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FoodHACCP Newsletter
09/28 2015 ISSUE:671

 

Don’t Forget the Epidemiology: Unraveling a Five-Year Listeria Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/dont-forget-the-epidemiology-unraveling-a-five-year-listeria-outbreak/#.VgtImRGheUl
By Lydia Zuraw (Sep 28, 2015)
It’s not every day that you see an outbreak of foodborne illness spanning five years. But that’s what happened with a Listeria outbreak first announced 10 days ago by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Just last month, it was whole-genome sequencing that connected together the 24 illnesses reaching back to 2010. But good old-fashioned epidemiology is what tracked down the source — soft cheeses produced by Karoun Dairies of San Fernando, CA.
Soft cheeses are not an unexpected source of Listeria infections, but some of the specific types linked to this outbreak weren’t familiar to investigators.
Eighteen victims said they ate Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Mediterranean or Mexican-style cheeses, and Ani, Bulgarian feta, Middle Eastern-style string cheese and nabulsi were some of the cheeses not specifically on the radar before.
CDC began investigating four of the cases now involved in the outbreak back in 2013.
“We saw there was a Middle East connection back then, but there was just too little information,” says medical epidemiologist Brendan Jackson. “Nothing was really standing out back then, so we stopped following that cluster at that point.”
Then, in August 2015, PulseNet — the national network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories that tracks foodborne illnesses — flagged some Listeria cases. After consulting their database of whole-genome sequencing for the pathogen, CDC identified more historic cases. These were caused by four additional Listeria pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) patterns, also known as DNA fingerprints, which were closely related to the first.
“Suddenly, we went from just a few cases … to upwards of 20,” Jackson says. “Once we had those numbers, it was fairly easy to see that there was a signal for soft cheese.”
Thanks to the Listeria Initiative, which began in 2004, all Listeria patients were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire that asks about the same foods.
“That way, even with patients that got sick a couple years ago, we have some information on what they ate,” Jackson says.
The questionnaire does ask about some specific cheeses, such as Mexican-style cheese (e.g., queso fresco), feta, and “other soft white cheese.”
Even though CDC couldn’t go back to the victims in the older cases for more details, at least they had some general ideas.
ARZ-nabulsi-jar-20ozFifteen patients were of Middle Eastern or Eastern European descent, or shopped at Middle Eastern-style markets. With the help of California’s health department, CDC researched those cultures so they could include a list of pertinent cheeses in their supplemental questionnaire for more recently infected patients.
So, while “Have you eaten queso fresco?,” may not have registered with the victims of this outbreak, “Have you eaten nabulsi?,” may have.
The follow-up questions also included other foods, just to be sure that cheese wasn’t appearing as a marker for something else.
“We’re planning on eventually having questions on Middle Eastern-style cheeses” in the standardized survey, Jackson says. This investigation “was really relying on very detailed interviews by state and local health departments.”
In those follow-up conversations with epidemiologists, a couple of the people sickened were able to specifically name the brand of cheese they’d eaten. Looking at the types of cheese Karoun produces, they seemed to fit with the pattern, and the company voluntarily recalled and ceased production of certain of its cheeses.
Memory is a huge limitation for foodborne illness investigations, especially for Listeria, which has an incubation period of up to 70 days. Can you remember everything you ate between two and three months ago, or between five and six months ago? It’s pretty difficult.
One thing that does help investigations is that people often have fairly regular diets and eat certain foods on an ongoing basis. But it’s still a limitation and the reason why investigators react even to small signals.
CDC caramel applesCaramel apples aren’t on the standard list of questions used with Listeria patients, but they turned out to be the source of a Listeria outbreak last fall, which sickened 35 people.
“We tried to do as many open-ended interviews as possible,” Jackson says of that outbreak. “It requires some very patient patients and their families willing to sit and answer questions for hours or more.”
It also helps to have the same person conducting multiple interviews because they can make connections between patients that other people can’t.
Caramel apples still hadn’t come up after about 20 patients had been interviewed — many of them twice.
Jackson says there was “a really astute epidemiologist in Texas” who, at the end of a long interview with a patient’s wife, thought to ask about caramel apples after it had been mentioned by a different patient.
“To us, who hadn’t heard that other interview, it didn’t really mean much, but to him, he had heard that before,” Jackson notes.
He compares tricky outbreak investigations to “a giant knot that you can’t possibly untangle.” When epidemiologists “pull the right string in the right place,” it just unravels.
There’s no doubt that the Listeria Whole Genome Sequencing Project has had an impact on illness investigations.
In the year before the project got started, PulseNet detected 14 clusters of Listeria and solved one outbreak. In the first year of whole-genome sequencing, 19 clusters were detected and four outbreaks solved. It also reduced the average cluster size.
“This year is shaping up to be better still,” Jackson says.
But don’t forget about the epidemiology. It’s still important to interpreting the sequencing results and to cracking outbreak investigations, as the soft cheese-linked outbreak shows.
When a food isolate is almost identical to a patient isolate in whole-genome sequencing, that’s a good lead that will probably pan out. But, in many cases, investigators just don’t know the food source.
“There is a perception among some people out there that whole-genome sequencing will make epidemiology obsolete,” Jackson says. “Investigation after investigation shows that’s just not the case. They have to be used together to be the most effective.”
In the year before the project got started, PulseNet detected 14 clusters of Listeria and solved one outbreak. In the first year of whole-genome sequencing, 19 clusters were detected and four outbreaks solved. It also reduced the average cluster size.
“This year is shaping up to be better still,” Jackson says.
But don’t forget about the epidemiology. It’s still important to interpreting the sequencing results and to cracking outbreak investigations, as the soft cheese-linked outbreak shows.
When a food isolate is almost identical to a patient isolate in whole-genome sequencing, that’s a good lead that will probably pan out. But, in many cases, investigators just don’t know the food source.
“There is a perception among some people out there that whole-genome sequencing will make epidemiology obsolete,” Jackson says. “Investigation after investigation shows that’s just not the case. They have to be used together to be the most effective.”

