Johns Hopkins Review: Raw Milk Carries Higher Risk of Food Poisoning Than Pasteurized
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/johns-hopkins-review-raw-milk-carries-higher-risk-of-food-poisoning-than-pasteurized/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 29, 2015)
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health conducted a literature review about the food safety of raw milk after a bill allowing the sale of raw milk directly to consumers was introduced to the Maryland House of Delegates during the 2014 session.
Researchers examined the scientific literature regarding the health benefits and risks of raw and pasteurized cow milk. They examined 81 articles of peer-reviewed literature.
“Based on our review of the scientific evidence, we conclude that drinking raw milk carries an increased risk of foodborne illness as compared to drinking pasteurized milk,” they stated in their report. “We identified several articles that detected a relationship between drinking raw milk and reduced allergies among rural children and infants. The underlying cause for this relationship, however, has not been identified. While some articles noted nutritional deficiencies in pasteurized milk, these can be overcome by eating a well-balanced diet. Overall, our review identified no evidence that the potential benefits of consuming raw milk outweigh the known health risks.”
Based on their findings, Johns Hopkins researchers say they discourage the consumption of raw milk as risks associated with consuming it are well established.
Listeria Bean Sprout Outbreaks in 2008, 2014 Have Similar Story
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/listeria-bean-sprout-outbreaks-in-2008-2014-have-similar-story/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 29, 2015)
The Wholesome Soy bean sprout Listeria outbreak in 2014 has a similar story to the first reported Listeria bean sprout outbreak in 2008. Both were discovered by routine testing.
The 2008 outbreak included 20 cases reported between March 2008 and March 2009. Pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) tests showed all 20 patients were sickened by the same strain. The cases were reported from seven states: CA (1), MA(6), NY(6), NJ(4), MD(1), ME(1) and NH(1).
The case patients ranged in age range from 20 to 89. Sixty five percent were female, 21 percent were pregnant at the time of infection. All of them were hospitalized.
The source of the infections was unknown until the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets found Listeria in sample of alfalfa sprouts and uploaded it to the Pulsenet, an inter-agency foodborne illness database, on April 6, 2009. It was a match to the outbreak strain.
The contaminated sprouts were from a producer in Bridgeport, CT and collected from a supermarket distributor in New York. Investigators from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected the producer’s facility. They collected environmental samples and sprout samples. Tests revealed the presence of Listeria in alfalfa sprouts, clover sprouts, sprout blends and at multiple locations throughout the facility and in spent irrigation water. The producer issued a recall and halted production.
The story is similar to the Wholesome Soy Listeria outbreak announced in November 2014. That outbreak sickened five people in Michigan and Illinois, killing two of them.
It was discovered during a routine FDA inspection at the company’s plant in Chicago from August 12 toSeptember 3, 2014. FDA investigators collected samples of mung bean sprouts and spent irrigation water.Twenty five of the samples collected were positive for Listeria.
Health officials used two tests , whole genome sequencing (WGS) and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to link sprouts produced by Wholesome Soy to four cases of listeriosis in Illinois and one case in Michigan. All five patients were hospitalized. During interviews, two of the surviving patients reported eating bean sprouts before they became ill.
When investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspected the Wholesome Soy Products Chicago facility in August and October, they found unsanitary conditions both times.
Wholesome issued a recall of the sprouts and is no longer in business,
Second Campylobacter Scare for Claravale Farm
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/second-campylobacter-scare-for-claravale-farm/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 28, 2015)
Almost three years to the day after the California Department of Food and Agriculture issued a recall of Claravale Farm raw milk products for possible Campylobacter contamination, it issued another one.
Both times there had been reports of illness that “weren’t definitively linked to the products.” Both times the recall was for raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream produced at San Benito County farm.
Retail sales of raw milk are legal in California if the the farm is licensed. Claravale Farm does have a license.
Free Case EvaluationCampylobacter infections are commonly associated with raw milk. Campylobacter is a pathogen that is transfered via the fecal-oral route, meaning those who develop Campylobacter infections have ingested microscopic amounts of animal feces. Pasteurization kills Campylobacter and other bacteria that cause disease.
Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. Most people with an infection recover on their own. However, for some people it can cause a serious, life-threatening infection. A small percentage of people may develop reactive arthritis which causes joint pain and swelling after infection. Or, they may develop Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition that causes weakness and paralysis which can occur several weeks after the initial illness.
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Nearly 100 People Sickened After Attending Philadelphia Banquet
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/nearly-100-people-sickened-after-attending-philadelphia-banquet/#.VRipX9j9ns1
By News Desk (Mar 27, 2015)
http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-dim-sum-yum-cha-fried-wontons-chili-sauce-image36868575Dozens of lawyers and law students fell ill after attending a Feb. 27 banquet in Philadelphia, and the incident is now a suspected foodborne illness outbreak, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The city’s health department told the Inquirer it is not able to discuss details of the outbreak. The restaurant, Joy Tsin Lau, a dim-sum hotspot, reportedly has a history of food safety problems.
