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FoodHACCP Newsletter
05/25 2015 ISSUE:653

Why It Was Important for Texas Listeria Patient to Sue Blue Bell
Source :
By News Desk (May 25, 2015)
D. Philip Shockley was in such pain and physical distress that he collapsed inside his Houston area apartment, where he was later found unconscious by a co-worker who was concerned about his unexplained absence from work. The 32-year-old retirement center director had gone to the emergency room for care, but had been sent home with symptoms the doctors believed were due to a migraine headache. Instead, Mr. Shockley was suffering from Listeria meningitis with encephalitis and he remained unconscious for six days. He awoke in the intensive care unit of a local hospital, unable to walk, talk, swallow, see properly or move much of his body.
Kansas Listeria Lawyer for Blue Bell CaseNow living with permanent neurological damage and other threats to his health, Mr. Shockley’s federal Listeria lawsuit against the maker of Blue Bell ice cream highlights the tragic human cost of food poisoning. His disabilities required him to move back to his childhood home in Maryland to be cared for by his parents.
“Phil Shockley’s loss has been profound and has caused enormous life changes for Phil and his family,” said Brendan Flaherty, a lawyer from the national food safety law firm, Pritzker|Olsen Attorneys. “This is why we ask food companies to make safety the top priority. This is why food safety matters.”
The Pritzker|Olsen firm filed Mr. Shockley’s lawsuit on May 19 in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas (Austin Division).  Pregnant women and people living with suppressed or underdeveloped immune systems are the most susceptible to serious illness from exposure to Listeria monocytogenes bacteria and Mr. Shockley had been taking immunosuppressive medications to treat ulcerative colitis. “The drugs left him particularly vulnerable to food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes,” the lawsuit said.
The complaint summarizes the evidence linking Blue Bell ice cream to Listeria infections dating back several years. The outbreak investigation by state and federal agencies also uncovered manufacturing conditions at Blue Bell that fostered the spread of the bacteria to many different ice cream products. According to the lawsuit, FDA inspectors recorded 26 conditions constituting violations of federal law and posing significant risks to the safety of Blue Bell products. The FDA itemized an array of Blue Bell’s internal testing results showing extensive Listeria contamination from early 2013 to early 2015.
At the time of his illness, Phil Shockley was in a leadership position at a large, campus-style retirement community in Houston. Prior to becoming associate executive director of the facility, he graduated cum laude with degrees in Political Science and Information Systems from the University of Maryland, where he went on to obtain a Master’s Degree in Public Policy with a focus on aging.
The lawsuit states that while at work, Mr. Shockley regularly consumed single-serving Blue Bell ice cream. In addition, he consumed Blue Bell ice cream at home, purchased from retail stores. Since his long hospitalization, he has “endured grueling inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation.” Because of his severe neurological impairment, long hospitalizations and ongoing treatment, Mr. Shockley has been unable to work.

Memorial Day and Summer Holiday Food Safety Tips from the FDA
Source :
By Linda Larsen (May 25, 2015)
The FDA has released tips on eating safely this Memorial Day. Safe food handling when eating outdoors is important and can be tricky.
When you are transporting food for a picnic or potluck, make sure to keep cold food cold and hot food hot. Cold food should be stored at temperatures below 40°F to prevent bacterial growth. You can pack meat, poultry, and seafood while still frozen so they stay colder longer.
Organize cooler components. A plain picnic basket usually isn’t insulated enough to hold perishable foods. Use two coolers, with beverages in one and perishable foods in another. As people take out drinks, they won’t expose food to warm outdoor temperatures. Keep coolers closed too.
Keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood wrapped and separate from foods that will be eaten raw. Clean your produce before packing it too.
And make sure you have appropriate hand cleaning materials. Soap, water, and paper towels are best, but moist disposable towelettes will do.
For grilling, marinate meats safely. Thaw these foods in the fridge, not on the counter. Marinate foods in the fridge, never on the kitchen counter or outdoors.
Always cook meats completely after partial cooking. If you partially cook food to reduce grilling time, such as in the microwave or stovetop or slow cooker, do so immediately before the food is grilled.
Cook foods to safe final internal temperatures. You can see a safe food temperature chart at the FDA site. Keep grilled foods hot. Put it on the side of the girl rack, just away from the coals.
Never reuse platters or utensils that previously held raw meat, poultry, or seafood without thoroughly washing the platters and utensils. That will allow bacteria to cross-contaminate other foods and foods that have been cooked. Have a clean platter and utensils ready to take the food away from the grill.
And check for foreign objects in grilled food. Bristle brushes can leave bristles behind, which can get into the food and hurt someone when they bite into it.