Pink Burgers Again; Vermont Worthy Burger E. coli Outbreak
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/pink-burgers-again-vermont-worthy-burger-e-coli-outbreak/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 28, 2015)
The Vermont Department of Health is investigating a cluster of E. coli infections among Vermont residents. At least seven people may be sick with this illness, which is caused by shiga toxin-producing bacteria (STEC).
Worthy Burger voluntarily closed for five days beginning on September 17, 2015, but has stated that the closure was for “mechanical issues”. Still, the restaurant changed its vendors under recommendation from public health officials after the outbreak was announced.
The Health Department also recommended that Worthy Burger cooks make sure hamburgers are cooked to 155°F as measured with a food thermometer and held at that temperature for at least 15 seconds. The restaurant was also supposed to do a thorough cleaning, and warn customers that eating raw or undercooked meat or seafood can be dangerous.
A few months ago my husband and I were eating at a restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota. I noticed the above warning posted on the menu at the bottom. It states “May contain raw, or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs. Consuming raw, or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness, especially if you have medical conditions. We will make every effort to accommodate special dietary requirements.”
But when my husband tried to order one of their burgers well done, he was told that the chef could not recommend that the hamburger be cooked that way because the filling would blow out. The waiter did not mention any food safety concerns about cooking the burger less than well done. At my urging, my husband ordered steak instead.
According to the Penn State Food Safety Blog, Worthy Burger states that “the burgers will be service pink in the middle.” One of the reviews on Trip Advisor that the Penn State blogger read stated that all four burgers prepared for one customer were red in the middle.
We don’t know if Worthy Burger has always prepared their burgers that way, or if they had warnings posted on the menu (if people even pay attention to them.) But it’s clear that, once again, undercooked burgers have caused a serious food poisoning outbreak.
E. coli bacteria is present in all ruminant animals, such as cows and goats. But those animals do not get sick from this bacteria because they don’t have the genes to be susceptible to it. When the animal is slaughtered, the surface of steaks and roasts can harbor the bacteria. When that meat is ground into hamburger, the pathogenic bacteria is spread all through the product. Then, if a burger isn’t cooked to 160°F (or 155°F with holding), the E. coli bacteria can survive and can make you sick when you eat it.
The Vermont Health Department has warned doctors to be on the lookout for any patients presenting with the symptoms of an E. coli infection. They say that the risk for more cases does exist. We don’t know where the beef that caused this outbreak came from, or if improper handling or cross-contamination in the kitchen was the issue. E. coli infections can be spread person-to-person.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include severe abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is watery and/or bloody, a mild fever, and possible nausea and vomiting. This illness can be life-threatening, especially if it progresses to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
The symptoms of HUS include pale skin, tiredness, and irritability. Small, unexplained bruises or bleeding from the nose or mouth may occur. Urine output can decrease markedly, and there may be blood in the urine. If any of these symptoms appear, it’s important to get immediate medical care.
To protect yourself and your family, treat raw meat, especially raw ground meat, as a health hazard until it is fully cooked. Be careful to avoid cross-contamination between the meat and uncooked foods. Always wash your hands well after you handle uncooked meat. Cook food to a safe internal temperature as measured by a food thermometer. Do not order rare or medium burgers when you eat out. And wash utensils, plates, and work surfaces that come into contact with raw meat thoroughly with soap and water.
                                   
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/icymi-in-case-you-missed-it-2/#.VguNBhGheUk
By News Desk (Sep 28, 2015)
In case you missed it, here are some of the top food safety stories from last week:
PCA Sentencing: Stewart Parnell, former CEO of the now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America (PCA), was sentenced to 28 years in prison on Sept. 21. His peanut-broker brother, Michael Parnell, got 20 years, and former PCA Quality Assurance Manager Mary Wilkerson got five years. Those are the most severe penalties ever handed down in a U.S. food safety criminal case. All three plan to appeal.
Spreading Salmonella? Several recent Salmonella cases have been linked to the Washington, D.C., Fig & Olive restaurant, and now additional cases have been linked to another Fig & Olive outlet — this time in West Hollywood, CA. Fig & Olive said it was no longer serving its own brand of truffle oil, although that product has not been definitively connected to the outbreaks.
E. coli in Vermont: A Vermont burger bar linked to five confirmed (and two probable) E. coli cases closed for several days last week due to “mechanical issues” but reopened again on Sept. 22.
ICYMIHardee’s and Hepatitis A: Concern about possible exposure to Hepatitis A at two South Carolina Hardee’s restaurants led to nearly 5,000 people lining up at local health department clinics for the vaccines.
The Hep A vaccine is only being recommended for those people who ate at the Hardee’s outlets in Lyman, SC, and/or Duncan, SC, during certain dates and who get the vaccine within two weeks of doing so.
In FDA News: Be wary of unpasteurized apple cider or fruit or vegetable juices this fall, warns the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. While these products may be tasty, they can also harbor dangerous pathogens, so FDA recommends checking the label or asking if the product has been pasteurized or otherwise treated to kill bacteria.
Coming Up This Week:
The fourth part of our five-part special series on the Food Safety Modernization Act will post tomorrow (Tuesday): “The Government’s Role in Food Safety,” by U.S. Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).
The Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria (CARB) is holding its first public meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. You can access a draft agenda here and watch a webcast of the meeting here.
Two more defendants in the Peanut Corporation of America case, Daniel Kilgore and Samuel Lightsey, are to be sentenced on Thursday, Oct. 1, in Albany, GA. Stay tuned for Dan Flynn’s coverage.

Practice food safety after school, too
Source : http://www.crowrivermedia.com/big_fish_lifestyle/food/practice-food-safety-after-school-too/article_590b671b-97c6-5e19-8c9f-33aaaf588722.html
By Deb Botzek-Linn, a food safety educator with the University of Minnesota Extension.
Where is the first place kids go when they get home from school? The kitchen. They rummage through the cupboards and refrigerator seeking a snack. 
The kitchen is not always the safest place if kids become ill from the food they eat. Children under age 15 are at a higher risk for foodborne illness as their immune system is not as developed as an adult’s.
When heading to after school snack time, kids can help prevent foodborne illness by following these guidelines:
Place backpacks, books, and sports equipment on the floor or designated area. They carry germs that we don’t want on the table or counters where food is prepared.
Clean out lunch boxes and throw away ‘refrigerator type’ foods, such as sandwiches, yogurt tubes, cheese sticks that are left over from lunch.
Wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before food preparation and eating.
Wash fresh fruits and vegetables with running water before you eat them.
Do not eat bread or soft fruits or vegetables with mold or that are bruised.
Unbaked cookie dough may contain raw eggs and is not to be eaten.
Hot dogs need to be cooked not eaten from the package.
Milk, lunch meat, hardcooked eggs, yogurt or cheese needs to be quickly put back in the refrigerator.
Don’t eat perishable food like pizza or leftovers left out of the refrigerator more than 2 hours.
Are your children allowed to use the microwave after school? If so, teach them personal and food safety microwave practices:
Teach them to read and follow the microwave instructions on the package.
Supply them with microwave-safe cookware, not metal, foil or plastic tubs and cartons that could spark, overheat or melt.
Make pot holders available and instruct kids how to use them. Be sure they understand how to remove food from the microwave and that steam can burn!
Instruct children on the importance of stirring all hot drinks and soups before tasting to make sure they don’t burn their mouth.
As September is National Food Safety Month and the beginning of a new school year, it’s a great time to teach children good after school food safety practices.
More about University Of Minnesota Extension
?ARTICLE: Vast majority of Minnesota cropland has adequate moisture
?ARTICLE: Extension's update on crop conditions early September
?ARTICLE: A sweet corn primer
?ARTICLE: Crops and summer heat update