The restaurant’s owner said that the illnesses weren’t caused by their food.
A health inspection just two weeks prior to the banquet noted that the restaurant had “unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions.”
Several banquet attendees reported experiencing diarrhea, vomiting and stomach cramps for days after attending.
City health officials have reportedly not responded to requests for information about the investigation or whether or not the restaurant was forced to close at any time. They are citing a law from 1955 called the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law, which prohibits health authorities from disclosing information on diseases.
On Thursday, a Los Angeles news station reported on a Salmonella outbreak that was kept under wraps by the Ventura County Health Department.
Stadium Food Vendor Fires Safety Manager Who Went Public With Concerns
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/stadium-food-vendor-fires-safety-manager-who-went-public-with-concerns/#.VRilc9j9ns1
By News Desk (Mar 27, 2015)
Whatever happened to Jon Costa, the food safety manager for the food service vendor at both Kauffman and Arrowhead stadiums in Kansas City, MO?
Costa went public last November with some stomach-churning food safety violations at the side-by-side stadiums where the Kansas City Chiefs and Royals, respectively, play NFL football and Major League Baseball. Aramark Sports & Entertainment is the common food service vendor.
Aramark, in a letter obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines unit, reportedly fired Costa “for cause” on March 17, claiming that he violated the stadium food company’s policy by using the media to warn the public about alleged food safety problems.
Costa, himself a former health department inspector, grew concerned about what Aramark, the Chiefs, and Royals were allowing at the stadiums last year. When the World Series ended, he documented those concerns for the local health department and copied the media.
The Kansas City Health Department followed up with a Nov. 3 inspection of both stadiums and found violations at 20 of 26 food service stands, including 37 critical violations. Mold growth, filth and excessive fruit flies marked the inspections.
Aramark has declined to address Costa’s firing, citing privacy concerns “even if an individual chooses to discuss their situation publicly.” The company says it has served 17 million Kansas City fans since 2007 without a fatality due to food safety.
Costa went to work for Aramark as a food safety manager in April 2012 and was later named District Safety Manager for its Kansas City venues. He received praise and salary bumps until ending up on paid administrative leave on Nov. 5, 2014, two days after sharing his food safety concerns.
Costa subsequently filed a complaint against Aramark on Dec. 18, 2014, asking for reinstatement to his job, along with back pay and attorney’s fees. The notice he was fired came on St. Patrick’s Day, just a couple weeks ahead of the Royals home opener on April 6.
PAMTA Reintroduced to Congress
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/pamta-reintroduced-to-congress/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 26, 2015)
Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY), the only microbiologist in Congress, has reintroduced the Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) to prevent a post-antibiotic future. Overusing antibiotics causes bacteria to mutate and become resistant to these life-saving drugs.
More than 2,000,000 Americans acquire an antibiotic-resistant infection every year, and at least 23,000 died from those infections. This carries a cost of $20 to 35 billion every year. PAMTA will address all routine uses of medically important antibiotics in the feed of animals that are not sick.
The FDA made a commitment in 1977 to put limits on this antibiotic use. The voluntary guidance that agency issued in 2013 is being called a “fig leaf” solution to a monumental problem. Slaughter continued, “the FDA’s voluntary guidance is an inadequate response to the overuse of antibiotics on the farm with no mechanisms for enforcement and no metric for success. Sadly, this guidance is the biggest step the FDA has taken in a generation to combat the use of antibiotics in corporate agriculture.”
A loophole in the current FDA plan means antibiotics can still be used for disease prevention, even though their use for growth promotion is being phased out. The CEO of Zoetis, the world’s leading animal drug manufacturer, told the Wall Street Journal that FDA guidance “will not have a significant impact on our revenues.”
Slaughter said, “antibiotic resistance is the most pressing public health crisis of our time. Both the American people and U.S. government need to give this issue the attention it demands. Right now, we are allowing the greatest medical advancement of the 20th century to be frittered away, in part because it’s cheaper for factory farms to feed these critical drugs to animals rather than clean up the deplorable conditions on the farm. The FDA, the USDA, and Congress have all failed to enact meaningful changes to the status quo, endangers countless Americans.”
This legislation was originally introduced to Congress in 1999. Representative Slaughter has also put pressure on the FDA and USDA to enact enforceable, verifiable standards for antibiotic use on factory farms. Those agencies have only issued voluntary guidance directives that farms and veterinarians do not have to follow.
Oklahoma’s Key Role in Blue Bell Listeria Investigation
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/oklahomas-key-role-in-blue-bell-listeria-investigation/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 26, 2015)
Listeria problems with Blue Bell ice cream were thought to be associated with a single machine at the company’s manufacturing facility in Brenham, Texas. Tests on products made there contained the same unusual strains of the bacteria that killed three people and sickened two others at Via Christi hospital in Wichita, all of whom had eaten Blue Bell ice cream during their hospitalizations for unrelated illnesses.
