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FoodHACCP Newsletter
06/22 2015 ISSUE:657


Update: 14 Confirmed Cases of E. Coli Linked to South Carolina Daycare
Source :
By Cathy Siegner (June 19, 2015)
According to a June 17 update from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), there are 14 confirmed cases of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in Greenwood County.
DHEC stated that the cases involve individuals at The Learning Vine childcare facility in Greenwood, SC, and their family members.
“To date, eleven (11) of the samples from these confirmed cases have undergone complete strain identification and have a matching pattern,” the department stated, adding, “As of today, 262 test results are negative for STEC. The laboratory testing performed to screen for STEC has an accuracy rate of 99.7%.”
The three new laboratory-confirmed cases are people who either previously had symptoms of diarrheal illness or were asymptomatic, but who are all now symptom?free, DHEC noted.
“There is no evidence of ongoing transmission related to this investigation at this time, and there has been no new onset of illness in students or staff of the daycare since June 1, 2015,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, The Learning Vine reopened on Monday after an E. coli outbreak linked to the facility sickened 11 and killed one. Myles Mayfield, 2, who had attended the daycare, died May 31 from complications of E. coli infection.
The facility had voluntarily closed earlier this month but was cleared to resume business after fixing a dozen apparent health violations and having its employees and others associated with the daycare test negative for E. coli.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) identified the violations during a June 4 inspection of The Learning Vine. The problems cited included issues involving food safety/menu, sanitation, diaper changing, restrooms, and “improper medication practices.”
The Learning Vine issued a statement on Monday noting that the entire facility had been sanitized and that the source of E. coli bacteria was still unknown.
“At this time, we are informed that the source of any contamination and how it may have been brought into The Learning Vine has not been determined. We are hopeful that DHEC or the proper authorities are able to quickly isolate the cause or how the children got infected,” the statement read.
At a Saturday afternoon meeting, DHEC officials told parents that The Learning Vine had complied with all recommendations made during the investigation.
Some parents of children who attend the daycare wondered why they had not been notified last month when the first E. coli case was reported.
“It’s been portrayed this whole time that the Learning Vine dropped the ball and sanitation reasons or anything else, but it’s not,” Nicole Abney told a local TV station. “In the beginning when that first case happened DHEC should’ve taken proper steps to make sure anybody else did not get infected, and they didn’t.”
A DHEC official said that the first infected person did not show any symptoms for “up to 8 days” before the department investigated the situation.
Department officials said there has been no indication of ongoing illnesses related to this outbreak since June 1.
Staff from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been assisting with the ongoing investigation into what caused the outbreak.

Update: 18 Illnesses, 2 Deaths Reported During Ohio Salmonella Outbreak
Source :
By News Desk (June 16, 2015)
The Salmonella outbreak which has reportedly sickened 18 people at the Heritage Corner Health Campus in Bowling Green, Ohio, now includes two possibly related deaths.
According to a press release from the Wood County Health District, “Sadly, during the outbreak, we were notified that two residents who tested positive for salmonella had passed away. However, we cannot say whether this was related to the illness.”
The health district also stated that officials were “cautiously optimistic” that the outbreak is over since no new symptoms had been reported since June 10.
“Everyone who has developed symptoms since May 27th has been tested but not everyone who has been tested has been positive and some test results are still pending. The normal incubation period for salmonella is 12-72 hours. With more than 6 days passing since the last new report of symptoms, the outbreak may be at its end,” the statement reads.
The health district and the Ohio Department of Health have been investigating the outbreak since June 9. Illnesses began on May 24, health officials said, and they first learned of confirmed cases in center residents on May 27.
Health investigators said they were interviewing patients who had been sickened about the types of foods they may have eaten and any other possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria that may have occurred in the week before they became ill.
Officials have also been interviewing staff and have inspected Heritage Corner’s kitchen and other facilities.
“Since learning of the outbreak, the health district has taken several steps to both try to identify the cause and prevent more cases. Sanitarians and an Ohio Department of Health Food Safety Specialist inspected the kitchen and spoke with the kitchen manager about food preparation practices and food sources. No major problems were identified,” noted the press release.
Meanwhile, the health department has advised Heritage Corner to close common areas, including the dining room, and thoroughly clean and sanitize the facility, as well as reinforce hand-washing procedures.
The health department has suggested Heritage Corner serve meals in take-out containers that can be taken to residents’ rooms.
The campus offers facilities for independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing care and rehabilitation, memory care, and hospice care, among other services.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), anyone can get a Salmonella infection; however, older adults, infants, and people with impaired immune systems are at increased risk for serious illness. In these people, a relatively small number of Salmonella bacteria can cause severe illness.

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Researchers Going Up Against the Khapra Beetle as a Food Safety Concern
Source :
By News Desk (June 20, 2015)
Khapra beetle larvae can destroy a significant proportion of unprotected grain stores due to their “dirty eating” behavior, e.g., their feeding habit where the beetle eats only a little of a single grain before moving on to others.
The khapra beetle is difficult to control and can survive nearly anywhere they are protected from cold temperatures. This insect, which prefers low-moisture foods, is smaller than a grain of rice (three millimeters or less than an eighth-of-an-inch long).
Khapra beetle contamination in food products presents a food safety concern as the hairs associated with larvae and cast skins are potential allergen and respiratory hazards, particularly for young children. The threat was driven home in 1953 when khapra beetles were discovered in California, resulting in a 13-year, $15-million eradication effort.
This invasive insect species poses a considerable threat to U.S. agriculture and natural resources — making it imperative that khapra beetles are detected and their introduction throughout global trade pathways prevented.
To address the khapra beetle issue, scientists at the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center are helping the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health Inspection Service’s Plant Protection Quarantine find an easier and more effective way to inspect bulk food supplies for khapra beetles.
In a project funded by the DHS S&T Seedling Program, Edgewood researchers, in partnership with iSense LLC, are studying the use of colorimetric sensor arrays, or CSAs, to detect this invasive species in shipping containers.
These inexpensive, disposable sensors, manufactured by iSense, are approximately one square inch in size (about the size of a postage stamp) and spotted with 73 dyes which change color in response to various vapors coming in contact with the CSAs from the sample.
Samples are not identified by any single spot color change, but instead by the combination of color changes across multiple spots forming a “fingerprint” that can be used to identify compounds found in a sample.
Edgewood researchers envision a solution where an inexpensive, disposable reader could be placed within a crate before shipment and then later queried by a smart phone to allow inspectors at the port of destination to assess food security and quality without ever having to open the container.
So far, researchers have been able to distinguish between the warehouse beetle-infested and non-infested grain based on the response of the CSAs to the VOCs (volatile organic compounds) present in the headspace above the grain.
The group expects to complete its first round of testing by this fall.