 

 

 

 


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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














German Egg Farmer Arrested in Fatal UK Salmonella Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/german-egg-farmer-arrested-in-fatal-uk-salmonella-outbreak/#.VguScxGheUl
By News Desk (Sep 24, 2015)
A German egg farmer whose contaminated eggs caused a Salmonella outbreak at a hospital in Birmingham, England, has reportedly been arrested in connection with the death of an Austrian man.
Five patients died at Heartlands Hospital in the Bordesley Green area of Birmingham, and the bacteria were traced back to eggs from the Bayern Ei (Bavarian Egg) factory in Germany. The same source of Salmonella was blamed for the death of a 75-year-old man.
Bayern Ei owner Stefan Pohlmann is in custody, according to a German lawyer. Prosecutor Theo Ziegler said Pohlmann was being held on “suspicion of grievous bodily harm causing death due to harmful substances.”
The Salmonella outbreak at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham between May 25 and June 18, 2014, sickened 32 staff people and patients. A report found that the infection directly caused the death of one patient.
The report also stated that the Salmonella played a part in other deaths because inadequately equipped wards, unmonitored food preparation, and poor cleaning helped it spread.
An estimated 60,000 contaminated eggs from Bayern Ei were reportedly sent to England last month but were destroyed before they entered the food chain.
Earlier this year, a German animal rights group released video it stated was taken at the Bayern Ei facility in May 2015 showing dead and diseased chickens and generally filthy conditions.

Tentative Settlement Reached in MI Jail Food Poisoning Case
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/tentative-settlement-reached-in-mi-jail-food-poisoning-case/#.VguPMxGheUl
By News Desk (Sep 23, 2015)
A tentative settlement has been reached in the federal lawsuit filed by 16 former inmates against Kent County, MI, and food vendor Aramark Corp., reports WZZM in Grand Rapids.
The proposed settlement is between Aramark Corp. and the former inmates who, along with more than 200 others, claimed to have been sickened by chicken tacos served at the jail in April 2012. Kent County was removed from the lawsuit.
The prisoners had argued that the county had increased the risk of food poisoning in order to cut costs. County attorneys countered that the lawsuit was based on only a mild incident that didn’t require hospitalizations or have any long-term health consequences.
Aramark, which denied claims of negligence, has provided food service for the Kent County Jail for three years.

Do YOU Have a Plan to Keep Food Safe during Severe Weather?
Source : http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/09/23/do-you-have-a-plan-to-keep-food-safe-during-severe-weather-2/
By Christopher Bernstein, Food Safety Education Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA (23 Sep, 2015)
Disaster can strike at anytime and any place. You might live in a region of the country that already has experienced some form of extreme weather event, such as wildfires, extreme cold and snow, or obstructive tornadoes, to name a few.
All of these events result in power outages for hundreds of thousands of households and communities, and as you know, no power can compromise food safety. The temperature and sanitation of food storage areas is crucial to preventing bacterial growth, and severe weather and other emergencies can compromise this.  Knowing what to do in these instances can minimize the need to throw away food and the risk of getting sick.
September is National Preparedness Month which is a coordinated national awareness campaign to get you, your family and your community thinking about how to respond in the event of a disaster or other emergency.  The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service would like to help you with planning and keeping your food safe in case hurricanes, flooding, fires, power outages and other emergencies threaten storage conditions.
Before the Power Goes Out (if there’s time)
•Keep an appliance thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator temperature should remain 40 °F or lower, and the freezer should be 0 °F or lower.
•Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
•Freeze refrigerated items such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately – this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
•Have coolers and frozen gel packs on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours.
•Purchase or make ice and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler.
When the Power Goes Out
•Keep refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
•A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if you keep the door closed.
•A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
•If the power is out for an extended period of time, buy dry or block ice to keep the refrigerator as cold as possible. Fifty pounds of dry ice should keep a fully-stocked 18-cubic-feet freezer cold for two days.
After the Power Returns
•When the power comes back on, you will have to evaluate each item separately. When in doubt, throw it out. These charts help you evaluate specific foods: ?Refrigerated Foods: When to Save, When to Throw Out
?Frozen Food: When to Save, When to Throw Out
•With frozen food, check for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thaws may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below.
•Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color, or texture, or feels warm to the touch.
•Never taste a food to determine its safety.
If you have questions about the safety of your food as a result of weather damage and power outages, please call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov, available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, in English or Spanish.
FSIS posts food safety tips during severe weather on Twitter,@USDAFoodSafety, and on Facebook, at Facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov.
For more information about food safety in an emergency, visit:
•A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes (a manual covering all power outage related food safety topics)
•Food Safety During a Power Outage (60 section video)
•In an Emergency (gateway to all federal food safety resources)
- See more at: http://blogs.usda.gov/2015/09/23/do-you-have-a-plan-to-keep-food-safe-during-severe-weather-2/#sthash.jbYfcCEC.dpuf

