Honolulu Restaurant Closed for Food Safety Violations
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/10/honolulu-restaurant-closed-for-food-safety-violations/#.ViQ3TxGheUl
By News Desk (Oct 18, 2015)
The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) Sanitation Branch has issued a red “closed” placard to Blue Water Shrimp and Seafood Market located at the Ala Moana Shopping Center in Honolulu.
Numerous health inspections revealed chronic temperature violations. The department has issued a penalty fee of $9,000 for the violations that led to the posting of the red placard.
A yellow “conditional pass” card was issued to Blue Water Shrimp and Seafood Market on Oct. 7, and subsequent follow-up inspections on Oct. 9-16 revealed multiple violations of temperature requirements for holding perishable foods.
DOH held a formal meeting with the owner of the establishment on Oct. 15 to discuss the serious nature of the establishment’s outstanding food safety violations. On Oct. 16, a follow-up inspection revealed that foods which require temperature controls, such as raw meat products, were being held above 41 degrees F.
The state’s food safety rules require perishable foods be held at temperatures below 41 degrees F to control pathogenic bacterial growth and prevent the risk of foodborne illnesses, or food poisoning.
The temporary suspension of the establishment’s food permit and the posting of a red “closed” placard will remain in effect until all cold holding violations are corrected and verified by a health inspection. The establishment may request an inspection when it is ready, or may request a hearing to contest the permit suspension.
The state’s placarding system for food establishments began on July 21, 2014, and since that time, DOH’s Sanitation Branch has completed more than 9,068 inspections statewide under the new program. The vast majority of food establishments in Hawaii are in compliance, meet all health requirements, and have their green placard displayed.
This is the second Hawaii food establishment to receive a red placard. The department recently shut down a popular Oahu bakery for temperature control violations.
Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Barber Foods Frozen Chicken Over
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-barber-foods-frozen-chicken-over/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 18, 2015)
The Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak linked to raw, frozen, stuffed chicken entrees made by Barber Foods has ended, according to the CDC. However, the government warns that this product has a long shelf life and may still be in consumer’s homes. Anyone who is not aware of this recall could eat these products and get sick. This is not the same Salmonella outbreak as the one linked to raw, frozen, stuffed chicken trees made by Aspen Foods, which is ongoing.
Fifteen people in seven states have been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella. Four persons were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. The case count by state is:Connecticut (1), Illinois (2), Minnesota (8), New Hampshire (1), New York (1), Oklahoma (1), and Wisconsin (1).
All four of the outbreak strains of Salmonella Enteritidis were resistant to ampicillin and tetracycline, which is probably why the hospitalization rate in this particular outbreak was so high. Antibiotic resistance is also associated with an increased risk of bloodstream infection and treatment failure.
Public health investigators used the PulseNet system to find people in this outbreak. Illness onset dates ranged from April 5, 2015 to July 27, 2015. Ill persons ranged in age from 4 years to 82, with a median age of 32.
Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback information indicated that raw, frozen, stuffed, and breaded chicken entrees produced by Barber Foods were the likely cause of this outbreak. Of the 10 people interviewed, 90% ate one of those products before they got sick.
In addition, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected 15 samples of unopened products made by Barber Foods from retail locations and found Salmonella in 14 of those samples. One sample yielded one of the Salmonella outbreak strains. And unopened Barber Foods frozen chicken entrees were collected from two ill persons’ homes. The outbreak strain of Salmonella Enteritidis was found in three of those samples.
Barber Foods recalled about 38,320 pounds of Chicken Kiev on July 2, 2015 that were sold in Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. That recall was expanded on July 12, 2015 to include 1.7 million pounds of more Chicken Kiev products. They had use by/sell-by dates of April 28, 2016, May 20, 2016, and July 21, 2016 and lot codes 0950292102, 0950512101, or 0951132202. The products have the establishment number “P-276” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Those products were shipped nationwide.
Then, Omaha Steaks recalled stuffed chicken breast products made by Barber Foods. A small number had the establishment number “P-4230A” inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, chills, nausea, abdominal cramps, muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody. Symptoms usually appear six hours to three days after exposure to the bacteria. Most people recover within about a week, but some, especially in this outbreak, become so sick they need to be hospitalized.
If you purchased any of the recalled products, do not eat them. Throw them away in a double bag or sealed container so other people and animals can’t eat them. You can also return them to the place of purchase for a refund. Wash your hands well with soap and water after handling these products.
Food safety regulator FSSAI wants junk food out of schools
Source : http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/nation/food-safety-regulator-fssai-wants-junk-food-out-of-schools/147503.html
By tribuneindia.com (Oct 18, 2015)
Food safety regulator FSSAI has proposed restrictions on the sale of junk food items including noodles, chips, carbonated drinks and confectionery items in and around schools.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has come up with its draft guidelines on availability of wholesome and nutritious food in schools to check junk food consumption pattern among children.
