Comprehensive News List
General Food Safety News/ Outbreak News/ Recall News/ New Methods News/
/ On-Line Slides/ Job Information/Internet Journal of Food Safety

Food Safety Job Openings
03/21. Food Safety Program Manager - Columbia, SC
03/21. Quality Assurance Manager – Northfield, MN
03/20. Quality and Food Safety Engineer/Supervisor
03/18. Food Safety Program Manager –Indianapolis, IN
03/18. Quality Technician - Swing Shift – Portland, OR
03/18. Quality Control Director - Allentown, PA
03/17. Manager – Microbiology - Madison, WI
03/16. Facility Quality Assurance Supervisor - Itasca, IL
03/16. Food Safety Representative - California
03/16. Food Safety Program Manager – Atlanta, GA

FoodHACCP Newsletter
03/23 2015 ISSUE:644

The Future is Now for the Food Safety Modernization Act
Source :
By Michael Taylor (Mar 17, 2015)
We all knew FSMA was a big deal when Congress passed it a little over four years ago. After a decade of illness outbreaks, import safety problems, and market disruptions that shook consumer confidence and imposed billions of dollars in costs on the food system, Congress mandated a paradigm shift to prevention — to establishing a modern system of food safety protection based not on reacting to problems but on preventing them from happening in the first place. That’s how we’ll achieve the food safety goals we all share — fewer illnesses, stronger consumer confidence in the system of protection, and a level playing field for American farmers and food companies.
In addition to embracing these goals, Congress adopted a strong vision of how to achieve them. With broad input and support from industry and consumers alike, Congress said that a food safety system fit for the 21st century must be built on what the food industry itself has learned about how to make food safe and how to manage global supply chains, and it must harness the efforts of all food system participants — public and private, domestic and foreign — in a collaborative effort to see that those practical, effective, preventive measures are consistently followed.
FDAinspector_406As big as that sounds — and it’s by far the biggest overhaul of the food safety system since the first national law was passed over a century ago — I don’t think any of us fully envisioned how much would have to be done and how much would have to change to make FSMA a success. The law itself spelled out the large number of regulations FDA must issue to establish the prevention framework. Indeed, FSMA made FDA responsible for some 50 specific deliverables in the form of rules, guidance for industry, new programs, and reports to Congress. FDA has been hard at work on these, with the major rules set to be final this year under court-ordered deadlines. You can see an inventory of what we’ve done since enactment of FSMA here on our FSMA web page.
But we’ve learned that FSMA is about far more than new rules. It’s about how FDA changes fundamentally its approach to implementing food safety rules, including how FDA works with other governments and the food industry to achieve food safety success. That’s why FDA has devoted such huge effort over the past two years to rethinking every aspect of what will go into achieving high rates of compliance with the FSMA rules — for both home-grown and imported food — compliance that is essential to food safety and to achieving the level playing field on food safety that American consumers and industry both demand.
For example, because we know that the vast majority of American farmers and food companies want to do the right thing on food safety and want to comply with the new rules, we are basing our FSMA implementation strategy on the principle of “educate before and while we regulate.” This means providing guidance and technical assistance to industry so they know what’s expected and are supported in doing it. It also means reorienting and retraining the FDA inspection and compliance workforce, as well as our state food safety partners, to work in this new way so we can provide consistent, high-quality oversight within the more technically sophisticated FSMA framework.
We want to use the new FSMA framework to achieve good food safety results through collaborative effort, rather than focusing on the traditional enforcement approaches that were our main tool before FSMA was enacted. We will of course enforce vigorously when that’s what’s needed to protect consumers, but the goal is food safety, not enforcement cases. You can see a summary of this new compliance strategy here.
The FSMA paradigm shift and the change needed to succeed are especially urgent and especially evident when it comes to imported food. The volume of imports is vast and growing, and the number of foreign manufacturing facilities registered to sell food in the United States is greater than the number of U.S. facilities. Safety problems with imported foods were one of the main drivers of FSMA’s enactment, and Congress recognized that the old system of relying almost entirely on FDA inspectors to detect and correct food safety problems by examining food at the border is drastically outmoded.
Congress thus mandated a new import safety system that harnesses the capacity and responsibility of importers to manage their supply chains to ensure imports meet our new FSMA standards. And it directed FDA to increase its foreign presence through more foreign inspections and more engagement with foreign governments to leverage their food safety efforts.
All of this of course costs money. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that, to implement FSMA effectively, FDA would need a cumulative increase in its base funding for food safety of $583 million over the first five years following enactment. In those five years, FY 2011-2015, we’ve received much-appreciated base increases totaling $162 million, which have been crucial for getting FSMA implementation off the ground.
During this period, FDA has made its own estimates of the FSMA funding need, as explained in a brief summary of the history and context of FSMA funding we recently posted. And we did this in full recognition of the fiscal challenges facing the government and with a commitment to be as targeted and cost effective as we can be. For example, we are not building a new system on top of the old but rather redeploying our current workforce and resources to implement FSMA and our new compliance strategy. We are prioritizing investments that leverage public and private resources and that support our industry and state partners in playing their food safety roles.
And we are driving change within FDA to improve efficiency. This includes the Commissioner’s game-changing initiative to vertically integrate and streamline the collaboration between our experts and policymakers in headquarters and our field-based inspection and compliance workforce.
The bottom line is that with program efficiencies we can gain, plus the FSMA funding increases FDA has received to date, enactment of the President’s request for a budget authority increase of $109.5 million for FY 2016 would make it possible for FDA to move forward in 2016 toward successful implementation of FSMA.¹
We think the request is modest in relation to the benefits FSMA promises for consumers and the food system and given what it takes to both revamp everything we’ve done in the past and take on such major new tasks as implementing the first-ever national standards for produce safety and building a new import safety system.
And the request is modest in relation to CBO’s original estimate of FSMA funding needs. With the full $109.5 million in new budget authority, our total FSMA funding increases would still be less than half of what CBO estimated is needed for success.
Finally, and crucially, FDA’s 2016 budget request reflects the unavoidable fact that the future is now when it comes to FSMA implementation. Let me explain what I mean by that. At the end of this year, we will have new FSMA rules — we are committed and we are under court order. By the end of 2016, we will begin overseeing their implementation, and we will do that in large part through legally mandated FSMA inspections of food facilities. Those inspections will happen.
Thus, in terms of preparing for effective and efficient FSMA implementation, the future is here. If we invest properly in 2016 to prepare FDA and the industry for success, we will have success, in the form of better food safety, stronger public confidence, and a level playing field for U.S. farmers and food companies. If we don’t invest properly in 2016, food safety will suffer — people will get sick who wouldn’t otherwise — and the food industry will be disrupted — large and small operators alike — for lack of guidance and technical assistance for industry and lack of consistent, technically well-supported inspection by FDA and the states.
That is what is at stake in FDA’s 2016 FSMA funding request.
For additional information on key investments for implementing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, go here.
¹The President’s Budget requests $1.5 billion to support food safety, which includes $1.3 billion in budget authority — an increase of $109.5 million above 2015.

