Add food safety cards: Texas restaurant hands out rule cards instructing how kids should act
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/11/add-food-safety-cards-texas-restaurant-hands-out-rule-cards-instructing-how-kids-should-act/
By Doug Powell (Nov 15, 2015)
A restaurant is hoping to pre-empt unruly child behavior by giving parents with kids a rule card about proper table manners when they get seated.
Can diners have food safety cards they can hand to staff?
For the last few months, d, a Mexican restaurant located in the suburbs of Houston, Texas, has been handing out illustrated cards to families that come in to dine. The colourful card shows a happy family eating with text below that reads:
“Children at Cuchara don’t run or wander around the restaurant. They stay seated and ask their parents to take sthem to the rest room. They don’t scream, throw tantrums or touch the walls, murals, windows or other patrons. They are respectful!”
According to TV news service KHOU, the restaurant isn’t trying to discourage parents from bringing in their kids but they do want diners to be mindful of how their children behave.
The move comes after the restaurant suffered $1500 in damage six months ago, when a child scratched one of its walls featuring hand painted murals by Mexico City artist Cecilia Beaven.
So far, the restaurant says the reaction to the cards has been overwhelmingly positive.
McDonalds Hepatitis A: Scare in Waterloo, New York
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-watch/mcdonalds-hepatitis-a-scare-in-waterloo-new-york/#.Vk1QLo2heUl
By Bill Marler (Nov 14, 2015)
Why vaccinating employees is good business.
Here we go again – another Hepatitis A infected worker and another Hepatitis A scare that will likely force thousands to stand in line for a Hepatitis A vaccine to hopefully prevent illness.
The Seneca County Health Department has confirmed a case of Hepatitis A in a food service worker employed at the McDonalds located at 2500 Mound Rd. Waterloo, NY. Public health officials are stressing there is a low risk of contracting illness, however, individuals who have not been previously vaccinated for Hepatitis A and who consumed food/drink from McDonalds on the following dates should consider treatment.
Hardly a month passes without a warning from a health department somewhere that an infected food handler is the source of yet another potential hepatitis A outbreak. Absent vaccinations of food handlers, combined with an effective and rigorous hand-washing policy, there will continue to be more hepatitis A outbreaks. It is time for health departments across the country to require vaccinations of food-service workers, especially those who serve the very young and the elderly.
Hepatitis A is a communicable disease that spreads from person-to-person. It is spread almost exclusively through fecal-oral contact, generally from person-to-person, or via contaminated food or water. Hepatitis A is the only foodborne illness that is vaccine-preventable. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), since the inception of the vaccine, rates of infection have declined 92 percent.
CDC estimate that 83,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States every year, and that many of these cases are related to food-borne transmission. In 1999, more than 10,000 people were hospitalized due to hepatitis A infections, and 83 people died. In 2003, 650 people became sickened, four died, and nearly 10,000 people got IG (immunoglobulin) shots after eating at a Pennsylvania restaurant. Not only do customers get sick, but also businesses lose customers or some simply go out of business.
Although CDC has not yet called for mandatory vaccination of food-service workers, it has repeatedly pointed out that the consumption of worker-contaminated food is a major cause of foodborne illness in the U.S.
Hepatitis A continues to be one of the most frequently reported, vaccine-preventable diseases in the U.S., despite FDA approval of hepatitis A vaccine in 1995. Widespread vaccination of appropriate susceptible populations would substantially lower disease incidence and potentially eliminate indigenous transmission of hepatitis A infections. Vaccinations cost about $50. The major economic reason that these preventive shots have not been used is because of the high turnover rate of food-service employees. Eating out becomes a whole lot less of a gamble if all food-service workers faced the same requirement.