Raw Poultry: How Safe Is Safe Enough?
Source :
By John A. Marcy, Ph.D.
Continuum: A continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct.[1]
I am approaching the end of my career, and I am very aware that I was the last graduate student of my major professor at the end of a long academic career that started with his own graduate research characterizing microbiological changes in packaged meat in the early 1950s, when I was born. Generations of scientists have made their careers working on this issue, and it absolutely fits the definition of a “continuum;” you may not be able to see differences year to year, but the chicken of today is nothing like the “Chicken of Tomorrow” of 1951 (I recommend that you read the article referenced below):
“On a sunny June day in 1951, 8,000 chicken fans filled the Razorback Stadium at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville in the culmination of a nationwide effort to create the fowl of the future. As a band played and the crowd cheered, the U.S. vice president Alben Barkley handed a California farmer named Charles Vantress a $5,000 cheque for his winning entry.”[2]
Today’s poultry is much more efficient in terms of genetics than anything previously seen, and a chicken in 2050, when there may be approximately 35 percent more people looking for wholesome and nutritious food, will be significantly different from today’s; it will absolutely need to be. And I hope it will be safer in addition to wholesome and nutritious, but this is where relativity may play a factor. If you think of this term in physics, relativity refers to how things like speed, sound and light appear differently depending on the factor being observed “relative” to the observer. Or this definition:
Relativity: The absence of standards of absolute and universal application,[3] which refers to no clear agreement of good or bad. How is “safety” defined for raw poultry? The concept of safety is relative to the individual. Purchasers of all food, including meat and poultry, expect the product to taste good and meet all quality expectations—without instilling fear of becoming ill; no one purchases food thinking, “I want to eat this, but it might make me or my family sick.” However, because there are billions of servings of any food per day, probability says some people will experience a foodborne illness related to poultry or other foods of animal origin. And it may have nothing to do with the poultry or meat except the food is a vector from the food handler to the consumer. Science tells us that any raw food of animal origin has some level of inherent risk. In other words, it can be either safe or unsafe depending on how it is handled prior to consumption. Pathogens such as Salmonella and Campylobacter are not adulterants of raw meat and poultry; they can be considered as naturally occurring or inherent at some level. This was exactly what Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in 2013 said when explaining why the CDPH was not asking Foster Farms to recall chicken following a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) public health alert:
“Chicken is a raw animal protein that is expected to have some level of naturally occurring bacteria present. Cooking chicken fully to 165 degrees Fahrenheit will kill the bacteria that are present. Provided that consumers do not cross-contaminate fully cooked chicken with raw chicken juices, it is safe to consume,” said Chapman.[4]
Will 2015 Be Different?
The year 2015 is shaping up to be possibly different in this continuum with several new aspects of food safety affecting poultry that began to be put into place in late 2014 and continues through 2015. We may see a noticeable difference in a relatively short time, but it also may depend on what we are watching to tell us of change.
First is the modernization of poultry slaughter inspection with implementation of the New Poultry Inspection System, or NPIS, in October 2014. As establishments express their desire to be governed under NPIS rules, FSIS is evaluating and ranking establishments into “clusters” to be scheduled for implementation based upon agency resources. All establishments had until February 23, 2015, to communicate to FSIS their intent to operate under NPIS. Establishments that did not choose NPIS by this date will continue under their current inspection system, with the notable exception of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP)-Based Inspection Models Project, or HIMP, broiler plants. These broiler plants either chose to go to NPIS with a waiver for the higher line speeds established under HIMP or will revert to the appropriate inspection system other than NPIS.
HIMP was introduced in 1997 and became the model for modernizing poultry inspection. HIMP established the concept of having company sorters on the evisceration lines identify and eliminate those defects, primarily quality related, that were handled by FSIS line inspection personnel previous to HIMP and now NPIS. In NPIS, each carcass is still inspected by a federal carcass inspector for wholesomeness as well as by an off-line verification inspector conducting verification tasks and sample collections important to public health tasking. However, the two to four FSIS line inspectors currently in traditional poultry plants are replaced by establishment personnel to sort, trim and take care of any reprocessing necessary prior to inspection by the single online FSIS carcass inspector. FSIS clearly states that HIMP plants demonstrated that establishment sorters were able to perform the online function comparably to federal online inspection personnel. With removal of the ability to have higher line speeds with NPIS, the government has also removed one of the incentives for choosing NPIS over traditional inspection. As is the case with most things, the line-speed provisions, as well as changing responsibilities on the processing line with the modernization of inspection, are not without controversy.
HIMP Brings Change
One of the major changes that occurred with HIMP was the ability to increase line speeds. Maximum line speeds in poultry plants were historically set by agreement with the bargaining unit of FSIS for how many birds the online inspector was to look at per minute. HIMP took those inspectors from the line, and the plants could run faster as long as they could demonstrate control of the evisceration process based on multiple criteria. In 2011, FSIS reported calendar year 2010-calculated average line speeds of 131 birds per minute for the HIMP plants with a line limit of 180 birds per minute, and 115 birds per minute for the non-HIMP plants with line speeds limited to 140 birds per minute.[5] All indications at the time of the first discussions of the Modernization of Poultry Inspection initiative were that the higher HIMP line speeds would become the standard and that conversion to the new system would not be voluntary.
As NPIS emerged from the Office of Management and Budget, only the current HIMP broiler plants will be able to transition to NPIS with their current line-speed maximums by also requesting a line-speed waiver. The years already spent with plants at a higher speed have not generated conclusive data on assessing whether the speed of the processing line is a benefit or a detriment to the consumer. The NPIS rule for turkeys is at the same line speed as HIMP, so a line-speed waiver is not necessary for turkeys.
The other variable to be measured would be the public health effect of the off-line verification inspector position and changes in tasking with NPIS. The final rule gives several tables of estimates of cost savings based on fewer people becoming ill from Salmonella and Campylobacter from poultry as a result of the improved regulatory oversight under NPIS over a 5-year phase-in period with varying levels of industry participation. Some of these estimates are substantial, but all are based on a change in illness rates attributable to poultry because of improved inspection.
Private Sector Initiatives
In addition to the changes made by USDA, there is a private-sector poultry safety initiative that was announced in December 2014 by Walmart/Sam’s Club in Bentonville, AR.[6] This initiative establishes new requirements and expectations that are broader than what is contained in the Modernization of Poultry Inspection because it establishes the expectations of the wholesale buyer for the farm-level operations of the poultry integrators that are not covered in FSIS regulations. The program also specifies standards of process control separate from USDA’s; processors must demonstrate a 4-log reduction in Salmonella from pre-scald to postchill and implement further interventions to achieve an additional 1-log reduction in Salmonella on parts.7 Unlike FSIS, the Walmart standard is not based on percentage positive for Salmonella, but on reducing quantity of Salmonella. Walmart is also not specifying standards relative to Campylobacter but may achieve some collateral benefit by Salmonella reduction. This is in addition to the current and continuing requirement that all suppliers meet Global Food Safety Initiative-approved third-party audit requirements.
One reason the Walmart poultry initiative came out in 2014 may have been due to partnering with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to implement reductions in Salmonella. In a 2013 document, CDC talked about success in reducing Escherichia coli O157:H[7], and Walmart’s beef initiative in 2010 may have been a part of that success. Their goal and the title of the infographic is “Targeting Salmonella – A stubborn foodborne infection.”[8] Walmart may have also felt the time was right for a different approach to Salmonella control. To Walmart’s credit, some parts of the poultry industry were involved and informed as the Walmart poultry initiative was developed and were not surprised by the 2014 announcement.
However, some people familiar with the poultry industry look at that same CDC graph of human salmonellosis (Figure 1[9]) and ask, “Since the industry is doing better with Salmonella reduction, why is the human illness line so flat over a 14-year period?”
Human campylobacteriosis over that same period dropped fairly rapidly from just under 25 illnesses per 100,000 population in 1997–1999 with the implementation of “zero tolerance” and HACCP/pathogen reduction, and at a much lower rate of decline into 2003, where it has been very stable ever since, just above the Healthy People 2010 target of 12.4 illnesses per 100,000 population. It continues to run in the upper 13 to lower 14 per 100,000 population range, even though the Healthy People 2020 target was reduced to 8.5 illnesses per 100,000 population. The very fact of this stability calls into question the supposed benefits of off-line inspection that will somehow dramatically cut those numbers of illnesses.
Many, but not all, of the Walmart requirements were already in place or would be as a result of the Modernization of Poultry Inspection. One of the unique requirements is for poultry companies to vaccinate parent flocks against Salmonella serotypes known to be associated with human illness if found at the farm. This is in addition to encouraging and expecting their poultry suppliers to support changes in the National Poultry Improvement Program (NPIP), which also may be expanded to include serotypes of human health concern in addition to the poultry health program of today. Part of my concern with this approach revolves around unintended consequences. There is evidence that when the NPIP and other programs were so successful in eliminating the poultry-specific species of Salmonella pullorum and S. gallinarum, that a human pathogen, Salmonella Enteritidis, filled that void. When Israel reduced infections caused by Salmonella Enteritidis and Typhimurium from poultry, it experienced an increase in infections caused by a pathogenic strain of S. infantis in poultry.[10] With the multitude of Salmonella species and CDC compiling a list of the top 30 strains of human importance each year, what happens when you eliminate one over another? If it works, great, but only time will tell.
Timely Testing
Another interesting endeavor has been taking shape since the 2011 ground turkey recall conducted by Cargill. Immediately after the recall, FSIS wanted to prevent the outbreak strain from being in the product, and there was a second small recall soon after the ground turkey operation started back into production simply because the outbreak strain was detected, although there were no illnesses. Much of the attention at the time was on gauging how many samples of ground turkey were positive, a qualitative test. Cargill and other companies were also interested in knowing what the level of Salmonella was in a positive sample, a quantitative test. At that time, the only way to do that was by doing nine Salmonella tests using most-probable-number methodology. A result in 8 hours, using a cost-effective and reliable method of quantification and also compatible with Cargill’s needs, did not exist. Cargill worked with other companies and advisors to look at developing the concept of testing on a “semiquantitative” basis using PCR and transcription-mediated amplification technologies to determine if it could use “detection time” as a means of making risk-management decisions.[11] I recently got to hear a presentation from Cargill on how this is progressing within its system, and it is working on a peer-reviewed publication with its development partners. Cargill is comfortable with its approach of diverting product that may have a higher quantitative level of Salmonella to cooked product only and keeping it out of raw product retail distribution. Keep in mind, this is a raw product that would be acceptable on any regulatory basis, but the company is making its own decisions based on a human health-risk basis.
There is also increased attention to sanitary dressing/process control with the regulatory changes made with NPIS. The new regulations no longer mandate testing for E. coli biotype I, but do stipulate that broiler plants will test at a frequency based on volume and will test at both prechill and postchill locations. The establishments must develop and implement written procedures to prevent contamination by enteric pathogens and fecal contamination throughout slaughter and evisceration. They are also required to include microbial sampling to monitor their ability to maintain process control.
Which comes first—the chicken or the contamination? This is actually easy—they are linked as part of being an animal. Part of the terminology of “preventing contamination by enteric pathogens and fecal contamination throughout slaughter and evisceration” doesn’t make sense to me because the enteric pathogens and fecal matter are part of their life on the farm and are present on many if not all of the animals as they come to the processing plant. The slaughter and evisceration functions do have steps and processes that reduce that level of pathogenic microbes, but no process in the slaughter and evisceration will eliminate that to a safe-to-eat level; only through proper handling and cooking will foods of animal origin be safe. The 4-log Salmonella reduction in evisceration as required by Walmart is presumably predicated on the concept that contamination is already present and the goal is to get Salmonella to a lower and acceptable level that will equate to fewer foodborne illnesses in people. If it also works for Campylobacter, that will help as well.
I am hopeful that all of these programs signal change that will bring about a constructive dialogue on the issue of how safe is safe enough. I am also curious to know whether the Walmart initiative will change food safety to a competitive business issue. I always expect that the continuum will improve, but I don’t expect dramatic or maybe even noticeable changes in human salmonellosis rates anytime soon. I am also hopeful that I am wrong.