What is a Recall of Food?
Source :
By Bill Marler (May 25, 2015)
We hear about them so often these days–recalls of all kinds of products, from foods, to medications, to kids toys–that “recall” has become a working concept in everybody’s vocabulary.  But what is a recall?  Who has the legal obligation to announce them?  And, what legal ramifications are there of being involved in one?
First, despite having recently the legal authority to actually recall products, the FDA seldom does.  FSIS (food safety arm of the USDA) does not have the authority.
The FDA defines three kinds of recall actions that can fairly be included under the same umbrella.  A “Class I recall” should occur in “a situation in which there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to a violative product will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”  (Note: “should” is italicized because sometimes food product manufacturers do not issue class I recall even when circumstances require it.)  Under this definition, a Class I recall should occur any time a food product is known or suspected to be contaminated with any foodborne pathogen, whether bacterial or viral.  The reason:  bacteria and viruses make people sick, and as a result, food contaminated by them will make people sick.
A “Class II recall” should occur in “a situation in which use of or exposure to a violative product may cause temporary or medically reversible adverse health consequences or where the probability of serious adverse health consequences is remote.”  This is a little less clear than the definition of a Class I recall, but I certainly believe that the consequences of foodborne disease are simply too extreme for food companies to play fast and loose under these definitions.
A “Class III recall” is defined as a situation in which use of or exposure to a violative product is not likely to cause adverse health consequences.
A Class I recall should occur every time a food manufacturer knows, or has reason to know; that a product it has produced is or may be contaminated with a foodborne pathogen.  Every time!
Finally, a “market withdrawal” occurs when a product has a minor violation that would not be subject to FDA legal action. The firm removes the product from the market or corrects the violation. For example, a product removed from the market due to tampering, without evidence of manufacturing or distribution problems, would be a market withdrawal.
A “market withdrawal” has no place in the world of food contamination.  Again, Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and Hepatitis A and every other foodborne pathogen are simply too dangerous for companies to try to avoid their obligations by calling what should be a recall a “market withdrawal”–something done purely to avoid the media ramifications of saying that you’re product has been recalled.  However, this has been done before under circumstances where a Class I recall was surely warranted.
So, who has the legal obligation to recall a food product when it is known or suspected to be contaminated with something that will make people sick?  The answer is that it is not the USDA for most meat, but not fish (except catfish). And, it is only the FDA until recently.  Nor, is it any other state or federal regulatory body.  The answer is that the company who produced the contaminated product is the only entity with the legal authority to recall a product.  The CDC can announce that the product has caused an outbreak (remember the Foster Farms Outbreak), but the company itself is the only entity that can truly and effectively act.
A recall is a firm’s action to remove product from commerce (e.g., by manufacturers, distributors, or importers) to protect the public from consuming adulterated or misbranded products. Although it is a firm’s decision to recall product, the FSIS and FDA coordinates with the firm to ensure it has properly identified and removed recalled product from commerce by verifying the effectiveness of the firm’s recall activities. FSIS and FDA also notify the public about product recalls.
Aside from lawsuits (which are an insufficient check, by themselves, on food safety because they are largely reactive rather than preventative) FSIS and FDA may issue public health alerts or perform product detentions and seizures, to mitigate the risk to the public when firms have inadequately removed recalled product from commerce. The Agency will investigate if it appears that a firm’s recall strategy or execution of that strategy is ineffective and, based on its findings, FSIS and FDA may seek enforcement action against the recalling firm or its consignees.
Finally, with regard to the legal ramifications of announcing a recall, again the real threat comes from the private sector.  Penalties and fines are not necessarily assessed simply because a recall happens.  Often, it is only private citizens who have been injured by the contaminated product that take legal action against a company that has recalled its product.