The Importance of Food Traceability
Source :
By William Fisher (Mar 17, 2015)
The Importance of Food Traceability
So what is driving all the discussion about food traceability? And why is traceability suddenly so important?
Traceability is most relevant when it comes to public health . Whether we are talking about food safety or food defense, emergency planning can be broken into four phases:
1. Preparedness: When planning for an emergency situation, traceability provides greater visibility into a supply chain, thereby helping be better prepared if something goes wrong.
2. Response: In case something goes wrong, traceability improves the agility of the response by all stakeholders.
3. Recovery: During the recovery phase, traceability allows the industry and regulators to maintain or rebuild trust with consumers into the safety and resiliency of the food system.
4. Prevention: Traceability allows for the determination of causality of the problem through root cause analysis, thereby preventing future issues.
Let’s first take a look at who the key stakeholders are. They can be divided into government (such as U.S. Food and Drug Administration, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, not to forget state and local regulators); the food industry (including farmers, ingredient suppliers, processors, distributors, wholesalers, foodservice, retailers); academia (education, research, extension, Centers of Excellence); and consumers.
Traceability has become increasingly important. The global food supply chain today has evolved into a tangled web as companies seek to enhance their capabilities to feed the world’s growing population. While food safety problems remain rare, when they do occur, time is the enemy as public health and lives are at stake, as well as the livelihoods of industries, companies and employees. The Global Food Traceability Center is intended to assist companies to better understand and implement ways to track and trace the paths of products through the food chain, to improve food safety and security and to avoid or mitigate devastating public health and economic impacts. However, we want to emphasize that food traceability is about more than recalls. Being able to ascertain the origin of products, ingredients and their attributes, from the farm through food processing to retail, foodservice and the consumer, is growing in importance. Increasingly, public health concerns are demanding traceability, but it will be the business economic drivers that will sustain it. For example, according the Grocery Manufacturers Association in the U.S., the financial impact of a recall is quite significant: 52% of all recalls cost over $10M and 23% cost over $30M.
The food supply chain today is truly a maze that is global, dynamic and complex in nature. Key challenging issues include globalization of the food supply chain, changing industry processes and consumer preferences for fresh and minimally processed foods. The maze begins at agriculture followed by food processing, storage and distribution. During the transportation of food products, varied domestic and international regulations and standards are applied, not to mention variable enforcement and inconsistent and sometimes contradictory scientific rationales for such regulations are encountered. Exiting the maze, one finds a cacophony of consumer trends and changing habits, health drivers and new threats, which includes misinformation spread in the mass media. Thus, concerns about both the safety and quality of food continue to escalate.
Such concerns include the following:
• More foodborne illness: high visibility cases of Escherichia coli, Listeria, Salmonella, etc.
• Higher number and visibility of recalls
• Rise in fraudulent activities in the food chain and counterfeit products
• More products coming from countries with lower health and safety standards
• Higher risk of contamination or spoilage due to long, complex supply chains
• Increased threat of terrorism
The impact of all this is considerable and significant, including:
• Economic loss from negative impact of recalls
• Rising distrust of the food supply and fragile consumer confidence
• Greater demands for proof of food product claims
• Increased demands for regulation and guidelines
• Increased business costs to comply with regulations
Why is traceability so important? The reason really depends on who you talk to.
For public safety, it’s about reducing incidences of food fraud as well as unintentional or intentional adulteration; disease management; and environmental emergencies
For businesses, it’s all about risk management and mitigation—lowering the impact of recalls and lowering liability costs
For the supply chain, efficiencies relate to productivity; cash flow improvements; innovation; and reducing waste
And for consumers, it’s about access to markets and specialty foods ; and enhancing or strengthening brand confidence
But regardless of the specific reason, traceability is critical to all stakeholders.  

Food safety risk communication in the kitchen: consensus approach
Source :
By Doug Powell (Mar 22, 2015)
Foodborne diseases are a major public health problem. Improper storage and food preparation at home can favour microbial contamination of food. Consumers play a crucial role in controlling this risk. To reduce exposure to risk, it is essential to provide information and guidance on contamination management in the home.
The aim of this study was to pilot a method of participatory communication addressed to young consumers and designed to reduce the microbiological risks associated with the consumption of meat products. The methodology was based on application of the ‘consensus conference’ model on food safety issues. The consensus conference served not only as a participatory strategy to share knowledge but also as a method for sharing in the development of risk communication content (guidelines) to be disseminated to the reference target.
Young people’s perceptions, habits and behaviour in the kitchen were explored in the preparatory stage of the consensus conference by means of a survey and a focus group. Three consensus conferences were held in Italy attended by 60 university students (19 and 22 years old). Application of the consensus conference model as a communication process proved to be an effective opportunity to engage young consumers and experts on the topic of food safety. This discursive participation approach was broadly welcomed by the participants. Specifically, direct interaction with the experts was considered to be an important part of the communication process.
The findings of the project were used to select concise communication content based on the perceptions, behaviours and fact-finding needs of the selected target. Publication of this content in the form of guidelines on microbiological risk management at home has enabled the results of the consensus conferences to be extended and the targeted communication material on risk reduction in daily food handling practices to be disseminated.
Reducing microbiological risk in the kitchen: piloting consensus conference methodology as a communication strategy
Journal of Risk Research
Licia Ravarotto, Stefania Crovato, Claudio Mantovani, Fabiano D’Este, Anna Pinto, and Giulia Mascarello

Listeria and Cheese and a Deadly Result
Source :
By Denis Stearns (Mar 17, 2015)
In the fall of 2012 the CDC collaborated with public health and regulatory officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis). Joint investigation efforts indicated that ricotta salata cheese was the likely source.
Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Listeria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that were part of this outbreak. 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 22 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill people identified in each location was as follows: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (2), and Washington (1).
Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 4.34.45 PMAmong persons for whom information is available, dates that illness was diagnosed ranged from March 28, 2012 to October 6, 2012. Twenty ill persons were hospitalized. Nine of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three of these were diagnosed in newborns. The other 13 ill persons ranged in age from 30 years to 87 years, with a median age of 77 years, and 54% were female. Four deaths were reported, one each from Minnesota, New York, Nebraska, and California. In Nebraska and California, public health officials determined that the deaths were related to listeriosis. In Minnesota and New York, public health officials did not report listeriosis as a cause of death because it was not listed as such on the death certificates. One fetal loss also was reported.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies indicated that Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. was the likely source of this outbreak of listeriosis. FDA isolated the outbreak strain of Listeria from a sample of uncut Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese, which was imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc.

Listeria and Cheese and a Deadly Result
Source :
By Denis Stearns (Mar 17, 2015)
In the fall of 2012 the CDC collaborated with public health and regulatory officials in several states and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections (listeriosis). Joint investigation efforts indicated that ricotta salata cheese was the likely source.
Public health investigators used DNA “fingerprints” of Listeria obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that were part of this outbreak. 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 22 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from 13 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill people identified in each location was as follows: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (1), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (2), and Washington (1).
Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 4.34.45 PMAmong persons for whom information is available, dates that illness was diagnosed ranged from March 28, 2012 to October 6, 2012. Twenty ill persons were hospitalized. Nine of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; three of these were diagnosed in newborns. The other 13 ill persons ranged in age from 30 years to 87 years, with a median age of 77 years, and 54% were female. Four deaths were reported, one each from Minnesota, New York, Nebraska, and California. In Nebraska and California, public health officials determined that the deaths were related to listeriosis. In Minnesota and New York, public health officials did not report listeriosis as a cause of death because it was not listed as such on the death certificates. One fetal loss also was reported.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by officials in local, state, and federal public health, agriculture, and regulatory agencies indicated that Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc. was the likely source of this outbreak of listeriosis. FDA isolated the outbreak strain of Listeria from a sample of uncut Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese, which was imported from Italy and distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc.

Hepatitis A Exposure at Casa di Pizza in Buffalo, NY
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 22, 2015)
An employee at Casa di Pizza on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo in Erie county, New York has been diagnosed with hepatitis A. Anyone who ate at the restaurant from February 26, 2015 to March 19, 2015 may have been exposed to the virus. Take out customers and those who ate food and drink at the bar are not affected.
Erie County Department of Health is offering vaccinations to anyone who ate at the restaurant March 9 through March 19, 2015 at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center at 153 Franklin Street in Buffalo. The clinics will be Monday, March 23, noon to 8 pm, and Tuesday, March 24, 8 am to 6 pm. If you are going to visit this clinic, pre-register at the New York State Department of Health web site. If you can’t pre-register, bring your driver’s license with you.
Vaccinations are only effective when given within two weeks of exposure, so you must be vaccinated by March 23, 2015 if you ate there March 9. Anyone who ate at that restaurant between February 26, 2015 and March 8, 2015 may also have been exposed, but it’s too late for the vaccine. In that case, you should monitor yourself for the symptoms of hepatitis A for the next 50 days. If you do get sick, see your doctor.
If you have had hepatitis A before or have been vaccinated before you may be protected; check with your doctor if you are not sure. Hepatitis A is a serious illness that can really affect those with liver disease, those with pre-existing conditions, and the elderly. The symptoms of hepatitis A are fever, nausea, diarrhea, light colored stool, dark colored urine, yellow eyes and skin (jaundice), tiredness, loss of appetite, and abdominal cramps.
Most people usually recover within a few weeks, but some may be ill as long as six months. Dark urine and jaundice may be a sign that your liver is inflamed; this often requires hospitalization.