Former Peanut Company President Receives Largest Criminal Sentence In Food Safety Case; Two Others Also Sentenced For Their Roles In Salmonella-Tainted Peanut Product Outbreak
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/former-peanut-company-president-receives-largest-criminal-sentence-in-food-safety-case-two-others-also-sentenced-for-their-roles-in-salmonella-tainted-peanut-product-outbreak/#.VguPrxGheUl
By Andy Weisbecker (Sep 23, 2015)
WASHINGTON – Two former officials of and one broker for the Peanut Corporation of America (PCA) were sentenced to prison today in Albany, Georgia, for their roles in a conspiracy to defraud their customers by shipping salmonella-positive peanut products before the results of microbiological testing were received and falsifying microbiological test results, the Department of Justice announced today.
Stewart Parnell, 61, of Lynchburg, Virginia, the former owner and president of PCA, was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands of the Middle District of Georgia to serve 336 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Michael Parnell, 56, of Midlothian, Virginia, who worked at P.P. Sales and was a food broker who worked on behalf of PCA, and is Stewart Parnell’s brother, was sentenced to serve 240 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Mary Wilkerson, 41, of Edison, Georgia, who held various positions at PCA’s Blakely, Georgia, plant including receptionist, office manager and quality assurance manager, was sentenced to serve 60 months in prison to be followed by two years of supervised release.  Judge Sands will issue a restitution order at a later date.
The Parnell brothers were convicted by a federal jury on Sept. 19, 2014, of multiple counts of conspiracy, mail and wire fraud and the sale of misbranded food.  Stewart Parnell was also convicted of the introduction of adulterated food into interstate commerce.  Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson were also convicted of obstruction of justice.  Stewart Parnell was found guilty of all but one of the 68 felony counts with which he was charged on Feb. 15, 2013.
Expert evidence at trial showed that tainted food led to a salmonella outbreak in 2009 with more than 700 reported cases of salmonella poisoning in 46 states.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), based on epidemiological projections, that number translates to more than 22,000 total cases including nine deaths.  The court found that the evidence presented at trial linked Stewart and Michael Parnell’s conduct, and specifically PCA’s contaminated peanut products, to the victims’ illnesses.  The court also found that steps taken by the CDC to link reported illnesses to the specific strain of salmonella found in PCA products established that Stewart and Michael Parnell’s conduct was the proximate cause of the victims’ illnesses.
“Americans should be able to trust that the food we buy for ourselves and our families is safe,” said Acting Associate Attorney General Stuart F. Delery.  “The sentences handed down today to officials associated with the Peanut Corporation of America demonstrate the consequences for those whose criminal actions threaten that trust by introducing contaminated food into the marketplace.  Our prosecution is just one more example of the forceful actions that the Department of Justice, with its agency partners, takes against any individual or company who compromises the safety of America’s food supply for financial gain.”
The government presented evidence at trial to establish that Stewart Parnell and Michael Parnell – with former PCA operations manager Samuel Lightsey, 50, and Daniel Kilgore, 46, both of Blakely – participated in several schemes by which they defrauded PCA customers and jeopardized the quality and purity of their peanut products.  Specifically, the government presented evidence that the defendants misled customers about the presence of salmonella in their products.  For example, the Parnells, Lightsey and Kilgore fabricated certificates of analysis (COAs) accompanying various shipments of peanut products.  COAs are documents that summarize laboratory results, including test results concerning the presence or absence of pathogens in food.  According to the evidence, on several occasions, the Parnells, Lightsey and Kilgore participated in a scheme to fabricate COAs that stated that the food at issue was free of pathogens when in fact there had been no testing of the food or tests had revealed the presence of pathogens.
The government also presented evidence that when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officials visited PCA’s Blakely plant to investigate the outbreak, Stewart Parnell, Lightsey and Wilkerson gave untrue or misleading answers to questions posed by those officials.
“Today’s sentencing sends a powerful message to officials in the food industry that they stand in a special position of trust with the American consumer, and those who put profit above the welfare of their customers and knowingly sell contaminated food will face serious consequences,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively with its partners to ensure that the American people are protected from food that is adulterated or misbranded within the meaning of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and pursue any person who fails to abide by the vital food safety protections in the law.  We are dedicated to using all the tools that we have at our disposal to ensure that the processors and handlers of our food have the public’s safety forefront in their minds.”
“The sentence that was handed down today means that executives will no longer be able to hide behind the corporate veil,” said U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.  “The tragedy of this case is that at a peanut processing plant in Middle Georgia, protecting the public lost out to increasing of profits.  This case was never just about shipping tainted peanut product; it was about making sure individual wrong doers were held accountable and the losses suffered by the victims and their families are never forgotten.”
Judge Sands took into account the fraud loss of PCA’s corporate victims when imposing today’s sentence.  The court found that Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson should be held accountable for more than $100 million but less than $200 million in losses, and Michael Parnell should be held accountable for more than $20 million but less than $50 million in losses.  The court also found the government established evidence that Stewart Parnell and Mary Wilkerson should be accountable for harming more than 250 victims, and Michael Parnell should be accountable under federal sentencing guidelines for harming more than 50 victims.  The court additionally found that the Parnells should have known that their actions presented a reckless risk of death or serious bodily injury.
“At the outset, the FBI saw this case as a serious breach of the public’s trust by a corporation and its officers who were expected to comply with the various regulations that would ensure their products safe for consumption,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of FBI Atlanta Field Office.  “They did not and lives were lost.  The lengthy prison sentences handed down today in federal court clearly reflects the magnitude of the criminal conduct of these corporate officers and it is hoped that these sentences can provide some solace to those victims or their families who suffered so much from that criminal conduct and waited so long for justice.”
“Americans expect and deserve the highest standards of food safety and integrity,” said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA Acting Commissioner.  “Those who choose profits over the health and safety of U.S. consumers are now on notice that the FDA, working with the Department of Justice, will strive to use the full force of our justice system against them.”
Lightsey and Kilgore are scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday, Oct. 1, in Albany.
The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Patrick Hearn and Mary M. Englehart of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.  Acting Associate Attorney General Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mizer and U.S. Attorney Moore thank the investigative efforts of the FBI and FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations

Fig & Olive: Salmonella Outbreaks on Opposite Coasts
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/fig-olive-salmonella-outbreaks-on-opposite-coasts/
By Linda Larsen (Sep 23, 2015)
The restaurant chain Fig & Olive has been linked to two Salmonella outbreaks on opposite coasts of the country. One of the restaurants is located in Washington D.C.’s City Center, and the other is on Melrose Place in West Hollywood, California. Restaurants are the most common setting for foodborne illness outbreaks, and restaurant chains are often involved.
The Washington D.C. outbreak may have sickened 160 people in 5 states. The outbreak in West Hollywood has sickened at least 12 people, with nine confirmed cases. Some of the patients in the California outbreak are employees. The restaurants are part of a New York-based chain.
The D.C. Fig & Olive was closed for six days while an investigation was conducted by health inspectors.  The restaurant reopened when management provided evidence of clean-up and sanitization of the kitchen and premises, verified employee health training, and destroyed current food inventory. Recent inspections found food safety violations; they were corrected before the restaurant was allowed to reopen.
Health officials say the health risk has been eliminated at the D.C. restaurant. Two items were removed from the menu: truffle fries and mushroom croquettes. We don’t know if those foods were associated with the outbreak, or if another food common to both restaurants is the culprit.  Both restaurants could have the same supplier for foods that could be contaminated with the bacteria. We also don’t know if the serotype of Salmonella that is causing these illnesses is the same in both restaurant outbreaks.
In the California outbreak, the Los Angeles County Health Department confirmed the numbers for Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email. In that outbreak, symptomatic food handlers were removed from the job and submitted stool samples. The health department is conducting interviews with patients and staff to try to solve the outbreak.
There is a nationwide Salmonella outbreak ongoing at this time linked to imported cucumbers distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce of California. There is also an outbreak in Minnesota Chipotle restaurants linked to tomatoes. We don’t know if either of those foods played a part in the Fig & Olive outbreaks. We do know that the cucumbers were shipped nationwide and were sold to food service distributors.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, abdominal cramps, and headache. If you ate at a Fig & Olive restaurant anywhere in the country, or, for that matter, at any restaurant, and have experienced these symptoms, see your doctor.
If you have been sick with a Salmonella infection, it’s important to know that the long term consequences of this illness can be serious even if you recover without medical care. Reiter’s Syndrome, which can cause eye irritations and reactive arthritis, is one complication. Heart disease, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome can also be complications of this illness. Your doctor should have a record of this illness for your future health.