Survey: Staff Cuts Still Plague State and Local Food Safety Agencies
Source :
By News Desk (June 18, 2015)
If you thought the nation’s slow economic recovery would be enough to reverse job losses at state and local health districts overseeing food safety, you would be wrong.
In a beefed-up version of its annual survey, the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) found that state and local health districts cut 3,400 jobs during 2014. While that’s the smallest cut since staff reductions began in 2008, it’s no indication of recovery.
It brings the total job losses at state and local health districts since the Great Recession to 51,700, according to NACCHO. Both layoffs and attrition are included in the numbers.
“Ongoing budget cuts and resulting staff layoffs are jeopardizing the safety of the food we eat, the water we drink, and the ability of the community to be prepared and respond to disasters and public health emergencies,” NACCHO’s survey report states.
Other experts have said that staff reductions in state and local health districts are resulting in everything from fewer restaurant inspections to reduced surveillance to help identify outbreaks of foodborne disease.
In its latest “Forces of Change” survey, NACCHO built its national data on completed survey results from 690 state and local health districts. It did not independently verify the data.
Jurisdiction over health districts is widely mixed across the United States, with some controlled only by local governments, some by regional agencies, some with a local-state mix, and some run entirely by state governments.
Among the NACCHO survey findings is that health department budgets are not keeping up with the economic recovery. Last year, in addition to losing 2,100 employees due to normal attrition such as retirements and resignations, state and local health districts still sent layoff notices to 1,300 people.
The NACCHO data also show that 61 percent of the big city health districts (those with populations of more than 500,000) and 41 percent of the mid-sized districts (50,000 to 500,000 population) made staff cuts in 2014. And 26 percent of the small health departments (those serving 50,000 or fewer people) also cut employees last year.