According to CDC, the costs associated with hepatitis A are substantial. Between 11 percent and 22 percent of persons who have hepatitis A are hospitalized. Adults who become ill lose an average of 27 days of work. Health departments incur substantial costs in providing post-exposure prophylaxis to an average of 11 contacts per case. Average costs (direct and indirect) of hepatitis A range from $1,817 to $2,459 per case for adults and from $433 to $1,492 per case for children younger than 18. In 1989, the estimated annual direct and indirect costs of hepatitis A in the U.S. were more than $200 million, equivalent to more than $300 million in 1997 dollars. A new CDC report shows that, in 2010, slightly more than 10 percent of people between the ages of 19 and 49 got a hepatitis A shot.
Vaccinating an employee make sense. It is moral to protect customers from an illness that can cause serious illness and death. Vaccines also protect the business from the multi-million-dollar fallout that can come if people become ill or if thousands are forced to stand in line to be vaccinated to prevent a more serious problem.
Food Safety Important During Holidays
Source : http://patch.com/illinois/oswego/food-safety-important-during-holidays-0
By Scott Viau (Patch Staff) (Nov 14, 2015)
Missed steps or misconceptions of recommended practices can often lead to people getting sick.
Family meals are an important part of the holidays, and often careful attention is paid to recipes and menu choices. However, holiday cheer can turn to jeers when foodborne illness is inadvertently invited to the party.
As we prepare to celebrate the season, University of Illinois Extension Educator Laura Barr reminds consumers to keep current food safety recommendations on the front burner.
“We hear much debate this time of year about how to thaw, prep and stuff a turkey,” said Barr, a Nutrition and Wellness Educator, serving DuPage, Kane and Kendall counties. “Too often, missed steps or misconceptions of recommended practices can lead to people getting sick.”
The Truth about Thawing
“Our food system, and what we know about food safety, has changed drastically in the last few decades,” said Barr. “That can contradict some more traditional methods of cooking the holiday feast.”
Thawing a turkey is done in many ways, but not all methods are safe. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirms that a package of frozen meat or poultry left thawing on the counter for more than two hours is never at a safe temperature.
“A product starts thawing from the outer layer first at room temperature,” said Barr. “Therefore, the outer layer is in the danger zone for an unacceptable amount of time. It is unsafe to thaw any meat at room temperature, especially a large bird.”
While there is no bacterial growth in a frozen turkey, the danger zone for food is between 41 degrees Fahrenheit (F) to 135 degrees F, she said. There are three safe ways to thaw meat: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave oven.
In a refrigerator set at 40 degrees F or below, the USDA advises to allow approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds thawing, and a fully thawed turkey then can remain in the refrigerator only 1 to 2 days before cooking it. Be careful to contain juices from the thawing turkey to avoid cross-contamination of other foods and surfaces.
“It may seem simple, but this will take some planning,” Barr said. “Be sure to accurately schedule when to take out a frozen bird based on the cooking day. For example, it will take about three days for a 15-pound turkey to thaw in the refrigerator, but you could not begin that process a week before the event because then it would remain thawed too long.”
Frozen meat also may be thawed in cold tap water, and the water must be changed every 30 minutes until the product is completely thawed, Barr said. Additionally, the product needs to be packaged in a waterproof container to prevent cross-contamination and an undesirable texture change in the meat.
“The same 15-pound turkey would thaw in 7 hours in cold water, versus 3 to 4 days in a refrigerator,” she said. “But, the cold water method is more labor intensive, and you must always cook a cold water thawed turkey immediately.”
When using a microwave, the USDA advises to “follow microwave oven manufacturer’s instructions for defrosting a turkey.” It also recommends cooking the thawed product immediately because some areas of the food may be warm and more susceptible to bacteria growth.
“However, you choose to thaw your bird, consider it a critical control point to ensure safety, taste and texture of your holiday meal’s star,” Barr said.
The Proper Prep
In the past, families would start preparing their holiday birds much earlier in the food process, Barr said. Traditionally, the bird was butchered, plucked, washed and cooked in the home.