Blue Bell Ice Cream Cups Listeria RecallBut earlier this week, tests on a different product made at different location, Blue Bell’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, were also positive for Listeria. The product, a 3-ounce ice cream cup, was made specifically for Blue Bell’s institutional clients such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools and shipped to 23 states.
No illnesses have been linked to Blue Bell products made in Oklahoma at this time, but the product has been recalled and the scope of the outbreak investigation has widened.
The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture inspects the Broken Arrow plant eight times a year but dose not test for pathogens, a spokesperson told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. The focus of the inspections is overall sanitation and the pasteurization. No major problems have been discovered in these inspections, the most recent of which took place February 12, 2015 and March 17, 2015.
The onset of illnesses in the outbreak range from January 2014 to January 2015. State and federal health officials are looking at cases of listeriosis reported during that time frame to see if any of them may be a match to the outbreak strain.
In Oklahoma, no illnesses have been linked to the Blue Bell Listeria outbreak, Tony Sellars, Director of Communications for the Oklahoma Department of Health told Food Poisoning Bulletin today. Oklahoma had two cases of listeriosis in 2014 and one so far in 2015.
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LA TV Station Reports Health Department’s Failure to Announce Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/03/la-tv-station-reports-health-departments-failure-to-announce-salmonella-outbreak/#.VRimWtj9ns1
By News Desk (Mar 26, 2015)
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-images-close-up-sandwich-shalow-dof-selective-focus-image34381314Over a four-month period, a popular deli in the Los Angeles area sickened at least 21 people with Salmonella poisoning, but the Ventura County Department of Public Health did not notify the public when the first cases were reported and they began their investigation.
A new report by Los Angeles news station NBC4 revealed that Brent’s Deli in Westlake Village, CA, had been associated with Salmonella illnesses for months over the course of this past summer and was under an outbreak investigation. But while that investigation was going on, health officials did not announce any illnesses or outbreak investigation to the public.
The first public revelation of the outbreak did not come until January 2015, when food safety attorney Bill Marler released health department records obtained as part of a lawsuit filed by a woman who contracted Salmonellosis after eating at the deli. The outbreak was then reported in Food Safety News and elsewhere.
Now, Marler is representing several people who came down with Salmonellosis after eating at Brent’s. (His law firm, Marler Clark, underwrites Food Safety News.)
The director of the health department, William Stratton, told the news station that they do not typically alert the public when they are in the midst of an investigation.
County health departments for Los Angeles and San Francisco, however, have alerted the public to outbreaks in recent years in an attempt to warn prospective customers about the potential for getting sick, and so that other customers experiencing symptoms will know to seek out medical care.
NBC4 found that Brent’s Deli has repeatedly been cited for “major health violations” going back to 2007. The deli was also associated with other Salmonella illnesses in 2007, 2010 and 2013, the station reported.
A co-owner of Brent’s told NBC4 that after learning of the outbreak, the restaurant voluntarily closed down, sanitized their facilities, and hired a third-party company to improve their overall food safety.
Watch and read the full NBC4 report here.
China less satisfied, confident in food safety: survey
Source : http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/914109.shtml
By globaltimes (Mar 26, 2015)
Chinese people are getting less satisfied and confident in food safety in the country, an official survey showed on Wednesday.
The poll, which surveyed 4,258 people from 59 cities in 2014, was released by a food safety poll center attached to the China Food and Drug Administration.
The survey showed 47.8 percent of the respondents chose “not satisfied” or “very unsatisfied” when asked how they felt toward the state of food safety, higher than 29.7 percent in a 2012 poll.
Only 21 percent of respondents in the latest survey said they were satisfied with current food safety levels in China.
Over half of those polled said they also lacked confidence in the future of food safety.
Excessive levels of heavy metal, food additives, chemicals and pesticides as well as microbial contamination are among the things those surveyed were most concerned about, the survey said. The report said pesticides in vegetables had been greatly reduced since 2005 due to improved standards and better supervision.
The report also revealed that food from Taiwan had the highest level of food safety problems compared to food from other regions in the world. Beverages and bottled water were the two items that often failed to meet quality standards.
Among those surveyed, 2,139 are from urban areas and patronize supermarkets the most, where they believe the food is safest.
The media are increasingly exposing food safety problems. However, most of the reports come from southeastern China, especially coastal areas, highlighting the lack of transparency, the report said.
Claravale Raw Milk May be Associated with Campylobacter Outbreak
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/claravale-raw-milk-may-be-associated-with-campylobacter-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 25, 2015)
The California Department of Public Health warned consumers that consumption of unpasteurized (raw) milk may cause serious illness. Six people in northern California have been diagnosed with campylobacteriosis, a serious infection caused by Campylobacter bacteria.
