Food Safety News: Call for Op-eds and Subscribers
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-resources/food-safety-news-call-for-op-eds-and-subscribers/#.VacRt9gViHt
By Bill Marler (July 12, 2015)
Food Safety News does not take a vacation, nor does it take time off to attend this or that summer conference. But people do, so this is a time of opportunity for you. We’d like to invite you to try your hand as one of our contributing opinion-editorial writers.
If you choose to accept our invitation, you could be joining some of the best-known food safety people in government, industry and academia whom we count among our contributors.
We have been the go-to publication for sharing ideas with the food safety world, and we’ve run editorials from high-profile players in the food industry, insightful academics, and leaders at FDA, USDA and CDC, alongside everyday people, with something to say about food safety.
At most times of the year, if you submit an op-ed to Food Safety News, it is a good bet there is a line ahead of you. For the rest of the summer, there is not likely to be much waiting since those who are usually in line seem to have scattered for vacations and conferences.
We don’t pay our contributing writers because then we could not call them “contributing” writers. But we can’t help noticing that our contributing writers are often the same people getting the big job offers and opportunities for exotic foreign travel.
We don’t want to oversell ourselves, but there are advantages to becoming known.
Becoming a Food Safety News contributing writer is not difficult, but there are few things you should know.
You should have something to say about food safety. This is important because we are called Food Safety News. We are sure your grandma’s sugar cookie recipes were great, but unless she poisoned people with them and then learned some lessons you want to share, it won’t be a fit.
In other words, you want to have a food safety angle and your topic should interest our large, broad audience. Somewhere around a half-million people check in on Food Safety News every month.
With a submission, first-time contributors also need to submit a photo, a short biography, and links for their author’s file at Food Safety News. This is the area shown after someone clicks on your byline. Links to websites, email, and twitter accounts are most common.
Food Safety News does not impose any minimum or maximum word counts on contributing writers. However, most probably fall in the 600- to 1,200-word range.
Either Managing Editor Cathy Siegner or I are available if you want to run your idea past us before you start writing. Or, if you’ve already written something, just turn it in to Cathy (I tend to lose things).
Either of us would be happy to take any questions you have. Think of how accomplished you’ll feel sharing your thoughts with a few hundred thousand of your associates in food safety rather than just sitting on a beach somewhere!
Promote food safety at retail: UK may do it to control Campylobacter
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/07/promote-food-safety-at-retail-uk-may-do-it-to-control-campylobacter/
By Doug Powell (July 12, 2015)
The UK Food Standards Agency is to ramp up its campaign against shops that continue to sell a high proportion of chickens with Campylobacter, admitting that “much further work needs to be done.”
The bug makes 280,000 people ill each year, with 20,000 admitted to hospital.
Under proposals to be discussed this week, shoppers could be told to avoid certain supermarkets if they continue to sell high numbers of infected chickens in an explicit bid to change consumers’ “purchasing habits.”
The highly unusual intervention is likely to provoke legal challenges from retailers if it is forced through.
Officials will also consider whether the law should be changed to make it illegal to sell highly-contaminated poultry. Shops that fail to meet new requirements might be told to cook or freeze the infected chickens to kill the bacteria before the birds go on sale.
In a document outlining the proposals, Steve Wearne, director of policy at the FSA said: “The indications are that the prevalence of campylobacter in chickens is beginning to come down.
Cyclospora Sickens 151 in Texas this Year – Mr. Brown Speaks Out
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/cyclospora-sickens-151-in-texas-the-year/#.VaxU4HnlqUl
By Andy Weisbecker (July 11, 2015)
A recent surge in reports of illnesses due to the parasite Cyclospora has prompted DSHS to investigate the infections in hopes of determining a common source. DSHS has received reports of 151 Cyclosporiasis cases from around Texas this year.
Cyclosporiasis is an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite. The major symptom is watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Additional symptoms may include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever. People who think they may have a Cyclospora infection should contact their health care provider.
DSHS recommends thoroughly washing fresh produce, but that may not entirely eliminate the risk because Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off. Cooking will kill the parasite.
Last year, Texas had 200 cases, some of which were associated with cilantro from the Puebla region in Mexico.