“Some consumers today still wash poultry because the practice has been passed down through the generations,” she said. “However, today, running water in and over a turkey, or other poultry, is not necessary because it is cleaned in the packaging process. In fact, washing the bird at home actually increases the potential for food-borne illness, as it spreads salmonella and other pathogens in the sink and around the food preparation area.”
Remember that cooking poultry thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, and maintaining that temperature for 15 seconds, will destroy any bacteria, said Barr.
There still remains the controversy about cooking holiday birds with or without stuffing.
“In support of optimal safety and consistent doneness, cooking the stuffing separately is our recommendation,” said Barr. “Following tradition, some cook the stuffing and turkey together. However, the turkey will reach doneness before the stuffing inside the bird. In this case, a probe food thermometer is essential to ensure stuffing has reached and held the proper internal temperature.”
If it has not maintained that internal temperature of 165 degrees F for 15 seconds, Barr said to keep cooking the turkey together with the stuffing until it does. Otherwise, the undercooked stuffing may likely contaminate the cooked meat, she said.
It also is critical to refrigerate Time and Temperature Control (TCS) foods quickly after serving the meal. This includes meats, stuffing, casseroles, some salads, cooked grains and vegetables, and even sliced fruit.
The fastest bacterial growth occurs between 70 degrees F and 125 degrees F, which is close to room temperature, Barr said. As bacteria multiply, so does the risk of food-borne illness. The less time TCS foods are in the danger zone, the safer the food for consumption. If it is a buffet-style event, keep appropriate foods chilled while serving, and remember to put all TCS foods away within two hours, advised Barr.
“So, if a potentially hazardous food sits out for two hours, it is best to toss it,” she said. “As the saying goes, ‘when in doubt, throw it out.’”
When it comes to leftovers, it may be best to divide and conquer, said Barr.
“You can separate dishes into smaller servings, which are easier to cool and will come in handy later. If you have more than you can tackle in three to four days, send some home with friends and family, or freeze some for the next week.”
For more information on the University of Illinois Extension programs in your county, visit web.extension.illinois.edu/dkk/. University of Illinois Extension provides educational programs and research-based information to help Illinois residents improve their quality of life, develop skills and solve problems.
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Warning About Seafood in California Updated by CDPH
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/warning-about-seafood-in-california-updated-by-cdph/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 14, 2015)
The California Department of Public Health is updating its warning to consumers about some seafood caught along the coast. Dungeness and Rock crabs, along with mussels and clams in some counties should not be eaten because they may contain high levels of domoic acid, a toxin. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the consumption of these fish.
Consumers should not eat recreationally and commercially caught Dungeness and Rock crabs caught in the waters between the Oregon border and the southern Santa Barbara County line. The advisory has been extended to recreationally harvested bivalve shellfish (mussels and clams) from Humboldt and Del Norte counties. The white meat (adductor muscle) of scallops caught in those areas can be eaten, but the viscera should be discarded.
An advisory is no longer in place for bivalve shellfish such as mussels and clams or for small finfish such as anchovies and sardines caught in Santa Cruz, Monterey, or Santa Barbara County areas. Testing has revealed that domoic acid has declined and remains at undetectable levels in samples from those species in those areas.
Domoic acid is a toxin that naturally occurs in seafood. It is related to the bloom of a single-celled plant called Pseudo-nitzschia in ocean waters.
The symptoms of domoic acid poisoning can occur within 30 minutes to 24 hours after eating contaminated seafood. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, and dizziness and will appear in several days in mild cases. But in severe cases, the patient may have trouble breathing, confusion, disorientation, cardiovascular instability, seizures, excessive bronchial secretions, permanent loss of short term memory (Amnesic Shellfish Poisoning), coma, or death.
Public health officials will continue to sample shellfish and bivalves until the threat has been eliminated. It is not possible to predict where domoic acid will accumulate in shellfish, so officials test these products often.
