25 Salmonella Cases Possibly Linked to
Raw Tuna Sushi in California
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/04/25-salmonella-cases-possibly-linked-to-raw-tuna-consumed-in-southern-california/#.VT8U_tiJjs1
By News Desk (Apr 20, 2015)
There are 18 confirmed cases of Salmonella Paratyphi in Southern
California, including seven in Los Angeles County, four in Orange
and Ventura counties, two in Riverside County, and one in Santa
Seven other people sickened are from other states but had traveled
to the area, according to the Ventura County Public Health Department.
Five have been hospitalized.
Department officials said Monday that the exact cause of the outbreak
is still being investigated, but indications point to a link with
raw tuna in sushi.
“As of April 17th, 10 out of 10 people who completed detailed
food questionnaires stated they had consumed sushi, and over 80
percent reported having eaten raw tuna,” department officials
This particular strain of Salmonella had never been seen before
March 2015, but the department said that a closely related strain
was responsible for an outbreak that occurred in California and
Hawaii back in 2010. That outbreak was found to be linked to raw
tuna imported from Indonesia.
“This strain is genetically different from the 2010 strain,
so it appears the two strains are unrelated at this time,”
Anyone who becomes ill after eating sushi or any other foods can
report concerns to Ventura County Environmental Health here or
by calling (805) 654-2813. Anyone who has nausea, diarrhea, abdominal
cramps and/or fever should immediately seek medical attention.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC), foods of animal origin may be contaminated with Salmonella,
so people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or
meat. Raw eggs may be unrecognized in some foods, such as homemade
Hollandaise sauce, Caesar and other homemade salad dressings,
tiramisu, homemade ice cream, homemade mayonnaise, cookie dough,
Also, CDC says, poultry and meat, including
hamburgers, should be well-cooked, not pink in the middle. Persons
also should not consume raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy
products. Produce should be thoroughly washed.
Leafy Greens Cause Multistate E. coli
Outbreaks About Once a Year
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/leafy-greens-cause-multistate-e-coli-outbreaks-about-once-a-year/
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 21, 2015)
Leafy greens cause E.coli outbreaks about once a year according
to information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC). Leafy greens are suspect in a current
E.coli outbreak in Canada that has sickened at least 12 people
since mid-March. Canadian health officials say leafy greens such
as lettuces, kale, spinach, arugula, or chard are a common exposure
for those who became ill.
In the U.S., there have been at least 15 multistate outbreaks
attributed to leafy greens such as romaine or iceberg lettuce,
spinach and bagged salad mixes since 1998. E. coli O157:H7 was
the source of most of the outbreaks, but E.coli O145 was also
Some recent multistate E. coli outbreaks attributed to leafy greens
include a 2013 outbreak linked to ready-to-eat salads sold
at Trader Joe’s, Coscto and Walgreens stores. That outbreak
sickened 33 people in four states. Two developed hemolytic uremic
syndrome (HUS), a complication of E.coli infections that causes
In 2012, spinach and spring mix sold at Wegmans and other East
Coast grocery stores sickened 33 people in five states. The salad
greens were produced by State Garden of Chelsea, Mass. and sold
in plastic, clamshell containers.
The largest leafy green E.coli outbreak in the U.S. was in 2006,
when 238 people in 26 states were sickened by bagged spinach sold
at grocery stores.
China beefs up food-safety standards
Source : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/china-beefs-up-food-safety-standards-after-scandals/story-e6frg6so-1227321985609
By The Australian (Apr 27, 2015)
China has buckled to public pressure and ordered an overhaul of
food safety standards, after a string of scandals.
The top legislature, the National People’s Congress Standing
Committee, revealed that under tough new penalties, people found
selling toxic or fake food would face jail.
The penalties in some cases have been increased 10-fold and the
government vowed to track down companies that fail to meet the
new safety standard, which comes into effect in October.
China’s food safety guidelines have were questioned after
high-profile incidents such as rat meat was sold as lamb and rotting
meat repackaged and served at fast food chains, including McDonald’s
It was revealed last week that up to 60 per cent of bottled water
sold in China was unsafe. Xinhua, the official news agency, said
officials suspected a lot of drinking water was sourced from taps.
Dozens of people have also been charged for selling oil collected
from stormwater drains near restaurants.
The nation’s food-handling procedures have also been under
scrutiny after more than 30 people in Australia were diagnosed
with Hepatitis A, which was likely to have been contracted from
eating frozen berries packaged in China.
It was suspected the berries were sprayed with contaminated water
before being exported to Australia.
“Chinese people have been shocked by many food scandals
in recent years including clenbuterol (steroids) into pork, recycled
cooking coil, selling pork from sick pigs, medicines made with
toxic gelatin and passing off rat and fox meat as fit for human
consumption,” Xinhua said.
“The revised laws give heavier punishments to offenders
and increases the cost of violating the legislation. Substandard
food can be very cheap and can cause very serious problems with
consequential losses. The new rules guarantee that consumers get
Under the changes, people found to be adding “inedible”
substances to food, such as steroids, will automatically be jailed
for 15 days and consumers will be able to claim for health and
working losses from eating tampered food.
Backyard butchers, which are common across China, will be shut
down and landlords found to be harbouring the illegal businesses
will face prosecution.
The government also ruled that infant milk powder will now face
more regulation, after a rise in the number of domestic-based
Not All Blue Bell Listeria Cases Occurred in Hospitals
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/not-all-blue-bell-listeria-cases-occurred-in-hospitals/
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 26, 2015)
Most of those sickened in the Blue Bell Listeria outbreak were served contaminated ice cream while they were hospitalized for other health issues. But not all of them.
A new CDC graphic shows where the illnesses occurred and where the tainted ice cream was made. Five people were sickened while they were being treated at a Kansas hospital and three illnesses occurred in patients at three different Texas hospitals. But the Arizona and Oklahoma cases do not appear to have been exposed at hospitals. Health officials say more cases could be added to the outbreak which has sickened 10 people in four states, killing three of them.
Blue Bell has recalled all of its products currently on the market. Consumers who have Blue Bell ice cream in their freezers should not eat it as it may be contaminated with Listeria.
The cases in this outbreak date back to 2010, indicating that Blue Bell has had a problem with Listeria at its manufacturing plants for some time.
People at high risk for infection from Listeria include pregnant women, newborns, small children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems. Among pregnant women, Listeria infections can cause miscarriage and stillbirth.
Blue Bell Listeria Numbers Creeping Up
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/blue-bell-listeria-numbers-creeping-up/#.VT8PPtiJjs1
By Bruce Clark (Apr 26, 2015)
As of April 21, 2015, a total of ten patients infected with several strains of Listeria monocytogenes were reported from four states: Arizona (1), Kansas (5), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (3). Illness onset dates ranged from January 2010 through January 2015. The patients with illness onsets ranging from 2010-2014 were identified through a retrospective review of the PulseNet database for DNA fingerprints that were similar to isolates collected from Blue Bell ice cream samples. Since the last update on April 8, 2015, two additional patients, one each from Arizona and Oklahoma, were confirmed to be a part of the outbreak by whole genome sequencing. All ten (100%) patients were hospitalized. Three deaths were reported from Kansas.
One additional isolate from a patient with listeriosis is undergoing further molecular laboratory testing to determine whether this illness may be related to this outbreak. Results of this testing will be reported once they are available. CDC and state and local public health partners are continuing laboratory surveillance through PulseNet to identify any other ill persons that may be part of this outbreak.
On April 20, 2015, Blue Bell Creameries voluntarily recalled all of its products currently on the market made at all of its facilities, including ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet, and frozen snacks, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Blue Bell announced this recall after sampling by the company revealed that Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream half gallons produced on March 17, 2015 and March 27, 2015 contained the bacteria. Listeria monocytogenes was previously found in other Blue Bell products. CDC recommends that consumers do not eat any Blue Bell brand products, and that institutions and retailers do not serve or sell them.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as caramel apples, cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
Bird Flu Does Not Affect Food Safety, Study
Source : http://www.newseveryday.com/articles/14452/20150423/research-shows-bird-flu-affect-food-safety.htm
By Ajay Kadkol (Apr 25, 2015)
Bird flu has been spreading in the US, and the last week avian influenza was reported for the first time in lowa at a turkey barn in Burna Vista County.
Since the virus can also affect humans, citizens are under a fear to consume meat and eggs. The disease is caused by an influenza virus that can infect farmed poultry, and is also carried by migratory birds such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.
However, a group of food safety experts from the US- An Lowa State University reported that avian influenza does not impact the foods they eat. The virus can affect humans, only when the latter is in very close direct contact with the infected bird.
Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety said, "Consumers should feel safe to eat properly cooked and prepared meat and eggs from the poultry".
Miss Angela Shaw commented: "Avian influenza is not a food borne pathogen. It cannot be contracted from eating properly cooked poultry meat and eggs". She further said that the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) position is also that properly cooked poultry and eggs pose no threat.