Stating that “children are not the best judge of their food choice”, the FSSAI said schools are not the right place to promote foods high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS foods).
“Canteens in the schools should not be treated as commercial outlets,” the regulator said, adding that schools should develop a canteen policy to provide nutritious, wholesome and healthy foods.
“Restrict/limit the availability of most common HFSS foods in schools and areas within 50 meters,” the FSSAI said.
The food safety watchdog said the objective is to restrict/limit the consumption and availability of most common HFSS food (junk food) like chips, sugar sweetened carbonated & non-carbonated beverages, ready-to-eat noodles, pizzas, burgers and confectionery items.
The sale of widely promoted and advertised junk food should be restricted in schools and nearby areas of 50 meters, as child is there without parental supervision.
Given the rationale for its proposal, the regulator said as per National Institute of Nutrition (NIN) guidelines, said these foods are considered unhealthy due to unbalance in nutritions, as they are high in fat, sugar, salt and low in proteins, fibers, nuts.
In March, 2015, the Delhi High Court had directed the food regulator to give these guidelines a form of regulations or directions within a period of three months to enforce their implementation across the country. — PTI
Chipotle’s Bad Tomatoes Came From Nation’s Largest Field Producer
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/10/chipotles-bad-tomatoes-came-from-nations-largest-field-producer/#.ViQ3pxGheUl
By Dan Flynn (Oct 16, 2015)
After officials with the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recently caught 64 illnesses caused by food, quickly identified the pathogen, and then found and removed the contaminated source, their job was all but done except for writing the final report.
But there it remained for the past month because the suspect tomatoes were not grown in Minnesota.
MainLike other states with fresh produce grown outside of its borders, Minnesota has to rely on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to “trace the tomatoes back to the farm of origin.”
As of Thursday, Oct. 15, neither FDA nor CDC had yet made it official, but word leaked out that the Chipotle restaurant locations in Minnesota where patrons became ill in late August from Salmonella Newport were supplied with tomatoes by Six L’s Packing Co.
The company, doing business as Lipman Produce, was added as a defendant in a previously filed federal lawsuit against Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.
Lipman, based in Immokalee, FL, is the largest field tomato grower in North America. It grows tomatoes and vegetables on tens of thousands of acres in Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, California and Mexico. The family-held company, founded in the 1930s, is positioned to grow and ship 365 days a year.
Lipman packs about 15 million boxes of tomatoes a year, including Cherry, Florida Silk, and Roma varieties. In addition to tomatoes, Six L’s packs and ships corn, cucumbers, melons, peppers, and potatoes. Its customers include wholesale, retail, and food service.
The Lipman tomatoes were being served in at least 22 Chipotle locations in Minnesota during the latter half of August, when 64 people were known to have dined at one of the fast-casual Mexican restaurants and subsequently were sickened with Salmonella Newport. Nine of them were hospitalized. Most of the illnesses occurred between Aug. 19 and Sept. 3 from meals consumed as early as Aug. 16.
In response, Chipotle removed the offending tomatoes from its Minnesota restaurants and switched to another supplier.
Food Safety News invited both FDA and Chipotle to comment on the progress of the trace-back investigation, but neither accepted the offer.
Since many people who become infected with salmonellosis do not seek treatment, MDH officials said that the Salmonella outbreak involving Chipotle restaurants was probably much larger than just the identified cases.
Dana Eikmeier, state epidemiologist in MDH’s Foodborne Disease Unit, called Chipotle “extremely proactive” in helping to control the outbreak and identify the source of the contamination.
The restaurants where people were sickened were mainly located in the Twin Cities area, including some outlying counties to the north and south. During the period when people were exposed to the bad tomatoes, Chipotle reportedly served 560,000 consumers.
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Food safety top concern for consumers: survey
Source : http://www.fooddive.com/news/food-safety-top-concern-for-consumers-survey/407395/
By Carolyn Heneghan (Oct 15, 2015)
•American consumers are most concerned about food safety, followed by affordability and nutritional value of the foods they buy, according to a new survey from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
•While many marketing campaigns focus on how food is made, such as locally grown, non-GMO, or without antibiotics, fewer than three out of 10 survey respondents know about or were concerned with topics like GMOs or antibiotics.
•Nearly three-quarters of Americans believe food safety should be of utmost importance to food and beverage producers.
"The disparities between how the public thinks food producers are performing and how they should perform were striking. Survey respondents said that food producers lack a focus on food safety and nutrition by 50 points, and sustainability, transparency and affordability by 40 points," Food Safety News reported.