McDonald’s Food Worker in Waterloo, NY Has Hepatitis A
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/mcdonalds-food-worker-in-waterloo-ny-has-hepatitis-a/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 14, 2015)
A food worker at the McDonald’s restaurant at 2500 Mound Road in Waterloo, New York has been diagnosed with hepatitis A, according to the Seneca County Health Department. Anyone who ate there in late October and early November is at risk for contracting this illness. There is a low risk of getting the disease, but if you have not been vaccinated for hepatitis A, you should get either a hepatitis A vaccination or an immune globulin vaccination, depending on your health and other factors.
The ill food worker worked there October 29, October 31, November 2, November 3, November 5, November 6, and November 8, 2015. If you ate there on October 29, 2015, it is too late to get a shot.
If you ate there on October 31, 2015, you need to get a shot today. Hepatitis A and immune globulin vaccinations are only effective if given within two weeks of exposure. If you ate at that restaurant on any of the other dates you should get a shot today or tomorrow.
The Seneca County Health Department is holding clinics today and tomorrow to offer vaccinations. They are held at the Mynderse Academy Gymnasium at 105 Troy Street in Seneca Falls, New York. The clinic hours are 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm today, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm on November 15. To preregister for a clinic, visit the New York State Department of Health web site. There is no cost for treatment at these clinics.
The worker may have been shedding the virus on those dates before he or she was diagnosed. Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that is caused by a virus. It is spread when someone eats fecal matter, even in microscopic amounts, from objects, food, or drinks. The illness can be mild or very severe.
The symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay colored bowel movements, joint pain, and jaundice. If you choose not to get vaccinated, or ate at that McDonald’s on October 29, 2015, watch yourself for these symptoms over the next six weeks. If you do get sick, see your doctor and tell him you may have been exposed to hepatitis A. Symptoms usually start within two to six weeks of exposure.
Almost everyone who gets hepatitis A recovers completely with no liver damage, although they may feel ill for months. Hepatitis A can cause liver failure, but this complication is rare. Those who are older than age 50 or have other liver diseases are more likely to suffer this complication.
If you have been vaccinated for hepatitis A in the past or have had the illness, you are probably not in jeopardy. Contact your doctor with any questions. If you can’t get to one of the clinics, call your doctor and explain the situation. It’s important to get a vaccination within two weeks from the time of possible exposure. For questions, call the New York State Department of Health Hotline at 1-844-364-6397.
Chipotle E. coli Outbreak Sickens 50
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/chipotle-e-coli-outbreak-sickens-50/
By Carla Gillespie (Nov 13, 2015)
The Chipotle E. coli outbreak has now sickened 50 people in Washington and Oregon. Fourteen people have been hospitalized.
Results of DNA testing performed on samples from 33 of those sickened show they were all sickened by the same strain of shiga-toxin producing E. coli O26. There is also one person in Minnesota who has been sickened by that strain. However, at this time, health officials do not believe this case is related to the outbreak as that person did not eat at a Chipotle before becoming ill.
Health officials have not yet determined the contaminated food source. Tests have been performed on a number of food items. The initial round of tests did not produce any positives for E. coli.
According to a lawsuit filed by the national food safety law firm Pritzker Olsen on behalf of Washington woman, one of the ingredients in a burrito bowl was the source of illness. She ordered the meal from a Vancouver location on October 21 and began experiencing symptoms of an E. coli infection including abdominal cramps and bloody diarrhea about three days later.
State health officials have linked 11 Chipotle restaurants, including six restaurants in Oregon and five in Washington to the outbreak, but the company voluntarily closed all 43 of them in those states on a temporary basis. All locations have since reopened after they were deep-cleaned, sanitized and supplied with all new ingredients that were tested for pathogens before they were stocked. The company says none of its employees in Washington or Oregon had E. coli infections, an indicator that food was contaminated before it entered the restaurants.
Going forward, the company says it will implement new food safety procedures at all of its locations. It has retained two food safety scientists to help assess and improve its food safety standards.
Thirty one of the case patients are form Washington, 19 are from Oregon. The investigation is ongoing.