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Bacterial Buffet: All-You-Can-Eat Illness
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/04/bacterial-buffet-all-you-can-eat-illness/#.VT8Pf9iJjs1
By Sydney Ross Singer (Apr 23, 2015)
(This article by Sydney Ross Singer was originally posted on his blog April 21, 2015, and is reposted with his permission.)
Disease prevention specialists warn against shaking hands as a form of greeting since this is a common way people spread disease. Eating at a buffet exposes people to the hands of everyone who came to the restaurant and touched the common serving utensils. It’s like shaking everyone’s hands in the restaurant. Diarrhea, anyone? Or perhaps the flu?
Buffets are popular for being self-serve and all you can eat. You can even rummage through each serving platter to select your favorite parts. Unfortunately, the spoon or tong you are using to help yourself is the same spoon hundreds of other hungry people used to get their food. Some of these people just went to the bathroom in the restaurant and did not wash their hands. Others just coughed or sneezed into their hand or blew their noses because of a cold or flu. And few, if any, washed their hands before grabbing the same serving spoon you just grabbed. Then you use your hands to eat, introducing buffet-borne bacteria and viruses into your body.
It’s enough to make you sick, and it often does.
Food safety officials are concerned about contamination of the buffet food, which is why there is a sneeze guard covering the buffet items. Regulations require that utensils used in food preparation be changed every 4 hours. And if the serving utensils fall into the food, especially the handle, the entire platter of food must be discarded.
But regulations do not address the serving spoons and tongs as vectors of disease from public handling.
Of course, there are other things we all touch that can spread disease, such as door and faucet handles, especially in public bathrooms. But when you have these exposures in a place where you eat, there is an increased risk of disease transmission.
What is the public to do? Here are some suggestions for making buffets less biohazardous:
1. The safest option is for the restaurant to have a server dishing out the food so only that server touches the serving utensils. The problem is this would be like a school cafeteria and turn people off, especially those who want unrestricted self-service.
2. The restaurant can offer disposable napkins at the buffet line for each customer to use to handle the serving utensils. The problem is the napkins can be accidentally dropped into the food, which would require the entire platter to be discarded. And there is the added waste of used napkins.
3. There could be a hand sanitizer available for use at the buffer line. But not everyone would use the sanitizer, so the utensils would still be a source of contamination.
4. Patrons can use their own hand sanitizers before eating. This is a good idea no matter what.
Of course, you could also choose to avoid buffets. But for those who enjoy the smorgasbord experience, a little common sense and hand hygiene can help you avoid communicable diseases.
Food safety a priority on and off campus
Source : http://www.thedp.com/article/2015/04/food-safety-at-penn
By Jeffrey Careyva (Apr 23, 2015)
Hopefully you’ve never found a cockroach in your dinner.
Whether eating on- or off-campus, it is important to know exactly what is in the food and that the food has been cooked and handled properly. Bon Appétit, which operates all of Penn Dining’s facilities except those in Huntsman Hall, has many protocols in place to ensure food safety at Penn.
“Food safety is our top, top priority,” Stephen Scardina, resident district manager of Bon Appétit, said.
He added that all of Bon Appétit’s chefs and managers, among other employees, are ServSafe trained in food safety, certified by the National Restaurant Association and must seek further certification from the Philadelphia Department of Public Health.
“Our chefs and managers also do a bi-monthly self-inspection and must report everything to their direct supervisor,” Scardina said. Before opening a food operation, Bon Appétit employees have a pre-service “ten at ten” meeting where issues like food safety and new menu items are discussed. Penn Dining also does quarterly inspections of its facilities.
“We also make our chefs and others who handle food keep detailed time and temperature logs of everything,” Scardina said. “The absolute maximum that food can be kept out is four hours, and typically we are so busy that the food is never out for that long anyway.”
To control possible pests, Bon Appétit hires EcoSure to inspect every dining facility once a semester, which is a precautionary step not required by the Department of Public Health. Sardina added that all of Bon Appétit’s operations have received the best ratings possible from EcoSure so far.
This year Bon Appétit has brought in Dan Connolly as their registered dietician and nutritionist. “Not only does [Connolly] make sure that the nomenclature and personal identifiers are all correct, but he also does spot checks like temperature across our facilities occasionally,” Scardina said.
Connolly works directly with students with dietary concerns like allergies to help guide them through Penn’s dining facilities and find meals that work for them. “Dan also helps students to establish a personal relationship with our chefs and other employees, and that personal relationship is something we really value and emphasize,” Scardina said.
Despite all of these precautions, there are sometimes cracks in the system. College freshman Victoria Greene suffered firsthand from a lapse in food safety at 1920 Commons in August. She was hospitalized after eating food labeled ‘vegan’ in Commons.
“I have a serious food allergy to dairy, so I avoid anything with milk in it,” Greene said, adding that she was afraid to eat at the dining halls at first given her situation. “I slowly became more comfortable with [eating at the dining halls] and was having success with food with the vegan label on it.”
The food that Greene consumed when she got sick was found to contain small amounts of cheese, she said, but was not labeled as such.
“It was a wholeheartedly unpleasant experience,” she added.
Following her hospitalization, Greene’s meal swipes were converted into dining dollars to allow her to better control what she would be eating from Penn Dining in the future. She now buys a lot of her food at Gourmet Grocer and cooks her own meals in her dorm room.
“It’s not terrible — I’m well-fed and I’m not starving — it’s just a little difficult to keep up with everything,” Green said. “A lot of the time I just resort to microwavable noodles when I’m too busy or lazy to cook.”
Both Bon Appetit and Penn Dining declined to comment on Greene’s case, citing privacy concerns.
Food safety extends off campus
While dining dollars and meal swipes do not transfer over to off-campus restaurants, concern for food safety certainly does.
Alex Yuen is the owner and operator of Beijing Restaurant at 37th and Spruce streets. The oldest son of a father who spent decades in the Chinese restaurant business, Yuen obtained his Ph.D. in electrical engineering before taking over his father’s restaurant.
“Somehow as an engineering and science guy, I was always interested in how to cook food,” Yuen said. ”I learned about food safety and how germs and microbia spread while in college so that I could get into the business.”
The Chinese food that Yuen’s restaurant prepares calls for a wide variety of sauces and condiments, so each sauce is prepared and bottled separately to avoid cross-contact. “That is something that a lot of other places just can’t do, because they don’t have the demand or the volume needed for the system to work,” Yuen said.
Yuen has his chefs be safe with more than just the myriad of sauces. “We do the most safe thing, which is to steam all the vegetables at a very high temperature and to cook the meat consistently all the way through before we even put it in the wok,” he said. “Meat, eggs and really any perishable is really dangerous if you don’t cook it to the proper temperature.”
“Not to point a finger at anybody, but I always told my children to never eat from a food truck,” Yuen said.
Yuen has had longtime concerns about the sanitary conditions of local food trucks, hinting at some of the ones that line Penn’s campus.
“Philadelphia normally requires that you have a licensed, commercial kitchen to sell and serve your food, and most of these food trucks don’t have that,” he said. “Many don’t have access to running water, or to a real bathroom.”
Beijing has a checkered inspection file with the Philadelphia Office of Food Protection at the Department of Public Health. Documented in Beijing’s most recent inspection report from December 2014, there was “visible physical evidence of rodent/insect activity observed in the dish washing and dry storage area” as well as “mouse feces observed” in the restaurant.
The inspection also found black residue and pick slime in the restaurant’s ice machine bin, as well as food kept almost 10 degrees warmer than required by law. After discussing these issues with the Daily Pennsylvanian, Yuen gave the DP a tour of his establishment, ensuring that all of the food product was stored at the proper temperatures.“
Sometimes when the health inspector comes, he can’t understand my manager because he has such a thick accent,” Yuen said. “So [the inspector] ends up misunderstanding things. We fix everything he said was wrong but when we call for him to come again, no one shows up.”
Beyond the regulations of the Department of Public Health, Beijing is a Penn-certified caterer, which enables them to provide food for University-sponsored events.
“We tell our customers strict times when they should no longer eat the food and not to keep leftovers,” Yuen said. “After so long the food drops to a certain temperature and bacteria has a great chance to spread and multiply and make you sick.”
A few blocks over from Beijing, Alan Segal and Dave Clouser have owned and operated Wishbone since October 2013.
One of the only health violations documented at Wishbone from their last inspection, in May 2014 was the absence of a sign in the restroom to remind employees to wash their hands.
“We bring an academic angle to food safety and are very disciplined,” Segal, who previously taught Culinary Science at Drexel University, said. “It’s something that we take very seriously.”
Wishbone serves roughly 150 to 200 customers a day and is best known for its fried chicken.
“One of the benefits of a limited menu — like chicken — is that there is a lot less risk of cross-contamination,” Segal said. “We were lucky to get a very big kitchen, so it’s easy for us to keep everything separated.”
Segal and his partner built their kitchen from scratch, so they had the opportunity to install new, easy-to-clean floors and walls, as well as brand new cooking equipment.
“When people from the industry walk through our kitchen, they always say that this is the cleanest kitchen they’ve ever seen,” he said. “We have multiple cleaning cycles throughout the day, not just at the end of the night, so [the restaurant is] always in a state of being pretty clean,”
“For us cleaning is non-negotiable — we spend a fortune on cleaning products,” he added.