An Austin man claims he and five of his friends came down with Cyclospora after eating at the same Austin restaurant in May.
“The one thing we had in common on all of our plates was this cilantro, tomato, onion and pico de gallo garnish,” said Charles Brown.
Brown is one of the 151 people across Texas who have been sickened by Cyclospora, 63 of those cases in Travis County.
He felt fine until nearly a week after dinner with friends. That’s when he says he thought he was getting the flu. Both Brown and his husband were exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
A doctor diagnosed him with the flu, but Brown’s symptoms kept getting worse.
“I thought, ‘This isn’t right, I’ve got to go to the hospital,'” Brown said. “It felt like someone was literally punching me in my gut: explosive diarrhea, loss of appetite, low-grade fever and stomach cramps.”
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Chicks with Salmonella Sicken 181 in 40 States
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/chicks-with-salmonella-sicken-181/#.VaxVFHnlqUl
By Drew Falkenstein (July 11, 2015)
CDC is collaborating with public health, veterinary, and agriculture officials in many states and with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) to investigate four multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections linked to contact with live poultry.
Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of these outbreaks. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA “fingerprinting” is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using a technique called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE. PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. A total of nine DNA fingerprints (outbreak strains) are included in these four outbreak investigations.
In the four outbreaks, a total of 181 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella have been reported from 40 states as of June 29, 2015. The number of ill people identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (17), Arizona (3), Arkansas (4), California (3), Colorado (2), Delaware (2), Georgia (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (2), Maine (2), Maryland (4), Massachusetts (1), Michigan (3), Minnesota (6), Mississippi (13), Missouri (1), Montana (3), Nevada (2), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (2), New York (6), North Carolina (3), Ohio (15), Oklahoma (1), Oregon (5), Pennsylvania (12), South Carolina (10), South Dakota (2), Tennessee (6), Texas (5), Utah (4), Vermont (2), Virginia (11), Washington (6), West Virginia (2), Wisconsin (1), and Wyoming (4).
These outbreaks can be illustrated with a chart showing the number of people who became ill each day. This chart is called an epidemic curve or epi curve. Illnesses that occurred after June 1, 2015, might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about contact with animals and foods consumed during the week before becoming ill; 82 (86%) of the 95 ill people interviewed reported contact with live poultry (e.g., chicks, chickens, ducks, ducklings) before becoming ill. Sixty-four ill people who had purchase records available reported purchasing live baby poultry from 17 different feed supply stores and hatcheries in multiple states. Ill people reported purchasing live poultry for backyard flocks to produce eggs or meat, or to keep as pets. Many ill people in these outbreaks reported bringing the live poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry. These behaviors increase a person’s risk of a Salmonella infection.
Preliminary findings of multiple traceback investigations of live baby poultry from homes of ill people have identified multiple hatcheries as the source of chicks and ducklings. These investigations are ongoing.
The National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) is a U.S. public health surveillance system that tracks antibiotic resistance in foodborne and other enteric bacteria found in people, raw meat and poultry, and food-producing animals. NARMS is a partnership among the CDC, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and state and local health departments.
The NARMS human surveillance program at CDC monitors antibiotic resistance in Salmonella and other bacteria isolated from clinical specimens submitted to NARMS by public health laboratories. CDC’s NARMS laboratory conducted antibiotic resistance testing on clinical isolates collected from seven ill people infected with one of the outbreak strains; all seven isolates were susceptible to all antibiotics tested on the NARMS panel. CDC’s NARMS laboratory continues to conduct antibiotic resistance testing on additional clinical isolates collected from ill persons infected with the outbreak strains. Results will be reported when they become available.
FDA Cracks Down on Frozen Beef Tripe Patties with Listeria
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-recall/fda-crack-down-on-frozen-beef-tripe-patties-with-listeria/#.VacR-tgViHt
By Bruce Clark (July 11, 2015)
Carnivore Meat Company, LLC is recalling select products and lots of Carnivore Vital Essentials pet foods because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Healthy cats and dogs rarely become sick from Listeria monocytogenes. In humans, however, Listeria is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
If an animal becomes ill with Listeria, it will display symptoms similar to the ones listed above for humans. People with concerns about whether their pet has Listeria should contact their veterinarian.