Claravale Farm Link in 2012 Campylobacter Outbreak that Sickened 22
Source :
By Bill Marler (Mar 22, 2015)
In early February 2012, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Food and Drug Branch (FDB) was notified by the CDPH Infectious Diseases Branch (IDB) about a cluster of California residents with Campylobacteriosis. All cases had exposure to raw (unpasteurized) milk. IDB determined that the majority of case patients had consumed Claravale Farms brand raw milk products during the period preceding their illnesses. A total of 22 cases of C. jejuni were reported to IDB over the course of this investigation. The age range of case patients was one to 66 years. Illness onset dates ranged from January 29, 2012 to April 9, 2012. Five Campylobacter isolates collected from cases that had exposure to Claravale Farms raw milk were a genetic match using Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). These isolates also matched the PFGE patterns from the Claravale Farms raw cream samples collected by FDB and the California Department of Food and Agriculture (pattern designation DBRS16.0024/DBRK02.1142).
Samples of Claravale Farms raw whole milk were collected from four case patients who still had remaining product. Samples were tested for Campylobacter and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Campylobacter was not detected in any of the raw milk samples, however, two unopened bottles of raw whole milk tested positive for E. coli O157:H7. FDB initiated an environmental investigation at the dairy based on the positive findings.
On March 13 and 14, 2012, FDB investigators collected a total of 170 samples at Claravale Farms: 22 product (whole raw cow milk, nonfat raw cow milk, raw cow cream, and raw goat milk), 62 sponge swabs, 11 soil, 17 water, and 58 feces. Of the 22 product samples, one (raw cow cream) was positive for C. jejuni, and two (one whole and one nonfat raw cow milk) were positive for non-O157:H7 E. coli. The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) also was on-site and collected product samples from the dairy which were tested for standard plate count, coliforms, Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria. One sample, raw cow cream, was positive for C. jejuni. This finding prompted CDFA to issue a statewide recall and quarantine order to Claravale Farms on March 23, 2012. This order prevented the dairy from selling all raw milk products, and necessitated the removal of their raw cow milk, raw non-fat cow milk, raw cow cream, and raw goat milk from retail locations. Claravale Farms had already ceased distribution on March 19, 2012 due to their knowledge of CDFA’s presumptive positive result of the raw cow cream sample. The firm ceased operations until the quarantine was lifted on March 29, 2012.
FDB and CDFA returned to Claravale Farms on April 23, 2012 due to additional Campylobacteriosis cases associated with raw milk from Claravale Farms subsequent to the CDFA quarantine release. Thirty one additional environmental samples were collected by FDB. C. jejuni was detected in one sample collected from a floor drain in the clean-in-place room. This sample did not match the outbreak strain.
CDPH’s environmental and epidemiological investigation indicated that raw whole cow milk manufactured by Claravale Farms was likely contaminated with C. jejuni that led to illness. Operational deficiencies were reported which could have contributed to contamination of the raw milk.

Food Safety Microbiology Course
2 days short course
May 21-22, 2015
(LA, CA)

Seats are Limited!!
Registration Fee: $498
Before May 1, 2015
Registration Fee: $550
After May 1, 2015

Could Glowing Fish Help Improve Food Safety?

Source :
By News Desk (Mar 20, 2015)
A startup in Hong Kong is hoping to use light-up fish embryos to improve food safety.
The company, Vitargent, engineered medaka and zebrafish embryos to turn fluorescent green or develop tumors in the presence of harmful substances called Estrogenic Endocrine Disruptors (EEDs).
The technology can screen for more than 1,000 chemicals such as DDT and BPA at one time, and it can be used to test not only in food and drinks, but in cosmetics and skin care products as well. Traditional product safety tests usually only test five to 10 toxins at a time.
Vitargent founder and executive director Eric Chen told the South China Morning Post that the fish have DNA very similar to that of humans, so they are susceptible to the same toxins.
“While chemical-specific tests can be sensitive and precise, they are also very narrow and will not detect toxicants for which the analyst is not specifically looking for,” Chen told Tech in Asia. “Unanticipated toxicants usually go undetected because time, cost, and incomplete knowledge prevent chemical specific testing from being a practical screen for toxicity.”
Vitargent is now cultivating transgenic medaka and zebrafish at Hong Kong Science Park’s laboratory and is also planning to establish fish farms in mainland China and Europe.
The company hopes that it can help China get its food safety under control after numerous contamination scandals.
“Businesses are so creative they will add anything you can imagine to our food and drink,” Chen told the Post.

Consumer Reports Guides Shoppers Through Produce Pesticide Residues
Source :
By Lydia Zuraw (Mar 19, 2015) year, the Environmental Working Group releases guides to help shoppers pick fruits and vegetables with the fewest pesticide residues. Consumer Reports’ Food Safety and Sustainability Center has now released similar guidelines.
According to the organization’s survey conducted in November 2014, pesticide exposure in food is a concern for 85 percent of Americans.
For its report released Thursday, Consumer Reports analyzed 12 years of data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program (PDP) to determine the number of pesticide residues on fruits and vegetables, the frequency with which they were found, and the toxicity of the pesticides. They then placed each of the 48 foods into one of five risk categories ranging from very low to very high, based on the risk to a 3-year-old.
The organization found that organic produce falls into the low- or very low-risk categories, so it advises consumers to choose organic fruits and vegetables when possible. In particular, Consumer Reports said that shoppers should always choose organic options for peaches, tangerines, nectarines, strawberries, cranberries, green beans, sweet bell peppers, hot peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots.
“If organic produce is too pricey or not available, our analysis shows that you often have a low-risk conventional option” based on the country where it was grown, the guide stated.
Bananas, cherries, oranges, broccoli, lettuce and onions were included among the very low- and low-risk conventionally grown produce Consumer Reports identified.
PDP has consistently found that, “U.S. food does not pose a safety concern based upon pesticide residues” because nearly all residues identified are below the tolerance levels set by the Environmental Protection Agency.
But Consumer Reports pointed out that multiple pesticides are often found on samples. The tolerance levels are set for individual pesticides, but the effects of these pesticide combinations are untested and unknown, the organization said.
And a report released by the Government Accountability Office last November identified issues with residue testing conducted by USDA, EPA and the Food and Drug Administration.
Some pesticides, including organophosphates, have been shown to be toxic at high levels, but GAO said that it’s difficult to associate the amount of pesticides used in farming with the risk to human health.
“The overall use of pesticides in agricultural settings is not necessarily indicative of the risk associated with those pesticides,” the authors wrote. “We were unable to find publicly available estimates of the overall toxicity or risk associated with the use of agricultural pesticides in the United States.”
Those concerned about pesticide residues on food frequently cite studies suggesting that the chemicals can negatively impact neurodevelopment and behavior in children.
Ultimately, Consumer Reports warned that despite the risks posed by pesticide residues, eating fruits and vegetables is extremely important for your health.
“Your primary goal is to eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables — ideally five or more servings a day — even if it’s a type that falls into our very high-risk category,” their guide read.
Or, as Environmental Working Group has stated along with its “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists, “eating conventionally grown produce is far better than skipping fruits and vegetables.”
The new Consumer Reports guide also included a number of policy recommendations for the federal government.
They called for EPA to ban or take immediate action on acephate, iprodione, fludioxonil, imazalil, oxamyl, methyl bromide, chlorpyrifos and other organophosphates.
And EPA should also take immediate action on neonicotinoids because of their contribution to the decline of pollinators, complete the delisting of arsenical pesticides, improve the science behind tolerance limits, rein in emergency exemptions and conditional registrations, and require public access to all ingredients in pesticides, the organization said.
In addition, Consumer Reports recommended that USDA expand pesticide residue testing in PDP and protect and promote organic standards, and that FDA should expand and improve its pesticide residue testing and enforcement.