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Can Parents Help Solve E. coli Outbreak at Milk Makers Fest?
Source :
By Carla Gillespie (May 24, 2015)
Can parents of students who attended the Milk Makers Fest in Lynden, Washington help solve the E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 22 people? Health officials think so, according to a report in The Northern Light.
Health officials from the Whatcom County Health Department,  the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been working together to discover the source of the E.coli outbreak associated with the festival that took place April 21- 23 at he Northwest Washington Fairgrounds. More than 1,300 primary school children from all of the school districts in Whatcom County attended the event including: Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale,  Lynden, and Nooksack.
Contact an E coli LawyerParents of those children have been sent surveys with a map of the festival grounds showing the locations of the petting zoo, hay maze and a calf station. They’ve been asked to indicate which areas their children visited. Health officials are also calling parents on evenings and weekends to ask survey questions they hopw will determine a pattern for infected and uninfected children.
So far, there are 22 confirmed cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection. Ten people have been hospitalized. Of those hospitalized, four have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infections that causes kidney failure.

Safe summer meals
Source :
Four rules to follow when going on a picnic or camping.
Source :
By Beth Waitrovich, Michigan State University Extension (May 22, 2015)
Going camping or on a summer picnic soon? Cooking outdoors is a great way to feed your family while camping or on a picnic. Regardless of the cooking location, there are four food safety principles to keep in mind.
1.Chill all of your foods that need refrigeration to keep them safe. Keep the cooler filled with ice and store it in a location away from direct sunlight. Keep foods refrigerated until ready to use and don’t leave perishable foods out on the table
2.Separate raw meat, poultry or fish away from other foods, especially ready to eat foods like fresh fruits, vegetables, salads, etc. It’s best to store the raw, meat or fish in a separate cooler.
3.Cook all meats, poultry, fish or combination foods (such as vegetables mixed with meat) to the proper temperature. Steaks and roasts, and fish should be cooked to 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Pork and ground beef should be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken and other poultry should be cooked to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Be sure to pack a thermometer. The only way to know for sure about the internal temperature of a food is to use a clean, food thermometer.
4.Keep everything clean. Find a place to wash your hands with soap and water. Use disposable wipes if water is not available. Always wash your hands before and after handling raw poultry and before handling fresh produce. Michigan State University Extension recommends always using a clean cutting board and washing all surfaces used to prepare, cook and serve food. Remember to use a clean plate when removing cooked foods from the grill.
Be especially careful with raw poultry. According to the Fight BAC campaign, illnesses from Salmonella spike during the summer. The overwhelming majority of hospitalizations from Salmonellosis occur in children under age 5. Symptoms of Salmonellosis include: abdominal cramps and tenderness, fever, and diarrhea.
For more information on safe food and water visit
To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

Food safety tips for picnics
Source :
By Terri Milligan (May 21, 2105)
Memorial Day is a time to have fun with friends and family, but don't forget to keep food safety in the forefront. Here are a few tips for serving foods outdoors:
Keep foods out of direct sunlight
Although we are not yet in the dog days of summer, food sitting out in the sun can become unsafe quickly.
Play it safe and don't put out any food until you are ready to eat. Make sure your buffet area, if outside, is in the shade.
Cook meats and poultry to correct temperatures
A meat thermometer ensures that those hamburgers and chicken breasts are cooked to the recommended USDA temperatures.
No steak tartare for a Memorial Day picnic. USDA guidelines suggest hamburgers be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, chicken breasts to 165 degrees.
Ice it
Place serving dishes containing perishable foods, such as potato salad, in a large bowl of ice to help it stay cool.
No serving plate and tong mixing
Make sure those hamburgers and brats are placed on a clean platter after they are cooked. Never reuse the platter that was used to bring the uncooked food to the grill.
And watch your tongs. Clean tongs for chicken. Clean tongs for brats. Bacteria love to travel on those barbecue handlers.
Wash hands
It should go without saying, but you really can't wash your hands enough when working with food. For convenience, keep a container of hand sanitizer handy.
Don't forget leftovers
Though it might not happen, there may be leftovers. If so, remember the 2-2-4 rule.
Hot, perishable foods that sit out longer than two hours are considered unsafe to eat. The USDA recommends throwing out any such food. After that time, the food is in what is known as the danger zone, where bacteria may rapidly reproduce and contaminate it.
Two inches is the desired depth for storage containers. This allows hot food to cool quickly and evenly.
Four days is the amount of time refrigerated leftovers are safe to eat. Frozen items, wrapped properly, should be consumed within 2 months.