Segal appreciates the work of the Department of Public Health, but would like to see Philadelphia adopt the letter-grade system that New York City has. He said the public display of inspection results is “a great way to bring it forward and encourage everyone to keep their kitchens clean.”
Coming USDA Catfish Inspections Raise Question: Could Shrimp Be Next?
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/04/coming-usda-catfish-inspections-raises-question-could-shrimp-be-next/#.VT8Qp9iJjs1
By Dan Flynn (Apr 23, 2015)
If food safety put catfish under USDA inspection, can shrimp be far behind?
That question is coming into focus this week after one of USDA’s top two food safety officials told a gathering of food policy wonks on Tuesday that the final rule for the agency’s takeover of catfish inspections is coming “a little into May.” And tomorrow, the focus will turn to the alleged dangers and the light testing of foreign shrimp.
Brian Ronholm, one of the two deputy under secretaries of food safety at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), told attendees at the National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., that the final catfish rule “is virtually done” and likely to emerge from FSIS by early May. USDA had previously said it was expected in April, but Ronholm said the timing “might bleed a little into May.”
catfish_406x250Ronholm, who shares his food safety title with Al Almanza, said existing FSIS personnel will be shifted to handle the catfish inspections. Little else is known outside USDA on how catfish will actually be inspected by the agency.
In recent times, no issue advanced in the name of food safety has come in for more criticism than moving catfish inspections from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to USDA’s inspection portfolio. Skeptics of the move — such as U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) — are concerned because the switch actually sets up “dual jurisdiction” between USDA and FDA.
Gavin Gibbons, spokesman for the National Fisheries Institute, which represents the imported seafood industry, is quick to point out that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) “has called the USDA catfish program a waste 9 times” and each time called upon Congress to repeal it.
“It was put in place as part of the 2008 Farm Bill, and (USDA) has spent more than $20 million tax dollars and never inspected a single fish,” Gibbons told Food Safety News. “Yet imported and domestic catfish and catfish-like species are just as safe as they were before the program was implemented.”
Whether it’s catfish or pangasius, a cousin mostly raised in Vietnam, the flaky white fish is now the sixth most popular seafood in the U.S. Domestic catfish farmers first pushed back their imported competition in 2002 by getting Congress to prohibit the Asian products from being called “catfish.”
The coming USDA catfish inspections have Asian interests such as the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers mighty concerned. That’s because the move could shut Vietnamese pangasius out of the U.S. market entirely, at least for a while. Vietnam would then have to win certification that its food safety system for the fish is equal to that provided by USDA, just as is now required for those who want to export meat, poultry or eggs to the U.S.
U.S. catfish farmers, who have seen the amount of catfish sold to processors decline in 2012 to a little more than 300 million pounds, or 360 million pounds less than 10 years earlier, would welcome being without the competition, even for a time. (Most of the U.S. catfish industry is found in Mississippi, which led the nation in farm-raised catfish in 2013 with 275 catfish farms and sales valued at $179.2 million.)
Imports dominate the American seafood diet, and shrimp might be the next species coming in for special attention. Consumers Union, which publishes Consumer Reports (CR), will be out Friday with a new report on frozen shrimp. Imports of that product now account for 94 percent of U.S. consumption.
The report is embargoed, but CR’s concerns about foreign shrimp are great enough that it will recommend that its readers buy only “responsibly-caught” U.S. wild shrimp “when possible.” It will also point to how rare FDA inspections are of imported shrimp, a criticism catfish farmers have often made about their foreign competition.
Just the notice of the embargoed report was enough to send NFI’s Gibbons to his Twitter account to begin one of his well-known counter-offensives.
“We’ve been tweeting about this pending Consumer Reports story, which of course we can’t comment on until we see, but I can tell you that Consumer Reports has an abysmal track record of reporting on seafood,” Gibbons said.
“You’ll remember the Food and Drug Administration blasted Consumer Reports for its August seafood report on tuna, calling CR’s methodology flawed because it overestimates the negative effects and overlooks the strong body of scientific evidence published in the last decade. I am eager to see what level of hyperbole they employ this time,” he said.
As for shrimp following catfish down the inspection road, Gibbons does not see it happening.
“The only thing the two items have in common is that anti-competition groups have hijacked a food safety narrative and hoodwinked some into believing this is not about excluding imports from the U.S. market,” he said.
The NFI spokesman also wonders why CR takes such an “overtly protectionist” stance on shrimp, but not foreign cars and electronics. Support by outside groups for USDA catfish inspection has waned over time, especially as the GAO reports have made the duel jurisdiction issue a prime example of government duplication and waste.
However, that’s not to say that catfish is without its own food safety challenges. Auburn University’s College of Agriculture says disease control accounts for 45 percent of the annual catfish losses the farms experience. Most U.S. catfish are raised in earthen ponds with high densities, an environment that allows for the rapid spread of infectious bacteria and the acute outbreaks of diseases that do occur.
“The most important infectious diseases for catfish are Enteric Septicemia (ESC) and Columnaris disease,” Auburn reports. “The causal agents for these diseases are Edwardsiella ictaluri and Flavobacterium columnare, respectively.”
The university recommends that catfish farmers take steps to avoid expensive losses from the two diseases by using a few cost-effective drugs and improved husbandry practices. Past domestic catfish losses from disease have run as high as $100 million a year.
For its part, the U.S. catfish industry continues to pound the drum against “the quality of controversial Vietnamese pangasius,” often sold as basa, tra, and swai. Through the Jackson, MS-based Catfish Institute, the industry is quick to share dispatches about “plummeting” pangasius exports to Europe because of poor quality or a wire service report on slavery and coerced labor in Asian seafood production.
Those pangasius exports to the U.S. are now valued at more than $300 million a year, according to a study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) first reported March 23, 2015, in the Wall Street Journal. While domestic production was cut in half, 215 million pounds of frozen Asian “catfish” was sold in the U.S. last year, compared to just 7 million pounds 10 years earlier.
Most of Vietnam’s pangasius comes from the Mekong River Delta. The stricter USDA regulations on catfish are all but certain to come up in the ongoing negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade treaty.
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Food safety is a must for sustainable development
Source : http://businesstoday.intoday.in/story/food-safety-is-a-must-for-sustainable-development-april-20/1/218359.html
By Ajay Kakra (Apr 23, 2015)
Food safety is a theme having high priority and relevance among governments, civil society, the private sector and intergovernmental agencies across the globe. Changing consumer preferences, changes in production and distribution methods, evolving trade and travel, shifts in climatic and environmental factors, and growing anti-microbial resistance are some of the factors that increase the probability of occurrence of food hazards and food safety incidents. Unsafe food is a major public health issue and restoring food trust with the consumer is now becoming an important area of concern among governments, regulators and enforcement agencies, and large multinational companies.
In India, increasing agricultural exports have long been an integral part of the government's sector-development strategy. However, there have been serious challenges faced by exporters in order to streamline exports with the ever-changing food quality and safety norms of major importing countries. There have been incidences in which Indian export products have not complied with international food quality and safety norms leading to restrictions in market access to the importing countries.
There have been concerns over pesticide residues in horticultural produce (EU's ban on India's mango exports in 2014, Saudi Arabia's ban on India's chillies' export in 2014, the Indian Grape Export Crisis in 2003), aflatoxin contamination and the use of prohibited food colorants in spices' export (Indian dry chili exports faced rejection in Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK due to the presence of aflatoxin in 2004-05, EU banned fish and fish exports from India in 1997 due to salmonella detection).
Sudden changes in the import norms, stringent food safety and quality norms followed by major importing countries have increased challenges for food exporters in gaining access to these markets. Even for large multinational companies disruption in food supply is a major concern for loss of brand value among its consumers.
Apart from dealing with the challenges in getting access to the international market, the food industry has to deal with various intrinsic issues impacting food quality and safety across the supply chain. The existing extension system does not focus on food quality and safety domain as a result of which there is limited awareness among farmers towards these areas. Further, limited training avenues and support infrastructure, coupled with high cost of certification, creates a disincentive for adoption of standard practices by small holders and marginal farmers. This poses serious challenges to product quality standardisation for food companies engaged in cross border procurement and trade.
Further, quality and safety management systems, product certification and standardisation regarding food safety and quality are still in their infancy and need immediate attention. The government should provide an integrated legal framework and platform to facilitate implementation of food quality and safety management systems. To further harness the potential of the agriculture and food industry, robust policy strategies on food quality and safety are absolutely imperative, with emphasis given on a holistic farm-to-fork approach, as an effective means of reducing probable food hazards. In addition, focused approach towards improving areas such as tax incentives, skill development and education programmes, stakeholder awareness campaigns, international cooperation and related policies can improve the level of food safety and quality in India and gain the much-needed Food Trust among consumers.