2010 Bravo Raw Milk Cheese E. coli Outbreak
Soruce :
By Patti Waller (Mar 19, 2015)
On November 4, 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an alert to consumers and health professionals about an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada. The alert was based on epidemiological evidence linking at least 25 E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in those states to a cheese product called “Bravo Farms Dutch Style Gouda Cheese” that the defendant manufactured and distributed to Costco Warehouses. Costco offered the cheese product for sampling and sale at the “cheese road show” held at certain Costco Warehouses, including the location at Christown Spectrum Mall in Phoenix, Arizona, from October 5 to November 1, 2010.
Further investigation by the CDC and various state and local health agencies demonstrated that 38 E. coli O157:H7 cases from Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada in the outbreak shared an indistinguishable DNA fingerprint pattern.[1] The fingerprint pattern has never been seen before in the PulseNet database, which is the national subtyping network made up of state and local public health laboratories and federal food regulatory laboratories.
In a remarkable move, U.S. marshals and Food and Drug Administration agents raided Bravo Farms and seized the gouda, along with piles of edam and blocks of white cheddar on January 27, 2011. Investigators seized more than 80,000 pounds of cheese with the intent of disposing of it as garbage. This development is remarkable because the FDA so rarely feels compelled to actually visit a food manufacturing facility and impound potentially contaminated food items. Typically, the manufacturer has long since disposed of the implicated food at the FDA’s request. It takes a rare combination of egregious manufacturing conditions and a lack of cooperation to induce such FDA action.[2] With Bravo Farms, federal authorities reported:
1.Plant buildings and structures are not of suitable size, construction, and design to facilitate maintenance and sanitary operations for food-manufacturing purposes. Employees must travel from the in-process area directly through the finished product areas without sufficient controls to prevent cross-contamination, and uncovered in-process materials are transported outside of the building, exposed to the open environment.
2.Adequate measures under the conditions of manufacturing and handling are not being taken to destroy or prevent the growth of undesirable microorganisms particularly those of public health significance, to prevent the food from being adulterated within the meaning of the Act. The firm lacks the controls necessary to assure that cheese manufactured from raw (unpasteurized) milk is aged for the minimum requirement of 60 days.
3.Equipment containers and utensils used to convey, hold, or store raw materials, work-in-progress, rework, or food, are not handled and maintained during manufacturing or storage in a manner that protects against contamination. The firm utilizes the same equipment for young (unaged) cheese and aged cheese, without assuring proper cleaning and sanitization to prevent cross contamination.
4.Effective measures are not being taken to exclude pests from the processing areas and to protect against the contamination of food on the premises by pests. At least fifty (50) flies were observed in the processing areas of the firm, a rabbit was seen leaving the room in which packaging material for finished is stored, and gaps were observed around doors leading into the processing area.
5.The facility is not constructed in such a manner that drip or condensate does not contaminate food, food-contact surfaces, or food-packaging materials. Condensate was observed directly over an uncovered vat of in-process cheese.
6.Employees are not washing hands thoroughly and sanitizing if necessary to protect against contamination with undesirable microorganisms in an adequate hand-washing facility before starting work, after each absence from the work station, and at any other time when the hands may have become soiled or contaminated. An employee was observed dipping his hands in the utensil sanitizing bath and the proceeding to mix in-process cheese with his bare hands, and an employee scratched his chin under his beard cover and then mixed the milled cheese with his bare hands without washing or sanitizing his hands.
Additionally, 15 of 24 cheese samples collected tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in children and the elderly.  The samples came from four different types of Bravo Farms cheese, including cheddar, edam, gouda, and jack.  And one sample, a cheddar cheese, tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.  As a result of the multiple positive samples for pathogenic bacteria representing approximately four (4) months of production, on November 22, 2010, the California Department of Food and Agriculture imposed a quarantine on all types, varieties and flavors of cheese manufactured, handled, or packaged by Bravo Farms, LLC and ordered a recall of all cheese distributed by Bravo Farms, LLC.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.

This certification fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training. The certification is also accepted by auditing firms who require HACCP Training as a component of the audit. Our training has encompassed a multitude of industries from the farm to the table.
We are so proud that more than 400 attendees successfully finished Basic and Advanced HACCP Trainings through FoodHACCP. All attendees received a HACCP certificate which fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training

Gene-based tools dramatically improving food safety

Source :
By Jennifer Weeks (Mar 19, 2015)
Today, the risk is stark: Forty-eight million Americans—one out of every six people—suffer from a foodborne illness every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Within that group 128,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die. But Robert Brackett, vice president of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and director of the school’s Institute for Food Safety and Health, believes promising new technological advances like DNA “fingerprinting” are going to help turn the tide.
“Regulatory agencies and food companies have much better resolution and ability today to track specific strains of organisms than they did a decade ago,” says Brackett. Advances in genetic mapping and DNA sequencing will continue to make it easier, he says, to determine quickly whether people in different locations have been sickened by food from a single source.
The traditional method for detecting and identifying pathogens in food—culturing the agent from food samples in a laboratory—can require days to weeks for a result. In addition, regulators need evidence connecting multiple illnesses to a specific source before they can order a batch of food recalled or close a plant.
But Brackett’s particularly optimistic about the impact of the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), signed into law in 2011, in helping to propel new technological advancements. Rules implementing the law are scheduled to take effect starting in August 2015.
Regulators and food manufacturers may also find it easier to comply with the new FSMA rules as rapid advances in genomics (the study of genes and their functions) give them better tools for identifying pathogens like E. coli, Listeria and salmonella, says Brackett.

WHO’s ‘5 keys’ for safe food
Source :
By (Mar 19, 2015)
Stating that food safety is a major determinant of health, diseases and productivity as it affects the survival, well-being and functioning of individuals and societies, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has released ‘five keys’ to safe foods.
The ‘five keys’ include – keep clean, separate raw and cooked food, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperature and use safe water and raw material.
“It is essential to keep clean like washing hands often during food preparations, after going to toilets, wash and sanitize all surface and equipment used in food preparations and protect from inspects pests and other animals,” noted WHO in its release.
Meanwhile, WHO stated that recognising the high relevance of food safety it has selected ‘food safety’ as the theme for World Health Day 2015 on Tuesday April 7.
From ‘Farm to Plate, Make Food Safe’ campaign emphasises the full spectrum of food safety issues from production to end-users. The campaign aims to spur governments to improve food safety through public awareness campaigns.

Check your freezer for last year’s produce
Source :
For best quality, use frozen foods in a timely manner.
By Beth Waitrovich, Michigan State University Extension (Mar 18, 2015)
It’s March already; gardeners have started planting seeds indoors for their gardens and we will soon have access to fresh, spring produce. Look in your freezer and locate the vegetables and fruits you preserved last summer and fall.
Although food safety is usually not an issue if foods are properly frozen and the temperature is maintained, the quality of frozen food does diminish over time. Moisture will crystalize into ice crystals in frozen foods as the freezer door gets opened and foods can become freezer burnt due to moisture loss. The color of frozen foods will start to change resulting in foods that do not look as appetizing.
As you’re checking your freezer, make sure all of your frozen foods have a date on them. It’s important to date food items you are freezing so you know how long they have been in the freezer. It’s also helpful to mark the name of the food on the container.
In addition, March is the perfect time to organize foods to find specific items more easily. It is helpful to store your foods in the freezer with like items. Use small baskets to keep like items together. For example, put all of your green beans in one basket, peas in another, etc. If you only have a few of each type of vegetable or fruit, then group vegetables in one basket, fruits in another, etc. Place the oldest items on the top or in the front of each basket so you use up the oldest items first.
When you are preparing items for storage in your freezer, always use freezer quality storage bags or containers to retain the best quality in your frozen foods. The National Center for Home Food Preservation has guidelines for freezing all types of produce.
March is National Frozen Food Month, now is a good time to watch for specials on frozen foods in the grocery store. While you are organizing your produce, take note of which foods you are getting low on and check the sale flyers for retailers in your area that are going to have frozen food sales.
Michigan State University Extension has a variety of resources about food storage as well as food preservation, food budgeting, meal planning and other related topics.