Fast Food Chain, Bulgarian Food Safety Agency Clash over Extortion Allegations
source :,+Bulgarian+Food+Safety+Agency+Clash+over+Extortion+Allegations
By (May 21, 2015)
Fast food chain Aladin Foods OOD has accused the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA) of extortion, while the Agency has insisted that the company fails to meet safety and hygiene standards. The founder of the company, Aladin Harfan, claimed that the Agency had requested a monthly bribe of EUR 10 000 to leave the company alone. After the payment had been refused, the Agency had conducted a series of checks at several of the company’s processing plants and the production process had been temporarily stopped, Harfan stated, as cited by the BGNES news agency. Harfan declared that the BFSA was a corrupt entity that was causing damage to the entire fast food sector in the country. He explained that the direct losses incurred during the production stoppage amounted to BGN 650 000, while the loss in terms of turnover stood at over 30%. Plamen Mollov, Chair of the BFSA, insisted that the accusations were manipulative. He presented photos showing spoilt meat at a processing plant of the company and suggested that the fast food chain was using seasonings and spices to disguise the low quality of the ingredients. Mollov said that a check conducted over the alleged bribe request had not identified anything problematic. The BFSA Chair insisted that Aladin Foods had been operating amid appalling hygienic conditions and a lack of a management and traceability system. He said that the Agency had made several inspections at the company’s processing plants and had issued protocols and recommendations, adding that follow-up checks had shown that they not been observed. Mollov claimed that the lack of traceability meant that it was not clear what raw material went into the end product and that this practice was most often deployed to evade VAT.

Think food safety when you cook outside
Source :
By Herb Weisbaum ( May 20, 2015 )
Barbecue season is here again – a good time for a few reminders about food safety.
You don't want to make your family or friends sick. Here are some of the basics:
Clean the grill and any utensils with hot soapy water.
Wash your hands: before and after touching any food.
Have one set of plates, utensils and cutting boards for raw foods and another set for cooked foods. You want to prevent cross-contamination – where bacteria from raw meat or fish or poultry get on food that won’t be cooked.
And have a meat thermometer. That's the only way to tell if the food is cooked to a safe temperature.
"It's really important to use a thermometer and get those temperatures up to where we know the bacteria have been killed,” said Kim Larson, a registered dietician who speaks for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Larson reminds us that there's no way to visually to know when the internal temperature is high enough to be safe. You can’t go by the color or texture of the meat or how the juices look. Those are not accurate. The only way is with a thermometer. A good digital one makes it real easy.
You want to cook all raw ground beef, pork, lamb, and veal to an internal temperature of 160 °F. Poultry should be at least 165 °F.