Concerted efforts are required both by the government and the private sector at policy and implementation levels, respectively. There is a need to go beyond compliance to improve standards and secure greater market access of our food products in the developed markets. Enabling transparent integration of knowledge, technology and information across the food supply chain, coupled with effective risk monitoring, could lead to improved traceability and increased supply chain resilience, ensuring food safety and security at the national level.
PwC considers food safety an important precursor to ensuring food security. Food safety is a vital constituent to achieve sustainable development - it must be systematically assimilated into all policies and interventions to improve nutrition and food security. It is also quintessential for the food value chain stakeholders to assess and mitigate food safety risks throughout the supply chain to maintain trade competitiveness and to ensure sustainability in the long run.
US Academic Stresses Bird Flu Does Not Affect Food Safety
Source : http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/34885/us-academic-stresses-bird-flu-does-not-affect-food-safety/
By thepoultrysite.com (Apr 22, 2015)
US - An Iowa State University food safety expert has reminded consumers that avian influenza does not impact the foods they eat.
Angela Shaw, assistant professor in food science and human nutrition and extension specialist in food safety, said: “Consumers should feel safe to eat properly cooked and prepared meat and eggs from poultry.”
Bird flu has been spreading in the US, and last week avian influenza was reported for the first time in Iowa at a turkey barn in Buena Vista County.
The disease is caused by an influenza virus that can infect farmed poultry, and is also carried by migratory birds such as ducks, geese and shorebirds.
Although humans can be infected with the virus, most cases involve very close direct contact with sick birds.
Ms Shaw commented: “Avian influenza is not a foodborne pathogen. It cannot be contracted from eating properly cooked poultry meat and eggs.”
Ms Shaw said that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) position is also that properly cooked poultry and eggs pose no threat.
She advised that US consumers should always follow the FDA’s procedures for safe handling and cooking of poultry products:
•Wash hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds before and after handling raw poultry and eggs.
•Clean cutting boards and other utensils with soap and hot water to keep raw poultry or eggs from contaminating other foods.
•Cutting boards may be sanitised by using a solution of 1 tablespoon chlorine bleach and 1 gallon of water.
•Cook poultry to an internal temperature of at least 170°F. Consumers can cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference.
•Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Casseroles and other dishes containing eggs should be cooked to 170°F.
•Use pasteurised eggs or egg products for recipes that are served using raw or undercooked eggs. Some examples of these kinds of dishes are Caesar salad dressing and homemade ice cream. Commercial mayonnaise, dressing and sauces contain pasteurised eggs that are safe to eat. Pasteurised eggs and egg products are available from a growing number of retailers and are clearly labelled.
Top Food Safety Officials Weigh in on Key Issues
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/04/food-safety-heads-at-fda-and-usda-weigh-in-on-key-issues/#.VT8SEdiJjs1
By James Andrews (Apr 22, 2015)
Q&A session at National Food Policy Conference
At the risk of sounding naive, Michael Taylor said Tuesday that he’s still feeling “great” about the progress made on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
As Deputy Commissioner for Foods at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Taylor knew he was in front of a tough audience since he said it during a question-and-answer session with a room full of food policy wonks at the 2015 National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C.
But Taylor wasn’t the only head of a food safety agency on stage. He was joined by Brian Ronholm, Deputy Under Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), as well as moderator Jason Huffman, agriculture and trade editor for POLITICO.
The two men, along with FSIS Deputy Under Secretary Al Almanza (who shares the title with Ronholm), are the highest-ranking food safety officials in the country, and their discussion covered a range of high-profile food safety topics from Salmonella adulteration in chicken to labeling of mechanically tenderized beef.
Leading off by answering a status update question about FSMA, the most wide-reaching reform of food safety laws in more than 70 years, Taylor said that all the law’s rules will be finalized this year. Though implementation of the law has seen significant delays since being signed by President Obama in January 2011, Taylor reiterated that his agency is continuing to make progress.
That said, he noted that underfunding from Congress has been challenging, and FDA is still “way short” of what it needs to implement FSMA successfully.
“If we don’t get the money, we don’t have a trained workforce that has made the culture shift, the philosophical shift and technical shift to be able to inspect well for food safety and also consistency,” Taylor said.
The state departments of agriculture will also play a big role in inspections under FSMA — a prospect that still needs significant funding. And beyond the domestic picture, import verification programs are still lacking necessary funds as well.
“It’s a daunting thing to fulfill the vision of having an import safety system that ensures consumers that we’re getting the same level of protection with imports as we do with domestic products,” Taylor said. “We don’t have the resources in hand to do that.”
Still, the agency is moving forward, Taylor said. Within a year of rules being finalized, the first large-scale facilities will be coming into compliance. Eventually, the whole food system will be operating on a more consistent foundation, he said.
The most noticeable improvement? It’ll likely be the new import verification system, which “really strengthens foreign supply chain management.”
Salmonella as an adulterant
Huffman pressed Ronholm about FSIS’s position on considering Salmonella an adulterant in raw poultry, similar to how the agency considers several E. coli strains adulterants in ground beef. The nonprofit consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has long been petitioning FSIS to declare antibiotic-resistant Salmonella an adulterant in poultry.
Ronholm explained that the interpretation of why E. coli is an adulterant in ground beef but Salmonella isn’t adulterating poultry stems from past court cases.
“There are several ways to cook a burger: rare, medium, well-done. In the court’s mind, because there are several ways, it’s possible to not cook E. coli out of a burger,” Ronholm said. “Now look at poultry. In the court’s mind, there’s only one way to cook a chicken. You cook it to 165 degrees and it kills the Salmonella.”
“Because ordinary cooking is able to kill Salmonella, in the court’s mind, it cannot be declared an adulterant,” he added.
Antibiotics use in animal agriculture
FDA has gotten every drug company that sells a medically useful animal drug for growth and prevention purposes to agree to remove those purposes from the label by the end of 2016, effectively making it illegal to use those drugs for the purpose of growth and prevention without the oversight of a veterinarian, Taylor said.
He said that it’s not the final step in getting industry to judiciously use medically important antibiotics, but it’s the quickest way to initiate a change.
“I think society has turned the corner on this issue. This process is certainly part of that,” Taylor said.
While USDA is not the primary agency to be overseeing the use of drugs in livestock, Ronholm said that it’s incumbent on the agency to pool its research resources to perform surveillance on the effects of antibiotic use in animal agriculture.
Taylor was quick to emphasize that many uses of antibiotics in agriculture are judicious and necessary to keep animals healthy.
“There are legitimate uses of antibiotics for disease treatment that are within our judicious-use principles,” he said.
Mechanically tenderized beef
Huffman asked Ronholm for an update on labeling rules for mechanically tenderized beef. At the end of 2014, USDA missed its window to finalize its labeling rules in time for them to be implemented by 2016, making 2018 the earliest we’re now likely to see labels on mechanically tenderized beef products.
Earlier this year, however, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that the agency was still working to ensure mechanically tenderized beef labeling by 2016, despite missing the deadline.
According to Ronholm, USDA is still trying to make that happen. The rule is still under review at the White House Office of Management and Budget, he said.
“It’s certainly something we’re focused on and hoping to get out and published within the next couple months,” Ronholm said.
Impact of new trade agreements on FSMA import rules
When Huffman opened up the Q&A to questions from the audience, the first came from Food & Water Watch senior lobbyist Tony Corbo, who asked how FDA’s import agenda will be impacted by an increase in imports from two new free trade agreements — the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.
Corbo pointed out that in an earlier conference session, another FDA representative stated that the number of import line entries has already increased from 200,000 in the mid-1990s to 14 million today.
Taylor agreed that the agency has a lot of work to do, saying that he was most hopeful about the aspects of the importer verification program that involve physical inspections of foreign suppliers.
However, FDA “isn’t a trade agency,” he added, implying that he wasn’t the best person to answer the question.
“We’ve got to deal with the world as it is, and we’ve got a regulatory framework and we need resources to implement it to provide assurances to people,” Taylor said.
One of the session’s final questions came from Patricia Buck, co-founder of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention. She challenged Ronholm on the topics of mechanically tenderized beef and the classification of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella as an adulterant on raw poultry, and she also pointed out that some strains of Salmonella attached to muscle aren’t killed at the recommend cooking temperature and instead need to be cooked to almost 180 degrees.
“I would like to better understand why FSIS and USDA have not taken the necessary steps to control antibiotic-resistant Salmonella as adulterants in food, and I would like to know why we have not — after five years — been able to get mechanically tenderized beef labeling through all of the various regulatory processes,” she said, to a small burst of applause from the audience.
Ronholm first said that Salmonella was a source of “extreme frustration” for FSIS. That’s why the agency released its Salmonella Action Plan in 2013, he said.
“Yeah, [Salmonella] is something that really upsets us, and we’re not seeing the reductions we’d like to see,” Ronholm said. “So the way we’re trying to do it is to combat Salmonella as a whole.”
The National Food Policy Conference is organized by the Consumer Federation of America. This is the 38th annual conference, which is held each year in Washington, D.C.