It's Final: FDA Issues Long-Awaited Food Safety Rules
Source : http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2015/11/13/455902270/its-final-fda-issues-long-awaited-food-safety-rules
By Dan Charles (Nov 13, 2015)
Five years ago, Congress promised an overhaul of the nation's food safety system, passing the Food Safety Modernization Act.
It took much longer than expected, but the Food and Drug Administration has now released the centerpiece — or at least, the most contested — part of that overhaul. These are rules that cover farmers who grow fresh produce, as well as food importers.
"This is a giant step forward," said Michael Taylor, the FDA's deputy commissioner for foods.
Earlier drafts of the regulations on vegetable farming generated howls of protest. The rules are intended to prevent disease-causing bacteria from contaminating vegetables that people often eat raw.
But small farmers, in particular, complained that some requirements, such as those calling for regular testing of irrigation water, were onerous and costly. Organic farmers protested against restrictions on the use of manure for fertilizer.
The final regulations contain compromises on some of those requirements. The FDA is conducting more research on the risks of using fresh manure, but in the meantime, it "does not object" to farmers simply following rules that already govern the use of manure in organic farming.
New regulations on food importers, meanwhile, require them to have programs in place to verify that their foreign suppliers are taking just as many safety precautions as farmers in the U.S. And the FDA will check up, sending safety inspectors around the world to visit food suppliers.
Both rules will start to go into effect in two years. Enforcing the new rules will require a boost in the FDA's budget, and Congress will have to approve it. "It will not succeed without resources," said the FDA's Taylor.
Food Safety Week aims to educate Australians to prevent accidental food poisoning
Source : http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-13/food-safety-myths-causing-accidental-poisoning/6939212
By Emma Wynne (Nov 13, 2015)
"In the end it comes down to how we actually handle food at home and keep it at the correct temperature," he said.
Organise your fridge properly
Most fresh food needs to be stored under five degrees and that means keeping it in the fridge, Mr Fallows said.
"It is a bit odd the way that often domestic refrigerators are organised so that the fruit and vegetables are down at the bottom in that tray," he said.
"Really what should be at the lowest point in the fridge is raw meat.
"You wouldn't want there to be any chance of the juices from that meat getting into any other food.
"I would suggest always keep raw meat at the bottom of the fridge and try and avoid overfilling the fridge, because if you do that then there is no air circulation around the fridge."
Mr Fallows said frozen meat should always be left to defrost in the fridge or be defrosted in a microwave. It should never be left out on a kitchen counter to thaw.
"When you defrost on the bench in the kitchen the food is going above 5C, and once food goes above 5C it is in what we call the temperature danger zone," he said.
"That temperature is when bacteria can start to grow on the product, especially on the outside."
People should also avoid putting hot food straight into the fridge.
It does not have to be cooled to room temperature but it does need to have stopped steaming.
Responding to a question from talkback caller Cathy about being too tired to wait for a casserole to cool, Mr Fallows suggested separating hot food into smaller containers then putting it in the fridge.
"A hot casserole will raise the temperature in the fridge and the temperature of everything else in the fridge," he said.
"It's quite important to keep food below 5C."
Don't wash chicken or eggs
Mr Fallows said while salad vegetables should be washed, there were some foods that he did not advise running under the tap.
"Some people I have heard wash poultry — they have washed a raw chicken," he said.
"What that does is spread the bacteria around.
"Raw meat does naturally contain some bacteria in it and that is why you cook it."
Eggs also should not be washed.
"If you do have chooks at home I would suggest cleaning the eggs before you put them in the fridge," he said.
"It's best to clean the eggs in as dry a way as possible because the water can soak through the shell."
When buying eggs from the supermarket, he suggested always opening the carton and checking the eggs before you purchase them.
"You want the eggs to be clean and not have any cracks," he said.
Three-second rule dashed
Mr Fallow laughed when asked about whether dropped food could be safely eaten if picked up within three seconds.