Multiple bottles of raw milk from Claravale Farm have tested positive for Campylobacter and have been recalled. In 2012, raw milk from Claravale farm sickened at least 22 people with Campylobacter. In this latest recall, raw milk, raw nonfat milk and raw cream from Claravale Farm in San Benito county with code dates of “MAR 28 and earlier should be disposed. Retailers should not sell it, and consumers should not drink it.
The symptoms of a Campylobacter infection include diarrhea that is often bloody, abdominal cramping and pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear within two to five days after exposure. People are usually sick for about a week with this infection, although some people, especially the elderly and young children, can become sick enough to be hospitalized. A Campylobacter infection can cause Guillain Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis. And long term health effects from this infection include arthritis and meningitis.
Over the past decade, public health officials have investigated many food poisoning outbreaks linked to raw milk. The sale of raw milk is legal from some dairies in California, but CDPH does not recommend drinking these product and especially warns against giving them to children.
Raw milk products in California must carry a warning label that states: “WARNING: Raw (unpasteurized) milk and raw milk dairy products may contain disease-causing microorganisms. Persons at highest risk of disease from these organisms include newborns and infants; the elderly; pregnant women; those taking corticosteroids, antibiotics or antacids; and those having chronic illnesses or other conditions that weaken their immunity.”
If you drank any unpasteurized dairy products from Claravale Farm and have experienced these symptoms, please see your doctor. Serious complications from this type of infection can occur, and early medical treatment is crucial.
Seriously, Do Not Drink Raw Milk with Campylobacter
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/seriously-do-not-drink-raw-milk/#.VRimLtj9ns1
By Bill Marler (Mar 25, 2015)
Main_RawMilk-300x169An analysis conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF) found that the risks of drinking raw (unpasteurized) cow’s milk are significant. Consumers are nearly 100 times more likely to get foodborne illness from drinking raw milk than they are from drinking pasteurized milk. In fact, the researchers determined that raw milk was associated with over half of all milk-related foodborne illness, even though only an estimated 3.5% of the U.S. population consumes raw milk. Based on their findings, the researchers discourage the consumption of raw milk, which some claim is healthier and tastes better than pasteurized milk. They note that the risks are better understood than the benefits, and that further research is needed to determine whether the health benefit claims are legitimate.
The CLF analysis was prepared at the request of the Maryland House of Delegates’ Health and Operations Committee as lawmakers considered relaxing regulations that currently prohibit the sale of unpasteurized milk in Maryland. In the 2014 legislative session, House Bill 3 aimed to legalize the on-farm sale of unpasteurized milk in Maryland. The bill was tabled as legislators considered the issue. The research team presented its report to the House of Delegates last month.
Raw milk has become more popular in recent years, even though it is only available for direct purchase at farms in many states. Advocates believe that raw milk, which contains more natural antibodies, proteins and bacteria than pasteurized milk, is healthier, cleaner, tastes better and reduces lactose intolerance and allergies in certain people. Pasteurization, named after Louis Pasteur, involves heating milk to destroy microbes that may have entered the milk supply from fecal contamination, dairy operations, cow udders or other sources. The treated milk is then hermetically sealed to prevent recontamination.
“Ultimately, the scientific literature showed that the risk of foodborne illness from raw milk is over 100 times greater than the risk of foodborne illness from pasteurized milk,” says report lead author, Benjamin Davis, a CLF-Lerner Fellow and doctoral candidate in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “Although potential benefits related to the consumption of raw milk would benefit from further investigation, we believe that from a public health perspective it is a far safer choice to discourage the consumption of raw milk.”
For their study, a team of investigators led by Keeve Nachman, PhD, director of the Public Health and Food Production Program at CLF and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School, screened approximately 1,000 articles and reviewed 81 published journal articles relevant to the health risks and benefits of consuming raw cow’s milk. Microbial contaminants commonly found in milk include infectious Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria species along with the Escherichia coli type O157:H7. These bacteria can cause foodborne illness in humans, including diarrhea, vomiting, cramping, fevers, and sometimes more serious consequences such as kidney failure or death.
“The risks of consuming raw milk instead of pasteurized milk are well established in the scientific literature, and in some cases can have severe or even fatal consequences,” notes co-author Cissy Li, a CLF research assistant and doctoral candidate with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “Based on our findings, we discourage the consumption of raw milk, especially among vulnerable populations such as the elderly, people with impaired immune systems, pregnant women, and children.”
“A Literature Review of the Risks and Benefits of Consuming Raw and Pasteurized Cow’s Milk” was written by Benjamin Davis, Cissy Li and Keeve Nachman, and can be found online at: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-a-livable-future/research/clf_publications/pub_rep_desc/Literature-Review-Risks-Benefits-Consuming-Raw-Pasteurized-Cow-Milk.html
Capita and the great British food safety sell-off
Source : http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/capita-and-the-great-british-food-safety-selloff-10134275.html
By Tom Bawden (March 25, 2015)
The sale of a key government research unit to the outsourcing giant Capita could undermine essential work on food safety and lead to commercial concerns being put before the public interest, a leading expert has warned.