Marler: What You Need To Know About Listeria
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/what-you-need-to-know-about-listeria-during-blue-bell-outbreak/#.VT8SfNiJjs1
By Bill Marler (Apr 22, 2015)
Listeria (pronounced liss-STEER-?-uh) is a gram-positive rod-shaped bacterium that can grow under either anaerobic (without oxygen) or aerobic (with oxygen) conditions. [4, 18] Of the six species of Listeria, only L. monocytogenes (pronounced maw-NO-site-aw-JUH-neez) causes disease in humans.  These bacteria multiply best at 86-98.6 degrees F (30-37 degrees C), but also multiply better than all other bacteria at refrigerator temperatures, something that allows temperature to be used as a means of differentiating Listeria from other contaminating bacteria. Called an “opportunistic pathogen,” Listeria is noted to cause an estimated 2,600 cases per year of severe invasive illness.  Perhaps not surprisingly then, “foodborne illness caused by Listeria monocytogenes has raised significant public health concern in the United States, Europe, and other areas of the world.”  As one noted expert observed, summarizing the history of these bacteria and their significance for public health,Although L. monocytogenes was recognized as an animal pathogen over 80 years ago, the first outbreak confirming an indirect transmission from animals to humans was reported only in 1983, in Canada’s Maritime provinces. In that outbreak, cabbages, stored in the cold over the winter, were contaminated with Listeria through exposure to infected sheep manure. A subsequent outbreak in California in 1985 confirmed the role of food in disseminating listeriosis. Since then Listeria has been implicated in many outbreaks of food-borne illness, most commonly from exposure to contaminated dairy products and prepared meat products, including turkey and deli meats, pâté, hot dogs and seafood and fish. Given its widespread presence in the environment and food supply, the ingestion of Listeria has been described as an “exceedingly common occurrence.” 
The Incidence of Listeria InfectionsListeria bacteria are found widely in the environment in soil, including in decaying vegetation and water, and may be part of the fecal flora of a large number of mammals, including healthy human adults. [4, 18] According to the FDA, “studies suggest that 1-10% of humans may be intestinal carriers of Listeria.”  Another authority notes that the “organism has been isolated from the stool of approximately 5% of healthy adults.”  Overall, seasonal trends show a notable peak in total Listeria cases and related-deaths from July through October. Ingested by mouth, Listeria is among the most virulent foodborne pathogens, with up to 20% of clinical infections resulting in death.  These bacteria primarily cause severe illness and death in persons with immature or compromised immune systems. [13, 18] Consequently, most healthy adults can be exposed to Listeria with little to any risk of infection and illness. [4, 11]A study published in 1995 projected Listeria infection-rates to the U.S. population, suggesting that an estimated 1,965 cases and 481 deaths occurred in 1989 compared with an estimated 1,092 cases and 248 deaths in 1993, a 44% and 48% reduction in illness and death, respectively.  In comparison, a USDA study published in 1996 estimated that there had been 1,795-1860 Listeria-related cases in 1993, and 445-510 deaths, with 85-95% of these attributable to the consumption of contaminated food.  Listeriosis-related mortality rates decreased annually by 10.7% from 1990 through 1996, and by 4.3% from 1996 through 2005. 
Among adults 50 years of age and older, infection rates were estimated to have declined from 16.2 per 1 million in 1989 to 10.2 per 1 million in 1993.  Perinatal disease decreased from 17.4 cases per 100,000 births in 1989 to 8.6 cases per 100,000 births in 1993.  Neonatal infections are often severe, with a mortality rate of 25-50%. 
According to the CDC’s National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases:
Listeriosis was added to the list of nationally notifiable diseases in 2001. To improve surveillance, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists has recommended that all L. monocytogenes isolates be forwarded to state public health laboratories for subtyping through the National Molecular Subtyping Network for Foodborne Disease Surveillance (PulseNet). All states have regulations requiring health care providers to report cases of listeriosis and public health officials try to interview all persons with listeriosis promptly using a standard questionnaire about high risk foods. In addition, FoodNet conducts active laboratory- and population-based surveillance. 
In 2006, public health officials from 48 states reported 1,270 foodborne disease outbreaks, with a confirmed or suspect source in 884 of the outbreaks (70%).  Only one of the outbreaks with a confirmed source was attributed to Listeria, with this outbreak involving eleven hospitalizations and one death.  The next year, of 17,883 lab-confirmed infections, the CDC attributed 122 to Listeria.  In 2009, there were 158 confirmed Listeria infections, representing an incidence-rate of .34 cases for every 100,000 persons in the United States.  Such data revealed an incidence-rate of 0.27 cases per 100,000 persons, a decrease of 42% compared with 1996—1998.  But, according to CDC’s Technical Information website, it is estimated that there are 1,600 cases of Listeria infection annually in the United States, based on data through 2008. 
The 2009 numbers represented a reported 30% decrease in the number of infections compared to the 1996—1998 rates of infection.  Although the nature and degree of underreporting is subject to dispute, all agree that the confirmed cases represent just the tip of the iceberg. [6, 13] Indeed, one study estimates the annual incidence rate for Listeria to be around 1,795-1,860 cases per 100,000 persons, with 445-510 of the cases ending in death. 
Finally, in a study of FoodNet laboratory-confirmed invasive cases—where infection is detected in blood, cerebrospinal fluid, amniotic fluid, placenta or products of conception—the number of listeriosis cases decreased by 24% from 1996 through 2003.  During this same period, pregnancy-associated disease decreased by 37%, while cases among those fifty years old and older decreased by 23%. 
The Prevalence of Listeria in Food and the Environment
Listeria is a common presence in nature, found widely in such places as water, soil, infected animals, human and animal feces, raw and treated sewage, leafy vegetables, effluent from poultry and meat processing facilities, decaying corn and soybeans, improperly fermented silage, and raw (unpasteurized) milk. [18, 23, 27] Foods commonly identified as sources of Listeria infection include improperly pasteurized fluid milk, cheeses (particularly soft-ripened varieties, such as traditional Mexican cheeses, Camembert and ricotta), ice cream, raw vegetables, fermented raw-meat sausages, raw and cooked poultry, and cooked, ready-to-eat (RTE) sliced meats—often referred to as “deli meats”. [18, 21, 23, 28] One study found that, over a five-year period of testing, in multiple processing facilities, Listeria monocytogenes was isolated from 14% of 1,080 samples of smoked finfish and smoked shellfish. 
Ready-to-eats foods have been found to be a notable and consistent source of Listeria. [14, 21] For example, a research-study done by the Listeria Study Group found that Listeria monocytogenes grew from at least one food specimen in the refrigerators of 64% of persons with a confirmed Listeria infection (79 of 123 patients), and in 11% of more than 2000 food specimens collected in the study.  Moreover, 33% of refrigerators (26 of 79) contained foods that grew the same strain with which the individual had been infected, a frequency much higher than would be expected by chance.  A widely cited USDA study that reviewed the available literature also summarized that:
In samples of uncooked meat and poultry from seven countries, up to 70 percent had detectable levels of Listeria . Schuchat  found that 32 percent of the 165 culture-confirmed listeriosis cases could be attributed to eating food purchased from store delicatessen counters or soft cheeses. In Pinner  microbiologic survey of refrigerated foods specimens obtained from households with listeriosis patients, 36 percent of the beef samples and 31 percent of the poultry samples were contaminated with Listeria.
The prevalence of Listeria in ready-to-eat meats has not proven difficult to explain. [26, 29] As one expert in another much-cited article has noted:
The centralized production of prepared ready-to-eat food products…increases the risk of higher levels of contamination, since it requires that foods be stored for long periods at refrigerated temperatures that favour the growth of Listeria. During the preparation, transportation and storage of prepared foods, the organism can multiply to reach a threshold needed to cause infection. 
The danger posed by the risk of Listeria in ready-to-eat meats has prompted the USDA to declare the bacterium an adulterant in these kinds of meat products and, as a result, to adopt a zero-tolerance policy for the presence of this deadly pathogen. [7, 29]
A USDA Baseline Data Collection Program done in 1994 documented Listeria contamination on 15.0% of broiler-chicken carcasses . Subsequent USDA data-collection did not test for the prevalence of Listeria in chicken or in turkeys. [31, 32]
Transmission and Infection
Except for the transmission of mother to fetus, human-to-human transmission of Listeria is not known to occur.  Infection is caused almost exclusively by the ingestion of the bacteria, most often through the consumption of contaminated food. [18, 21, 23] The most widely-accepted estimate of foodborne transmission is 85-95% of all Listeria cases. [23, 28]
The infective dose—that is, the amount of bacteria that must be ingested to cause illness—is not known. [4, 18, 26] In an otherwise healthy person, an extremely large number of Listeria bacteria must be ingested to cause illness—estimated to be somewhere between 10–100 million viable bacteria (or colony forming units “CFU”) in healthy individuals, and only 0.1–10 million CFU in people at high risk of infection. [4, 18, 26] Even with such a dose, a healthy individual will suffer only a fever, diarrhea, and related gastrointestinal symptoms. [4, 18].