"I'm going to have to go for the risk-averse answer and say no," he said.
"I don't really think there is huge chance of a bit of food on the ground picking up a bit of bacteria, but professionally I have to say no."
You can take the Food Safety Council's quiz about common myths online.
Obama’s Choice for FDA Commissioner Gets Senate Hearing on Tuesday
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/11/obamas-choice-for-fda-commissioner-gets-senate-hearing-on-tuesday/#.Vk1Op42heUl
By News Desk (Nov 12, 2015)
An important step on the road to confirmation for President Obama’s choice as the next U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner will be taken this coming Tuesday. That’s when the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a full public hearing on Dr. Robert Califf’s nomination.
If he is confirmed by the Senate, Califf will succeed Dr. Margaret Hamburg, who stepped down this past spring after serving for a little less than six years as FDA commissioner.
Califf, a well-known former cardiologist and Duke University researcher, joined FDA in January as a deputy commissioner. Obama nominated Califf to the agency’s top post in mid-September.
In October, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the largest global AIDS organization, called upon the president to pull Califf’s nomination after charging the heart doctor with “pimping for the pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to avoid regulation.”
In addition to objecting to Califf taking “substantial funding” from the pharmaceutical industry, the AIDS group charged that his involvement with the Faculty Connection, a business to connect faculty members with health care companies, was also a concern.
However, many other medical and health organizations reportedly favor the nomination, and Califf has bipartisan support both on the committee and in the Senate as a whole.
The Senate HELP Committee is chaired by Sen. LaMar Alexander (R-TN), with the ranking member being Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA). While both leaders are likely to support the nominee, both have could have trouble with their members.
Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who sits on the HELP Committee, recently announced his opposition to Califf’s nomination. And Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), although not a member of that committee, has announced his plan to block all U.S. Department of Health and Human Services nominees until he gets more information from the Obama administration about failed non-profit health co-ops created by the Affordable Care Act (aka, “Obamacare”).
Since Hamburg left at the end of March, FDA’s chief scientist, Dr. Stephen Ostroff, has served as acting commissioner. A total of 21 FDA commissioners have served since Jan. 1, 1907, when President Theodore Roosevelt name Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley to the post. With FDA’s regulatory portfolio stretching over food, drugs, tobacco, supplements and cosmetics, the commissioner is usually seen as the most important public health post in the federal government.
Good managers help keep food safe
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/11/good-managers-help-keep-food-safe/
By Ben Chapman (Nov 12, 2015)
A good food safety culture (a term as ubiquitous as Drake’s Hotline Bling) is really about having all the staff in an organization know what hazards are associated with the food they make/handle from the owner, to management, to the front line staff. And when someone is sick, or gets fired, whoever steps into the role as a replacement. Managers have to know what’s needed to keep food safe – and ensure their staff are actually doing it.
KTNV has a great video of a poor inspection that tells the story of a poor food safety culture.
Inspectors found visibly dirty food contact surfaces, old food debris on the can opener and meat slicer and a dirty ice machine. There was also heavy debris on the floor under kitchen equipment, a badly stained cutting board, and no hair restraints for food handlers.
“A lot of things I didn’t know,” said temporary manager Angela Liu. She says she’s not used to overseeing the kitchen staff and admits she didn’t check everything the night before their unannounced inspection.
Inspectors also found a full hand sink leaking dirty water. And food in the prep table not protected from contamination. Angela takes us back to show us what is now a much cleaner kitchen.
She says the owner made it clear that he never wants to see another “C” grade.
And then this excellent dialogue happens.
Angela: If C again, they all lose their job.
Darcy: That’s it. Everyone’s job’s on the line.
She shows us how everything is now labeled and double-covered to keep inspectors happy and customers healthy.
Darcy: It’s about food safety.
Angela: Yeah, food safety. Right. It’s very serious. Oh, my god. (she pauses to swat away a fly buzzing around her face.)
Darcy: You don’t want a fly in here, do you?