The lots involved in this voluntary recall are: Vital Essentials Frozen Beef Tripe Patties, UPC 33211 00809, Lot # 10930, Best by date 20160210 Vital Essentials Frozen Beef Tripe Nibblets, UPC 33211 00904, Lot # 10719, Best by date 12022015
The “Best By” date code and lot # is located on the back of the package. The affected product was distributed in WA, CA, TX, GA, IL, CO, NM, FL, PA, RI, OH and VT.
This voluntary recall has been issued because the FDA has reported an independent lab detected the bacteria in samples during a recent review. The company has received no reports of human illness as a result of these products.
Here’s What to Do if You Purchased a Recalled Food
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/heres-what-to-do-if-you-purchased-a-recalled-food/
by Linda Larsen (July 11, 2015)
If you’ve purchased a recalled food, the USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline has tips on what to do. First, remember that food recalls are very specific. The recalled items are identified with sell-by dates, UPC numbers, package sizes, and product names and brands. You may have purchased a similar product, but not the one recalled.
Identify the reason for the recall. Those reasons could include bacterial contamination, foreign objects, undeclared allergens, or improper labeling. Read the recall notice carefully, noting all details.
If the reason is for an undeclared allergen and no one in your family is allergic to that ingredient, there’s no reason for worry. If a product is being recalled for foreign materials and you didn’t find anything in the product, don’t worry.
But if the product is for bacterial contamination and you ate it, you should monitor yourself for the symptoms of the illness that bacteria caused for the next few days, weeks, or months. Salmonella, E. coli, and Campylobacter usually cause illness within a few days, but food poisoning caused by Listeria monocytogenes can not appear for 70 days.
If you do get sick, see your doctor and tell her you ate this recalled product. She will order stool samples to see if the bacteria is in your system. If you are sick, and the bacteria matches bacteria in the product, your illness will be reported.
If you have the recalled product, return it to the store. It will be returned to the manufacturer or destroyed.
Cyclospora Sickens 151 in Texas
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/cyclospora-sickens-151-in-texas/
By Carla Gillespie (July 10, 2015)
A Cyclospora outbreak in Texas has grown to include 151 people. Most of the illnesses have been reported within the last month and almost half of them have occurred in Travis County, which includes the city Austin.
Cyclosporiasis, an intestinal illness caused by consuming food or water contaminated with the Cyclospora parasite, causes watery diarrhea lasting a few days to a few months. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, fatigue, weight loss, abdominal cramps, bloating, increased gas, nausea, vomiting and a low fever. Health officials urge anyone with these symptoms should contact their health care provider.
Cyclospora is a parasite normally found in tropical or sub-tropical areas. Food can become contaminated with Cyclospora through unsanitary conditions at any point on its journey from farm to table.
Nationwide, only 150 cases of cyclosporiasis are typically reported each year. But there have been other outbreaks in recent years. In 2013 and 2014, cilantro imported from Mexico was linked to outbreaks in Texas. Many who became ill ate restaurant foods that contained the contaminated ingredient. Another outbreak in 2013 was linked to bagged salad served at restaurants in Nebraska and Iowa. Other outbreaks have been linked to f raspberries, snow peas, basil, and mesclun.
Cyclospora can be difficult to wash off, but washing produce under cold running water and then drying it is one of the best ways to reduce contamination from parasites and bacteria. Cooking will kill the parasite.
Which Stores Sold Antioch Farms Chicken Linked to Salmonella Outbreak?
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/which-stores-sold-antioch-farms-chicken-linked-to-salmonella-outbreak/
By Carla Gillespie (July 10, 2015)
A Salmonella outbreak linked to Antioch Farms frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu has sickened at least three people in Minnesota and may include illnesses in other states. Although epidemiological evidence has identified the product as the source of the outbreak, the company has not issued a recall. The only information consumers have been given regarding the product is that the packaging is marked with the code P-1358.
But information from a recent outbreak linked to another Antioch Farms product may provide some answers. In October 2014, Antioch Farms frozen Chicken Kiev was linked to a Salmonella outbreak that sickened six people in Minnesota. A recall was issued for that product and a list of stores where it was sold was posted on the website of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS).
