equipment or the food itself. Cross-contamination from an ill employee is also a possibility. The bacteria could have been in storage bins or it could have come from the field.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, upset stomach, abdominal pains, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may have a mild fever. Complications of a Salmonella infection can be lifelong, including reactive arthritis.
Shigella Outbreak in Columbia/Boone County, Missouri
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/shigella-outbreak-in-columbiaboone-county-missouri/
By Linda Larsen (Feb 05, 2015)
The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services has reported a Shigella outbreak. At least 25 people have been sickened in the past two weeks; there are ordinarily six cases a year. Most of the cases are children who are in day care.
Shigella outbreakShigella is a bacteria found in human feces. People often get sick when they drink water contaminated with the bacteria. Symptoms of this illness include diarrhea, which may be bloody, abdominal pain, vomiting, and fever. Most people get sick about two to three days after exposure.
The illnesses are very similar to other gastrointestinal illnesses, which can make diagnosis difficult. Shigellosis can cause dehydration, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), reactive arthritis, and other serious complications.
Anti-diarrhea agents should not be given to anyone with this infection, because it can make the illness worse. Anyone with this illness, or any diarrheal illness should not handle or prepare food for others, should stay home from work, and should not go to day care centers or schools. In addition, anyone with a Shigella infection or a diarrheal illness should stay out of shared swimming pools and water parks.
To prevent the spread of this infection, hand-washing is critical, both after using the bathroom or after changing diapers. If children get feces on their hands and then play with toys, those toys can be contaminated and other children can get sick.
If you or a loved one have experienced these symptoms and have had a child in a day care setting, see your doctor. It’s important to get proper treatment and help for this type of infection.
E. coli at West Valley Federico’s Restaurant Harmed 94 People
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/e-coli-at-west-valley-federicos-restaurant-harmed-94-people/
By News Desk (Feb 05, 2015)
E. coli O157:H7 infected scores of Federico’s restaurant customers at a lone location in the West Valley area of greater Phoenix in 2013, setting off a public health scramble to investigate an alarming case of food poisoning. According to an in-depth final report by the Maricopa County Department of Public Health, 94 people were sickened, including at least two who suffered kidney failure and other life-threatening symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome, or E. coli HUS.
Arizona Federicos Food PoisoningFederico’s Mexican Restaurant at 13132 W. Camelback Road in Litchfield Park — the only location in the Federico’s chain that was involved in the outbreak — temporarily closed its doors for a sanitary overhaul and food disposal soon after it was approached by public health officials about a strong correlation between an outbreak of toxic E. coli and restaurant attendance by the victims. In the final analysis, epidemiologists said contaminated lettuce was the likely source of E. coli transmission.
“Lettuce was by far the most suspect food item, and it is highly likely that it was the contaminated vehicle in this outbreak,” the report said.
County health officials also noted in the report that the restaurant’s handling of lettuce could have contributed to the magnitude of the outbreak. “Improper lettuce washing and preparation at the restaurant may have contributed to the spread of disease,” the report said.
The outbreak was discovered July 30, 2013, by a hospital physician who reported to the health department that Phoenix had a cluster of cases with bloody diarrhea — the signature symptom of toxic E. coli infection. Further investigation revealed that the ill persons were members of a high school sports team and their families. The team shared a dinner at the restaurant on July 23 and others sickened in the outbreak ate at Federico’s in the West Valley between July 18-31. A total of 180 people were interviewed by the outbreak investigation team, including case controls.
According to the report, 23 percent of the victims in the West Valley Federico’s E. coli outbreak were hospitalized. But even those who were ill at home could suffer long-term health deficits from their exposure to the toxins delivered by E. coli O157:H7. Research has shown that one of the future risks is severe hypertension, or high blood pressure. Heart disease also is a concern for some E. coli survivors. Case patients of this outbreak can contact an E. coli lawyer at PritzkerOlsen Attorneys for a discussion of their legal options for financial recovery. Our firm represents E. coli outbreak victims and is one of the very few legal groups in the country that practices extensively in the area of foodborne illness litigation.