Did Cross-Contamination Play Role in Boise Co-Op Salmonella Outbreak?
Source :
BCarla Gillespie (June 18, 2015)
Did cross-contamination play a role in the Boise Co-Op Salmonella outbreak? Health authorities investigating the outbreak which has sickened 200 people say it likely played a role.
About 200 people who ate food prepared in the deli between June 1 and June 10 have fallen ill with symptoms of Salmonella poisoning including nausea, diarrhea and headache. Health officials say they continue to receive new reports of illness. They encourage anyone who ate food from the deli and has had Salmonella symptoms to see a health care provider. So far, foods identified as a sources of illness include turkey, tomato and onions.
Officials from the Central District Health Department are working with Co-Op management on a redesign of the kitchen and workflow that will reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Some of those changes include adding sinks, increasing food safety training for employees and using color-coded cutting boards to prevent cross-contamination.
Restaurants and delis have a track record of cross-contamination problems with poultry, according to a study published in the Journal of Food Protection. Researchers found that many restaurants don’t follow the FDA Food Code guidance about cross-contamination prevention and that managers and staff lack basic food safety knowledge about poultry.
Forty percent of managers said they “never, rarely, or only sometimes designate certain cutting boards for raw meat.” One-third of managers said they did not wash and rinse surfaces before sanitizing them. More than half of managers didn’t know the safe final internal temperature of cooked chicken. And more than half of the managers rinsed or washed raw chicken, which creates cross-contamination in the food preparation area.
Once the changes are made to the kitchen and the deli passes inspection, the Boise Co-Op can receive approval from the health department to reopen.

Proposed Trade Deal Prompts Concern Over Imported Shrimp
Source :
By James Andrews (June 18, 2015)
Members of the U.S. shrimp industry are voicing concerns that elements of a major trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could weaken the ability of regulators to reject unsafe seafood imports.
The concern arises as more shrimp imports from Southeast Asia are testing positive for banned antibiotics and foodborne pathogens.
More than 90 percent of the shrimp consumed in the U.S. is imported from overseas, and yet in 2014 the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only inspected 3.7 percent of shrimp imports and tested 0.7 percent.
Moreover, U.S. shrimpers say they’re worried that new trade deals will open the borders to more shrimp farmed with trade-illegal subsidies, giving those growers an unfair market advantage, said David Veal, executive director of Wild American Shrimp.
“We recognize that international trade is essential for this country,” Veal said. “What we’re concerned about is that exporting countries to the U.S. follow the same set of production rules, processing rules, and export rules that American producers follow.”
The rules on the books are good, Veal said, but he’s not convinced that FDA has the power to enforce those rules, given the agency’s limited capacity for inspections at the border.
Shrimp producers outside of the U.S. are currently not subject to some of the same regulations as domestic growers. Most notably, some shrimp products from places such as Vietnam and Malaysia have tested positive for antibiotics, which are not allowed in U.S. shrimping operations.
In a recent study from Consumer Reports, 11 out of 342 imported shrimp samples tested positive for antibiotics, while 16 percent of cooked, ready-to-eat samples tested positive for at least one foodborne pathogen, such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Vibrio.
“These trade rules could significantly weaken food safety standards,” Veal said.
But not everyone in the seafood industry agrees.
“The suggestion by anti-trade voices that imported shrimp poses a food safety risk is part of a protectionist-driven, fake food safety scare,” said Gavin Gibbons, vice president of communications for the National Fisheries Institute.
According to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, imported seafood accounts for 0.12 percent of yearly illnesses in the U.S., Gibbons said.
Additionally, all seafood imports are subject to FDA’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, he said.
When it comes to the new trade deals, however, Veal said members of the shrimp industry aren’t the only one biting their nails.
“I think you’ll find a lot of American industry shares our sentiments, especially other areas of the food industry,” Veal said. “We recognize the need for trade, but we don’t want to give the rest of the world carte blanche permission to do whatever they want to do to the food they send here.”