Food Safety Week: Public in South West warned to cook chicken properly
Source :
By Exeter Express and Echo (May 20, 2015)
People in the South West eat chicken an average of 109 times per year, according to a poll to mark Food Safety Week (the 18th-24th May).
Residents are most likely to be found tucking into a traditional chicken roast dinner at home, with Indian style chicken curry and Mexican style chicken fajitas making up the top three.
The poll by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) also found that amongst the region’s restaurants, the pub Sunday roast has made the top spot, favoured by 29% of people in the South West. For takeaways, Chinese chicken was the favourite, preferred by 39%.
Across the country, the traditional roast chicken dinner is the favourite chicken dish to cook or eat at home. However, international influences are playing a large part in our habits, with chicken curry favoured by over a third of diners (35%).
There’s just one problem – if mishandled or undercooked, eating chicken can lead to food poisoning, which makes an estimated 280,000 people ill every year. The results have been released by the FSA to mark Food Safety Week 2015, and the launch of the ‘Chicken Challenge’ – the aim to reduce campylobacter food poisoning by half by the end of 2015.
Nina Purcell, Director of the Food Standards Agency, said: “As a country, we love chicken and eat it more than any other meat. However, there's one thing we don't love about it - it can carry one of the biggest causes of food poisoning in the UK.
“Food Safety Week this year is bringing together the whole food chain – from farmers and supermarkets through to families – to make sure everyone does their bit to halve campylobacter by the end of this year. If it succeeds, it would mean 100,000 fewer people getting sick next year. Even if you think you’re doing everything right in the kitchen, take a moment to remind yourself of the ‘chicken rules’ to continue keeping your family safe - and spread the word, not the germs.”
The FSA is asking people to:
1. Bag and store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and chilled on the bottom shelf of the fridge
2. Don't wash raw chicken: it splashes germs
3. Wash everything that’s come in contact with raw chicken properly in soap and hot water, from your hands to chopping boards and any utensils.
4. Check it's cooked properly, with no pink meat, steaming hot all the way through, and that the juices run clear.

UK Launches Food Safety Week With Chicken Challenge
Source :
By News Desk (May 19, 2015) to new data from the Food Standards Agency (FSA), one-third of the U.K. population could contract food poisoning from Campylobacter over the course of their lifetime.
FSA released the figure — based on the current infection rates of approximately 280,000 people per year — to kick off its 2015 Food Safety Week and the launch of the Chicken Challenge.
Campylobacter is most frequently found on raw poultry and is the biggest cause of food poisoning in the U.K. Research has shown that reducing the numbers of the most highly contaminated birds would reduce the public health risk by about half.
The Chicken Challenge directs the entire food chain from industry to consumer to “do their bit to halve the number of campylobacter food poisoning cases by the end of 2015.”
Consumers should take the following steps to protect themselves and their families:
•Store raw chicken separately from other food, covered and on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
•Don’t wash raw chicken (it splashes pathogens around).
•Wash everything that’s touched raw chicken in soap and hot water, including hands and utensils.
•Make sure chicken is thoroughly cooked.
FSA is currently conducting a year-long survey of the levels of Campylobacter on fresh whole chilled retail chickens and the packaging.
Editor’s Note: FSA advised consumers to “check chicken is cooked properly until it’s steaming hot throughout with no pink meat and the juices run clear,” but visual indicators such as color, firmness, clear juices or shrinkage are not accurate indicators of doneness. Cooked chicken should reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F (or 74 degrees C).

WTO Rules Against U.S. on COOL. Again.
Soruce :
May 19, 2015 by Linda Larsen 1 Comment
The World Trade Organization has ruled against the United States appeal on an October 2014 ruling delcaring country-of-origin labeling (COOL) in violation of international trade law. U.S. lawmakers want to repeal the legislation.
The report issued May 18, 2015 is the fourth and final ruling on COOL. The legislation requires that all livestock from Mexico, Canada, and the United States is separated from birth and identified as to origin on the label. Canada and Mexico are against COOL, saying that it reduces the value of their exports. The ruling lets Canada and Mexico impose retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods this summer that could reach into the billions of dollars.
Supporters of COOL want to work with Congress to make changes with the legislation to bring it into compliance. Most consumers want the country-of-origin labeling on their products.