World Cancer Day 2015: Food Safety is Critical for Cancer Patients and Survivors
Source : http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/world-cancer-day-2015-food-safety-is-critical-for-cancer-patients-and-survivors-300029255.html
By prnewswire.com (Feb 04, 2015)
February 4th is World Cancer Day and the perfect time to talk about why food safety is so important for the nearly 15 million Americans who are cancer survivors and the 1.7 million people in the United States projected to be diagnosed with cancer this year.
Treatment of cancer typically involves chemotherapy, radiation, and/or medications to help fight the disease. A side effect of these therapies is that they may weaken patients' immune systems. And, since almost half of cancer survivors are 70 or older, they also have the natural weakening of the immune system that comes with age. A properly functioning immune system works to clear infections and other foreign agents from the body. But weakened immune systems make individuals more susceptible to infections, including those that can be brought on by disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens in food, and make those individuals more likely to have longer and more serious illnesses.
So, it's essential that cancer patients and survivors make a lifelong commitment to minimize their risk of foodborne illness, also called food poisoning. Doing that calls for proper care when choosing, storing, and preparing foods.
Foods to Avoid -- If you are at greater risk of foodborne illness, you should not eat:
•Raw or undercooked meat or poultry.
•Raw fish, partially cooked seafood (such as shrimp and crab), and refrigerated smoked seafood.
•Raw shellfish (including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops) and their juices.
•Unpasteurized (raw) milk and products made with raw milk, like yogurt and cheese.
•Soft cheeses made from unpasteurized milk, such as Feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, and Mexican-style cheeses (such as such as Queso Fresco, Panela, Asadero, and Queso Blanco).
•Raw or undercooked eggs or foods containing raw or undercooked eggs, including certain homemade salad dressings (such as Caesar salad dressing), homemade cookie dough and cake batters, and homemade eggnog. (Most pre-made foods from grocery stores, such as Caesar dressing, pre-made cookie dough, or packaged eggnog are made with pasteurized eggs.)
•Unwashed fresh vegetables, including lettuce/salads.
•Unpasteurized fruit or vegetable juices (these juices will carry a warning label).
•Hot dogs, luncheon meats (cold cuts), fermented and dry sausage, and other deli-style meats, poultry products, and smoked fish — unless they are reheated until steaming hot.
•Salads (without added preservatives) prepared on site in a deli-type establishment, such as ham salad, chicken salad, or seafood salad.
•Unpasteurized, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads.
•Raw sprouts (alfalfa, bean, or any other sprout).
AND ALWAYS FOLLOW THE FOUR STEPS TO FOOD SAFETY:
1.CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often
2.SEPARATE: Separate raw meats from other foods
3.COOK: Cook to the right temperatures
4.CHILL: Refrigerate foods promptly
For more information see Food Safety for People with Cancer or call USDA's Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) and ask for a free copy.
California Woman Sues Deli Over Salmonella Infection
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/02/california-woman-sues-deli-over-salmonella-illness/#.VNgbBNj9ns1
By News Desk (Feb 4, 2015)
A woman in Ventura County, CA, is suing the delicatessen where she says she contracted a severe Salmonella infection last summer as part of an outbreak that sickened at least 21 people.
The woman, Stephanie Wehr, ate at Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, in early August and began coming down with symptoms of illness the next day at work. What followed was several days of abdominal pain, uncontrollable diarrhea, fever, nausea and vomiting.
After several trips to receive medical attention, she was admitted to the hospital three days after eating at the deli, ultimately staying there for five days.
More than three weeks before Wehr ate at the deli, on July 9, officials from the county health department discovered a Salmonella outbreak potentially linked to the deli and performed an on-site inspection. They found “major” violations related to unsanitary equipment, inadequate employee hand-washing, and improper cooling procedures for potentially hazardous foods.