Some retailers that sold Antioch Farms Chicken Kiev also sell Antioch Farms Chicken Cordon Bleu including Albertsons, Giant Eagle, Kowalski’s, Shaw’s and others. Consumers who have purchased frozen, Chicken Cordon Bleu recently and shop at these stores should check the packaging for the code P-1358.
Anyone who has purchased and eaten this product and developed symptoms of a Salmonella infection including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours of exposure. In some cases, where the infection travels from the intestinal tract to the bloodstream, infections can be life-threatening.
Human Food Safety Not Likely Threatened By Costly Avian Flu
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/07/human-food-safety-not-likely-threatened-by-costly-avian-flu-outbreak/#.VacSwdgViHt
By Dan Flynn (July 10, 2015)
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5 epidemic spread to domestic poultry by migratory birds may have burned out without getting anywhere near the human food supply, which was said to be an extremely low possibility in the first place.
No new detections of avian flu have occurred since June 17. Up until then, 223 detection reports by USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories led to the destruction of more than 48 million birds.
The disease was spread by wild birds along the Mississippi, Pacific, and Central flyways. Iowa and Minnesota domestic producers were the hardest hit, with 180 of the 223 detections since last December found in those two states.
No human cases of the HPAI H5 viruses have been detected in the United States, Canada, or internationally, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to view the risk to most people of HPAI H5 infections as “generally low.”
In addition to commercial poultry and backyard flocks, wild birds in four states, including captive falcons, gyrfalcons, and horned owls, were found to be infected with the HPAI H5 virus. In addition to Iowa and Minnesota, where the epidemic was concentrated, the virus was also detected in domestic flocks in 13 other states in the West and Midwest.
Earlier this week, Congress gave the poultry industry an opportunity to complain about USDA’s response to the worst avian flu outbreak in history. Still sore over the need to kill 48 million chickens and turkeys, some said that USDA moved too slowly in ending the outbreak.
Brad Moline, testifying on behalf of the National Turkey Federation, told the Senate Agriculture Committee that “unclear communication contributed to the spread of this disease.” Moline lost 56,000 turkeys on his Iowa farm.
Iowa egg producer Jim Dean, chairman of United Egg Producers, was a little easier in grading USDA, saying that no response is ever perfect.
USDA has mounted a $500-million counter-offensive against the outbreak, with 3,400 staffers and contractors on the job in the impacted states. Work on a vaccine is underway. John Clifford, USDA’s chief veterinary officer, says the agency’s response is based on previous experience with other animal disease outbreaks.
The hotter, longer days of summer may wear the epidemic out this summer, which will leave everyone waiting to see if it returns in the fall.
In the meantime, eggs may be more expensive at the grocery store because production is down, but they remain safe to eat. Properly cooking eggs eliminates viruses and bacteria, including avian influenza.
“The chance of infected poultry entering the food chain is extremely low,” according to USDA’s background report on food safety and avian influenza. “As part of the USDA highly pathogenic avian influenza response plan, infected birds to do not enter the food supply.”
All poultry for human consumption is supposed to be inspected for signs of disease before and after slaughter, and USDA meat inspectors are assigned to every poultry plant.
FSIS: Beef Safety Measures Seem To Be Working
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/07/fsis-beef-safety-measures-are-working/#.VacS9dgViHt
By James Andrews (July 9, 2015)
After testing for Salmonella and E. coli on a variety of beef carcasses at slaughter plants, federal food safety authorities are saying that slaughter plant beef safety measures seem to be working well.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released its data from the first six months of surveys meant to determine a baseline load of Salmonella and E. coli on beef and veal carcasses.
For all varieties of pathogens tested, the rate of contamination dramatically fell after the animal and been slaughtered and bacterial kill-step interventions had taken place.
For Salmonella, FSIS found 25.49 percent of beef carcasses contaminated with the bacteria before interventions. Afterward, contamination rates dropped to 3.92 percent.
E. coli O157:H7 has long been the target of beef producers eager to limit its rates, which likely explains why it was found on only 1.6 percent of carcasses before interventions. After interventions, that number dropped to 1.07 percent.