The amount of time from infection to the onset of symptoms—typically referred to as the incubation period—can vary to a significant degree. Symptoms of Listeria infection can develop at any time from 2 to 70 days after eating contaminated food. [4, 5] According to one authoritative text,
The incubation period for invasive illness is not well established, but evidence from a few cases related to specific ingestions points to 11 to 70 days, with a mean of 31 days. In one report, two pregnant women whose only common exposure was attendance at a party developed Listeria bacteremia with the same uncommon enzyme type; incubation periods for illness were 19 and 23 days. 
Adults can get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria, but babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. [4, 24] The mode of transmission of Listeria to the fetus is either transplacental via the maternal blood stream or ascending from a colonized genital tract.  Infections during pregnancy can cause premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth, or serious health problems for the newborn. [18, 24]
Incidence of Listeria infection in HIV-positive individuals is higher than in the general population. [17, 18] One study found that:
The estimated incidence of listeriosis among HIV-infected patients in metropolitan Atlanta was 52 cases per 100,000 patients per year, and among patients with AIDS it was 115 cases per 100,000 patients per year, rates 65–145 times higher than those among the general population. HIV-associated cases occurred in adults who were 29–62 years of age and in postnatal infants who were 2 and 6 months of age. 
Pregnant women make up around 30% of all infection cases, while accounting for 60% of cases involving the 10- to 40-year age group. 
Those Most Susceptible to Infection
Several segments of the population are at increased risk and need to be informed so that proper precautions can be taken. [19,20, 27] The body’s defense against Listeria is called “cell-mediated immunity” because the success of defending against infection depends on our cells (as opposed to our antibodies), especially lymphocytes called “T-cells.”  Therefore, individuals whose cell-mediated immunity is suppressed are more susceptible to the devastating effects of listeriosis, including especially HIV-infected individuals, who have been found to have a Listeria-related mortality of 29%. [12, 17, 18]
Pregnant women naturally have a depressed cell-mediated immune system. [18, 24] In addition, the immune systems of fetuses and newborns are very immature and are extremely susceptible to these types of infections.  Other adults, especially transplant recipients and lymphoma patients, are given necessary therapies with the specific intent of depressing T-cells, and these individuals become especially susceptible to Listeria as well. [7, 18, 27]
According to the CDC and other public health organizations, individuals at increased risk for being infected and becoming seriously ill with Listeria include the following groups:
•Pregnant women: They are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy.
•Newborns: Newborns rather than the pregnant women themselves suffer the serious effects of infection in pregnancy.
•Persons with weakened immune systems
•Persons with cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease
•Persons with AIDS: They are almost 300 times more likely to get listeriosis than people with normal immune systems.
•Persons who take glucocorticosteroid medications (such as cortisone)
•The elderly [11, 20, 21]
Symptoms of Listeria infection
When a person is infected and develops symptoms of Listeria infection, the resulting illness is called listeriosis. [4, 11, 18] Only a small percentage of persons who ingest Listeria fall ill or develop symptoms.  For those who do develop symptoms as a result of their infection, the resulting illness is either mild or quite severe—sometimes referred to as a “bimodal distribution of severity.” [13, 28]
On the mild end of the spectrum, listeriosis usually consists of the sudden onset of fever, chills, severe headache, vomiting, and other influenza-type symptoms. [18, 28] Along these same lines, the CDC notes that infected individuals may develop fever, muscle aches, and sometimes gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea.  When present, the diarrhea usually lasts 1-4 days (with 42 hours being average), with 12 bowel movements per day at its worst. 
Most healthy adults and children who consume contaminated food experience only mild to moderate symptoms. The infection is usually self-limited, since, in healthy hosts, exposure to Listeria stimulates the production of tumour necrosis factor and other cytokines, which activate monocytes and macrophages to eradicate the organism. Few people with normal immune function go on to have more severe, life-threatening forms of listeriosis, characterized by septic shock, meningitis and encephalitis. 
As already noted, when pregnant, women have a mildly impaired immune system that makes them susceptible to Listeria infection.  If infected, the illness appears as an acute fever, muscle pain, backache, and headache. [18, 24] Illness usually occurs in the third trimester, which is when immunity is at its lowest.  Infection during pregnancy can lead to premature labor, miscarriage, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. [24, 28] Twenty-two percent of such infections result in stillbirth or neonatal death. 
Newborns may present clinically with early-onset (less than 7 days) or late-onset forms of infection (7 or more days).  Those with the early-onset form are often diagnosed in the first 24 hours of life with sepsis (infection in the blood). [3, 18] Early-onset listeriosis is most often acquired through trans-placental transmission. [18, 24] Late-onset neonatal listeriosis is less common than the early-onset form. [4, 18, 24] Clinical symptoms may be subtle and include irritability, fever and poor feeding.  The mode of acquisition of late-onset listeriosis is poorly understood. [18, 24]
Diagnosis and Treatment of Listeria Infections
Because there are few symtpoms that are unique to listeriosis, doctors must consider a variety of potential causes for infection, including viral infections (like flu), and other bacterial infections that may cause sepsis or meningitis. [4, 18, 19]
Early diagnosis and treatment of listeriosis in high-risk patients is critical, since the outcome of untreated infection can be devastating. This is especially true for pregnant women because of the increased risk of spontaneous abortion and preterm delivery. Depending on the risk group, rates of death from listeriosis range from 10% to 50%, with the highest rate among newborns in the first week of life. 
Methods typically used to identify diarrhea-causing bacteria in stool cultures interfere or limit the growth of Listeria, making it less likely to be identified and isolated for further testing.  On the other hand, routine methods are effective for isolating Listeria from spinal fluid, blood, and joint fluid. [4, 18] Magnetic-resonance imaging (MRI) is used to confirm or rule out brain or brain stem involvement. 
Listeriosis is usually a self-limited illness—which means that a majority of infected individuals will improve without the need for medical care. [4, 11, 14, 18] But for those patients with a high fever, a stool culture and antibiotic-treatment may be justified for otherwise healthy individuals. [4, 18] Although there have been no studies done to determine what drugs or treatment duration is best, ampicillin is generally considered the “preferred agent.”  There is no consensus on the best approach for patients who are allergic to penicillins.
Invasive infections with Listeria can be treated with antibiotics.  When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus or newborn. [18, 24] Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.
Complications of Listeria infection
For those persons who suffer a Listeria infection that does not resolve on its own, the complications (or sequelae) can be many. [4, 28] The most common is septicemia (bacterial pathogens in the blood, also known as bacteremia), with meningitis being the second most common. [4, 18] Other complications can include inflammation of the brain or brain stem (encephalitis), brain abscess, inflammation of the heart-membrane (endocarditis), and localized infection, either internally or of the skin. 
Death is the most severe consequence of listeriosis, and it is tragically common.  For example, based on 2009 FoodNet surveillance data, 89.2% of Listeria patients ended up in the hospital, the highest hospitalization rate for pathogenic bacterial infection.  In persons 50 years of age and older, there was a 17.5% fatality rate—also the highest relative to other pathogens. [10, 18]
The Economic Impact of Listeria Infections
The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) published its first comprehensive cost estimates for sixteen foodborne bacterial pathogens in 1989.  Five years later, it was estimated that, in 1993, there were 1,795 to 1,860 Listeria infections that required hospitalization, with 295-360 of these cases involving pregnant women.  Based on these estimates, the medical costs that Listeria infections had caused each year were said to run from $61.7 to $64.8 million, including those individuals who ultimately died as a result of their infections.  For these same acute cases, productivity costs were estimated to run from $125.8 to $154.4 million a year.  The productivity costs associated with Listeria-related chronic illness was estimated to be an additional $38 million a year.  In sum, “[e]stimates of total costs for the 1,795 to 1,860 cases of listeriosis range from $232.7 million to $264.4 million annually.” 
In 2000, USDA updated the cost-estimates for four pathogens: Campylobacter, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes. [28a] The 2000 estimates were based on the CDC’s then newly-released estimates of annual foodborne illnesses, and put the total cost in the United States for these four pathogens at $6.5 billion a year. [28a] For Listeria specifically, it was estimated that costs amounted to $2.3 billion per year, based on 2,493 cases, which involved 2,298 hospitalizations and 499 deaths. [28a] More recently, in 2007, it was estimated that the worldwide cost of all foodborne disease was $1.4 trillion per year. 
Real Life Impacts of Listeria Infection
Because Listeria infection is most severe in elderly persons, pregnant women and newborns, the symptoms of infection vary greatly.
•In older adults or immunocompromised individuals, septicemia (Listeria bacteria in the blood stream) and meningitis are the most common indicators of illness.
•In pregnant women, a mild, flu-like illness can be followed by miscarriage, premature delivery or stillbirth.
•In newborns, bacteremia (Listeria bacteria in the blood stream) and meningitis are the most common indicators of Listeria infection.
Antimicrobial Resistance in Bacteria
Antimicrobial resistance in bacteria is an emerging and increasing threat to human health. [1, 4] Physicians are increasingly aware that antimicrobial resistance is increasing in foodborne pathogens and that, as a result, patients who are prescribed antibiotics are at increased risk for acquiring antimicrobial-resistant foodborne infections.  Indeed, “increased frequency of treatment failures for acute illness and increased severity of infection may be manifested by prolonged duration of illness, increased frequency of bloodstream infections, increased hospitalization or increased mortality.” 