Outbreaks Show Freezing Doesn’t Kill Listeria, E. coli
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 18, 2015)
The Blue Bell Listeria outbreak is another example of how dangerous bacteria  such as Listeria and E.coli can survive freezing temperatures. Rare strains of Listeria in Blue Bell ice cream served to patients at Via Christi hospital in Wichita gave five of them listeriosis. Three people died.
The source of the outbreak was traced to a machine at the company’s Brenham, Texas facility that produced single serving ice cream treats such as ice cream bars, sandwiches and individually packaged scoops of ice cream.
Many of the potentially contaminated products were distributed for use in food service, which was also the case with another frozen food outbreak. in 2013.
An E. coli outbreak linked to Farm Rich frozen products sickened 35 people in 19 states in 2013. Most of them were under the age of 21.
The contaminated Farm Rich products included: Mozzarella Bites, Mini Pizza Slices, Mini Quesadillas and Philly Cheese Steaks.They were sold nationwide at retailers including  Alco, Food Lion, Food City, Price Chopper Ralph’s, Safeway, Schnuck’s, Supervalu, Target, and Winn Dixie.
About 300,000 of the 10 million pounds of products recalled were sold to schools.

The Packinghouse: Safety and Uses of Process-Water
Source :
By Roy Costa, RS, MS (MBA) (Mar 18, 2015)
(This is Part 1B of a five-part series on produce safety by Roy E. Costa, R.S., M.S., a registered professional sanitarian and founder/owner of Environ Health Associates Inc. Part 1A was posted here on Feb. 25, 2015, and the series introduction was posted here on Feb. 10, 2015.)
Packinghouse operations use process-water to cool and clean produce and also as a means of moving products via flumes. The commingling of products and reuse of water generally increase risk, especially if the process-water becomes contaminated. A flume is an example of a circulated water process where commingling of products occurs, being a trough of moving water that is circulated, or “re-circulated,” using a pump. operations provide a cooling step prior to packing using what is known a “hydro-cooler.” Hydro-coolers also commingle product and use circulated water. Due to high operating expenses involved in operating these units, the chilled water is often used for days at a time. Hydro-coolers can be standalone structures or cabinet-like pieces of equipment that use a refrigerated, circulated water bath to remove field heat (from products such as cantaloupe), increasing the “shelf life” of such products. Some temperature-sensitive products may also need ice (top ice, or injected) to ensure adequate cooling and cold storage.
Buyers often require washing of produce before packing to remove soil and to improve its appearance and marketability. Washing may be performed in a “dump tank” or by spraying water onto the products as they pass by on the conveyor belt. Washing may clean the product, but as in other water applications, washing also increases risk. Large volumes of process-water can also create wet environments, creating conditions conducive to colonization by microbes. The proper drainage and disposal of wastewater is another poorly addressed design feature in many facilities.
The guidance from FDA on the use of “post-harvest” process-water requires that all such uses utilize potable water. A potable source of water is therefore required, and it needs to be maintained as such. Where municipal water supplies are available, the risk from a contaminated source is greatly reduced, but not entirely; CDC advises that waterborne illnesses are still reported from federally regulated Public Drinking Water Systems (PDWS). The risk varies by area and greatly increases in locations where water treatment is unreliable.
Wells are very often used as the source of water in packinghouse operations, especially in more rural facilities where PDWS are not available. Microbial standards for post-harvest use of water are more stringent then those for irrigation water and must meet the definitions in EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The implementation of SDWA has been the responsibility of each state department of health; however, authority for agricultural operations is not specifically covered in the federal rule and, as a result, there has been little public health oversight over packinghouse water supplies in many jurisdictions. Such wells are often treated as “agricultural,” with such wells resembling irrigation wells in their construction and operation. Currently, third-party standards simply ask for microbial tests as a means of establishing a potable supply when much more is actually required for safe operation. Even when tests are used as the primary indicator of acceptability, third-party standards do not typically reference a need for compliance with the full EPA requirements for public drinking water.
Maintaining the potability of water in circulated systems is commonly done through the addition of antimicrobials, including chlorine, peracetic acid, chlorine dioxide and ozone. All such compounds must carry EPA and FDA approvals for use as disinfectants in potable water and must be Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS); virtually all commercially available disinfection formulations carry such approvals.
USDA has not to this point in time provided guidance on the application of antimicrobials to whole produce as a means of reducing contamination. FDA has not provided such antimicrobial registrations for whole fruits and vegetables either, as this is the traditional domain of USDA (FDA registrations do not apply until such products are processed).  Given the dearth of legal requirements and lack of registrations, the produce industry lacks a uniform and verifiable means of assuring that any antimicrobial treatment is effective to sufficiently reduce microbial contamination on fruits and vegetables. The current voluntary standards most often applied to this area of water use are ambiguous as a result. The Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) standards rely on a risk assessment to determine where controls are needed. While such standards do not specifically require that whole fresh produce be washed or in any way treated with an antimicrobial, a risk assessment might result in a perceived need for it. However, there does not appear to be a legal or scientifically validated basis, as yet, for such requirements.
The scientific literature available on the subject of produce decontamination is substantial, but often conflicting, and the reported methods suffer from a lack of specificity and uniformity. Some studies show efficacy in some applications of antimicrobials, such as with electrolysis-derived hypochlorous acid, while others do not show much of a reduction of harmful microbes, such treatment being about equivalent to washing in plain water. The reason for the difficulty is attributed to the fact that bacterial pathogens, in particular Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and the several strains of pathogenic E. coli, are capable of invading plant material, which provides a complex substrate for attachment and allows microbes to resist inactivation. FDA advises that washing may reduce contaminants; however, the guidance is cautionary owing to the ambiguity of the scientific findings.
In spite of the many millions of dollars spent on antimicrobial treatments, the produce industry does not have complete assurance that washing produce makes it safe. While hard surface sanitizers and process-water disinfection chemicals have the benefit of EPA or FDA registration, probably the most important aspect of produce safety remains without a legal and scientific basis for efficacy.
In any event, water quality parameters must be maintained to reduce the potential for the water itself to become a means of spreading pathogens. Chemicals used for this purpose must usually be diluted to safe operating limits but still maintain efficacy in process water, and often there is a just a small window for safe, yet effective, concentrations (for example, 5.0 ppm to 10.0 ppm chlorine dioxide).
Knowledgeable and well-trained personnel are needed to operate chemical feeders, antimicrobial solution test kits, and Oxidization Reduction Potentiometers (ORP-meters), for example. Failure to correctly operate systems leads to ineffective water treatment and potential occupational exposures if off-gassing occurs (such as with hypochlorite). Given that personnel must be knowledgeable about water chemistry in sufficient detail to manage large volumes of treated water under various organic loads, the industry is in dire need of qualified operators. The Cooperative Extension programs at land grant universities are active in the training of agricultural personnel and offer training to satisfy EPA’s requirements for Worker Protection and Safety (WPS), but there are no specific food safety training courses for operators of water systems in produce packing facilities. Too often, personnel are trained on the job and shifted from duties such as shipping or receiving to operate complicated antimicrobial addition systems. More effort is needed to better qualify key personnel, especially in facilities using process-water treatments.
Testing and sampling
Third-party food safety standards for packinghouses usually have a provision for microbial testing of the equipment and environment. This is a useful tool when sampling methods are controlled for bias and results are properly interpreted. As in the case of employees overseeing water process control, competent employees are needed when tasked with microbial sampling. They must have familiarity with the reservoirs of microbiological agents when collecting samples and accurately interpret the findings. Some buyers have specified a particular set of microbial standards for the industry to follow when interpreting such results, but there are no specific industry-wide requirements for approved sampling methods, or for the acceptable levels of microbial indicator organisms on working surfaces. Without reliable sampling methods and references, operators might find it difficult to intelligently interpret environmental test results.
Routine microbial product testing is not commonly done by packinghouses, although at least one major buyer requires a “test and hold” procedure for high-risk items. It is interesting to note that investigations of outbreaks of produce-borne infection often reveal the agent on suspect products. It appears, therefore, that product testing is a useful prevention tool, but given the vast assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables in countless varieties, developing a universally effective microbial screening procedure might seem impractical. Fortunately, new microbial-assay methods that utilize rapid molecular testing are paving the way for advancements in this critical area.
Other controls
Temperature controls are often in place to preserve fresh produce, some of which is highly perishable with a few degrees sacrificing a week or more of shelf life. Therefore, the packing industry is keenly aware of the need to cool and maintain temperature-sensitive products from receipt through to shipping. Such handling may also influence the safety of the products as well, but at this time there is no definitive guidance on temperature control for safety (TCS) in whole, fresh produce. Many items do not actually require temperature control for preservation, but even with credible evidence that certain whole fruits and vegetables can act as hosts for harmful bacteria, such an effort to classify the safe temperatures ranges for a huge potential assortment of such commodities is a daunting task.
FDA has approved irradiation for many commodities, and the technology is used primarily for phytosanitary purposes. While there is controversy about the safety of such treatments, many experts believe the application of this technology would be beneficial for public health. Irradiation will be discussed further in “Processing Operations.”
Applicability of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)
With the success of HACCP in reducing the risks of foodborne illness in several commodities, such as red meat and juice, regulators have turned to HACCP in fresh produce. The produce industry must become familiar with the application of HACCP, as the FSMA now imposes a legal requirement that post-harvest produce operations implement Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Controls (HARPC).
As in the classic NACMCF HACCP model, the HARPC concept requires a thorough description of products, the distribution and users of the product, a detailed flow chart of processes, and then, a hazard analysis to determine the operational risk-based controls needed. The difference between the two methodologies appears to be at the setting of Critical Control Points (CCP). Whereas HACCP “critical” controls are found in regulations for red meat, poultry, fisheries and juice, there are no regulatory mandated critical controls currently in place under HARPC guidelines. A commonly accepted definition of CCP is a step in a process where contamination must be reduced to safe levels, prevented or eliminated.
Operators of produce packinghouses can rely on guidance documents for GMP and GAP, but have difficulty when it comes to setting critical controls. Where microbial contamination is concerned, the wash step, when it is correctly performed, has the potential to meet this definition. The problem with selecting this step as a CCP, as previously explained, is one of validity. The answer to this problem is to conduct a challenge study that is reliable under operating conditions for each product and each process. Unfortunately, this is an expensive and major scientific undertaking, and it may be economically out of reach for even a large firm.
Another commonly accepted definition of a CCP is a step in a process where the loss of control results in an unacceptable level of risk. Clearly, water-processes that commingle products or that utilize circulated water meet this definition.
The best answer to the CCP question may be that when products are commingled in a common water application, or when water is reused, water treatment is critical to keep cross-contamination from occurring. Critical controls now become practical. The critical operating limits become the process-water quality parameters set by FDA and EPA to maintain potable water and the antimicrobial treatment needed to reduce the amount of harmful organisms to safe levels. The science is particularly strong in the area of water disinfection, with numerous studies indicating that EPA-registered process-water chemical treatments are effective for this purpose.
While we do not have a readily available “kill step” in the fresh produce industry, HACCP adds a needed backbone to process-water control. The attention paid to monitoring critical limits and taking corrective actions, along with the attendant documentation, provides a verifiable means of reducing risk in water applications.
Summary and conclusions
Investigators have identified packinghouse operations in foodborne illness outbreaks as the source of pathogens, but given the huge amounts of products flowing through these operations, the risk for contamination appears to be low. However, contamination events, when occurring at the packinghouse, can result in the exposures of large volumes of products, which can then be distributed throughout the supply chain and result in massive recalls and foodborne illness.
The low risk of contamination events occurring at the packinghouse may be due to the sporadic and low-level incidence of human pathogens in the primary production environment when GAP are used. The safety of produce is highly dependent on the safety of each link of the supply chain working together to minimize the risks to consumers, as this series will further explain.