Non-O157 E. coli strains have more recently become a target for beef producers, following the USDA’s decision in 2012 to add six more E. coli strains to its list of adulterants in ground beef. Those six strains were found on 8.39 percent of pre-intervention carcasses and 1.78 percent after interventions.
Popular intervention strategies include hot water washes, lactic acid washes, or chlorine-based washes — all of which occur after the carcass hide has been removed. Some processing plants may use one method, or a combination, or a completely different method, such as steam pasteurization or steam vacuuming.
FSIS plans to release an official report in another six months after it has completed its year of surveying.
“These results suggest that the interventions are reducing the pathogens on the beef and veal carcasses,” the agency stated.
These surveys are preliminary work for FSIS leading up to the USDA’s 2017-21 Strategic Plan to prevent foodborne illness and modernize systems, policies, and science.
Harvesting 24 Hours After a Rain Enhances Food Safety
Soruce : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/harvesting-24-hours-after-a-rain-enhances-food-safety/
By Linda Larsen (July 9, 2015)
Research conducted at Cornell University has found that if produce farmers wait 24 hours to harvest their crops after a rain, the food they produce will be safer for people to eat. The USDA has proposed rules allowing farmers to apply “wait periods” after irrigation water, to let “potentially dangerous microbes die off”.
Any water applied to a field creates conditions more hospitable to the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. Researchers tested fields in several locations in New York state. They found that after rains, the chances of finding Listeria dropped dramatically 24 hours after a rain, to levels similar to the baseline.
Farmers would use weather data, GIS technology and data driven information to take a “systems approach” to managing food safety and their crops.
Listeria outbreaks have been linked to apples and cantaloupe, and recalls for this contamination have been issued for peaches, nectarines, and plums, among other produce. Listeria is especially problematic on produce since there is often no cooking, or “kill step” on these items before they are consumed.
This research is being conducted to help set rules, standards, and guidelines for the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2011. The research was published in the Journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology. The Center for Produce Safety funded the research.
Raw Poultry: How Safe Is Safe Enough?
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly-2015/raw-poultry-how-safe-is-safe-enough/
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.
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.”
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, 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.
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. 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. 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, 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.” 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) 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. 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.
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. 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.
Labeling of Health and Nutrition Claims
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/labeling-of-health-and-nutrition-claims/
By Liz Tucker (July 7, 2015)
Most people working in the food industry are well aware of the latest food labeling regulations 1169/2011 whose biggest safety issue is the labeling of allergens. These regulations came into force in December 2014, and many businesses have been frantically working to obtain compliance. However, there is another set of regulations that have been in force since 2006 that seem to have been generally overlooked by many; it is easy to find noncompliance examples in the market. The health and nutrition claims regulations 1924/2006 have common ground with the better known, new mandatory regulations. Combined, their aim is to provide companies with a comprehensive range of food laws to cover all aspects of product promotion; now that both of these regulations are in force, it would appear the level of enforcement is increasing.
As with other laws, the overall principle of the health and nutrition claims regulations is not to mislead but to keep consumers safe. As the regulations state, there are concerns about “an increasing number of foods labeled and advertised bearing nutrition and health claims. In order to ensure a high level of protection for consumers and to facilitate their choice, products should be safe and adequately labeled.”
Under the regulations, food producers should be accountable for the nutritional information and claims they makes through the description, appearance, pictorial images or comparisons. Basically, producers have to be not just aware of what is written on their labels but also how labels can mislead the consumer by the images that are portrayed or the images the brand wants to portray. A perfect example is a product with images that associate the product with nature or fitness of nutrition, even though it has no health or nutrition credentials to substantiate such an association.
This regulation does not just apply to food labeling but to all commercial communications, including adverting, leaflets, promotional materials, websites and campaigns, including those supported by public authorities.
The scope is extremely wide, including not just paid communications but any beneficial transactions including journalistic features. The regulations also apply to trademarks and other brand names “which may be construed as nutrition or health claims.” So calling yourself The Superfood Company or Vitamin C Boosting Business is not a get-out clause, but in fact t can make life very complicated if you have a wide range of products.