More Criminal Charges Levied Against Another US Food Manufacturer
Source :
By Bill Marler (May 19, 2015)
Are U.S. food manufacturers more at risk today of criminal charges – misdemeanor or felony – for shipping tainted products knowingly or not?
AP reports today that ConAgra Foods is likely to face a misdemeanor criminal charge now that the U.S. government has completed its investigation of the company’s 2007 Salmonella outbreak and peanut butter recall.
ConAgra recalled all its peanut butter in 2007 after its Peter Pan and Great Value peanut butter was linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 628 people in 47 states. The peanut butter was produced at ConAgra’s Sylvester, Georgia, plant.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Georgia, Pam Lightsey, said Tuesday that prosecutors plan to reveal details of the investigation Wednesday.
ConAgra spokeswoman Teresa Paulsen declined to comment Tuesday, but the company previously has said it was negotiating an end to the investigation that would likely include a misdemeanor charge of shipping tainted products.
At the time of ConAgra’s recall, it was unusual for peanut butter to be implicated in a disease outbreak. At the time of the recall, ConAgra officials blamed moisture in the production plant for helping Salmonella bacteria on the raw peanuts grow. The company said the roof leaked during a storm and the sprinkler system malfunctioned, which allowed the moisture in. The production plant was upgraded and ConAgra adopted new testing procedures.
If the Omaha, Nebraska, food-maker is charged criminally, the case would extend a recent string of high-profile food safety prosecutions.
•Earlier this year, two former Iowa egg industry executives were sentenced to three months in jail for misdemeanor criminal charges and fined $7,000,000 stemming from a 2010 Salmonella outbreak.
•Last year, two Colorado cantaloupe farmers were plead guilty to misdemeanor criminal charges and received five years probation in a deadly 2011 Listeria outbreak.
•Also, Last year the former owners and executives of Peanut Corporation of America were convicted of felony charges of knowingly shipping Salmonella-tainted peanut butter in a 2009 Salmonella outbreak.
It does raise the question about why these companies have been charged, but others not?

Nut Products Remain Prime Target for Food-Safety Recalls
Source :
By Robbie Whelan (May 19, 2015)
Contamination from listeria is drawing new attention but recalls over nuts are the largest ongoing concern in the food supply chain
Products made with nuts remain the biggest cause of food-related recalls even though a spate of outbreaks of the infectious bacteria listeria grabbed headlines in the food supply-chain industry over the past month.
The first-quarter Recall Index, produced by  Stericycle Expert Solutions, found that 19.4 million food units were recalled in the first three months of 2015, a 40% increase over the previous quarter, and a 162% increase over the quarterly average number of units recalled between 2012 and 2014.
Stericycle, a reverse-logistics firm that helps retailers and manufacturers manage recalls and dispose of tainted goods, attributed the surge in recalls to higher-than-average numbers of “undeclared allergens,” meaning trace elements of ingredients that consumers are commonly allergic to that went unreported on a product’s packaging. About 95 % of food recalls in the first quarter were the result of undeclared allergens and 91% were nut or peanut-related, the report said.
An ongoing recall of cumin products containing undeclared peanut products that began in December has affected 14 companies, 100 brands and 769 products in different packages, Stericycle found. The company said that illustrates a multiplier effect that plagues many supply chains, in which one recall event expands over time and affects multiple manufacturers, regulatory bodies and geographic locations. In the case of the cumin recall, multiple products including taco kits and Cajun seasoning packets sold at several major retailers, including  Target Corp.,  Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and  Whole Foods Market Inc. were removed from shelves.
The multiplier effect is compounded by the increasing interdependence and global reach of food supply chains, said Todd Harris, vice president of recalls for Stericycle.
“By and large, companies are going global, and globalization is affecting the supply chain,” Mr. Harris said. “If you don’t have a sense of who your suppliers are or a great understanding of what they’re providing, you’re going to have issues.”
In April, ice-cream maker Blue Bell Creameries LP pulled 8 million gallons of ice cream from stores in 23 states after three people died and many more were made ill by an outbreak of listeria, which causes and infection that is particularly harmful to people with weakened immune systems.
Mr. Harris said listeria contamination is often the result of unclean manufacturing or processing equipment or other sanitary issues. Listeria has been named as the cause of recalls of several other food products in recent months as well, including sliced apples, frozen spinach and bean sprouts.
The first-quarter Recall Index also found that automobile recalls, although down 35% from the fourth quarter of 2014, are still running at a higher pace than any quarter in 2012 or 2013, and there were 252 medical device recalls in the first quarter, a 15% increase over the previous quarter.