CDC Foundation’s New Business Pulse Issue Focuses on Food Safety
Source :
By News Desk (June 18, 2015)
The focus of the latest issue of CDC Foundation’s Business Pulse web series is food safety.
Business Pulse: Food Safety, published Wednesday, describes how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fights foodborne diseases to protect American consumers and businesses from contaminated foods.
It includes an interactive infographic, a list of links to CDC’s food safety resources, and a Q&A with Robert Tauxe, deputy director of the agency’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases.
Each year, 1 in 6 Americans is sickened by foodborne diseases, and 3,000 die as a result of unsafe food. Foodborne illness is estimated to cost the United States more than $15.5 billion annually.
The infographic includes important points to share with employees and advice for employees who are dining out, bringing lunch from home, eating at a company cafeteria, planning a company potluck or traveling overseas.
“Foodborne diseases are challenging for America’s employers—from rising healthcare costs associated with treating foodborne illnesses to lost worker productivity,” the infographic reads.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association reports that grocery-producing companies that have recalled a product in the past five years experienced an estimated financial impact of $10 million to $30 million per recall.
In his Q&A, Tauxe adds that “incorporating food safety into worker health programs in any company can help prevent employees and their family members from getting sick and missing work or school. What each of us do and say about food safety matters.”
Tauxe also describes the creation of CDC’s national laboratory network called PulseNet and the development of whole-genome sequencing.
Business Pulse, which focuses on a different topic each quarter, is managed by the CDC Foundation, a nonprofit entity established by Congress that forges partnerships between CDC and the private sector to support the agency’s work fighting threats to health and safety.

Wood County Health District Declares Heritage Corner Salmonella Outbreak Over
Source :
By Bruce Clark (June 18, 2015)
On May 27th the Wood County Health District learned of positive salmonella test results in residents of Heritage Corner Assisted Living facility. We immediately notified the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and began working with the facility to initiate infection control measures and attempt to identify the source of the infection. We also were in contact with a Food Safety Specialist with the ODH Food Safety Program. In addition ODH’s Division of Quality Assurance worked closely with the facility to monitor infection control practices. As of today, there have been 18 positive cases but no new cases of symptoms have been reported since June 10th. Sadly, during the outbreak, we were notified that two residents who tested positive for salmonella had passed away. However, we cannot say whether this was related to the illness.
“Our hearts go out to the residents, employees and their families affected by this outbreak,” states Health Commissioner Ben Batey. “We truly appreciate all of the cooperation from the residents who have participated in the investigation during this difficult time in their lives.”
Everyone who has developed symptoms since May 27th has been tested but not everyone who has been tested has been positive and some test results are still pending. The normal incubation period for salmonella is 12-72 hours. With more than 6 days passing since the last new report of symptoms, the outbreak may be at its end.
According to Amy Jones, Director of Nursing, “Although we are still awaiting some test results, with the knowledge that there have been no new reports of symptoms, we are cautiously optimistic that the outbreak is done.”
Since learning of the outbreak, the health district has taken several steps to both try to identify the cause and prevent more cases. Sanitarians and an Ohio Department of Health Food Safety Specialist inspected the kitchen and spoke with the kitchen manager about food preparation practices and food sources. No major problems were identified.
The Health District and ODH recommended closing of common areas such as dining and activity rooms until the reports of new symptoms ceased. In addition the facility was encouraged to sanitize these areas and make hand sanitizer readily available throughout. The common areas were opened over the weekend after passing the 72 hour mark of the last report of new symptoms.
Several health district employees were in the facility last week and this week to provide information to residents and ask questions about food and activities in the last few weeks. The hope in these interviews is to try to identify an item or event that separates those that got sick and those that didn’t. “
Unfortunately, in many outbreaks we never find out the initial cause,” said Connor Rittwage, Epidemiologist. “There can be so many variables when you’re talking about what people eat and do over the potential exposure period, that it can be difficult to identify one single common link.”
But that doesn’t stop the Health District from trying. Information from interviews of the residents is still being analyzed and will take weeks to complete.
Batey states, “Even in these sorts of outbreaks where we may never know the exact cause, we aim to provide guidance and oversight to help quickly reduce the spread of the disease to others and their families. We remain committed to fully investigating all disease outbreaks in Wood County so that any insights found can be shared with individuals and facilities for future prevention measures.”
Background Information
• Salmonella is an enteric bacterium, which means that it lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. Salmonella bacteria are usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with human or animal feces.
• Salmonella bacteria are often found in food, water, and on animals. Salmonellosis is typically a food-borne illness acquired from contaminated raw poultry, eggs, and unpasteurized milk and cheese products. Although poultry and eggs are primary culprits, Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods including ground meat, fruits, and vegetables—even processed foods such as frozen pot pies. Contaminated foods usually look and smell normal.
• Other sources of exposure include contact with infected animals/pets, especially turtles, iguanas, other reptiles, chicks, cattle and poultry.
• An infected food handler who neglects to wash his or her hands with soap and warm water after using the bathroom may also contaminate food.
• Most persons infected with salmonella develop symptoms including nausea, diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps; they typically start 12 to 72 hours after exposure.
• There is no real cure for Salmonella infection, except treatment of the symptoms. Persons with severe diarrhea may require rehydration, often with intravenous fluids.
• The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most persons recover without treatment. However, in some persons, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
• Most people recover on their own; still, anyone with symptoms like these should see a health care provider right away.
• Persons with diarrhea usually recover completely, although it may be several months before their bowel habits are entirely normal.
• Although anyone can get a Salmonella infection, older adults, infants, and people with impaired immune systems are at increased risk for serious illness. In these people, a relatively small number of Salmonella bacteria can cause severe illness.