Peanut CEO Gets Harshest Food Safety Penalty Ever
Source : http://www.popsci.com/peanut-ceo-gets-prison-sentence-for-salmonella-harshest-food-safety-penalty-ever
By Lindsey Kratochwill (Sep 23, 2015)
28 years in prison for salmonella outbreak
Following a salmonella outbreak in 2008 and 2009, the court handed down a stern sentence for Stewart Parnell and his associates at the Peanut Corporation of America on Monday. The court sentenced him to serve 28 years in prison, while his brother Michael (also part of the company) was sentenced to 20 years, and their quality assurance manager got five years.
According to the BBC, not only were the Peanut Corporation facilities compromised with a leaky roof and cockroaches, but the company produced fake lab certificates that declared their peanuts safe to eat, when no such lab testing had taken place, or the lab results deemed the food contaminated. Not surprisingly, the tainted products caused salmonella poisoning in 700 reported cases and led to nine deaths.

Unfortunately, these aren't the only salmonella outbreaks, and they aren't the only that involve shady, criminal acts. This year alone, a number of other companies were taken to task in the court system. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department as either "won convictions or guilty pleas in four criminal cases against food companies or the executives that ran them."

In May, Quality Egg, which was part of a salmonella outbreak in 2010, was ordered to pay fines amounting to $6.79 million. The outbreak was responsible for almost 2,000 customers falling ill. Austin "Jack" and Peter DeCoster--the owner and COO, respectively, of Quality Egg--have been sentenced to three months in federal prison, but because of appeal proceedings, that's currently on hold.
Also in May of this year, ConAgra pled guilty in another salmonella case involving Peter Pan peanut butter in a 2006-2007 salmonella outbreak. "The plea agreement provides that ConAgra Grocery Products will pay a criminal fine of $8 million and forfeit assets of $3.2 million. The criminal fine is the largest ever paid in a food safety case." the Department of Justice notes in a statement.
In a press release you most certainly don't want to read, the FDA details the indictment levied against a company distributing Mexican cheese under the name After doing some pretty heinous things like cutting off mold from returned cheese and re-selling it, and distributing cheese "adulterated with salmonella, E. coli and other illness-causing bacteria," in 2007, the former president of the company, Miguel Leal, pled guilty. His sentence, which was also handed down this May, included a $750,000 fine and probation, and five days incarceration.
The FDA is implementing new rules to avoid spreading more of the salmonella, E. coli, and other inedible items that have been popping up in foods. The new rules, which aim to prevent such outbreaks before they happen, will be implemented in phases starting in September 2016.

China’s FDA is Busy Proposing, Finalizing Food Safety Regulatory Rules
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/chinas-fda-busy-issuing-food-safety-regulatory-rules/#.VguPFhGheUl
By News Desk (Sep 22, 2015)
Working at lightning speed compared to their U.S. counterparts, officials with the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) have reportedly issued several proposed rules and finalized three, and it’s only been about four months since revisions to the country’s Food Safety Law were adopted. These revisions become effective Oct. 1, 2015.
The responsibility for regulating food safety in China has been assigned to different agencies over the years, according to recent reports, but it has mainly resided within CFDA since the spring of 2013.
Because of this fragmented history, CFDA has had to synthesize varying food safety rules and regulations, such as those applying to food recalls and food manufacturing.
CFDA announced on Aug. 27 that it would standardize how health food products are named so that consumers aren’t confused. A few days before that, the agency issued guidelines for reforming the appraisal and approval system for drugs and medical instruments.
CFDA has also issued regulations on reviewing and issuing food manufacturing licenses, which are now being required for most food processing companies. Distributors, retailers and food service establishments will also be required to have distribution licenses from the agency.
It’s not yet clear how CFDA regulations will address the recurring instances of food fraud in China. Some perpetrators have recently been arrested and jailed.