Another important aspect of the regulations is they do not distinguish between branded and generic foods made in a commercial context, so the same legislation applies to individual ingredients found in the product used to beneficially promote the product. This means that you still have to apply the regulations if you are referring to a single non-branded ingredient if it is part of an overall product promotion.
Under the regulations, health professionals, including dieticians and nutritionists, are not allowed to promote commercial products. Article 12(c) prohibits, “in commercial communications, health claims which make reference to recommendations of individual doctors, health professionals or associations.”
From a safety point of view, these regulations are not aimed at preventing an immediate threat to health. The view is a long-term one, due to the obvious rise in diet-related health conditions, such as diabetes and obesity. The regulations main objective is to consider the overall nutritional value of the product and how it should fit into a balanced diet. They state “a varied and balanced diet is a prerequisite for good health and single products have a relative importance in the context of the total diet.”
Considering the range of public knowledge, the regulations do set a benchmark of understanding to be an “average consumer who is reasonably well informed, observant and circumspect.” However, this needs to be differently assessed if the product targets a specific group such as athletes or diabetics from the perspective of their average understanding.
It is currently difficult to enforce the overall aims of the health and nutrition regulations due to the long-awaited but yet-to-appear nutritional profile. This is a cornerstone of the regulations, as it is the nutrition benchmark that defines the health value of each product. The nutritional profile was intended to be ready for 2009, but as yet, it is still undecided even though authorities in Europe, for many years, have used guidelines for health promotion that have been scientifically verified. There already exists a well-documented table that shows us for example that 6 g of salt and above is unhealthy and what the limits on saturated fat intake are, but as this is an EU directive, there are a whole batch of countries that are in on the discussion.
The nutritional profile will provide unhealthy limits of fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar. This means that products will have to comply with the nutritional profile before they can make any sort of health or nutritional claim. As it stands for all the good these regulations do without that profile, products can make claims with little regard to its overall health rating. So basically you can add calcium to a doughnut and give it a nutrition claim.
Claims can be either nutrition or health related, and both have very strict guidelines to follow. For nutritional claims, you first must determine if your product has a “significant amount” per portion. This is set at a minimum 15 percent of the recommended daily intake. If this applies, there is a definitive approved list of nutritional claims that can be made. There nutrition claims which are scientifically validated, but if they are not on the list, you can’t use them.
For health claims, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has an online list of approved and unapproved health claims available for use that is constantly being updated. Again, only claims on the approved list can be used. If a claim is not on the list, you can apply for one that involves presenting a full scientific evidence-based evaluation to the EFSA.
Unfortunately, perfectly sound claims have not been approved because the presentation was inadequate. However, once a claim is approved, anyone can use it. Interestingly, the regulations do state that “non-beneficial nutrition claims are not covered” so you can be perfectly free in expressing how unhealthy or nutritionally barren your product is.
The hardest thing to evaluate is the difference between a statement of fact and a beneficial claim. For example, you could not say low glycemic index (GI) because this is not a listed approved claim, but you could technically say the GI is 24, as this is a “statement that just highlights the presence or absence.” However, it could also be seen as a positive attribute, in which case, the regulations would apply. This makes it difficult to make perfectly justified statements about things that are not on the list, for example, low cholesterol or GI, which consumers would find beneficial to know.
If you think these regulations do not apply, then reconsider if you see the use of vague throw-away terms in product promotions, such as good for you, healthy, nutritious, superfood and makes you feel good. Many companies may not think they need to follow these regulations, as they make no specific claims; however, many nonspecific words or phrases are classed as health claims. General statements like those above and many similar ones cannot be made unless they are backed up by a specific, approved health claim. One of the most well used words “energy” used to be acceptable just because the product was high in calories or carbohydrates. Thus, there are a plethora of sports-based products that refer to themselves as being an energy bar or drink, and under these regulations, they will have to justify why, as the calorific profile is no longer an option.
No compliant producers will have to change, which is good for consumer health and safety as they can no longer be misled by these fluffy nutritional additives and images. Now, at last, it’s all about showing hard scientific evidence that is not only good for you but for everyone else as well.