Professor Tim Lang, a Westminster adviser, told The Independent that the Food and Environment Research Agency (Fera), which led the way in identifying horsemeat in the UK food chain, is now doomed to failure. The global contractor has already outlined plans to almost double sales by making the unit’s work more commercial.
Fera’s research includes analysing diseases and chemical risks in the food-supply chain, as well as looking at the effects of pesticides, tree diseases and invasive species. But Professor Lang warns that once the agency is privatised, it will be under pressure to ignore low-paying projects vital to public safety and the environment in favour of more lucrative research. The academic frequently advises the Government and the World Health Organisation on food safety issues.
“No one will pay for evidence about food and biodiversity, or food and pesticide residues,” he warned.
“There’s no profit in that. In fact, there’s more profit in not having it. There’s an absolute incentive not to have public-interest research about these areas. And that’s a concern.” He added: “Government needs to have optimum advice at its fingertips… Climate change, pesticides – all sorts of things that politicians ought to have good advice on are wrapped up in the daily bread and butter of Fera. And the Government privatising that basically gets rid of that.”
Capita formally takes over the agency next Wednesday. But Professor Lang, who heads City University London’s food policy unit, said: “I think it’s absolutely scandalous. This is selling the state, and the moment a state loses its access to science it’s in trouble.”
He claimed many food policy experts shared his view but were unwilling to speak out about their concerns.
Fera employs about 400 scientists in York and a further 50 jobs will be created in the city as a result of the deal. The group made a profit of £1.6m last year as a government entity, on sales of about £40m. Capita wants to increase the unit’s annual sales to “at least” £700m over the next decade, or £70m a year.
Labour has urged caution over the deal. The shadow Environment Secretary, Maria Eagle, said the Government has not satisfied her concerns about Capita’s acquisition of the agency.
“I have some concerns about the deal and I have not been able to get much information out of the Government. Clearly the concern is that commercial considerations will skew Fera’s priorities,” she said.
The deal will result in Capita paying £20m for a 75 per cent stake in Fera; further investment will be made during the following five years. Capita is teaming up with Newcastle University for the venture, which it says will “unlock £14.5m of funding”.
Concerns have also been raised about a potential conflict of interest between Fera’s work and other Capita clients, which are thought to include the retailers Sainsbury’s and John Lewis.
“Growth will be generated through existing agreements with the public sector… and by further developing services to achieve greater penetration of the commercial market,” Capita said when it announced the deal.
The group insisted yesterday that Fera, far from being damaged by the deal, would benefit once it separates from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
“Defra will continue to play a role in Fera’s operation and governance, and the government will continue to be an important client for Fera. More importantly, Capita believes that good science is good business… Capita’s investment will protect the excellent and valuable ‘science for public good’ work which is a distinctive part of Fera’s mission,” he said.
A spokesman for Fera said Defra would have two seats on the agency’s board so that it can ensure that the interests of the public and the government are represented.
The Government has committed to contribute at least £50m to the unit over the next five years. “Scientific research will not be swayed by commercial interests,” he said. But despite assurances that the integrity of Fera will be protected, many in the industry remain concerned.
Professor Chris Elliott, the food expert who led the Government’s inquiry into the horsemeat scandal, said Fera scientists are relieved that the ownership issue has been settled after a long period of uncertainty, but he cautioned that considerable uncertainty remains.
“I doubt if they yet know the direction of travel planned for the organisation. I very much hope we can all get an idea of this sooner rather than later,” he said.
The Fera takeover comes as the National Audit Office investigates a contract between the Cabinet Office and Capita to provide civil service learning and development training, after a group of small businesses claimed the outsourcer had exploited its dominant position at the expense of the suppliers it works with. Capita said it was supporting the NAO contract review.
Explainer: What the agency does
The Food and Environment Research Agency’s (Fera) wide-ranging remit includes a crucial role in protecting the integrity of the UK’s food chain. It played a key role in the horsemeat scandal and celebrated its 100th anniversary last year – during which time it has established a global reputation for food science expertise.
But its remit is far wider than food. It also researches plants, animals and the environment at large, focusing on areas such as bee health, ash dieback, invasive species, genetically modified crops and biosecurity.
It provides diagnostic and forensic support to, among others, the Plant Health and Seeds Inspectorate, the Genetic Modification Inspectorate and the National Bee Unit. Fera completes more than 600 research projects a year, involving the analysis of 50,000 plant and food samples.
How Canadian: Restaurant food safety reporting needs review in Guelph
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/03/how-canadian-restaurant-food-safety-reporting-needs-review-in-guelph/
By Doug Powell (Mar 25, 2015)
According to this editorial, it seems like the Guelph-area public health unit can take extra steps to make the community more aware of food safety issues at local eateries.
Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health’s latest records show it has recently flagged 152 area eateries with food safety violations that could cause food poisoning.
However, unless someone went through the health unit’s posted database for such issues, there would be no public notification surrounding these findings. What’s more, there is no obligation for local eateries to even draw the public’s attention to the existence of recent health unit inspection results, let alone make available, on-site, a report of such findings relating to their food operation.
The health unit touted its present, public food safety inspections database related to local eateries when the online tool was launched in 2013. It suggested the system was a big improvement over what had been in place in this regard. That was true. What it replaced was an opaque system for the public that required requests for the food safety records of eateries to be made to the health unit for its release, on its timing.
However, even when the Check Before You Choose program emerged, it lagged behind best practices elsewhere in the public health field — even in southern Ontario.
barf.o.meter.dec.12Since 2001, Toronto Public Health’s DineSafe has been a leader in this sector. Where the Guelph-area health unit obliges citizens to do their research and dig for potentially concerning restaurant food safety records, the Toronto system makes eateries prominently post the results of the latest health unit inspections on-site. What’s more, the reports are colour coded, so it can be seen at a glance whether an eatery received a pass (green), a yellow report (conditional approval), or a red (closure order) in their latest inspection.
The Toronto system has its critics. Some fault DineSafe as a “name and shame” initiative that may also give a false sense of food safety security to diners. However, DineSafe’s introduction coincided with a period where the rate of food safety compliance jumped at local eateries and stayed higher.
A version of the system has since been adopted in several other regional health unit venues and in other international jurisdictions.
Raw Milk and Campylobacter – a Vile Mix
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/raw-milk-and-campylobacter-a-vile-mix/#.VRin29j9ns1
By Andy Weisbecker (Mar 24, 2015)
On June 6, 2008, Mari Tardiff began to experience acute diarrhea and vomiting, which eventually gave way to a searing pain in her legs. The night of June 12th, Mari went to bed after soaking her legs in hot water to get some temporary relief, and awoke to find she could not move her legs. She was admitted to the hospital, where the paralysis began to spread to the rest of her body. Despite being unable to move, she continued to feel intense pain instead of the numbness usually experienced by victims of paralysis.
Doctors eventually diagnosed Mari with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a severe complication of Campylobacter infection in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system. Mari’s case was linked to those of others who had developed Campylobacter infections from drinking raw milk produced by Alexandre EcoDairy Farms, a “cow-share” program in California. Sixteen other people, including one EcoDairy worker, were also infected with Campylobacter from the unpasteurized milk.
Mari, a public health nurse who had always maintained a healthy lifestyle by eating organic foods and exercising often, had taken what turned out to be a devastating risk in eating a food she thought would be beneficial to her health.
Mari spent almost six months in the hospital and in rehabilitation facilities, where she slowly learned to breathe again without a ventilator, and began to regain some of her speech and motion. She now lives at home in her family room, which has been outfitted with the equipment she needs, such as a hospital bed, stand-up frame, and Hoyer lift. It is unclear whether she will ever walk again.
Marler Clark represented Mari and successfully resolved her case in November, 2009.
Read more about the Alexandre EcoDairy Farms Campylobacter outbreak and the litigation that followed.
Listeria Found in Ice Cream Made in Second Blue Bell Facility
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/listeria-found-in-ice-cream-made-in-second-blue-bell-facility/
By Carla Gillespie (Mar 24, 2015)
After a deadly Listeria outbreak at Via Christi hospital in Wichita was linked to Blue Bell ice cream made in Texas, new tests have found the pathogen in ice cream made at the company’s plant in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma.
The potentially contaminated products distributed to hospitals and other other institutions in 23 states include three flavors of 3 ounce ice cream cups: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. The recalled chocolate cups have the SKU number 453, Strawberry SKU 452 and Vanilla SKU451. They were distributed in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming.
These recalled products are in addition to the 10 that have previously recalled. They are: Chocolate Chip Country Cookie SKU # 196, Great Divide Bar SKU #108, Sour Pop Green Apple Bar SKU #221, Cotton Candy Bar SKU #216, Scoops SKU #117, Vanilla Stick Slices SKU #964, Almond Bars SKU #156, 6 pack Cotton Candy Bars SKU #245, 6 pack Sour Pop Green Apple Bars SKU #249, and 12 pack No Sugar Added Mooo Bars* SKU #343.
The Listeria in the ice cream cup was found in product that Via Christi removed from distribution and held in quarantine after being alerted to the problem March 9, the hospital said in a statement on its website.
The hospital has fully cooperated with the outbreak investigation and “none of the environmental samples from the kitchen tested positive for Listeria,” according to a news release from the Kansas Department of Environmental Health. “However, one sample taken from an unopened Blue Bell 3-ounce single serving ice cream cup tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at the Kansas Department of Agriculture Laboratory. That product was made at the Blue Bell Creameries facility in Broken Arrow, Okla., which was not part of the initial listeriosis investigation.”