The use of antimicrobial agents in the feed of food animals is estimated by the FDA to be over 100 million pounds per year.  It is estimated that 36% to 70% of all antibiotics produced in the United States are used in a food animal feed or in prophylactic treatment to prevent animal disease. [3, 4, 18] In 2002, the Minnesota Medical Association published an article by David Wallinga, M.D., M.P.H. who wrote:
According to the [Union of Concerned Scientists], 70 percent of all the antimicrobials used in the United States for all purposes—or about 24.6 million pounds annually—are fed to poultry, swine, and beef cattle for nontherapeutic purposes, in the absence of disease. Over half are “medically important” antimicrobials; identical or so closely related to human medicines that resistance to the animal drug can confer resistance to the similar human drug. Penicillin, tetracycline, macrolides, streptogramins, and sulfonamides are prominent examples. 
The use of antibiotics in feed for food animals, on animals prophylactically to prevent disease, and the use of antibiotics in humans unnecessarily must be reduced. [1, 25] European countries have reduced the use of antibiotics in animal feed and have seen a corresponding reduction in antibiotic-resistant illnesses in humans. [1, 4]
The Prevention of Listeria infection
Given its widespread presence in the environment, and the fact that the vast majority of Listeria infections are the result of consuming contaminated food or water, preventing illness and death is necessarily (and understandably) a food safety issue.
L. monocytogenes presents a particular concern with respect to food handling because it can grow at refrigerator temperatures (4°C to 10°C), temperatures commonly used to control pathogens in foods. Freezing also has little detrimental effect on the microbe. Although pasteurization is sufficient to kill Listeria, failure to reach the desired temperature in large packages can allow the organism to survive. Food can also be contaminated after processing by the introduction of unpasteurized material, as happens during the preparation of some cheeses. Listeria can also be spread by contact with contaminated hands, equipment and counter tops. 
The use of irradiation to reduce Listeria to safe levels in foods has many proponents.  As noted by an eminent CDC researcher, Robert V. Tauxe,
Ready-to-eat meats, such as hot dogs, have already been subjected to a pathogen-killing step when the meat is cooked at the factory, so contamination is typically the result of in-plant contamination after that step. Improved sanitation in many plants has reduced the incidence of infection by half since 1986, but the risk persists, as illustrated by a large hot dog-associated outbreak that occurred in 1999. Additional heat treatment or irradiation of meat after it is packaged would eliminate Listeria that might be present at that point. 
The CDC provides a comprehensive list of recommendations and precautions to avoid becoming infected with Listeria, which are as follows:
· Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature. For a list of recommended temperatures for meat and poultry, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/IsItDoneYet_Magnet.pdf.
· Rinse raw vegetables thoroughly under running tap water before eating.
· Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
· Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
· Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
· Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include:
•Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (e.g., bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.
•Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.
•Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Foods that do not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.
•Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, “MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.”
•Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is a canned or shelf-stable product. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” These fish are typically found in the refrigerator section or sold at seafood and deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned and shelf stable tuna, salmon, and other fish products are safe to eat.
Recommendations to keep food safe:
· Be aware that Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.
· Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.
· Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.
· Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.
· Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:
•Hot Dogs – store opened packages no longer than 1 week and unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
•Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened packages no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator. 
Additional preventive steps and precautions can be found on the websites of most State Departments of Health, including, for example, the Minnesota Department of Health.  There is also excellent information to be found at the Extension Service website of the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at University of Florida. 
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2.Angulo, F.J., et al., “Evidence of an Association Between Use of Anti-microbial Agents in Food Animals and Anti-microbial Resistance Among Bacteria Isolated from Humans and the Human Health Consequences of Such Resistance, JOURNAL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE, Series-B, Vol. 51, Issue 8-9, pp. 374-79 (Oct. 2004).
3.Bennion, J.R., et al., “Decreasing Listeriosis Mortality in the United States, 1990-2005,” CLINICAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol. 47, No. 7, pp. 867-74 (2008), available online at http://cid.oxfordjournals.org/content/47/7/867.long
4.Bortolussi, R, “Listeriosis: A Primer,” CANADIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIAION JOURNAL, Vol. 179, No. 8, pp. 795-7 (Oct. 7, 2008), online at http://www.cmaj.ca/content/179/8/795.long
5.Bryan, Frank, “Procedures to Investigate Foodborne Illness,” International Association for Food Protection, p. 119 (5th ed. 1999).
6.Buzby, Jean and Roberts, Tonya, “The Economics of Enteric Infections: Human Foodborne Disease Costs, GASTROENTEROLOGY, Vol. 136, No. 6, pp. 1851-62 (May 2009).
7.CDC, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, “Listeriosis—Technical Information,” (last updated: April 6, 2011), available online at http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/listeriosis/technical.html
8.CDC, “Surveillance for Foodborne Disease Outbreaks—United States, 2006,” MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT, Vol. 58, No. 22, pp. 609-15 (June 12, 2007) at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5822a1.htm
9.CDC, “Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly through Food—10 States, 2007,” MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT, Vol. 57, No. 14, pp. 366-70 (April 11, 2008), available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5714a2.htm
10.CDC, “Preliminary FoodNet Data on the Incidence of Infection with Pathogens Transmitted Commonly through Food—10 States, 2009,” MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY WEEKLY REPORT, Vol. 59, No. 14, pp. 418-22 (April 16, 2010) available online at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5914a2.htm
11.CDC, National Center for Zoonotic, Vector-Borne, and Enteric Diseases, “Listeriosis—General Information and Frequently Asked Questions,” (last updated: April 6, 2011), available at http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/listeriosis/
12.Cossart, P. and Bierne, H., “The Use f Host Cell Machinery in the Pathogenesis of Listeria monocytogenes,” CURRENT OPINIONS IN IMMUNOLOGY, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp. 96-103 (Feb. 2001).
13.Council for Agriculture, Science and Technology (CAST), “Foodborne Pathogens: Risks and Consequences: Task Force Report No.122,” pp. 1-87 (Sept. 1994) download at http://www.cast-science.org/publications/index.cfm/foodborne_pathogens_risks_and_consequences?show=product&productID=2852
14.FDA, “Bad Bug Book: Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins Handbook—Listeria monocytogenes,” at http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/chap6.html (site last updated: June 18, 2009).
15.FDA, Public Meeting, “Listeria monocytogenes Risk Assessment and Risk Management: December 4, 2003 Meeting,” Meeting Agenda and Presentations, available online at http://www.fda.gov/Food/ScienceResearch/ResearchAreas/RiskAssessmentSafetyAssessment/ucm209515.htm For Notice of Public Meeting, see 68 Fed. Reg., Vol. 68, No. 216, at 63108-09, online at http://www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/03-28045.pdf
16.Heinitz, M.L. and Johnson, J.M., “The incidence of Listeria spp., Salmonella spp., and Clostridium botulinum in Smoked Fish and Shellfish,” Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 61, pp. 318-23 (March 1998).
17.Jurado, R.L., et al., “Increased Risk of Meningitis and Bacteremia Due to Listeria monocytogenes in Patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection,” Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol. 17, No. 2, pp. 224-7 (1993).
18.Lorber, Bennett, “Listeria monocytogenes,” in Mandell, Douglas, And Bennett’s PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Fifth Edition, Chap. 195, pp. 2208-14 (2000, Mandell, Bennett, and Dolan, Editors).
19.Mayo Clinic. (2009). Listeria infection (listeriosis). Retrieved November 1, 2009 from Mayo Clinic website: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/Listeria-infection/DS00963.
20.Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), “Preventing Listeriosis,” available online at http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/idepc/diseases/listeriosis/prevention.html
21.Pinner, R.W., et al., “Role of Foods in Sporadic Listeriosis. II. Microbiologic and epidemiologic investigation, JOURNAL OF AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, Vol. 267, No. 15, pp. 2046-50 (April 15, 1992).
22.Roberts, T, “Human Illness Costs of Foodborne Bacteria,” AMERICAN JOURNAL OF AGRICULTURE ECONOMICS, Vol. 71, No. 2, pp. 468-474 (1989).
23.Schuchat, A, et al., “Role of Foods in Sporadic Listeriosis. I. Case-control Study of Dietary Risk Factors,” JOURNAL OF AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, Vol. 267, No. 15, pp. 2041-5 (April 15, 1992).
24.Silver, HM, “Listeriosis during pregnancy,” OBSTETRICAL AND GYNECOLOGICAL SURVEY, Vol. 53, Issue 12, pp. 737-740 (Dec. 1998).
25.Tappero, JW, et al., “Reduction in the Incidence of Human Listeriosis in the United States: Effectiveness of Prevention Efforts,” JOURNAL OF AMERICAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, Vol. 273, No. 14, pp. 1118-22 (April 12, 1995).