With so many American consumers focusing on safety, the timing is right for food and beverage companies to now be faced with FSMA's preventive rules and other upcoming rules from the FDA that will govern some of these companies' safety protocols.
Consumers are also wary of companies, as health professionals and friends and family are instead consumers' go-to sources for information about food. Increased transparency could be helpful for these companies in gaining some of that trust from consumers.
Food Safety News: Survey: Public Wants Food Producers to Focus on Safety and Nutrition
Multi-source surveillance works; ciguatera fish poisoning outbreak identified using linked databases
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/10/multi-source-surveillance-works-ciguatera-fish-poisoning-outbreak-identified-using-linked-databases/
By Ben Chapman (Oct 15, 2015)
Ciguatera fish poisoning sounds awful. Symptoms include paradoxical temperature perception, paresthesias, extremity numbness, a metallic taste, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, arthralgia, and myalgia. And a female fish lover in Florida experienced all of these things, according to CDC’s MMWR, after eating black grouper in October 2014.
Following her illness she notified Florida’s Department of Health through an online reportable illness complaint system.black-grouper
Keen epi folks took this single case as a signal, went into the Inter and Intra-nets of the public health and identified five additional cases. After reviewing food histories (and black grouper consumption) they were able to trace the fish to a common supplier and solved the mystery.
What looked like two separate events turned out to be a bigger deal. Yay for databases.
On November 3, 2014, the Florida Department of Health in Orange County (DOH-Orange) received a report through the DOH online foodborne illness complaint system from a person (patient A) describing paresthesias and numbness that suggested CFP, which had occurred on October 31, the day after eating two fish meals. The day the report was received, DOH-Orange interviewed patient A and determined that her illness met the CFP case definition. In Florida, a single case of CFP is considered an outbreak. Multiple data sources were used to identify five additional CFP cases. DOH-Orange, the DOH Bureau of Epidemiology, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS), and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) collaborated to conduct investigations at two restaurants, one grocery store, two fish distributors, and one fish supplier to identify the outbreak food source. The six persons with CFP had eaten black grouper either at a local restaurant or purchased from a grocery store; the fish was traced back to a common international distributor. Rapid identification and reporting of CFP cases to public health officials is imperative to facilitate supportive medical care and source-food traceback efforts.
The toxin associated with ciguatera fish poisoning is produced by a dinoflagellates (usually Gambierdiscus toxicus which lives on algae or dead coral) and is eaten up by sporting fish like barracuda, amber jack, snapper and black grouper
The fish eat the small organisms and overtime bioaccumulate the toxin in their tissue.
Then folks who like fish, eat it and get sick. Even if it’s cooked.
The toxin is pretty heat stable (FAO says that even 20 min of cooking at 158°F/70°C for 20 min was insufficient to fully denature the toxin protein).
Today is Global Handwashing Day
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/today-is-global-handwashing-day-2/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 15, 2015)
Today is the 8th annual Global Handwashing Day. This day is to help increase awareness and understanding of hand washing as a way to prevent disease, especially foodborne illness, around the world. In fact, researchers estimate that if everyone around the world routinely washed their hands, a million deaths could be prevented every year.
The CDC reports that although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. Soap and water available for hand washing may be less available in developing countries, and even when soap is available, it is often reserved for bathing and laundry instead. Washing hands with soap removes bacteria much more effectively than washing with plain water.
About 1.8 million children younger than the age of 5 die every year from diarrheal disease and pneumonia. those are the top two causes of death among young children around the world. Washing hands with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among this age group by 30% and reduce respiratory infections by 20%. Encouraging hand washing in school helps reduce illness days, and can help whole communities stay healthier.
The CDC says that hand washing is like a do-it-yourself vaccine with five steps: Wet, Lather, Scrub, Rinse, Dry. Wet your hands with clean, running water, turn off the tap, and apply soap. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. To properly time this step, hum the “Happy Birthday to You” song from beginning to end two times. Then rinse your hands well under cleaning, running water, and dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them. If someone in your home has a diarrheal illness, using a paper towel to dry your hands could help prevent disease.
They have made a video showing how to correctly wash your hands. The CDC also has developed a step by step instructional guide on how to accomplish this simple task.
Washing your hands is especially important after going to the bathroom, blowing your nose, changing diapers, before preparing and serving food, and after handling raw meats, poultry, seafood, and eggs. Remind children to wash their hands often.
While hand sanitizers can reduce the number of germs on your hands in some situations, they do not eliminate all types of germs, so don’t get a false sense of security if you use them. And remember that hand sanitizers aren’t as effective when hands are visible dirty or greasy. Any hand sanitizer you use should contain at least 60% alcohol to be effective.