Five patients hospitalized at Via Christi between December 2013 and January 2015 for unrelated illnesses became ill with listeriosis after being served Blue Bell ice cream. Three people died.
Should One Agency Manage All Food Safety?
Source : http://iowapublicradio.org/post/should-one-agency-manage-all-food-safety
By Grant Gerlock (Mar 24, 2015)
More than a dozen federal agencies form a patchwork system that aims to keep food from making Americans sick. But critics say the old system has worn thin. And some think we would all be safer if food safety at the federal level was brought under one roof.
Walking through Heartland Gourmet in Lincoln, Neb. shows how complicated the food safety system can be. Inside the warehouse pallets are stacked with sacks of potato flour and the smell of fresh baked apple-cinnamon muffins is in the air.
Heartland Gourmet makes a wide range of foods from muffins and organic baking mixes to pizzas and burritos. Business manager Mark Zink explains that means he has to answer to both of the main food safety regulators, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration. What is being made determines which agency is in charge.
Apple cinnamon muffins fall under the authority of the FDA. A cheese burrito or cheese pizza is also FDA. But a beef burrito or pepperoni pizza has to meet USDA guidelines, a totally different agency.
“They have jurisdiction over anything with raw meat, cooked meat, anything that touches meat product, they have jurisdiction over that area,” Zink said.
That’s the general rule of thumb. Make something with meat and the USDA is in charge. Otherwise it’s FDA. Except for seafood. FDA has authority over seafood. But not catfish. Catfish actually falls under the USDA.
And the agencies work differently. Before Zink runs a batch of beef burritos, he has to call a USDA inspector, who must be on site when the food is prepared. A USDA official will stop by at other times during the year to check in. He doesn’t hear from the FDA as often.
“FDA is a once a year thing,” Zink said. “They pop in and do their inspection and they’re gone.”
Zink says after 25 years in the business he has no trouble navigating the system, but for observers it can get complicated. Altogether 15 federal agencies play a role in food safety, from the EPA to the Centers for Disease Control.
“And it ends up just being a gigantic mess in terms of a comprehensive approach to food safety,” said Courtney Thomas, who studies political science and food safety at Virginia Tech University.
Thomas says the system looks fractured today because it was cobbled together from the start. The first food safety laws passed in 1906 put USDA in charge of meat quality because the agency already worked with meatpackers. The FDA was created to ensure purity in other foods.
“Right out of the gate there were two different laws, two different legislative mandates that were given to two completely different agencies in the federal government” Thomas said. “And from there it only spiraled.”
Each year 1 in 6 Americans comes down with listeria, E.coli, salmonella or some other foodborne illness. According to the CDC, 3,000 people die each year. For years, critics have said a streamlined system would be safer. Even President Obama called for a single food safety agency in his recent budget.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office has been a leading critic of the fragmented food safety system. Steve Morris of the GAO says the food safety system is one recall away from a crisis. One longstanding issue is that agencies tend to keep a narrow focus.
“Right now what you have is fairly limited coordination,” Morris said. “So the consumer and the Congress basically lack this comprehensive picture of what the national strategy is.”
That’s a big problem because there are challenges ahead that cut across all agencies. For instance, 16 percent of the food Americans eat is imported and that number is rising.
Steve Taylor, a food scientist at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, says regulators are already behind in inspecting foreign food facilities.
“And if you go to the right people in a lot of big corporations in the United States involved in food processing, they’d say that’s one of their biggest worries too,” Taylor said.
Maybe one agency could be more efficient checking in on foreign suppliers. But Virginia Tech’s Courtney Thomas says the chances are pretty low that Washington will adopt a single food safety agency any time soon.
One reason is that our food system is currently one of the safest in the world. Also, most food companies would prefer a complicated but familiar system over an unknown overhaul. And with multiple agencies involved, more politicians have oversight of food safety. They might not want to give that up.
“There’s no easy fix to this problem,” Thomas said. “What you’re talking about is a legal, a regulatory, and a cultural shift. A political shift that we haven’t seen in this country in the last 100 years.”
Without an immediate crisis, it seems there’s not much political appetite for shaking up the food safety system.
After Three Die, Blue Bell Recalls Some Ice Cream
Source : http://www.marlerblog.com/case-news/after-three-die-blue-bell-recalls-some-ice-cream/#.VRioudj9ns2
By Bill Marler (Mar 23, 2015)
Blue Bell Ice Cream of Brenham, Texas, is recalling three 3 oz. institutional/food service ice cream cups- chocolate, strawberry and vanilla with tab lids because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
On March 22, the Kansas Department of Health & Environment reported one positive test for Listeria monocytogenes on a chocolate institutional/food service cup recovered from a hospital in Wichita, Kan. This cup was produced in the Broken Arrow, Okla., plant on April 15, 2014. These cups are not sold thru retail outlets such as convenience stores and supermarkets.