How Does Listeria Get Into Ice Cream?
Source :
By Linda Larsen (Mar 17, 2015)
The deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has killed three people in Kansas has been linked to Blue Bell ice cream. When most people think of food poisoning, they think of undercooked or raw meat or eggs. How does a supposedly innocuous product like ice cream become contaminated with pathogenic bacteria?
Ice creamListeria monocytogenes bacteria are everywhere in our environment. These bacteria live in soil and water. Animals carry the bacteria and can transfer it to our food though feces, through dirty irrigation water, and in food harvesting and transport.
All bacteria love food because it’s a great source of nutrients. Listeria monocytogenes bacteria are unique in that they can grow at refrigerator and even freezer temperatures. In fact, the longer a food contaminated with this bacteria is held below 40°F, the more Listeria bacteria can grow. That’s why refrigerated and frozen foods, which usually have a long shelf life, are at particular risk for this type of contamination.
Attorney Fred Pritzker, who has represented many clients who have been sickened by Listeria bacteria, said, “manufacturers, especially those who make refrigerated and frozen products, need to be especially vigilant about cleaning facilities and machines to make sure the food they produce is safe. This isn’t the first time ice cream has been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. It’s very unfortunate that people in the hospital to get better were infected with this bacterium.”
At this point, we do not know whether one of the ingredients used to make the ice cream was the source of the bacteria, or if human error was responsible for the contamination. If the machinery used to make the ice cream was contaminated, and not properly maintained or cleaned, Listeria bacteria can thrive for months. Ice cream is made by first making a custard of milk, sugar, and sometimes eggs, which is chilled and then frozen. Contamination is possible at several steps along this production chain, especially with complicated equipment that can be challenging to clean properly.
Investigations by public health officials have revealed that one machine at the Blue Bell Creameries facility in Brenham, Texas was contaminated with the outbreak strains of Listeria. In fact, this current outbreak lasted from January 2014 to January 2015 and there are likely more people sickened, as the machine was probably contaminated for some time.
The five patients identified so far in this outbreak were at the Via Christi hospital in Wichita, Kansas. They were served ice cream or milkshakes made from ice cream while hospitalized. If the machine used to make milkshakes was not thoroughly disinfected, other foods made in that equipment may have been contaminated too.
The symptoms of a Listeria monocytogenes infection include flu-like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach, diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, loss of balance, confusion, or convulsions. Most people get ill within three to seventy days after exposure. Those who are most at risk for serious complications include the very young, the elderly, and pregnant women, who can suffer miscarriage and stillbirth. If you ate any of the recalled Blue Bell products and have been experiencing these symptoms, see your doctor as soon as possible.

Food safety focus at China’s annual parliament an opportunity for Ireland
Source :
By Clifford Coonan (Mar 17, 2105)
With Irish milk exports to China worth €400 million, and with a ban on Irish beef exports to the country lifted, familiarity with China’s food safety rules has become a key requirement for food companies seeking to export there.
Last year Ireland was one of a few countries whose dairy facilities were found to meet fully the standards of China’s new food safety laws, a coup given that other competing nations did not, including Britain.
China’s annual parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), last week discussed a raft of revised consumer protection and food-safety rules called the Second Draft Food Safety La. This will contain stricter rules on food production to help boost health and safety, a big issue in a country where food safety scandals have caused serious political repercussions over recent years.
There are regular scandals about safety in the food industry in China, ranging from the use of the industrial chemical melamine in infant formula, which killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000 in 2008, to the use of toxic “gutter” or reused cooking oil.
The crackdown on corruption has coincided with a massive campaign on food safety.
The government has stepped up factory inspections, engaged in mass laboratory tests, enforced existing legislation and even executed those who commit serious breaches. And yet there are still cases getting through which make big headlines.
The food market is also changing as more people shop online for groceries.
Food safety was a key issue at the NPC, and delivering his work report on the government, premier Li Keqiang isolated food safety as a “serious problem of public concern”.
“Serious efforts were made to prevent food contamination, and on the whole the situation was kept stable in food and medicine safety,” he told delegates in the Great Hall of the People.
“We will work to improve the quality of all agricultural products and make our food more safe to eat.
“Life is priceless; we must take stronger measures to ensure workplace safety in all fields, and ensure food and medicine safety throughout the production process.”
A senior cadre responsible for legal affairs, Yuan Jie, revealed some of the details of the second draft of the revised food safety law.
“To ensure food safety for the people the food safety law will have even stricter stipulations, with clear citations and requirement on what food safety standards the food production and business operation should go by, with relevant legal liabilities, and on food that is prohibited to produce and sell, also with relevant legal liabilities defined.”
A key point of the draft law will be to strengthen regulations on every link in food production and operation, and will strengthen regulations on the storage, transport and loading of food.
They will also increase supervision outside of the government, and encourage insiders to report violations of food safety and prevent any retaliation against informers.
The draft also proposes introducing labelling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
The draft food-safety law will also increase the penalties for not obeying the rules.
Other measures outlined include new rules to impose harsher punishments for those committing crimes of embezzlement and bribery, which forms part of the broader crackdown on corruption in China.