And remember, especially if you work in a school, daycare, healthcare setting, or making or serving food to the public, that keeping fingernails trimmed and cleaned is an important part of hand hygiene. Fingernails should be kept short. Longer fingernails can harbor more dirt and bacteria than short nails. And all equipment for clipping or grooming nails should be properly cleaned and sterilized.
U.S. Apple Industry Gears Up to Comply With FDA’s FSMA Rules
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/10/u-s-apple-industry-gears-up-to-comply-with-federal-food-safety-rules/#.ViQ4exGheUl
By Cookson Beecher (Oct 14, 2015)
“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is more than a well-known saying — it’s also what many people believe to be time-tested truth. And the tradition of giving an apple to a teacher on the first day of school also says something about the apple’s solid reputation for being healthy and tasty.
CDC caramel appleIn the world of food safety, fresh apples had long been a shining star with no foodborne illnesses connected to them. But that changed last year when caramel apples were linked to a 12-state outbreak of Listeriosis, a potentially fatal foodborne illness.
That outbreak put 34 people in the hospital and, before it ended, seven of them were dead, with Listeriosis blamed for at least three of those deaths.
At first, the assumption was that the problem must be in the caramel used to coat the apples, or somewhere in the process of coating the apples with caramel. After all, people don’t get sick from eating fresh apples.
But an on-site investigation last January of Bidart Bros., the apple source for those contaminated caramel apples, revealed Listeria positives on polishing brushes, drying brushes, a packing line drain, inside a wood bin, and on an automatic line.
According to results of the investigation, federal and state inspectors “observed direct food contact areas of packaging equipment, used during the 2014 apple season, constructed and/or maintained in a manner so that they cannot be properly cleaned.”
Those results led the California company to voluntarily recall all of the Granny Smith and Gala apples processed in 2014 through their cooler-packing facility, and consumers were advised to toss any varieties supplied by Bidart.
Three distributors of caramel apples had already recalled their caramel apples in response to the outbreak.
All of this came as a shock to the apple industry, which prides itself on being ahead of the curve when it comes to food-safety practices. It also reinforced how important food safety is in the global marketplace, where one of every four apples grown in the U.S. ends up.
Christian Schlect, president of the Northwest Horticultural Council, told Food Safety News that growers and packers suffered an economic blow when buyers in some Asian countries learned about the recall. Asian countries, including Japan, India and Taiwan, account for a large share of U.S. apple exports.
In a recent article in Good Fruit Grower, Schlect wrote that when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified several foreign buyers that the “unsafe” apples might be in their local markets, some Asian countries temporarily restricted access for all U.S. apples — not just those supplied by Bidart Bros., which Schlect said had “limited export sales.”
Some of those countries required apples from the U.S. to be tested for Listeria monocytogenes at the border, and some even sent media outlets warnings about the dangers of U.S. apples.
Until the overblown fears subsided, growers and packers were hit with falling sales, which, in turn, resulted in falling prices. Schlect described that as the natural fallout when shipments are turned back and orders stop coming in.
“No doubt there were substantial damages to the industry,” he noted. “The growers and packing sheds that suffered financially won’t be able to recover their losses. There’s no one to sue.”
In an email to Food Safety News, Anne Morrell, food-safety coordinator at Hansen Fruit Company in Yakima, WA, said that the company exports a large portion of its apples to Asia.
“Our Asian customers were hearing wildly inaccurate rumors about the safety of Washington apples due to inaccuracies in translation,” she said.
Worse yet, the apple industry was also suffering from a port slowdown on the West Coast and from the Russian ban on U.S. produce.
“It was a perfect storm to drive apple prices down below the cost of production,” Morrell added.
The push from retailers
Morrell, a member of of the Northwest Horticultural Association’s Food Safety Committee, said that the tree-fruit industry is ahead of others when it comes to food safety, in large part because of pressure from retailers.
Around 2007, the large retailers, such as Walmart, Costco, Safeway and Kroger, began requiring packing houses to have third-party food-safety audits.
“Our industry organizations predicted it was only a matter of time until orchard-level audits would also be required, so they began helping growers become compliant with USDA’s Good Agricultural Practices and Global Good Agricultural standards,” she said.
That prediction came true in 2010, she said, when Walmart announced it would require farm certification and the other retail chains followed.
“As a result, even small tree-fruit growers have food-safety programs, so most of the requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act will not be hard to achieve,” Morrell said.
Mike Carter of Wisconsin-based Housman’s Inc. told a reporter from The Packer this past March that his company has been audited by a third-party auditor for the past eight years “not because we had a food-safety issue, but the customer base wanted to do business with someone who could evidence that they had it under control,” he said.