Cucumber Salmonella Outbreak Sickens 558
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/cucumber-salmonella-outbreak-sickens-558/
By Linda Larsen (22 Sep, 2015)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated their investigation into the Salmonella Poona outbreak linked to imported cucumbers. Since the last update on September 15, 2015, 140 new illnesses have been reported. Now at least 558 people in 33 states have been sickened in this outbreak.
One hundred twelve people have been hospitalized as a result of their infections, and three people have died. Those who died lived in Arizona, California, and Texas. Fifty-two percent of ill people are children under the age of 18. The new states involved in this outbreak are Iowa and South Dakota.
A recall by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce, which imported the cucumbers, has been issued. The FDA has discovered that the cucumbers were produced at Rancho Don Juanito de R.L. de C.V. in Baja, Mexico and issued an import alert banning those cucumbers from entering the United States.
The Andrew & Williamson recall was for all cucumbers sold under the “Limited Edition” brand label from August 1, 2015 through September 3, 2015. Custom Produce Sales recalled all cucumbers sold under the Fat Boy label starting August 1, 2015. And in Alaska, Safeway and Carrs recalled made-to-order deli sandwiches that were made with recalled cucumbers.
The recalled cucumbers were distributed in  Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. They may have been sold and distributed in other states as well.
The case count by state is: Alaska (12), Arizona (95), Arkansas (8), California (120), Colorado (17), Hawaii (1), Idaho (20), Illinois (8), Indiana (2), Iowa (1), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Louisiana (4), Minnesota (29), Missouri (9), Montana (14), Nebraska (5), Nevada (11), New Mexico (27), New York (5), North Dakota (3), Ohio (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (17), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (8), South Dakota (1), Texas (24), Utah (46), Virginia (1), Washington (18), Wisconsin (29), and Wyoming (4). Illnesses started on July 3, 2015 and have continued to September 11, 2015.
Ill persons range in age from less than 1 year to 99 years, with a median age of 16. Among 387 people who have been interviewed, 112, or 29%, are hospitalized. That is a higher rate than the usual number of hospitalizations associated with a Salmonella outbreak. Illnesses that occurred after August 28, 2015 may not be reported yet. It can take weeks between a diagnosis and report to government officials. This outbreak may grow again.
The stores that have recalled these cucumbers include some locations of Walmart, WinCo, Savemart, Ralphs, and Food 4 Less. It has been difficult to pinpoint where the vegetables were sold, since no distribution list has been released. The cucumbers were also sold at Red Lobster stores and are linked to an outbreak through that venue.
The cucumbers in question are called “slicer” or “American” cucumbers. They are 7 to 10 inches long, dark green, with a large seed center. The cucumbers are usually 1.75 to 2.5 inches in diameter and are sold in bulk bins with little or no labeling.
If you ate cucumbers in the last few months and have been sick with the symptoms of a Salmonella infection, please see your doctor. Those symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea that may be bloody, fever, chills, headache, and muscle pains. Symptoms usually begin six to seventy-two hours after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria.
Most people recover without medical treatment, but some become so ill they must be hospitalized. The complications of a Salmonella food poisoning infection can include sepsis, or a blood infection. Long term consequences can include arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Salmonella at Fig & Olive on Melrose Place, Too?
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-at-fig-olive-on-melrose-place-too/
By Carla Gillespie (Sep 22, 2015)
Earlier this month, the Fig & Olive restaurant in Washington DC’s City Center was linked to Salmonella outbreak that sickened as many as 160 people from five states and the District of Columbia.  But was the West Hollywood location affected, too?
At least 12 people who ate at the Fig & Olive on Melrose Place have Salmonella infections. So far, nine cases are confirmed. Of those, six are patrons and three are employees, the Los Angeles County Health Department told Food Poisoning Bulletin in an email.
All food handlers and any symptomatic nonfood handlers have been removed from work and were asked to submit stool samples. Interviews are ongoing with ill individuals and confirmed cases.
At both locations, truffle oil was mentioned as a suspected source. Fig & Olive makes its own truffle oil. There has not been a recall. But at the DC location, which reopened last week after a six-day closure, truffle fries and mushroom croquettes are no longer on the menu.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection including fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody. Stool cultures can confirm an infection and determine if it it part of the outbreak.
Salmonella lives in the intestines of animals and causes infection when food contaminated with microscopic amounts of fecal matter is ingested.  The contamination can occur in the growing fields, during slaughter, or if an infected food handler shows up for work. People with Salmonella infections can still spread disease up to three days after symptoms resolve.
There have been a number of recent Salmonella outbreaks. A 31-state cucumber Salmonella outbreak has sickened 418 people killing three of them. Some of those illnesses were linked to cucumbers served on salads at Red Lobster restaurants.
In Minnesota, at least 10 people got Salmonella infections from Red Lobster salads with cucumbers. The national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen, which underwrites Food Poisoning Bulletin, filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of them.
Three strains of Salmonella Poona are associated with that outbreak which has been linked to cucumber grown in Mexico and distributed in the U.S. by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce.
In Minnesota, a Salmonella Newport outbreak linked to tomatoes served at Chipotle restaurants has sickened at least 64 people. So far, illnesses were reported in association with food served at 22 of the 60 Minnesota Chipotle locations.
And two Salmonella outbreaks have been linked to raw, frozen stuffed chicken entrees. One, linked to Chicken Kiev and other products were produced by Barber Foods. Nine people in four states were sickened in that outbreak, two were hospitalized. The illnesses were reported from April 5 through June 8 among case patients ranging in age from 19 to 82 years.
Barber has issued a recall for the product which was sold at Sam’s Club s stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois and at other stores.
The second was linked to raw, frozen stuffed chicken entrees produced by Aspen Foods. Three people were sickened in this outbreak.
Aspen Foods issued a recall of 1,978,680 pounds of frozen, raw, stuffed and breaded chicken products sold under multiple brand names. Since that time, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) began increased monitoring at the plant and has found Salmonella in twelve samples.
To protect consumers from products produced at the Chicago plant which has a “systemic” Salmonella problem, FSIS issued a public health alert and directed its personnel to detain all products covered by the alert found in commerce.

New Era for Food Safety: What Companies Must Do
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/09/new-era-for-food-safety-what-companies-must-do/#.VguQxhGheUl
By Jennifer McEntire and Shannon Cooksey (22 Sep, 2015)
Opinion
The processed food industry has evolved over the past several decades to keep pace with food safety advances, including the development of HACCP and, more recently, the implementation of GFSI-benchmarked food safety management programs.
The implementation of FSMA is yet another revolutionary change that will have tremendous impact on the industry.
Why? Because the food safety programs within facilities are no longer voluntary. They will be evaluated by FDA and require documentation and justification in a format that will be accepted by an FDA inspector, which is not necessarily the approach of a food manufacturer today. “Because we’ve always done it this way” won’t necessarily hold up with an FDA inspector in this new era.
To show they are in compliance with the preventive controls rules, companies will need to think hard about the rationale supporting their HACCP plans, especially their hazard analysis. Have you thoroughly considered possible hazards? Are the hazards clearly identified and independently evaluated? Moving forward, companies will have to spend more time deliberating and documenting their analyses than they have in the past in order to remain in compliance with the new regulations.
This leads to the next big question: How are significant hazards controlled? Historically there were critical control points (CCPs) and prerequisite programs (PRPs). Now, with the finalization of the preventive controls rules, we have “preventive controls” (PCs) in addition to CCPs and PRPs. The distinction between a PRP and a PC is much fuzzier than the distinction between a CCP and a PRP. Prior to the rule, the default was that if a hazard couldn’t be controlled by a CCP, it was controlled by a PRP. Now that’s not necessarily the case. If the PRP is necessary for the control of a significant hazard, it’s no longer a PRP. It now falls under the definition of a PC. For example, if you’re relying on your supplier to control a hazard, that’s not a PRP, it’s a PC. The same could be true of the need to assure adequate sanitation to remove residual allergens; allergen control and sanitation might have previously been considered PRPs, but may now be considered PCs as part of the new rules.
Once a company reconsiders if PRPs should be re-designated as preventive controls under the new rules, these programs and processes that are part of the PCs need to be implemented, monitored, and documented with the same rigor that has always been associated with a CCP. Obviously, the nature of the documentation and monitoring is different between a CCP and other PCs, but the importance of PCs, and the emphasis that a facility places on them, needs to be high.
This will represent a major shift for some companies. Even if PRPs, CCPs, and other PCs are in place today and are well implemented, companies may lack the necessary documentation to prove it. At the end of the day, a regulatory inspection will not be limited to what the inspector sees happening on the plant floor that day; it will include an evaluation of how the facility has been operating for the past several weeks or months. Records provide that history, and facilities will need to make sure that they not only exist, but are legible and accessible. In the eyes of FDA, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t occur.
As the rules change, resulting in increases in the need for record-keeping, manufacturers will need to convey this to their staff throughout the company, including those on the production lines, at receiving, in sanitation, etc. Every employee will need to understand the critical role they play in the production of safe food and the necessity of following written procedures — and documenting that they have done so.
While documentation and record-keeping around historical PRPs is taking on new importance, in the pre-rule days, progressive companies realized that the “HACCP system” encompasses PRPs and care and attention was paid to them. One GFSI-benchmarked scheme goes so far as to call out operational PRPs that are required for the assurance of safety.
That said, there may be instances where a regulator observes a process that they might consider a CCP only to find that the facility considers it a PRP. This will most commonly occur when a product is cooked to quality, far surpassing safety. In other words, in order to produce an edible product, the process by definition exceeds the conditions required for safety. An example could be cooked, ready-to-eat pasta.
Another FSMA-related issue companies need to be aware of is managing the inspection process. As FDA transitions to a mentality where they are looking at the totality of food safety that results from a comprehensive approach to food safety, we can anticipate there will be times when a company and a regulator do not see eye to eye. This is part of the reason that being able to demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the programs and policies in place is imperative.
We anticipate that FDA will release guidance documents to illustrate implementation options to firms. However, since many companies already implement, in one form or another, several of the programs that are now required by regulation, they may have approaches that differ from what is stated in the FDA guidance.
We are hopeful that FDA will develop an escalation and appeals process so a company has an opportunity to share its justification of a specific decision or process with subject matter experts at the agency in order to gain recognition and acceptance of valid approaches that may stray from provisions specified in FDA guidance.
Members of the food industry can take several steps now to begin preparing for compliance and the changed inspections:
•Review food safety plans and ensure that they include CCPs, preventive controls such as supplier verification and recall plans, and PRPs.
•Ensure sufficient documentation exists for every aspect of the decision-making process that identifies what is a CCP, PC, and PRP.
•Conduct a mock inspection of your facility to gauge preparedness and assess whether staff knows where and how to access relevant information in a timely manner.
FDA has indicated that it will be developing multiple guidance documents to aid the industry in FSMA implementation. In addition, several other groups, such as university Extension offices, consultants, and associations such as the Grocery Manufacturers Association, are launching comprehensive education and training programs as a resource to assist companies in filling the gaps that might be identified.