26.Tauxe, Robert, CDC, “Food Safety and Irradiation: Protecting the Public from Foodborne Infections,” EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp. 516-21 (June 2001) at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631852/pdf/11485644.pdf
27.University of Florida, IFIS Extension, “Preventing Foodborne Illness: Listeriosis,” Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, (Jan. 2003) online at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fs102
28.USDA Economic Research Service, “Bacterial Foodborne Disease—Medical Costs and Productivity Losses,” AER-741, August 1996 (authors: Jean C. Buzby, et al.) online athttp://www.ers.usda.gov/Publications/AER741/ 28a. USDA Economic Research Service, S. Crutchfield and T. Roberts, “Food Safety Efforts Accelerate in the 90’s,” FOOD REVIEW, Vol. 23, No. 3, pp. 44-49 (Sept.-Dec. 2000), online at http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/foodreview/septdec00/FRsept00h.pdf
29.USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), “Assessing the Effectiveness of theListeria monocytogenes Interim Final Rule, Summary Report,” (Sept. 28, 2004), available online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Oppde/rdad/frpubs/97-013F/LM_Assessment_Report_2004.pdf
30.USDA FSIS, NATIONWIDE BROILER CHICKEN MICROBIOLOGICAL BASELINE DATA COLLECTION PROGRAM, July 1994—July 1995, (April 1996), full report available online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPHS/baseline/broiler1.pdf
31.USDA FSIS, THE NATIONWIDE MICROBIOLOGICAL BASELINE DATA COLLECTION PROGRAM: YOUNG CHICKEN SURVEY, July 2007—June 2008, full report available online at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Baseline_Data_Young_Chicken_2007-2008.pdf
32.USDA FSIS, THE NATIONWIDE MICROBIOLOGICAL BASELINE DATA COLLECTION PROGRAM: YOUNG TURKEY SURVEY, Aug. 2008—July 2009, at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/Baseline_Data_Young_Turkey_2008-2009.pdf
33.Voetsch, AC, et al., “Reduction in the Incidence of Invasive Listeriosis in Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network Sites, 1996-2003,” CLINICAL INFECTIOUS DISEASES, Vol. 44, No. 4, pp. 513-20 (CDC Control & Prevention Emerging Infections Program, Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network Working Group 2007).
34.Wallinga, D, “Antimicrobial Use in Animal Feed: An Ecological and Public Health Problem,” MINNESOTA MEDICINE, Vol. 85, No. 10 pp. 12-16 (Oct. 2002).
Food Recalls from the Perspective of the Retailer
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/food-recalls-from-the-perspective-of-the-retailer/
By Kathy Hardee, Esq.(Apr 21, 2015)
Food Recalls from the Perspective of the Retailer
What are the responsibilities and suggested courses of action for the retailer who finds itself in possession of potentially adulterated food? Unfortunately, as a member in the chain of commerce, under many state’s laws, retailers will be held as equally liable as the manufacturer from whom the adulteration initiated. On January 20, 2015, The FSM eDigest published an article, advising manufacturers of their responsibilities arising in the event of the need to conduct a food recall and how to prepare ahead of time to respond quickly. But retailers sit much further down the chain and although their responsibilities are great, they rely on others upstream for the information needed to do their job.
In most instances, a retailer’s first notification of a problem will come from the manufacturer, distributor, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or equivalent state agencies. Such initial notice may only advise that ABC products from DEF manufacturer or distributor have been determined to be contaminated with GHI and there is reason to believe this product may have been found its way to you as a retailer. This notification may be provided to you even before an official recall—whether voluntary or mandatory—is publically issued. The public recall may have more detailed information but this initial notification triggers the time for you to begin initiation of your own recall plan.
For a retailer to begin steps to remove adulterated food from that portion of the stream of commerce that is within its control, there are certain necessary identifying pieces of information which must be obtained. This information will be also demanded by the FDA and CDC from the manufacturer and distributor at the same time and should be included in the official recall notice released to the public. Unfortunately, the governmental investigations are a work in process. Information is released quickly to protect public health. But more information may become known thereafter, requiring subsequent actions including subsequent or modified recalls:
• Names of manufacturers and distributors
• Description of product
• Brand or generic names
• Sizes(s) affected
• Lot or unit numbers
• Dates manufactured, date of expiration, use by date
• Distribution means, transportation entities and involved geographic areas
If this information, whether from an informal notification or from a formal notice of recall, provides you with notice that you may have adulterated product on your shelves, you must act immediately. If the information currently available to you leaves some ambiguity as to whether you are in receipt of products subject to the recall, contact your FDA District Recall Coordinator for further clarification. The contact information for your district can be found on the FDA website.
In addition to direct receipt of information from manufacturers, distributors or governmental entities, retailers should take a more proactive approach. The FDA, CDC, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have coordinated to create a single go-to website with information about all recalls being handled and sometimes those being investigated by each agency. Regular monitoring of the site by retailers can give you a head start on problems that may be coming your way. The site also allows you to enroll to receive alerts and emails regarding food recalls.
Removal of Product
Once you have been put on notice that you may be in possession of or have previously been in possession of adulterated products, it is time to immediately take action to protect public health. First, search all of your facilities for the product including shelves, warehouses, trucks, refrigerators and any place where even small quantities of the product might exist. Isolate the identified products. The recall notice you receive should indicate how to either return the product or dispose of it. The notice should also include a small poster to hang from the shelf where the tainted product was removed.
Once you’ve taken steps to insure no new tainted products are sold, you must next take action to notify customers who may have already purchased the product. Again, the FDA District Recall Coordinator will be of assistance. Elements of a retailer’s notification process may include:
• Press releases
• Posters or flyers in the store
• Warnings on websites
• Tracking individual customer identification through credit card purchases, online purchases and frequent shopper cards
Scripts should be prepare to respond to consumers who call or come to customer service with questions. All floor personnel should be carefully motivated to refer all customer questions to management or customer service.
For those products with a limited shelf life, do not assume that simply because that expiration date has passed that the risk of contamination is gone. It is no surprise that consumers often consume food products after the expiration date. So if a product falls within the parameters of products identified as tainted, warnings and protective actions should continue for a period of time even after the expiration date.
Detailed records must be kept of each and every step you take as a retailer to deal with the product.
The cost of handling food recalls can include lost profit and labor costs. Customers may come to you demanding refunds. Being in the stream of commerce can put you in direct fire for later personal injury or even wrongful death litigation. Before the situation arises, review the indemnification provisions in your procurement contracts. Also, sit down with your insurance agent to review your coverage for both the recall and for any possible litigation.
Recalls have become a more and more frequent fact of life. And, as both governmental agencies and litigants look for more people to hold responsible, retailers are being held responsible on a more frequent basis. Being prepared with a plan of action will make the process run more smoothly—albeit no less stressful.
Checking Field Thermometer Accuracy
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/checking-field-thermometer-accuracy/
By Robert W. Powitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.S., C.F.S.P. (Apr 21, 2015)
Checking Field Thermometer Accuracy
In the absence of a National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST)-traceable, dry-well thermometer calibrator, conventional
lore recommends using an ice bath to validate electronic thermometers
or calibrate mechanical ones. Presumably, the ice/water mixture
will be 32 °F (0 °C). This is not always the case. The
water and ice mixture made from distilled, reverse osmosis and
de-ionized water will result in a 32 °F mixture, or close
enough; whereas surface or well waters may differ widely in their
content of total dissolved solids (TDS) and affect the temperature
of the mixture. Conventional wisdom tells us that the higher the
salt content or TDS, the lower the melting point of ice. The freezing
temperature of “pure” water versus highly mineralized
potable well or surface waters can vary as much as ±4.5
°F. Add to this the manufacturers’ accuracy claims of
the thermometers; which can be as high as ±2 °F, as
in the case of bi-metal dial thermometers, the variance of the
ice water mixture and thermometer together can result in an error
as high as ±6.5 °F. This does not instill a lot of
confidence in thermometer accuracy verification, particularly
when an errant thermometer is used as an enforcement tool. There
is a better way to do this.
Here is the logic. The temperatures of most frequent concern to
the regulatory community are less than 41 °F and greater than
135 °F. Therefore, would it not be more prudent to do a two-point
validation or calibration than a single point at some approximate
temperature? Secondly, would it not make more sense comparing
the temperatures of the thermometers under test to some temperature
standard, rather than worry about the TDS of the water/ice mixture
and its freeze point conversion factor?
Begin with a “temperature standard” thermometer to
rapidly check working thermometers with a relative certainty of
being accurate. A “temperature standard” thermometer
is a liquid-in-glass general purpose laboratory thermometer, built
to NIST specifications. A convenient temperature range is 0–220
°F. You will also need two inexpensive, 16-ounce insulated,
To conduct the validation/calibration process, simply fill one
tumbler with cold tap water and the other with hot tap water;
immerse the liquid-in-glass thermometer in either tumbler along
with the probe of the electronic or mechanical thermometer to
be tested. Let both thermometers equilibrate…a few minutes
will do…and compare the temperature readings of the standard
thermometer against that of the thermometer being validated. Repeat
with the other tumbler. Record your results. It’s that simple,
fast and accurate.
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