India's food safety panel chief wants sweeping reforms
Source :
By Pritha Chatterjee (June 17, 2015)
India’s food safety apparatus needs sweeping reforms to ensure that its norms are on par with international standards, including an accreditation system that not only screens labs but also its personnel on a regular basis, according to the head of a key panel of India’s national food safety authority.
”It is time we wake up and work on a science-based approach and move forward rapidly,” Dr V Prakash, who chairs the scientific panel of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on nutritional foods and dietary supplements, told The Indian Express.
“If we have periodical evaluation in aviation for pilots, why not for analysts who test our food?” asked the former director of the Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI).
“If the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) sets guidelines, all airports and flights have to follow them — it should be the same for food analysis laboratories,” he added. Dr Prakash’s call for an overhaul comes after the FSSAI sought the recall of Nestle’s Maggi Noodles in the country following lab tests that showed unsafe levels of lead in some samples. On June 10, The Indian Express reported that some products from top brands such as Tata Starbucks, Kellogg’s and Venky’s figured on a list of around 500 rejected items that the FSSAI had handed over to state-level officials. Tata Starbucks on Monday said it was pulling out the ingredients on that list from its outlets. Dr Prakash has also called for more scientists to be involved in the regulatory system, as is the case in other countries such as the US. ?”The system should be run by scientists with bureaucratic support and not the other way round,” he said. ”The top regulatory body FSSAI does not have many scientists on its permanent staff. Where are the scientists in our food regulation system and what is the role of the few that are there? Ideally, scientists should be involved in monitoring at every stage, including sampling protocols, setting standards, and testing and simulation,” the senior scientist said. Seeking an overhaul of state and central labs, Dr Prakash said reforms should cover testing standards, training of analysts, infrastructure, role of scientists in regulation, and the frequency of monitoring. “India should not dilute the standards because many of our laboratories may not have advanced facilities for scientific analysis. We should be at par with international standards such as Codex,” said Dr Prakash, who headed the committee that standardised testing standards at the micro-level (parts per billion) for packaged water in 2008. With no set standards in India for testing many types of food, including instant noodles and processed cheese items, Dr Prakash said: “Standards for different kind of pathogens, including chemicals, microbial toxins, heavy metals, residues of pesticides and herbicides and fungicides, need to be set, keeping in view the average daily intake of food. These standards have to be modified from time to time with the food chain in view. Non packaged foods and fresh foods… must be put on regular surveillance to bring hygiene in the food chain.” Dr Prakash also called for state and central labs to be upgraded. “Analytical laboratories should not suffer because they are under states, and because the Centre has more money. The state labs are short of analytical personnel and ill-equipped to perform to capacity as compared to private labs which are approved by FSSAI with the condition that they need to be accredited by NABL (the national accreditation authority for labs),” he said. Dr Prakash said there was also a pressing need for the NABL system to have a separate slot for food testing laboratories instead of them being clubbed under chemical laboratories. ”The testing for chemicals and for food is completely different. The matrices are different, the recoveries are different and extraction procedures are different. For instance, if you are testing for arsenic in soil and food, the analytical method could be same but the preparation of the sample for analysis can be completely different for soil and food,” he said.

Boise Co-op Salmonella Outbreak Hits 100
Source :
By Bill Marler (June 17, 2015)
Salmonella Outbreak Information:
The Central District Health Department (CDHD) is investigating a salmonella outbreak associated with the Boise Co-op deli – specifically food purchased from the deli after June 1, 2015.
As of June 16, 2015, 100 cases of Salmonella are associated with this outbreak. Preliminary test results showed Salmonella growth in raw turkey, tomatoes and onion. However, additional laboratory tests are pending.
Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause diarrheal illness in humans. They are microscopic living creatures that pass from the feces of people or animals to other people or other animals. There are many different kinds of Salmonella bacteria.
Salmonella serotype Typhimurium and Salmonella serotype Enteritidis are the most common in the United States.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill,ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.


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We are so proud that more than 400 attendees successfully finished Basic and Advanced HACCP Trainings through FoodHACCP. All attendees received a HACCP certificate which fulfills all USDA/FSIS and FDA regulatory requirements for HACCP Training


FDA Orders Manufacturers to Omit Trans Fats Within 3 Years
Source :
By Linda Larsen (June 16, 2015)
Today, the FDA finalized its determination that trans fats, made from partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), are not “generally recognized as safe” or GRAS, for use in human food. Food manufacturers will have three years to remove this ingredient from products.
FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff said in a statement, “the FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fats demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans. This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
Since 2006, food manufacturers have been required to include trans fat content information on nutrition labels on all food products. But manufacturers could put “0 grams trans fat” on the label if the product contained less than 0.5 mg of trans fat per serving. The problem? Most people eat more than one “serving” of many foods, which means they easily consume more than 0.5 mg of trans fats a day.
Still, industry reformulation of foods and the information on labels let consumers reduce trans fat consumption 78% between 2003 and 2012. The Institute of Medicine recommends that “consumption of trans fat be as low as possible while consuming a nutritionally-adequate diet.”
The three year compliance period will give companies time to reformulate products or petition the FDA to permit specific uses of partially hydrogenated oils. After the compliance period has ended, no partially hydrogenated oils can be added to human food unless approved by the FDA.

FDA Finalizes Decision to Ban Artificial Trans Fat
Source :
By News Desk (June 16, 2015)
Trans-Fat_406x250The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has finalized its determination that partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs), the primary dietary source of artificial trans fat in processed foods, are not “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food.
The move, based on “a thorough review of the scientific evidence,” essentially bans artificial trans fat from the food supply. Companies can still seek food additive approval for one or more specific uses of PHOs with data demonstrating a reasonable certainty of no harm from the proposed uses.
PHOs can no longer be added to foods after June 18, 2018, unless they are otherwise approved by FDA. The three-year compliance period is meant to allow food manufacturers to either reformulate products without PHOs or petition the FDA to permit specific uses.
“The FDA’s action on this major source of artificial trans fat demonstrates the agency’s commitment to the heart health of all Americans,” said FDA’s Acting Commissioner Stephen Ostroff, M.D. “This action is expected to reduce coronary heart disease and prevent thousands of fatal heart attacks every year.”
Consumption of trans fat can increase the risk of coronary heart disease by raising low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, commonly referred to as “bad cholesterol,” and the Institute of Medicine has concluded that there is no safe level of consumption of trans fat.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, removing PHOs from processed foods could prevent up to 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 coronary deaths each year.
“PHOs or partially hydrogenated oils have been used as ingredients since the 1950s to improve the shelf-life of processed foods,” wrote Susan Mayne, the director of FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in an agency blog post. “In this case, it has become clear that what’s good for extending shelf-life is not equally good for extending human life.”
On Nov. 8, 2013, FDA announced a tentative determination that PHOs are no longer GRAS under any condition of use in human food and therefore are food additives. At the time, the agency requested additional data and scientific information and asked for comments on several questions.
The public was originally given until Jan. 7, 2014, to comment on the notice. However, in response to several requests, FDA extended the comment period to March 8, 2014.
The agency received more than 6,000 comments in response to the notice, including more than 4,500 form letters. The submissions came from individuals, industry and trade associations, consumer and advocacy groups, health professional groups, and state or local governments.
FDA encourages consumers seeking to reduce trans fat intake to check the Nutrition Facts label for trans fat. The most effective way to avoid PHOs is to check the ingredient list for partially hydrogenated oils because, even if trans fat is listed as having “0” grams, they could still contain less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving.