Carter said his company’s food-safety and traceability requirements are nothing new. In fact, the company has had food-safety protocols in place for “a number of years.’”
“Our industry is largely in compliance for what is likely to appear once the regulations are released late this fall,” he said.
Warren Morgan, a Washington state orchardist and owner of Double Diamond Fruit in Quincy, WA, which annually packs about 2 million boxes of apples, cherries and apricots, previously told Food Safety News that as farming operations become larger, there’s more risk of cross-contamination, which is why following food-safety practices becomes increasingly important.
He explained the nitty-gritty realities of the challenge this way: “Pathogens are doing their best to make it into our buildings, and our job is to beat them back as best we can.”
As proactive as the tree-fruit industry may be, there are plenty of challenges ahead. Not surprisingly, proposed water-quality standards designed to make sure that the fruit isn’t contaminated during the growing or packing processes have raised concerns. Testing and record-keeping is also part of the mix.
A top concern for apple growers are the proposed standards for water that touches the fruit. Morrell said that most apple orchards are irrigated with under-tree systems so, under normal irrigation, water doesn’t touch the edible fruit.
But when the hot weather hits in July, August and September, apple growers use overhead sprinklers to apply water to the tops of the trees to cool the fruit off. As the water evaporates, the fruit cools down. The spraying also protects the apples from sunburn. Then, too, the cooling promotes the development of red color, a definite plus in the marketplace. Morrell explained that pigments that turn the apples red are destroyed by heat, which is why cooling the apples off is so important.
According to the proposed food-safety rules, water that will touch the edible portion of the crop will need to be tested throughout the season for bacteria. The problem there, Morrell said, is that the growers would need to take a water sample from the tests to a commercial lab within 24 hours of the time it is collected. No easy task since the labs are often located far from the orchards.
From there, the grower would need to put the results of those tests into a complicated formula to determine whether the bacteria levels are too high to apply the water to the fruit.
Morrell said that if growers are required to stop evaporative cooling, as much as 30 percent of the apples would have to be culled due to sunburn and less-intense red color.
“Less color means fewer of the apples would be packed at premium grades, which would be a big financial loss to the grower,” she said, pointing out that that’s why growers are waiting to see whether the final FSMA Produce Rule, expected to be finalized this month, modified the originally proposed microbial standards and testing requirements.
While Morrell and her fellow apple growers wouldn’t want anything but the safest decision on this issue, she pointed out that “at this time, there is no data that shows whether evaporative cooling with water that is high in bacteria leads to bacterial presence on the apples at harvest.”
The reason why questions arise over this issue, Morrell said, is that there’s so much heat and UV radiation in the orchard when the fruit on the trees is sprayed for evaporative cooling that it’s unlikely the bacteria would survive on the fruit.
Research is needed to see if evaporative cooling poses any risk to the ultimate consumer of the apple, she added. If it doesn’t, then FDA should accept the findings of that research and adjust its standards.
Schlect said the industry definitely needs answers “based on science” on such questions.
“Growers are not very happy about more regulations and scrutiny of their practices,” he said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty right now. They get irrigation water from various sources. They don’t want to see their operations shut down during harvest, and they don’t want to face any liability.”
Yet he continues to remain optimistic.
“If the science shows there’s not a problem, the agency will be flexible,” he said. “Once the rules are out and the science develops, we’ll be going back to FDA for changes that can be made. That’s important because the rules are there for public health.”
Unfortunately, Schlect added, there are a lot of unknowns simply because not much research has been done on apples because they represent a relatively low-risk category.
“Research goes to ‘serious problems,’” he said. “Eating fresh fruits is low on the list of concerns. People have been eating apples with no problems almost since the dawn of time.”
Food-safety expert Trevor Suslow of the University of California-Davis told Food Safety News that more often than not, more data are needed specific to a region and to the agricultural practices of a commodity in that region.
“The bigger need is for short-term projects to help build data,” he said. “The challenge for growers and packers is to know your water.”
He also pointed out that there are a number of things to consider other than water when looking for evidence of pathogens on fruit. For example, the Listeria outbreak involving apples from Bidart Bros. made it clear that a “whole-systems approach” — not just looking at one specific piece of a system — is necessary.
On the legal front, Schlect warned that criminal actions in food-safety cases “have been on the uptick” as federal prosecutors seek jail time in especially egregious cases.
An example of that is the conviction and recent sentencing of two executives and a quality control manager for Peanut Corporation of America following a deadly Salmonella outbreak. Among the many charges against them were falsifying food-safety tests and knowingly shipping peanut products contaminated with Salmonella to customers.