More than 3,700 Hardee’s Customers vaccinated against hepatitis A in South Carolina – Marler Clark Retained
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/more-than-3700-hardees-customers-vaccinated-against-hepatitis-a-in-south-carolina/#.VguRERGheUl
By Patti Waller (22 Sep, 2015)
The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) today announced it has provided 3,706 vaccinations through its hepatitis A vaccine clinics in Spartanburg and Greenville. Vaccinations are being offered to individuals who might have been exposed to hepatitis A at two Hardee’s restaurants located in Spartanburg County.  The restaurants are located at 12209 Greenville Highway in Lyman and 1397 E. Main St. in Duncan.
DHEC’s Spartanburg and Greenville county health departments will continue to provide post-exposure treatments Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., through September 29, 2015.
Customers and staff who consumed food or drink at either of these two restaurants between the dates of Aug. 31 and Sept. 15, 2015, and Sept. 1 and Sept. 13, 2015, respectively, could have been exposed to the hepatitis A virus. A single dose of the hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for this type of exposure.
There is no cost for this vaccination while DHEC clinics are open and running due to this incident.  The last day in which the vaccine is beneficial is two weeks (14 days) after the last possible exposure, which was Sept. 15. Therefore, people will be able to receive the vaccine free of charge at our clinics until Sept. 29.
Customers and staff who, as of today, ate at the Lyman-area restaurant between Sept. 8 and Sept. 15, 2015, or the Duncan-area restaurant between Sept. 8 and Sept. 13, 2015, should receive post-exposure treatment for hepatitis A.
As of today, customers and staff who ate at the restaurants between Aug. 31 and Sept. 7 are not likely to benefit from post-exposure treatment.
Anyone who ate at these Hardee’s restaurants between these dates should watch for symptoms of infection, such as nausea, vomiting, and jaundice, which is yellowing of the eyes and skin. Seek medical care if symptoms develop.
Hepatitis A: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food. The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Subway, McDonald’s, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr.
If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Few food safety rules implemented by FDA
Source : http://www.kvue.com/story/news/investigations/defenders/2015/09/21/few-food-safety-rules-implemented-by-fda/72563824/
By Terri Gruca, KVUE (21 Sep, 2015)
The KVUE Defenders uncovered that few of the safety rules meant to prevent food contamination passed by Congress in 2011 have been implemented by the Food and Drug Administration.
University of Texas senior Alex Strubbe has been on a journey he'd rather forget.
"It was the worst experience I've ever had," Strubbe said. "I experienced really bad stomach pain. I thought it would pass in a couple of days and it ended up being two and a half weeks later."
It started after eating a lettuce wrap in December. Doctors diagnosed him with an E. coli infection. Four medications later and several pounds lighter, he considers himself lucky.
One in six Americans will be diagnosed with some type of foodborne illness this year; 3,000 of them will die.
Congress passed the Food Modernization Safety Act in 2011, however, only two of the seven safety rules passed have been implemented.
Shirley Mae, 72, was one of them. She died from salmonella poisoning in 2008 after eating a slice of toast topped with tainted peanut butter.
"My mom was the greatest mother in the world. I think about her every day,"said Jeff Almer.
According to the CDC, infections have been getting worse for years. The two most common, campylobacter and salmonella, are often the result of undercooked meat.
The FDA is responsible for 80 percent of our nation's food supply, regulating everything from produce to processed foods. The USDA is responsible for the other 20 percent; things such as meat, seafood and poultry.
The KVUE Defenders sorted through FDA and USDA records and found 1,901 different foods recalled in the last five years; everything from lettuce to meat to ice cream.
Congress passed the Food Modernization Safety Act in 2011, which is designed to prevent contamination instead of just responding to outbreaks. There are seven new rules:
•Companies are required to keep better records of potential hazards and what they're doing to mitigate them in both human and pet foods.
•Increase the safety of our produce
•Set up foreign supplier verification programs
•Set up a system to accreditate third-party vendors
•Set rules for sanitary transportation
•Set rules to protect food against intentional adulteration
However, in four years, only two of the seven safety rules passed have been implemented, and that was done Sept. 10. The Defenders asked the FDA why.
"We're laying the foundation of the food safety system for the next 50 years. We will be operating under this system, so we've got to get this right," said Mike Taylor, deputy commissioner of the FDA. "I don't think it could be done well faster than we're doing it."
"There's no switch to flip," he said. "This is a system change. It's about changing the behavior of hundreds of thousands of foods, farmers, millions of people whose behaviors everyday determine every day whether food is safe."
The U.S. imports more food than ever before -- 11 million different lines in 2014. Most of that food is coming from Canada, Mexico, Europe and China.
"There is a huge investment challenge on the import side of things. For the very first time we're being given the authority to hold importers accountable for verifying that the food they're bringing into this country is safe," Taylor said.
The new law was supposed to increase foreign inspections every year with the goal of having 19,000 foreign inspections this year.
"We're far short of that goal," Taylor said. "We've increased inspections significantly because before the law was passed we were conducting 200 to 300 foreign inspections a year; we're now at the level of 1,200 to 1,400."
That means the FDA physically examined 1.7 percent, or 188,578, of those 11,011,520 lines.
"We need to be overseas more. We need to be able to do more inspections, work with foreign government," said Taylor. "We crucially need Congress to provide the funds we requested in the 2016 budget to implement this law."
Money may be part of the problem in getting these new rules in place.
"Our current funding gap is in the $375 million range. We hope to get $110 million of that in 2016," said Taylor. "Congress has given us the resources – enough to get the rules on the books, but the rules on the books don't make food safe."
"It's the food companies that don't want stringent rules," said UT Austin law professor Dr. Thomas McGarity. "They say all these rules are about paperwork and burdensome requirements that are going to cause the price of food to go up, and to some extent that's true."
Dr. McGarity teaches food safety law at UT's law school. He said that's the reality for consumers.
"Yes, it might mean that the price of food goes up," he said.
For many families, like Jeff Almers, the price of prevention can't be measured.
"Here it's six years later and I'm still talking about my mom's death," Almer said.
"I'm much more aware and I'm much more cautious," Strubbe said.
Go here for more FDA consumer updates.