Raw Turkey Link in Boise Co-op Deli Salmonella Outbreak
Source :
By Drew Falkenstein (June 16, 2015)
According to the Boise Co-op Facebook page, the Central District Health Department (CDHD) informed the Co-op on June 15th that their lab results confirmed the presence of Salmonella in several foods from the Deli.
Upon receiving this new information, the Co-op voluntarily closed the Deli and disposed of all foods prepared therein. As an added precaution, any foods purchased from the Deli after June 1, 2015 should be discarded.
According to the CDHD, foods that were found to be contaminated include tomatoes, onions, and raw turkey. These were foods coming out of the Deli, not our Produce department. According to CDHD, the Salmonella contamination of the raw produce was a result of possible cross-contamination in our Deli department.
As of June 15, at least 60 people are stool culture confirmed as suffering from Salmonella.  There are as many as 40 other cases pending.
CDHD Public Information Officer Christine Myron said Tuesday that the department has 60 confirmed cases of Salmonella, but anticipate in all that 75 to 100 cases will be reported to CDHD. The reports are even coming from out of state, because Myron said the Boise Airport sells Boise Co-Op deli products at airport terminal kiosks.
Salmonella: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella 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 Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

China Observes Food Safety Publicity Week
Source :
By Staff (June 15, 2015)
China Observes Food Safety Publicity Week
China is currently recognizing Food Safety Publicity Week--a nationwide campaign aimed at “rebuilding public confidence in food safety”. China’s Food Safety Publicity Week has been observed annually since 2011.
China’s vice premier Wang Yang says, “China is a big country of food production and consumption. Violations of food safety law are still rampant in the current stage. The newly revised food safety law is the starting point of our actions. We should ensure the food safety of our people with the most rigorous standards, the most stringent regulation, heaviest penalties for offenders and the most serious accountability system.”
In April, China’s Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress voted to amend the country’s Food Safety Law which will go into effect on October 1. The amendment is said to enforce China’s toughest laws on food safety to date, aimed at enforcing stricter punishments for violations as well as more stringent rules and regulations regarding infant formula.
China has experienced a number of food safety scandals over the years, ultimately losing the confidence of consumers both domestically and internationally. These new food safety efforts are part of China’s attempt to improve an already poor food safety reputation that has included the distribution and sale of contaminated meat and infant formula--the latter of which caused six infant deaths in 2008. China’s food safety scandals have involved major brands such as McDonald’s and Walmart.

The Prevalence of Foodborne Illness
Source :
By James Andrews (June 15, 2015)
Days ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its most recent yearly summary of foodborne illness outbreaks in the United States. The summary covered the year 2013, and it found that 818 foodborne outbreaks were reported in the country during that year — a number consistent with the 800 to 850 outbreaks reported for each of the previous four years.
But the number of reported foodborne outbreaks has significantly declined over the past 10 to 15 years. In 2000, CDC received reports of 1,417 outbreaks, as well as another 1,243 in 2001 and 1,330 in 2002.
At first glance, the drop in outbreak reports might suggest a decline in the prevalence of foodborne illness over the years. But while the data show that the prevalence of some foodborne pathogens is declining, the drop in reported outbreaks has less to do with improved food safety and more to do with the actual logistics of reporting.
New information on the reporting of foodborne illness outbreaks indicates that the decline in reports is in part due to changes with how some outbreaks are reported, and — more alarmingly — a decline in funding for outbreak investigations at the state level.
CDC estimates that foodborne illness sickens about 48 million people in the U.S. each year, resulting in 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths. Some 30 percent of the population — young children, the elderly, and pregnant women and their expected children — are especially susceptible to foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and Listeria.
The vast majority of those illnesses go unreported simply because so many factors must come together for the reporting to occur. The ill person needs to consult with a healthcare provider, who then needs to test a stool sample for the right pathogen, and then the infection needs to be reported to the local health department.
But you need at least two illnesses to make an outbreak. That’s why health investigators monitor for illnesses that connect and form outbreaks.
From there, they can work to warn the public, assure recalls occur, and monitor for additional illnesses. But before they can report on these outbreaks and work to stop them, they need resources such as staffing, infrastructure and funding.
A new report from the consumer group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) suggests that the decline in reported outbreaks may be partially due to state-level funding cuts for public health.
Not only are fewer outbreaks being reported, fewer are being solved. CSPI found that 41 percent of reported outbreaks were solved in 2003, compared to only 29 percent by 2012.
The ability of states and county health departments to detect and investigate outbreaks appears to be at least partly tied to budgets, according to CSPI. (A sudden drop in outbreak reports after 2009 was also attributed to a change in reporting that allowed for norovirus outbreaks to be attributed to more than just food.)
Since 2005, the National Association of County & City Health Officials has seen up to an 18-percent decline in the number of environmental health specialists whose primary responsibilities include preventing foodborne illness. In 2011 alone, 10 percent of local health departments reduced or eliminated their food safety programs.
These cuts have come despite health departments already lacking sufficient funds to meet recommended resources and staffing levels, according to the association.
As a result, neighboring states are reporting hugely different rates of foodborne illness, seemingly as a result of their budgets for public health investigations into foodborne illness. When adjusted for population, Florida reported fives times as many outbreaks as neighboring Alabama, and Maryland reported four times as many outbreaks as West Virginia.
The resources and priorities of state and local health departments really do have an impact on how many outbreaks get reported, said Dr. Robert Tauxe, deputy director for the Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases at CDC.
“One of the most outbreak-ridden states seems to be Minnesota, but that’s not because Minnesota is having more dangerous outbreaks than other states,” Tauxe told Food Safety News. “It means they make food outbreaks a priority and they’re investigating more of them.”
It might be even more difficult for states to investigate outbreaks if not for support from federal CDC programs such as FoodNet and PulseNet, said Caroline Smith Dewaal, the former director of food safety at CSPI who just joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as the agency’s international food policy manager.
“The state officials I talked to said that it’s essential for the CDC to continue to fund these programs,” Dewaal said.
“If they didn’t have CDC money, their results would be even worse that what we’ve documented,” she added, referring to the CSPI’s report on the decline in outbreak reporting.
CDC’s FoodNet and PulseNet programs, among others, aid state and local health departments in outbreak investigations. CDC wants those health departments detecting more outbreaks and detecting them faster, Tauxe said.
The support from CDC helps identify gaps in the nation’s food safety system, said Nils Fischer, a food safety research associate at CSPI.
The prevalence of foodborne illness has led to an estimated $15 billion in annual healthcare costs for Americans, and our best defense is outbreak surveillance, Fischer said.
In the meantime, outbreaks are occurring through food vehicles never before associated with foodborne pathogens, Tauxe added. Food contaminated with Listeria, such as caramel apples and ice cream, have been connected to illnesses and deaths in Americans for the first time this year.
A key part of the strategy to detect and report these outbreaks will be new technologies. Already, some public health laboratories are field-testing a technology known as whole-genome sequencing to more accurately identify pathogens that sicken people — and therefore more easily identify outbreaks.
Some food companies are even adopting whole-genome sequencing for testing their own products or internally investigating contaminations that appear in their facilities. At the same time, other companies are adopting newer technologies to prevent illnesses, including devices with sensors that continually transmit data to the Internet to monitor for temperature abuse and other food safety red flags.
Tauxe said that in the next five years, new technologies should be significantly improving the detection and reporting of outbreaks, along with allowing food companies to more easily prevent problems at their facilities.
Everyone in the food safety system — from the food companies to the government regulators and public health investigators — wants a landscape with a lower prevalence of foodborne illness, Tauxe said. New technologies are going to help bridge that gap.
“The goal is to find food safety problems we would not otherwise have a way of knowing about,” Tauxe said.