“This sentence is going to send a stiff, cold wind through boardrooms across the U.S,” food-safety attorney Bill Marler told a reporter just after the PCA sentences were announced. (Marler is also the publisher of Food Safety News.)
He also pointed out that people in the food business are now very much aware of the no-longer-quiet criminal provisions in the 1938 Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act — both felony and misdemeanor sections.
Schlect also warned that recent advances in testing technology for human pathogens will make criminal or civil actions even more likely. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) continued expansion of its use of genome sequencing, which Schlect said provides a much more accurate and quicker way of linking a specific food product with foodborne outbreaks.
Morrell said the apple industry expects the worker-training requirements to be “manageable.”
“We are already training orchard workers on food safety at the time of hire, with constant reminders throughout the season,” she said, adding that workers are also being trained on ladder safety, heat stress and many other safety topics. “So any new training requirements in the FSMA should be easy to add to our programs.”
MainThe Northwest Horticultural Council’s Food Safety Committee and staff will be reading and trying to interpret the FSMA regulations as they’re published. Pointing out that the rules can run from 800 to 900 pages, Schlect said that staff members from various associations, as well as lawyers, will try to decipher them so they can be explained to growers and packing house owners.
But, he added, at the heart of it all is this reality: “Food safety is with us; it will not go away.”
Timeline on FSMA rules
The first two of the seven FSMA rules — Preventive Controls for Human Food and Preventive Controls for Animal Feed — were finalized in mid-September and are now up on the Federal Register. Compliance for some companies will begin in September 2016.
Broadly, the rules governing food for humans require registered food facilities to maintain a food-safety plan, perform a hazard analysis, and institute preventive controls for dealing with those hazards. Facilities also have to verify and document that their controls are working.
FDA is holding a public meeting about implementing these rules on Oct. 20 in Chicago. This meeting can also be viewed via live Webcast. Information about the meeting and how to register for it is available here.
The Produce Safety Rule is expected to be finalized this month. This rule establishes science-based, minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce on farms to minimize contamination that could cause serious adverse health consequences or death.
Morrell advises growers and packers to read the final produce rule when it’s published in the Federal Register so they can learn about any requirements that are different from what they’re currently doing.
“Our industry will come together to help all growers comply with the federal laws,” she said.
Other FSMA rules yet to be finalized by FDA:
•Foreign Supplier Verification Programs (FSVP) for Importers of Food for Humans and Animals Proposed Supplemental Rule
•Accreditation of Third-Party Auditors/Certification Bodies to Conduct Food Safety Audits and to Issue Certifications Proposed Rule
•Sanitary Transportation of Human and Animal Food Proposed Rule
•Focused Mitigation Strategies to Protect Food Against Intentional Adulteration Proposed Rule
Study Uncovers Likely Source of Listeria in Caramel Apples
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/study-uncovers-likely-source-of-listeria-in-caramel-apples/
By Staff (Oct 13, 2015)
Study Uncovers Likely Source of Listeria in Caramel Apples
In a study published this week, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s (UWM) Food Research Institute have concluded that caramel apples most likely become contaminated with Listeria from one source--the inserted dipping sticks upon which they stand. Additionally, they found that apples stored at room temperature pose higher health risks.
Last year, 35 illnesses, seven deaths and one miscarriage are all believed to have been the result of a multi-state Listeria outbreak stemming from pre-packaged caramel apples. The recalled Granny Smith and Gala apples were traced to Bakersfield, CA-based Bidart Bros. Testing had revealed the presence of Listeria at the company’s apple plant.
This new research by UWM was prompted because experts couldn’t figure out why or how Listeria could grow or flourish among hot caramel or raw apples because Listeria is known to thrive in moist, less acidic environments.
For this study, researchers began by deliberately covering the plain apples with Listeria to analyze its growth in a number of different environments. Using clean, well-washed apples with no bacteria would not have yielded the outcomes researchers were looking for. It is believed that when inserting the stick into the apple, inner juice leaks to the surface and creates an ideal microscopic environment between the apple and the caramel where bacteria can grow. According to research findings, the flourishing of such bacteria appeared to accelerate when apples were left unrefrigerated.
Although researchers agree that pre-packaged caramel apples should remain refrigerated until ready to eat, they just be warmed up to keep the hardened caramel from possibly chipping a tooth.
Two Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Pet Turtles
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/two-salmonella-outbreaks-linked-to-pet-turtles/
By Carla Gillespie (Oct 13, 2015)
Two Salmonella outbreaks linked tiny pet turtles have sickened at least 51 people in 16 states, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because small turtles have long been associated with Salmonella infections, especially in children, the sale of turtles with shells of less than four inches in length has been banned since 1974. Many of the case patients in this outbreak reported buying the small turtles from street vendors.