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Opinion: Food safety is important, but so is locally sourced meat
Source : http://montrealgazette.com/life/food/opinion-food-safety-is-important-but-so-is-locally-sourced-meat
By Sarah Berger Richardson, Special to Montreal Gazette (July 07, 2015)
It’s summer in Canada, and this means dusting off the barbecue and gearing up for grilling season. After a long winter of canned food, markets are brimming with fresh local produce. But it might get harder for Quebec consumers to add locally sourced meat to their shopping basket. New food safety rules came into effect July 1 that require small-scale abattoirs to upgrade their facilities for public health reasons. Otherwise, they will be shut down.
Abattoirs are an uncomfortable topic. When it comes to meat consumption, most of us prefer to ignore the path from farm to fork. It is easier to talk about organic fruits, heirloom vegetables, artisanal cheeses and craft beers. But the way animals are turned into meat is a crucial question to grapple with in our conversations about eating responsibly.
Regulatory changes, such as Quebec’s new rules that promote food safety, are worth pursuing. After food scares like the 2008 listeriosis outbreak at a Maple Leaf processing plant, Canadians are concerned about the safety of our food supply. We rightly look to governments, both federal and provincial, to make sure that appropriate safeguards are put in place. But public health reforms must not distract us from other important policy concerns around the production of meat.
The regulation of food and agriculture is about more than food safety. Policies, laws and regulations are also needed that support ecological stewardship of farmland, ethical methods for raising and slaughtering livestock, and subsidies that support local farmers instead of Big Agriculture.
Food Safety Checklists Take Their Place Alongside Those Used in Aviation and Medicine
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/07/food-safety-checklists-take-their-place-alongside-those-used-in-aviation-and-medicine/#.VaxTZHnlqUl
By Dan Flynn (July 6, 2015)
When a Boston surgeon, author, and public health expert came out in late 2009 with the seminal book, “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right,” the timing could not have been better for the food industry.
The book became popular, especially among industry executives, during 2010, the year when Congress adopted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). With FSMA’s goal of preventing foodborne illnesses, every food industry executive was already thinking about the added complexity and cost.
http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-close-up-manager-wearing-yellow-vest-using-handheld-large-warehouse-image49290932But here was Dr. Atul Gawande, who practices surgery at Boston’s prestigious Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is also a professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, saying something as simple as a checklist could be the key to preventing even experienced surgeons from sewing up patients with medical instruments left inside.
Gawande’s clarion call for checklists was heard by government and industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now seems to be popping them out with regularity as FSMA implementation rolls along. FSMA’s Food Defense, HACCP Validation, Product Tracing and Electric Document Conformance are among the recent FDA checklists for helping companies met FDA compliance..
In many ways, checklists are turning out to be the “head of the spear” for the software and technology necessary in the war against food poisoning. If you’ve strolled through the produce section of a major grocery story lately, computerized voices are even telling people there when to do certain tasks.
On the record, everybody is positive about change. Throughout the rule-making and industry comments on FSMA, complaints were numerous and public about the complexity. Something called the “water metrics” was an ongoing subject of complaint for the complexity it brought to water use for produce, and that was but one example. There have been many others.
Off the record, it’s easy to get into a discussion about whether checklists, maintained by hand or computerized, are driving complexity or solving it. History does provide an answer to that question.
Checklists were invented out of necessity by a committee because the government was about to make a disastrous decision to shun technology due to an unwillingness to take responsibility for making a correct, but easily misunderstood, decision.
We need to “turn back time” to 1934 when Boeing, Douglas, and Martin were competing at Wright Field in Dayton, OH, for a contract with the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) to provide the government with a new long-range medium bomber.
Boeing’s entry to the contest was its Model 299, which “flew circles” around Martin’s Model 146 and the Douglas DB-1. The Boeing bomber model scored highest in all the evaluation categories. Then came the actual flight trials.
Model 299 taxied out and took off for a smooth climb, but then stalled, turned on one wing, and fell to the ground in a ball of flames. Army Major Ployer P. Hill, who was at the controls, and Boeing’s chief test pilot Leslie Tower were both killed.