California Consumers are About to Get a Taste of ‘a2 Milk’
Source :
By Cookson Beecher (Mar 16, 2015)
“The milk that might change everything.” That’s the bold claim of a brand that will soon be sold as “a2 Milk” here in the United States. An April launch, complete with a robust amount of advertising and in-store demos, is slated for California retail outlets from Safeway and Krogers to Whole Foods.
The a2 Milk Company, a New Zealand-based firm, has trading activities in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, China, and soon, here in the U.S. It plans to invest $20 million over 3 years to fund its entry into the U.S. marketplace. Company officials say they’ll assess how sales go in California before embarking into other regions of the U.S.
Getting back to ‘how milk used to be’
While the bold label claim seems to signal a new advance in the dairy world, company officials say that their a2 Milk is actually what milk used to be —  at least in terms of beta casein proteins, which make up about 30 percent of the total protein in milk solids.
In earlier times, cows produced only the A2 protein and none produced the A1 protein. But then, about 10,000 years ago, a natural single-cell mutation occurred in dairy cows in Europe that caused them to produce the A1 beta casein protein as well.
That change occurred primarily in the large breeds such as Holsteins, which produce considerably more milk than other breeds. These heavy-producing breeds were quickly adopted by dairies in Europe and the U.S. and, as a result,  just about all the regular milk sold today in U.S. stores and in much of Europe contains the A1 protein. Some of those cows produce only the A1 protein, while others produce both the A1 and A2 proteins.
For the most part, breeds such as Guernseys, Jerseys, Brown Swiss, Normandes and those in Africa and India still produce A2 milk. However cross-breeding with bulls with the A1 protein has resulted in hybrids that produce A1 as well as A2 proteins. This has primarily occurred in Western herds.
What is A2 milk like? If you were breastfed, it was the first milk you ever had. That’s because all other mammals, including humans, produce only A2 milk.
Who discovered this?
According to the company’s website, in the 1990s, New Zealand-based scientist Dr. Corrie McLachlan started doing research on why more and more people were having adverse reactions to regular milk. Through his research, he discovered that normal milk contains different proteins, including A1 beta casein protein and A2 beta casein protein.
As McLachlan’s research progressed, he learned that the A1 protein seemed to cause side effects in some people, such as bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, mucus buildup and general discomfort. Based on that discovery, he set up The a2 Milk Company.
Company officials say this distinction matters because a2 Milk offers a breakthrough for many of the people who have turned away from milk because it upsets their digestive systems.
They’re not talking about people with lactose (milk sugars) intolerance or an allergy to cows’ milk protein, but rather the people who become uncomfortable enough after drinking regular cows’ milk that they swear off of it, citing after-effects such as bloating, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.
Peter Nathan, CEO of A2 Dairy Products Australia, told Food Safety News that while about 23 percent of Westerners experience a “perceived dairy intolerance,” only about 5 percent are medically diagnosed as being lactose intolerant.
“Clearly dairy intolerance and lactose intolerance are not necessarily the same thing,” he said. “We believe that it is likely that the rest are reacting to the impact of the A1 protein, as many people who have a perceived intolerance can drink a2 Milk without the discomfort.”
According to the company’s website, there are more than 100 peer-reviewed, evidence-based scientific research papers surrounding the A1/A2 scientific explanation. Through the years, some studies extolling A2 milk have been refuted, and the general agreement is that some have been inconclusive and more research needs to be done. Interest in the topic continues to drive research.
The first human trial, funded by The a2 Milk Company and published last summer, shows a difference in digestion between A1 and A2. According to a summary of the trial, subjects on a diet of A2 milk reported less abdominal pain, compared to those on a diet of A1 milk.
The conclusion of a study done on mice says that the study supports the purported harmful impacts of consumption of A1 “like” variants of beta casein and suggests possible aggravation of inflammatory response in the gut as the cause of various health disorders.
The research compared A1 variants with A2 variants and found no such aggravation in the gut in the case of A2 variants.
Some studies have even found a link between lower consumption of A1 milk and a possible reduction of autistic and schizophrenic symptoms, although the researchers said that more research also needs to be done on this.
A commercial splash
A2 Milk has already made a splash in Australia and New Zealand, where it was introduced about 12 years ago. Despite a slow start due to management problems and other reasons, Nathan said it has gained traction in the past 8 years and sales have grown substantially. Currently, about 9.3 percent of the milk sold in Australia is a2 Milk, and Nathan describes it as the fastest-growing milk brand in that country.
In Australia, a2 Milk is sold in all major grocery stores.
Although there’s a backstory including a wide range of previous claims that A1 milk can cause diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune conditions such as asthma and eczema, the company is currently concentrating on touting a2 Milk’s ability to boost the number of people who will be able to drink milk.
In the U.S., as well as in some European countries, milk sales have been declining, with more and more people turning to alternatives such as soda, juice, and water, as well as almond and soy milks, which don’t contain any cows’ milk at all.
Jim Smith, U.S. marketing director for The a2 Milk Company, told Food Safety News that a2 Milk is “real, natural cows’ milk” and therefore a “nutritional powerhouse.” He pointed out that an 8-ounce cup of milk contains 300 mg of naturally occurring calcium.
“Alternative, non-dairy, plant-based products, like soy and almond milks, do not have these levels of naturally occurring nutrients and typically modify and fortify their products with a calcium that is not as effectively absorbed as the calcium naturally contained in dairy milk such as a2 Milk,” he said.
This is especially important because pre-teens who haven’t had milk as they were growing up have been found to have low calcium levels. The same is true for peri- and post-menopausal women who don’t drink milk.
Asked about what sort of reception the company’s a2 Milk will have in the California marketplace, Smith said that consumers, dairy farmers, and retailers have told the company that it has the potential to play a significant part in restoring confidence in dairy milk among many people who have significantly reduced their consumption in recent years.
“We believe we’re bringing a pure and natural product to the many millions of Americans who would otherwise have to restrict or avoid the goodness and taste of fresh milk,” Smith said. “Independent research tells us that a2 Milk brings a digestive advantage to all. It is, after all, the original milk.”
When describing who buys a2 Milk, Nathan said, “They tend to skew younger and are over-represented as mothers with kids. They are also more concerned about the food they eat and are more health conscious.”
What does this have to do with food safety?
Some people who have turned to raw milk (milk that hasn’t been pasteurized to kill harmful germs) have said they made that choice because drinking pasteurized milk upsets their digestive system.
The company believes that its a2 Milk, which is pasteurized, will offer those people an option — one that bypasses the risk of becoming ill with a foodborne illnesses such as E. coli, Campylobacter, Salmonella, and Listeria, pathogens which can contaminate raw milk.
Statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that from 1998 through 2011, 148 outbreaks due to consumption of raw milk or raw milk products were reported to the agency. These resulted in 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations, and 2 deaths.
According to CDC, reported outbreaks represent just the tip of the iceberg. For every outbreak and every illness reported, many others occur, and most illnesses are not part of recognized outbreaks.
The bacteria in raw milk can be especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems, older adults, pregnant women, and children. A CDC analysis also found that foodborne illness from raw milk especially affected children and teenagers.
Go here for more information about raw milk outbreaks in specific states.
The nuts and bolts
The company’s a2 Milk (whole milk, 2 percent milk, 1 percent milk, and fat-free milk) will be sold in half-gallon containers for $4 to $4.50.
Nathan said the company has perfected a patented testing process for A2, and that farmers would need to get permission to market and sell a2 Milk.
According to the company’s website, testing is done by using a simple and non-invasive DNA test that analyzes a strand of hair from the tail of each dairy cow. The A2-certified cows are then segregated and milked separately to produce a2 Milk.
For consumers in other states who want to get a higher-than-average A2 content in the milk they buy, the best route is to get it from a dairy whose cows are A2-dominant breeds such as Jersey, Guernsey, Normande, and Brown Swiss.
What farmers are saying
Warren Taylor, owner of Snowville Creamery in Ohio, predicts that it’s primarily the small dairy producers who will make the switch to A2 milk.
Consumer interest is definitely there, he told Food Safety News, pointing out that, in the past couple of years, “the A2 issue” has attracted the most interest on his creamery’s website by a factor of about 100 to one. His phone has been ringing off the hook with farmers asking him about converting to A2, he later added.
“People are hungry for better milk,” Taylor said. “It will be interesting to see how they’ll respond if we do choose to introduce an A2 milk or yogurt.”
He doesn’t see testing for A2 as a problem because there are several affordable places farmers can go to get the testing done. His creamery is in the process of getting the equipment to do the testing there.
That way, Taylor said, “Our farmers can have day-old calves of either gender tested within a couple of days,  which will make it easier to segregate and get farmers the value of A2/A2 animals — and contribute to the future of the A2 milk supply.”
He believes that the creamery’s “nominal 700-cow bulk tank of 10 farms is as high in A2/A2 genetics as any such group in Ohio.”
“I think there is a lot of promise in A2 milk and a good possibility the science will validate at least some of the health claims,” Taylor noted. “As a dairy evangelist, I believe that milk is good for people as long as it’s from cows eating principally grass and that it has been minimally processed so that it’s consumed fresh.”
Unfortunately, he sees some problems ahead. Now that fluid and powdered milk sales have crashed, in large part due to overproduction and the high value of the dollar (which deters foreign buyers), Taylor said he’s been seeing fluid milk processors in Ohio cut off the smaller dairy farms, which often have more A2 and grass-based cows, in favor of the larger producers.
Even so, he has faith that A2 herds, which are usually raised on pasture, will have a “transformative effect” on the dairy industry.
Western Washington dairy farmers Randy and Kim Mower milk Brown Swiss cows, a breed that Randy Mower says is predominantly A2.
“Our herd was put together in 1906, so I’d venture to say that most of our herd is A2,” he said. “And I’m making a conscious effort to use only A2 bulls.”
Even so, he believes that the promotion of A2 milk in the U.S. is only going to be successful in the “richer populations”  — regions with a good share of affluent people.
“I’m all for A2 milk,” he said. “But my fear is that it will be detrimental to sales of regular milk. I don’t want to see people turn away from regular milk.”
As for where the a2 Milk sold in California will come from, U.S marketing director Smith said the company is able to work with farmers of all types and sizes — subject, of course, to certifying that their cows are A2.
“As a result,” he said, “The a2 Milk Company will be working with a variety of farmers of all kinds as we expand across America.”