The ice cream cups listed below were distributed in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wyoming via food service accounts.
Ice Cream Cup Chocolate (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #453
Ice Cream Cup Strawberry (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #452
Ice Cream Cup Vanilla (3 FL OZ) No UPC – SKU #451
School Outbreak in Maine Sickened 22 Children Last Week
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/school-outbreak-in-maine-sickened-22-children-last-week/
By Linda Larsen (Mar 23, 2015)
According to the Portland Press Herald, 22 Portland schoolchildren were sickened with food poisoning last week at Reiche Elementary School. Officials suspect a pickled beet salad may be the culprit.
School LunchSchool officials alerted public health officials when student began to throw up about an hour after lunch on Tuesday, March 17, 2015. The cafeteria at Reiche was the only school in the public school system to serve that beet salad that day. There were no illnesses in the rest of the district.
Lab results are pending. No students needed to see the doctor. Twenty-one of the twenty-two sickened students returned to school the next day. The school district’s central kitchen and the kitchen at Reiche School were inspected by public health officials. While the district kitchens passed inspection with just two minor violations, the kitchens at the school failed inspection with four critical violations.
The violations were: salad bar sneeze guard too high, the self-serve salad bar was not monitored, cut salad greens and mac and cheese were left out without time and temperature control, and the school wasn’t sanitizing a key pad used by students.
One thing puzzles investigators: how fast the children got sick and how quickly they recovered. Staff is cooperating with the investigation. Children and staff are being interviewed and samples were taken to be sent to a lab.
New Jersey farmers prepare for new food safety regulations
Source : http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2015/03/23/new-jersey-farmers-prepare-new-food-safety-regulations/70354222/
By Carol Comegno, CherryHill (Mar 23, 2015)
Proposed federal regulations to prevent food-borne illnesses would affect farmers who grow tomatoes and other fruits, vegetables and nuts in New Jersey and around the country.
The new program also would apply to imported produce.
About 50 farmers, retailers and agricultural educators attended a seminar Monday in Burlington County on the new Federal Drug Administration program, whose goal is to prevent E. coli and other food-borne illnesses such as listeria.
Farmers were urged to prepare for gradual implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) between 2017 and 2019, with the largest commercial farm operations to be impacted first.
All farms with more $25,000 in produce sales would be covered by the new law, which covers mostly commercial farms that sell wholesale.
The program calls for farm inspections and monitoring and testing of pond, well and municipal water supplies that can be sources of harmful strains of E. coli and other food-borne illnesses. There are also regulations on use of certain manures.
Congress created the program in a January 2011 law prompted by a 2006 recall of fresh spinach in food stores and other markets due to E. coli.
The proposed rules are targeted for adoption by October. In a rare move. the FDA recently revised them after input from the agricultural industry and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.
Delaware Secretary of Agriculture Ed Kee, who said he began hauling produce in 1968, told the gathering at the Rutgers EcoComplex in Mansfield the new law is "without a doubt the single biggest change I've seen to the industry in all that time."
He said the more everyone works together the better.
His New Jersey counterpart, Secretary Douglas Fisher, said New Jersey has an excellent safety record on its farms.
"We have never had any produce turn up in this state with E. coli, whether tomatoes, cantaloupes or any other fresh produce," he said.
Sweet corn and potatoes are not covered by the law because they are cooked before being eaten. Meat, dairy and poultry farms long have been monitored for food-borne illnesses.
Food market retailers who buy on the wholesale market already are subject to separate safe handling and health rules but will be subjected to another layer of regulation under the new law.
"You don't do food safety because the FDA says FSMA is here and you have to," said Robert Whitaker, chief science and technology officer for the Produce Marketing Association. "You don't do food safety because the retailers say you have to or I'm not going to buy from you. You do food safety to protect your business ... and farmers should be preparing now for the new law."
"The FDA will provide education, technical assistance, pre-implementation assessment, on-the-farm training and outreach centers to develop a working relationship with produce growers and the state agricultural extension services," said Jennifer Thomas of the FDA center for food safety and applied nutrition.
Burlington County farmer Roger Kumpel expressed concerns about his water supply.
"I pump some water from a surface pond for irrigation," Kumpel said. "I can't have any control over what people upstream whose streams feed into that pond are doing, so I'm looking at installing a well, just to have that control."
Farmers in attendance estimated the cost for a new well could be $60,000 to $200,000; others suggested chlorinating the pond water.
Butch Sparacio of Strawberry Farm and Farm Market in Deerfield, Cumberland County, said he came to hear the latest because he does a lot of wholesale business as well as farmstand sales.
"It just seems there is always more pressure on the farmer," said Tim Bourgeois of Fresh Market Tomatoes in Cedarville, Cumberland County.
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