The media then, like the media now, made “an instant decision” that Model 299 was “too much plane for one man to fly,” and that the contracts from the U.S. and Canadian governments should go to Douglas, the runner-up with more bomber and passenger airliner history at the time than Boeing.
Several of the flying USAAC officers, however, worked behind the scenes to carve out a 12-plane order for Boeing’s model “for further testing.” But to rescue it was one thing. To save it was another.
The inquiry into the accident that killed Hill and Tower, both among the world’s flying elite at the time, was “pilot error.” The elevator lock was not released prior to takeoff and, although Tower realized it soon after that, his realization came too late.
Working on the problem, the air officers of the 2nd Bombardment Group at Langley, VA, figured out there was just a lot to remember when flying the complex bomber. In other words, it was not a piloting problem; it was a memory problem. Tasks had to be completed in the proper order and at the right times or accidents could happen and people could be killed.
The solution the committee of pilots arrived at was the checklist. The 2nd Bomb Group then logged 1.8 million miles in the new Boeing bomber without an accident. That’s why pilots use checklists today.
The Army Air Corps ended up buying 13,000 of the new bombers from Boeing. It was the most storied aircraft of World War II — the B-17 Flying Fortress.
In his book, Gawande makes a comment that certainly could apply to food safety in the 21st century: “We have accumulated stupendous know-how,” he says. “Nonetheless, that know-how is often unmanageable.”
Only mistakes explain why allergens have come to dominate the number of food recalls the industry has experienced over the past few years, says a food business insider. Allergen-related recalls usually follow the placement of a label which does not list an allergen known to the company and for which proper labeling usually exists. Product goes out with the wrong label just because a mistake was made.
If food safety is really going to improve, government and industry agree it requires making far fewer mistakes, and that means using paper or electronic checklists, probably lots of them.
Food & Water Watch Denounces Beef Imports from Brazil and Argentina
Source : http://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/food-water-watch-denounces-beef-imports-from-brazil-and-argentina/
By Linda Larsen (July 6, 2015)
Food & Water Watch is denouncing beef imports from Brazil and Argentina. Executive Director Wenonah Hauter released a statement about the USDA lifting restrictions on these imports. Those countries have “a history of the deadly disease of foot and mouth disease in animal herds.”
There has not been a case of FMD in the United States since 1929. Members of Congress ask that the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study these rules. That has not been done. The process was rushed, since the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) can take up to 90 days to review “significant” rules.
Hauter states, “Brazil and Argentina have checkered food safety records, as USDA has been forced on several occasions to suspend imports of products currently eligible to come into the U.S. for various food safety violations and for failure to meet our inspection standards.
“The lifted restrictions on imports from Brazil and Argentina follow a disturbing trend of lowering food import standards, established by the recent attempt to gut Country of Origin Labeling, in order to pander to the interests of the corporate meatpackers lobby.”
Food Safety Tips
Source : http://www.kgns.tv/home/headlines/Food-Safety-Tips-311702111.html
By kgns.tv (July 05, 2015)
As the weather gets warmer so does the number of people cooking outside. But, if you're having a cookout, you're also more likely to contaminate food. KGNS News Reporter Yocelin Gallardo has tips on how to practice food safety.
The weather is warm and the grills are hot. For Julio Luna cooking outside is a family tradition. "During this type we all unite as a family in these types of places." But before heading out to cook, he knows the importance of handling raw food, especially outside. "Because of the weather, there is a lot of wind. Sometimes there is less, but it's tougher to cook sometimes."
According to the city of Laredo Health Department along with the USDA’s Food Safety Department, this year, one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning. Food poisoning can affect anyone who eats food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or other substances.
The USDA encourages people to make sure to check the internal temperature of the meat. Find the thickest part of the meat and insert a food thermometer. Beef, pork, lamb, and veal should reach a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Ground meat should reach about 160 degrees (F), and poultry 165 degrees (F). Luna says it is harder to keep cooking areas clean. "The wind picks up a lot of dirt, but I make sure to use the lid of the grill."
The health department says to not put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Older adults, pregnant women, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of getting sick from contaminated food.
The Laredo Health Department also advises to always keep your hands clean. They say hand sanitizers are not a substitute for hand washing.
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