Costco Canada's fish import licence suspended by food safety watchdog
Source :
By The Canadian Press (Mar 16, 2015)
Canada's food safety watchdog has suspended Costco Canada's fish import licence.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency says the retail giant is not reliably following food safety controls on a consistent basis.
The agency says Costco is in violation of federal fish inspection regulations and the suspension on imports went into effect on Feb. 26.
It says there is no product recall associated with the licence suspension.
A Costco Canada spokesman said the product involved was tuna imported from Europe and was pulled from store shelves when the retailer realized it had not submitted the product properly for inspection. He said the mistake was made because Costco usually buys fish from an importer, instead of importing it directly.
“Based on the information we’ve got, we respect their decision and we will resubmit for a new licence after we make sure our processes are in place and a situation like this will not recur again," the spokesman said.
The company's website indicates it operates 89 warehouse store locations across Canada.
"The CFIA has determined that adequate controls for food safety are not being reliably implemented by the company on a consistent basis, which is in violation of the Fish Inspection Regulations," the agency says on its website.
The CFIA says Costco can't import fish products into Canada until it takes corrective action and the agency is satisfied that the chain can effectively manage food safety risks.
Suspension will affect 'limited number' of canned tuna products: Costco
Costco Canada said the import licence was used to import a limited number of loads of canned tuna products.
The company said the suspension does not affect any other fish sold in Costco Canada warehouses.
"As part of its corrective action plan, Costco is currently updating and strengthening its standard operating procedures to ensure full compliance with CFIA's fish inspection regulations and reinstatement of its fish import licence," the company said in an email Monday.
"This issue did not present any risk to Costco's members nor was there any recall associated with this licence suspension."
Costco said its licence was suspended for not following three administrative issues in the last two years.
Twice the store failed to properly notify the CFIA about a load of canned tuna being imported.
On another occasion canned tuna was transported directly to Costco's depot for distribution rather than to a warehouse for CFIA inspection.

The US’ Strong Food Safety Laws Violated Daily
Source :
By Paul Ebeling (Mar 15, 2015)
The US’ Strong Food Safety Laws Violated Daily
Lots of Americans have been led to believe that the reason the US has so many GMO’s permeating market, while other nations, including the European Union (EU) does not, is because the US has stronger regulations ensuring food safety.
The US has some of the strongest food safety laws in the world, those laws are being violated on a daily basis.
And they have been violated from the beginning.
In fact, GMOs are on the market because our food safety laws have been illegally circumvented, and the EU is not fully upholding its laws either.
The precautionary principle is supposed to be the guiding principle in European Food Safety law. The European Commission (EC) emphasized that many times. But in the case of GE (genetically engineered) foods, they are not following a precautionary approach. Instead they are reported to be very lax; and part of the problem is the general belief that the US has laid the necessary groundwork.
The US media has played a major role in allowing this fraud to be perpetuated without any backlash.
Recently, the European media has become more like the media in the US, but in the ‘90s and the early 2000s, the European media was very open to reporting problems about GE foods, they would quote scientists who were voicing concerns, and that had a huge effect on the consumers.
“It was the consumers that made it clear to the major grocery chains that they would not buy GE food. Several major grocery chains made it clear to the manufacturers that they would not buy them either because the consumers did not want them.
That stopped GE foods from getting directly into the human food chain in the European Union. It was consumer understanding, not consumer ignorance, but consumers being informed by the media who reported about courageous scientists who have spoken up and caused the public backlash. That never happened in the US.
Misrepresentations by Molecular Biologists Led to the Creation of One of the Biggest Frauds in History
The blame for this fraud has to be put at the feet of the molecular biology establishment, the main scientific establishment in the live sciences. This group aggregated misinformed statements about the science behind GMOs and their purported safety were born back in the early 1970s when GE was established. Within the context of the history of science, GE foods is one of the biggest and most pernicious frauds ever committed by scientists, and it began with molecular biologists who wanted to protect the budding science of genetic engineering by masking potential problems.
When the evidence goes against the genetic engineers of today, they fall back on some of those initial presumptions made by the molecular biology establishment. Presumptions about GE being a safe enterprise, and they never acknowledge that those presumptions have been refuted.
They argue that conventional breeding is worse, the Nature is far more random, unruly, and risky. That is a very important point to bring out, because there are so many Americans who probably, just believe what they are being told about this and many other things too.
These people regularly slander and disparage Nature, as being unruly, unpredictable, and dangerous.
Every act of pollination is somehow supposed to be at least as risky, if not riskier, and more unpredictable than the radical insertions of foreign genetic material into Soybean, Corn, Tomatoes, Zucchinis, Carrots, Apples and the rest.
Man sits on the top rung of Nature’s ladder, and has the responsibility to protect and nurture it, not damage and destroy it, people need to understand that.
Every time we eat or drink, we are fighting disease or promoting it.
Be healthy, Eat organic always.
Have a terrific week.

Internet Journal of Food Safety (Operated by FoodHACCP)
[2015] Current Issues

Vol 17.25-31
Combined Effect Of Disinfectant And Phage On The Survivality Of S. Typhimurium And Its Biofilm Phenotype
Mudit Chandra, Sunita Thakur, Satish S Chougule, Deepti Narang, Gurpreet Kaur and N S Sharma

Vol 17.21-24
Quality analysis of milk and milk products collected from Jalandhar, Punjab, India
Shalini Singh, Vinay Chandel, Pranav Soni

Vol 17.10-20
Functional and Nutraceutical Bread prepared by using Aqueous Garlic Extract
H.A.R. Suleria, N. Khalid, S. Sultan, A. Raza, A. Muhammad and M. Abbas

Vol 17.6-9
Microbiological Assessment of Street Foods of Gangtok And Nainital, Popular Hill Resorts of India
Niki Kharel, Uma Palni and Jyoti Prakash Tamang

Vol 17.1-5
Assessment of the Microbial Quality of Locally Produced Meat (Beef and Pork) in Bolgatanga Municipal of Ghana
Innocent Allan Anachinaba, Frederick Adzitey and Gabriel Ayum Teye

Copyright (C) All right Reserved. If you have any question, contact to
TEL) 1-866-494-1208 FAX) 1-253-486-1936