About half of the illnesses, which were reported between January 22, 2015 and September 8, 2015, affected children 5 and under. Epidemiologic investigations and laboratory findings have linked both outbreaks to contact with small turtles or their environments, such as water from a turtle habitat.
This is not the first time a multistate outbreak has been linked to illegal pet turtles. An outbreak in 2013 sickened 371 people in 40 states. And an outbreak in 2012 sickened 248 people in 34 states.
Turtles of any size can carry Salmonella. Owners of legally sized pet turtles should take care to wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling them or touching anything in the area where they live or roam. The CDC has compiled an infographic about safely keeping a pet turtle.
Anyone who has a turtle and has suffered the symptoms of a Salmonella infection, including fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea that may be bloody, should see a doctor. Those most at risk are children, seniors, and those with compromised immune systems.
After initial symptoms resolve, long term complications are possible including reactive arthritis, which causes eye irritation and painful swelling of the joints; irritable bowel syndrome, and heart problems.
This first outbreak includes 11 people infected with the strain Salmonella Sandiego. Those illnesses were reported from six states. By state the case count is as follows: California (4), Illinois (3), Mississippi (1), South Carolina (1), Texas (1), and Vermont (1).
Case patients, who ranged in age from younger than one year to 77 years, reported onset of illness dates between January 22, 2015 and August 18, 2015. Four people were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.
In the second outbreak, 40 people in 13 states were sickened by Salmonella Poona infections. By state, the case counts are as follows: Arizona (1), California (15), Illinois (2), Kansas (1), Missouri (1), Nevada (1), New Jersey (2), New York (5), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (3), and Texas (6).
Case patients in this outbreak, who range in age from from younger than one year to 82 years old, reported onset of illness between April 16, 2015 and September 8, 2015. Eleven people were hoapitalized.
Food safety and the role of vigilance against pests
Source : http://nrn.com/sponsored-content/food-safety-and-role-vigilance-against-pests
By nrn.com (Oct 12, 2015)
Frequent hand-washing is often cited as one of the most effective measures for preventing the spread of foodborne illness in restaurants. But chances are that the cockroach scurrying across an operator’s kitchen countertop has not washed any of its six, multi-jointed limbs.
Pests such as cockroaches, flies, rodents and even birds nesting in roof areas can be toxic vectors for pathogens in the foodservice environment, and their potential impact should be considered as part of an overall food-safety strategy.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta estimates that each year roughly one in six Americans — about 48 million people — are sickened by foodborne pathogens. Of those, approximately 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
Pests, both through their droppings and through contact with multiple surfaces in the restaurant, can play a role in the spread of these disease-causing agents, which include E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and others.
“Some pests are better vectors than others,” says Jennifer Brumfield, training and technical specialist at Western Pest Services. “For example, rodents can run across a cutting board where someone has been cutting chicken, and transfer that Salmonella pathogen to the bread area by dropping it off with their feet. Then someone can order a grilled cheese sandwich, never have any chicken, and get Salmonella poisoning.”
And while few operators might think of birds as a vector for food-borne illness, in fact their droppings can accumulate in areas where they might gain entry through an opening in the roof flashing, for example. Rainfall seeping through leaks in ducts or vents can then spread listeria from the droppings into the interior spaces of the restaurant.
Examples like those explain why a good pest-control service should not only eliminate an existing infestation, but also seek out potential trouble spots where pests could gain entry, breed and do their dirty work.
“Obviously, we can treat and kill the pests that are vectoring,” says Brumfield. “But we also look at preventing pests from getting in, and identifying the conditions that may be emerging which would attract and support a pest infestation. That includes making a structural inspection of the building, looking for entry points and any degrading issues with the building.”
Western Pest Services also makes sanitary recommendations and conducts services that help prevent infestation, such as drain cleaning and grease-trap treatments. The company is also adept at tracing infestations back to product suppliers, according to Brumfield. It can request an inspection of a supplier’s warehouse, for example, if the supplier is suspected as a source.
“In pest control everything is really a band-aid unless you find the source,” Brumfield says. “You can kill all the pests all day long, but the important thing is finding out why they are there and eliminating that. I think that's where our expertise really helps.”
Maintaining high standards
For operators, maintaining high standards for cleaning and sanitation is key, she says, noting that often operators do not remain vigilant about this important aspect of their businesses. Operators should also maintain a regimen of regular inspections from their outside pest control services company.
Training and educating workers about food safety overall and specifically about the role pests can play as vectors of disease also is critical.