Those on the Lookout for Listeria are Finding It This Year
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By Dan Flynn (May 19, 2015)
More than two dozen food recalls so far this year due to contamination with deadly Listeria monocytogenes do not necessarily mark an increase, but they are involving a much broader range of foods and popular brands which the public has never before associated with the nasty pathogen.
And while Listeria-related recalls this year are numerous, only one of about 25 recalls to date is associated with an illness outbreak. Last year, there were four. But the one outbreak, linked to Blue Bell Creameries and involving 10 illnesses and three associated deaths, is another demonstration of Listeria’s high fatality rate.
The outbreak has rocked Texas-based Blue Bell, forcing it to recall all of its ice cream and related products from the market, shut down four manufacturing plants for deep cleaning, and lay off 1,450 full-time and part-time employees and furlough another 1,400 until ice cream production can resume.
Listeria is a bacteria found in soil and water and some animals, including poultry and cattle. Unlike most germs, Listeria can grow and thrive in cold temperatures. Once thought of as the “hot dog pathogen” for showing up in products such as cold cuts, this year’s recalls are showing that Listeria contamination now casts a much wider net.
Listeria this year is being discovered in all sorts of food manufacturing environments. It might be because more people are looking for it. Food manufacturers, state agriculture departments, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are among those who have discovered Listeria contamination this year, prompting the recalls.
Companies are finding it when they test their own food products and food-contact surfaces, and it’s being found by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigators and state officials taking samples. The old suspect list for Listeria contamination included deli meats and hot dogs, refrigerated pâtés or meat spreads, smoked seafood, and raw milk products including soft cheeses such as queso fresco, Feta, Brie and Camembert.
This year’s recalls are expanding that list in all directions. Everything from many of those pricey organic brands to ice cream served at the White House are dealing with Listeria contamination threats in 2015.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 1,600 people in the U.S. get sick from Listeria bacteria each year. It is the third-leading cause of death from food poisoning, but that does not really tell the whole story.
The 30-percent fatality rate experienced in the current outbreak is not unusual. A 2008 Listeria outbreak in Canada associated with Maple Leaf cold cuts had a 40-percent fatality rate, and the 2011 Listeria outbreak caused by Colorado cantaloupe nearly matched that.
With the incubation period (the time from exposure to onset of illnesses) running more than two months, it can be especially difficult to trace an illness back to the food responsible for it. At least 90 percent of those sickened by Listeria are either pregnant women, newborns, or people older than 65, along with those with weakened immune systems.
Ice cream is tops as an unexpected source of Listeria. But it’s not only Blue Bell with the problem. Seattle’s Full Tilt Ice Cream had to recall all of its dairy-based ice cream on Jan. 2 because of Listeria in the ice cream base made by Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream, which in turn had to recall nearly all of the previous year’s products. And Columbus, Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams recalled all its ice cream products on April 23 after Nebraska Department of Agriculture officials discovered Listeria contamination during sampling.
Consumer reaction is always strongest when a pathogen shows up in a favorite food that was previously thought of as “safe.” That’s been happening often as Listeria contamination is cutting an ever-wider circle. In March, a Bay Area Costco store recalled organic spinach dip, Amy’s Kitchen recalled 73,897 cases of its products — including such staples as vegetable lasagna, tofu scramble, and brown rice and vegetable bowls — and Wegmans recalled its organic frozen spinach — all due to Listeria contamination.
Old-fashioned Listeria contamination also occurred with Kenosha Beef International’s February recall of 21,427 pounds of ready-to-eat beefsteak patty products, the Rio Wholesale Meats March recall of 58,180 pounds of ready-to-eat beef products, and the Robber’s Roost Jerky April recall of four pounds of beef and pork jerky products. Of 80 USDA meat and poultry recalls that have occurred so far in 2015, only those three were for Listeria contamination.
Random sampling at retail locations by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development discovered Listeria contamination that led to the recall of 30,000 cases of Classic Hummus by Sabra Dipping Co.
Phoenix-based Inventure Foods Inc. found Listeria within its facility and recalled its Fresh Frozen line of frozen vegetables and Jamba “At Home” line of smoothie kits. And, in the case of Greystone Foods, peas, corn, and broccoli products sold under the Today’s Harvest brand were recalled after a supplier reported field beans with snaps had tested positive for Listeria.