Is Our Food Safe?
Source : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jenny-dewey-rohrich/food-safety_b_8160054.html
By Jenny Dewey Rohrich (21 Sep, 2015)
If you watch the news or scroll social media, you should probably be in fear every time you eat. Between E. coli, Listeria, and Salmonella, the news media hypes up food-borne illness like never before. It only takes a couple minutes scrolling on Facebook before you find a new article entitled, "the hidden dangers behind your food" or some other fear-inspiring headline.
The reality and irony to those is that, if you live in the United States, we live in a country where never before have so many food safety standards and education been in place in the history of our food system. We all remember the history of our food system, stories much like Upton Sinclair's The Jungle were commonplace. Today, the face of food safety is much different. Many who produce and market our food like to use this fact as a selling point. We have outplayed the reality of safe food so much; it has become a buzzword we carelessly toss out the window. In fact, I've actually seen some consumer research shows that "safe food" doesn't resonate as a selling point with consumers anymore.
What!?
If you ask me, it is pretty sad reality when we carelessly and thoughtlessly dismiss facts about the safety of our food and we can no longer find pride in the fact that what we put on our tables is indeed, safe. Even worse, as a public, we have become increasingly fearful and incessantly critical of the food we put on our tables. I've written about our addiction to fear before.
But the worst part of it all is that we believe that by promoting this fear, we are somehow doing a service to everyone by making our food safer. This may or may not be, but the reality of the situation is that this perceived fear paired with science illiteracy has actually made it harder for those who ensure our food stays safe to do their jobs.
Don't get me wrong, taking a critical look as well as being cognizant about the food we eat is a good thing. I love when people want to learn more about how their food is grown or produced. But when I find myself in the depths of the latest scandal in regards to our food, I find that gaining perspective helps bring me back to reality. It is easy to get carried away in the headlines without taking time to look at the facts.
So, let's gain some perspective. What is the reality? Is our food really safe?
The U.S. census bureau reported that in 2010 the population of the U.S. stood at about 308 million. Now you figure, 308 million people eat an average of two meals a day, some three a day but for simplicity's sake, two meals a day. If you do the math, that is 616 million meals eaten every single day, which equals out to around 225 billion meals consumed in the United States each year (616 million * 365).
Now out of those 225 billion meals consumed, according to the CDC annual's estimates, about 48 million illnesses result from food born pathogens, 127,839 are hospitalized, and 3,037 deaths each year.
If you take the average number of meals eaten per year (about 225 billion) and divide it by the reported number of illnesses (48 million). That is 0.0002 percent of meals eaten result in food borne illness. But the criticism of many is that is half of all food borne illnesses go unreported. So let's double it. Let's say 100 million food borne illnesses happen each year. That is still 0.0004 percent. Even if we assumed that 1 billion meals eaten result in food borne illness, we are still at 0.004 percent. And that is just illnesses. 127,000 hospitalizations divided by the 225 billion meals eaten... you get the idea.
According to the math, less than 1 percent of meals eaten in the United States every single day result in a food borne illness, yet if you were to watch the news or scroll Facebook, you'd get a different story. Now please don't take my casual nature of the subject to mean that I don't care about food safety.
As producers and growers of the food that ends up on all of our plates, food safety is something that is on our minds almost daily. Would we like to see that number at zero point zero? Yes of course. After all, we are consumers too. And feed our families the same food you do. In a perfect world, there would be zero risks associated with the food we eat. But we don't live in a perfect world; we live in the real world.
And here in the real world, there's a whole host of people who have made it their life's work to try and get our food system as close to no risk as they can. As well as ensure everyone in this country has a full belly, but that is another buzzword for another time. So as someone growing and producing a small part of the food that ends up on your table, would you do me a favor? Every once in a while could we all give a tip of the hat to those who put their life into ensuring that our food supply is safe? Let's reclaim and be proud of the fact that our food supply here in the United States remains one of the safest in the world.
While so many out there have to live in fear of their next meal or finding clean water, we don't. It is not only a fact, it is a true blessing we take for granted every single time we put that fork to our mouths.
I'd have to say that our food is pretty darn safe, wouldn't you?
Resources
 Andrews, J. (2014) Looking Back at 100 Years of U.S. Food Safety History
 CDC. (2011). Estimates of Food Borne Illness in the United States.
 Dewey Rohrich, J. (2014). We Love Fear.
 IFT. (2015). Food Safety
 Myhrvold, N. Young, C. Bilet, M. (2011). The Complex Origins of Food Safety Rules
 U.S. Census Bureau. (2011) State & County Quick Facts.
 USDA. (2015) History of FSIS 
Vilsack, T. (2012)  Ensuring a Safe Food Supply for Americans.

 

 

 

 

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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