Jeni’s Ice Cream Finds Listeria in Ohio Facility
Source :
By Linda Larsen (June 15, 2015)
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams recalled all of their products last month after Listeria monocytogenes bacteria was found in the ice cream made in their Nebraska plant. More than 265 tons of ice cream was destroyed.  They shut down production and cleaned the facility, then reopened.
But testing found more of the pathogenic bacteria in the Columbus,Ohio kitchen. Routine swabbing discovered the problem. Production has been halted again as the company investigates.
All of their ice cream is now subject to test-and-hold before it enters into commerce. The company is temporarily closing its scoop shops because they don’t have enough ice cream.
FDA inspectors looked at the Ohio facility eight times in April and found cleanliness problems and inadequate pathogen controls. The report states that employees were careless with food safety procedures, putting aprons and chef coats on the floor and overfilling containers. Dust and dirt were found on hoods above mixing kettles, and plastic was protruding from grates near the prep mix tables.
No illnesses have been linked to the problems with Jeni’s ice cream, unlike the Listeria monocytogenes outbreak linked to Blue Bell Creameries. The Blue Bell outbreak has sickened at least 10 people and killed three; it was declared over by the CDC last week.

Delhi wakes up to food safety: Capital's food department asks AAP government for better labs and more manpower 
Source :
By Astha Saxena (June 14, 2015)
Delhi's food safety department has submitted a comprehensive proposal to the AAP government to improve the condition of its existing laboratory and increase manpower.
This comes exactly a week after Mail Today reported that there is an acute shortage of food safety officers and chemists in the department.
Since the Maggi controversy hit the country, testing standards at food safety laboratories have been under the scanner.
The move is timely as Mail Today reported on June 14 that not just Maggi, but also other brands of noodles have also failed the quality test.
The new test report by the food department has revealed that out of 12 samples of other noodle brands, eight have failed the quality test.
The samples collected were from brands like Top Ramen, Tops, Ching’s and Foodles. The department has now prepared a list of equipment it needs, apart from more manpower, to upgrade the existing laboratory. The plan has been submitted to the government last week.
“We have prepared a proposal to improve the existing facilities in our laboratory where tests are being carried out. We are waiting for the government to respond to our proposal. The cost of the equipment will be around Rs 4 crore, but that should not be a problem. There is no budget constraint,” KK Jindal, commissioner, department of food and safety, Delhi government, told Mail Today.
According to the officials, there are three wings of a food testing laboratory – the chemical wing, the microbiology wing and a lab for testing of heavy metals and pesticides. So far, Delhi has only one wing - chemical - where food samples are tested.
“We have asked the government to look into the proposal and see if we can build the remaining wings of the laboratory. The laboratory needs to be upgraded so that tests can be performed faster and results are more accurate,” added Jindal.
Sources at the Delhi government confirmed the development.
“The government is planning to make the laboratory at par with international standards,” a senior government official told Mail Today.
The Food and Drug department of Delhi carries out surprise inspections and raids of food establishments and draws samples of food articles that can be potentially adulterated, substandard or misbranded.
On June 7, Mail Today reported about the shortage of food inspectors and food analysts in the department. About 60 per cent of food inspector posts and 70 per cent of food analyst posts have been lying vacant for more than a year now.
There are 32 sanctioned posts of food safety officers, of which 20 posts have been lying vacant for more than a year. Similarly, out of 10 sanctioned posts for chemists (food analysts), seven are lying  vacant.
The food safety officer assists the designated officer in all matters related to field inspections including lifting of samples and instituting prosecution proceedings in a court of law in the defaulting cases.
“The posts for food safety officers and chemists are filled through Delhi Subordinate Service Selection board. We have informed them about the vacancy in our department. But the process takes time,” said Jindal.
There are 11 districts in the national capital, for which there are 12 food safety officers. Apart from conducting regular inspections, these food officers are deployed for VIP duty and daily court cases.
The food department of Delhi government has so far collected 21 samples of other brands of the snack. Not only the noodles, but many other popular packaged snacks — including various brands of chips and Kurkure — are also under the scanner of the authorities.
The department plans to test these food items over the next eight weeks. The Delhi government on June 2 had banned the sale of Maggi in the national capital for 15 days, a move taken after 75 per cent of the samples lifted for lab testing failed the quality test.


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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