A follow-up inspection on July 22 found that some violations persisted, including foods not being properly stored at sufficiently cool temperatures.
Wehr is being represented by Quirk Law Firm of Ventura and Seattle-based food-safety law firm Marler Clark (which underwrites Food Safety News).
In January, the outbreak was revealed publicly for the first time when attorney Bill Marler shared information about it in a blog post after being retained by Wehr.
Including Wehr, eight people were hospitalized in the outbreak. Among the 21 sickened, two were employees of the restaurant.
Mycotoxins: A Food Safety Crisis
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/mycotoxins-a-food-safety-crisis/
By Huub Lelieveld (Feb 03, 2015)
While about a billion people in this world are starving, unimaginable amounts of food are unsuitable for consumption because of molds that produce toxins, such as aflatoxin. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that about a quarter of the world’s agricultural produce is contaminated with mycotoxins, and, in the last 10 years, mycotoxins have accounted for 30–60% of food and feed rejections at European Union borders.
There are ways to reduce the growth of molds in staple foods, particularly during storage, but also in the field, such as using curved mirrors to direct sunlight to too-moist areas. In India and other countries where the food is grown on small patches of land, solar energy is used on a small scale to reduce losses. Although not perfect, largely because of extraordinary rainfall or monsoons during harvest, these approaches help reduce mold growth, and some companies are developing tailor-made installations for this purpose. Food that is not needed by the grower can be sold to companies that use solar technology for drying. In parallel, however, this problem has also stimulated use (not genetically modified) of varieties that are more resistant to mold and, thus, less risk of mycotoxin contamination.
If products are stored in silos that are not insulated, the temperature difference between the sides in the sun and in the shadow will cause moisture to migrate from the warmer side (higher partial water vapor pressure) to the cooler side where it will condense and encourage growth of (toxigenic) molds. Thermal insulation will reduce or eliminate this problem, but this approach needs a good business plan: In the longer term, the initial investment term will pay back because of reduced losses. In practice, however, existing knowledge that would reduce losses is not applied, primarily because people do not have access to this information.
Many countries have regulations specifying the maximum allowed concentration of mycotoxins, but there are no regulations requiring measures to reduce contamination. If not legally required, producers are reluctant to invest in approaches that would reduce mold growth. Considerable effort, however, is spent on quantifying mycotoxins in food and on developing methods that are able to detect increasingly lower concentrations. Perhaps now is the time to divert some of these efforts towards methods that reduce the problem, specifically preventing mold growth and affordable methods to eliminate mycotoxins from contaminated food. These also require education and training of those who need to apply the knowledge.
The Global Harmonization Initiative (GHI) Working Group on Mycotoxins is developing proposals aimed at reducing mycotoxins in staple food, and helping make farmers and industries more aware of the potential. Ultimately, the goal is to make measures reducing mold growth compulsory worldwide.
Initially, the focus will be on three issues:
• Grains, lead by Prof. Hamid Ezzatpanah
• Nuts and dried foods, lead by Prof. Karina Grigoryan
• Spices, lead by Prof. Naresh Magan.
Other working parties will investigate dairy products, fruits and vegetables, and other foods in the future.
Anyone interested in joining the Working Group on Mycotoxins and/or one of the working groups is invited to contact Prof. Mark Shamtsyan (email@example.com) or Karina Grigoryan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Huub Lelieveld is president of the Global Harmonization Initiative, a member of the Executive Committee and past president of the European Federation of Food Science and Technology. He is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Food Safety Magazine.
1. Wu, F. 2007. Measuring the economic impacts of fusarium toxins in animal feeds. Anim Feed Sci Technol 137(3-4):363–374.
2. V. Prakash, personal communication.
Industry Consortium Begins Enormous DNA Sequencing Project for Food Safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/02/industry-begins-ambitious-dna-sequencing-project-for-food-safety/#.VNgbe9j9ns1
By Lydia Zuraw (Feb 02, 2015)
Mars Inc. and IBM Research have teamed up for an ambitious food safety whole-genome sequencing project.
The Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain will study the the microbial ecology of foods and their processing environments. Having a much deeper understanding of the populations in these ecologies — bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other microorganisms — and how they interact with each other can then be used to develop new methods for keeping food safe, said Dave Crean, Mars’ global head for research and development.
The science itself is similar to what the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is using to improve foodborne illness outbreak investigations. The difference is that instead of just sequencing the pathogen isolates from patients and the food that sickened them, Mars and IBM will be sequencing the DNA and RNA for all of the microorganisms on and in foods.
“We’re looking to understand how supply chains and production environments influence the final product from a microbial point of view,” Crean told Food Safety News. “Can we see microbial ecologies that give a greater risk of pathogens being present?”
Food companies spend a lot of time on microbial testing to ensure that there aren’t pathogens in their products, but this consortium wants to know if there are protective actions food producers can take in respect to microbiomes that can reduce risk and make production safer — certain cleaning procedures are one theory.
With more than 130 factories worldwide, Mars is also in the position to map the flow of microorganisms into and through the supply chain on a global level, Crean said.
The team will start with basic commodities, such as wheat and soy, and try to see if there is a “stable” microbiology associated with them as raw materials. The researchers will also sequence the genes of the microorganisms as the foods move through a production process to find out how the microbiome is affected by different production processes, if at all.
“Are microbiomes more specific to the raw material, or to the specific factories that they’re passing through, or the geography that they’re coming from?” Crean wondered.
The project is going to produce a lot of data — something Crean said the team recognizes as a “significant challenge.” Stressing that it’s still “very early days,” he noted that Mars and IBM are looking to partner with industry, academics, regulators and some NGOs on the project.
The vast number of microbiomes and rate at which microorganisms can evolve means that sequencing everything is virtually impossible. For now, the consortium is working on an initial timeline of three years, at which point Crean said they should have “some pretty clear outcomes.”
“We’ll have more of an idea about how to take it forward after that three years,” he added.
Obama proposes combining all U.S. food safety regulators into one agency
Source : http://www.businessinsider.com/r-obama-proposes-creation-of-stand-alone-us-food-safety-agency-2015-2
By Toni Clarke, Reuters (Feb 02, 2015)
U.S. President Barack Obama has proposed bringing together the country's food safety operations into one agency to better monitor food quality in a move that would reshape the Food and Drug Administration.
The proposal was put forward as part of the President's 2016 budget plan. The new agency would combine the food safety responsibilities of the FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other agencies.
"A single Federal food safety agency would provide focused, centralized leadership, a primary voice on food safety standards and compliance with those standards, and clear lines of responsibility and accountability that will enhance both prevention of and responses to outbreaks of food-borne illnesses," the budget proposal noted.
The President's proposal reflects provisions in draft bill introduced last month by Democratic Senator Richard Durbin from Illinois and Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat from Connecticut. The bill, introduced as the Safe Food Act of 2015, is designed to improve safety at a time more and more food is being sourced from overseas.
Each year, 48 million people, or 1 in 6 Americans, suffer from foodborne illness. More than 100,000 are hospitalized and thousands die, according to federal data.
In January 2011, the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act was signed into law. The goal was to shift the focus of regulators to preventing contamination rather than just responding to it.
Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the FDA, declined to say whether such a move would be supported by FDA officials.
"It depends on how it's done," he said.
While recognizing that food safety is fragmented, he said, the FDA will focus on implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act "while Congress considers what the President has proposed."
Currently most of the responsibility for food safety lies with the FDA. The Department of Agriculture oversees meat, poultry and processed eggs.
The President's proposal calls for a single agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. The agency would be independent from the FDA and would be responsible for food safety inspections, enforcement, applied research and responses to food-poisoning outbreaks.
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