Restaurant syndicate pushes food-safety compliance
Source :
By Ghinwa Obeid
The Syndicate of Restaurant Owners is mobilizing to provide Lebanon’s eateries with better information and training in order to improve food safety. A new initiative to improve food safety standards is now in progress across the country. On May 15, at the Mir Amin Palace in the Chouf, the syndicate presented a comprehensive plan to promote food safety, in collaboration with Boecker and GWR Food Safety.
Aref Saade, the syndicate’s treasurer, told The Daily Star that implementation of the plan has been in the works for some time. The group began planning the initiative a couple of years ago, but work was halted for a time.
But following a nationwide crackdown by Health Minister Wael Abu Faour last November, efforts to implement the program began anew.
“In Lebanon for the past 50-60 years there has not been legislation – we don’t have new things ... we are still using old legislation with regard to health and with regard to food. [But] there have been big developments and [there is more] pollution worldwide,” Saade said, adding that these days people are more likely to be exposed to viruses and bacteria.
The plan’s program focuses on three main things: food safety, insect and pest management, and customer service.
The initiative will help eateries recognize the authorities who deal with food safety, determine the difference between quality inspection and quality assurance, and learn how various products must be handled. The project also focuses on how to achieve excellent customer service, instructing employees on how to deal with clients.
This information has been published in manuals and information booklets, which are now being distributed to syndicate-affiliated restaurants, according to Saade.
The syndicate also hopes to attract new eateries to join, and has promised to keep members up to date on new developments in food safety and corresponding training.
Visiting and speaking with restaurant owners around the country, the syndicate is paving the way for another round of training courses that will be held in collaboration with the Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Saade called the current trips an “orientation session.”
“What’s happening is that we are explaining to owners and managers the benefits of being part of the program,” Saade said. Many restaurant owners have previously held little interest in training sessions, but this has changed as a result of the recent crackdown and the potential consequences to their business’ reputation that negative exposure can have.
Some of the health inspectors have received training abroad and have learned to evaluate establishments using high-level international standards. “The responsibility for restaurants is different than before – restaurants [want] to have competent employees that can work without causing problems,” Saade said.
Though food safety remains an issue, Saade downplayed concerns about bootleg alcohol, saying the issue was confined to poorer establishments. He stated that it doesn’t show up in prestigious clubs and pubs, but rather in low-class venues that lack reputable sponsors.
“No one goes into this issue [tainted alcohol], except low-profile places.”

Veal Recalled After Positive Test for E. Coli O157:H7
Source :
By News Desk (May 18, 2015)
Duvall, WA-based ZYK Enterprises Inc. has recalled 2,522 pounds of boneless veal trim and whole veal muscle cut products that may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), when reviewing records, discovered a positive test result for E. coli O157:H7 from May 15, 2015. No illnesses have yet been associated with the recall. following boneless veal trim and whole veal muscle cuts produced from Jan. 2-23, 2015, are subject to recall:
•60 lb. bulk boxes of boneless veal trim with a package produced date of Jan. 5, 2015.
•60 lb. bulk boxes of boneless veal trim with a package produced date of Jan. 20, 2015.
•Various size bulk boxes ranging from 22 to 63 lb. of boneless veal trim and whole muscle cuts with multiple package dates from Jan. 2-8 through Jan. 23, 2015.
The products subject to recall bear the establishment number “EST. 9325” inside the USDA mark of inspection on the boxes.
A subsequent review of test records indicated that the company failed to report positive tests on Jan. 6, 2015 and Jan. 20, 2015. Product from these lots was shipped for further processing to wholesale establishments in California, Massachusetts, and Washington state.
Consumers with questions regarding the recall can call Zeeshan Qazi at (425) 788-1128.
E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal cramps for several days after exposure the organism. While most people recover within a week, some develop a type of kidney failure called hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). This condition can occur among persons of any age but is most common in children younger than 5 and older adults. HUS is marked by easy bruising, pallor, and decreased urine output. Persons who experience these symptoms should seek emergency medical care immediately.
FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website at
FSIS advises all consumers to safely prepare their raw meat products, including fresh and frozen, and only consume meat that has been cooked to a temperature of 160 degrees F. The only way to confirm that meat is cooked to a temperature high enough to kill harmful bacteria is to use a food thermometer that measures internal temperature.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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