Brumfield says operators should have a set of protocols that includes a formal sequence of steps employees need to take when they see pests or signs of pests in the restaurant. In addition, there should be a logbook where such sightings and activities are recorded.
“A lot of times we tell our technicians to go talk to the dishwasher because they see everything, but if employees are using a log book to record pest activity, we will have a much greater frame of reference about what’s going on in the facility” she says.
As part of its comprehensive White Linen Protection service, which was developed specifically for fine-dining restaurants, Western Pest Services provides a logbook for this purpose, and also seeks to encourage safe food-handling practices overall. It provides posters that describe thorough sanitation procedures and other tips for preventing food-borne illness, such as information about cooking temperatures and proper food-storage practices.
“We get that it’s not just the work we do with pest control,” says Lisa Weidmaier, training and technical services manager at Western Pest Services. “’It takes a village,’ so to speak, and we are trying to help by sharing all that information with our customers and their staff.”
Toddlers in Maine Sickened by Same Strain of E. coli
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/toddlers-in-maine-sickened-by-same-strain-of-e-coli/
By Linda Larsen (Oct 12, 2015)
The E. coli bacteria that sickened two Maine children after visiting the Oxford County fair have the same genetic fingerprint, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control. One of those little boys died last week. The strain is E. coli O111, one of the Shiga toxin-producing bacteria found in ruminant animals.
The second child is recuperating from hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and is undergoing dialysis and blood transfusions. Both children were at the petting barn at the fair in September 2015. Noted food safety attorney Fred Pritzker said, “no child should get so sick and die just because they attended a fair with their families.”
State Epidemiologist Dr. Siiri Bennett said at a press conference, “The strain and the molecular typing from each patient is identical, making it highly likely that the cases acquired the illness from the same source.” She added that the children “could have been exposed to unpasteurized milk, contaminated lettuce or vegetables, or undercooked meat.”
Environmental testing was conducted by public health officials at the fair. Samples were taken from the bedding of the petting barn, the main barn, livestock areas and animal pens as well. Those results are expected in a few days. The Maine CDC has not returned any of our requests for information about this outbreak.
A news report over the weekend disclosed that hand sanitizers placed at the exits of the petting barn were empty. The father of Colton Guay, the little boy who died, said he used sanitizer he brought to the fair to clean his child’s hands.
E. coli infections can be very serious illnesses, especially for children under the age of five. These bacteria live in the gut of ruminant animals such as cows, sheep, and goats. Those animals do not get sick because they don’t have the gene that lets the bacteria cause illness. E. coli is shed in the feces, and can usually be found in bedding, the environment around these animals, and on their hides.
Petting zoos are especially likely to be the source of these outbreaks, since small children love little animals and often put their hands in their mouths after touching animals. And it only takes 10 E. coli bacteria to make you sick.
Last year an E. coli outbreak in Minnesota was linked to Zerebko Zoo Tran, a traveling petting zoo that visited several county fairs in that state. Seven people were hospitalized in that outbreak, and two developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a sometimes deadly complication of this infection.
An E. coli outbreak at the Cleveland County Fair in North Carolina sickened more than 100 people in 2012. That outbreak was linked to the petting zoo at that venue.
The symptoms of an E. coli infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea that may be bloody, a mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. The symptoms usually begin three to ten days after exposure to the bacteria. The symptoms of HUS include low or no urine output, pale skin, easy bruising, skin rash, and jaundice. If your child has experienced any of these symptoms, see a doctor immediately. If an E. coli infection is treated with antibiotics, the chances of developing HUS increase, so a proper diagnosis is crucial.
Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce Cucumbers Sicken 732 & Kill 4 with Salmonella
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/andrew-williamson-fresh-produce-cucumbers-sicken-732-kill-4-with-salmonella/#.ViQ7txGheUl
By Bruce Clark (Oct 11, 2015)
Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 5.06.45 PM732 people have been infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Poona in 35 states. Epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations have identified cucumbers imported from Mexico and distributed by Andrew & Williamson Fresh Produce as a likely source of the infections in this outbreak. The number of ill people reported from each state is as follows:
Arizona (114) – 1 death
California (192) – 1 death
New Mexico (31)
New York (6)
North Dakota (6)
Oklahoma (12) – 1 death
South Carolina (9)
South Dakota (3)
Texas (34) – 1 death
Among people for whom information is available, illnesses started on dates ranging from July 3, 2015 to September 25, 2015. Ill people range in age from less than 1 year to 99, with a median age of 17. Fifty percent of ill people are children younger than 18 years. Fifty-five percent of ill people are female. Among 536 people with available information, 150 (28%) report being hospitalized.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants. The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.
If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.
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