Halal Beef Scheme Could Have Millions of Potential Victims in Asia
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/11/halal-beef-scheme-could-have-millions-of-potential-victims-in-asia/#.Vk1PAY2heUl
By Dan Flynn (Nov 11, 2015)
Ahead of the yet-to-be scheduled sentencing of the defendants, the government wants to be relieved of the burden of notifying individual victims of a scheme that altered and falsified the true USDA establishment numbers on beef products exported from the United States.
Government attorneys have asked the U.S. District Court for Northern Iowa to allow them to use the Internet and media outlets to notify victims of the Halal beef shuffle leading to the jury convictions of William B. Aossey Jr. and plea bargains with his sons Jalel and William “Yahya” Aossey, along with their Cedar Rapids, IA-based Midamar Corp. and its associated Islamic Services of America (ISA),
Changing out USDA establishment numbers allowed beef products that would not have otherwise been accepted for importation to the Muslim nations of Indonesia and Malaysia to be accepted over Halal restrictions imposed by those countries.
“The restrictions existed to help ensure that only meat originating from slaughter facilities that met strict religious slaughter protocols established by each respective country would be permitted into those countries,” explains Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard L. Murphy. “This was important because, to comply with their Muslim faith, the largely Muslim populations of Malaysia and Indonesia required meat that had been slaughtered in accordance with the established (Halal) standards.”
Murphy says that “the scheme to defraud involved certifying meat as having been slaughtered by a Muslim slaughter man, when it had not been so slaughtered. The schedule also involved selling meat that often had been so slaughtered. The scheme also involved selling meat that often had been slaughtered contrary to the strict Halal standards represented by Midamar and ISA on their websites and elsewhere.” He adds that it means customers and consumers worldwide relied on those ISA certifications and representations by both ISA and Midamar.
Almost anyone from Malaysia’s Muslim population of about 18 million or Indonesia’s Muslim population of about 203 million might be able to claim victim status under the 2004 Crime Victim’s Rights Act in the U.S. The act requires the Justice Department to put its best efforts toward notifying crime victims of their right to “be heard” during public proceedings in the district court, including at sentencing. So-called alternative notification plans have been used in other criminal proceedings involving food safety where the numbers of victims are known to run into the thousands.
The elder Aossey founded both Midamar Corp. and ISA to build a Halal supply chain from the heartland of Iowa. He was the first person charged in the case, which went to a jury trial last July that convicted him on 15 of 18 charges. He was detained upon conviction and his request for a new trial was denied. About three months after Aossey’s original indictment, sons Jalel and Yahya Aossey, Midamar Corp, and ISA were charged with 92 counts.
Before a second trial got underway, however, Midamar Corp., ISA, and the Aossey brothers all reached plea agreements with the government. Midamar, ISA, and Jalel Aossey have each pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy, and Yahya Aossey pleaded guilty to two counts of selling misbranded meat.
Midamar Corp. and ISA have already been ordered to pay a forfeiture judgment of $600,000. Pre-sentence investigative reports are in and there have been some defendant challenges. All that remains before sentencing is the time needed to carrying out the victim notification order and defendant challenges to the pre-sentence investigative reports.
Also waiting to be sentenced is Omaha-based ConAgra after the company reached a plea agreement with the government on a single misdemeanor violation of the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in the 2006-07 Salmonella Tennessee outbreak traced to its Sylvester, GA, peanut butter plant.
Last June, U.S. District Court Judge W. Louis Sands ordered the government to conduct a thorough search for consumers sickened by ConAgra’s Peter Pan peanut butter. ConAgra has agreed to pay fines and forfeitures totaling $11.2 million in the Peter Pan case, but the sentencing remains.
Really? Rapid test for E. coli improves food safety
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/11/really-rapid-test-for-e-coli-improves-food-safety/
By Doug Powell (Nov 11, 2015)
Scientists are always talking about new rapid tests for pathogens, but I don’t see them in grocery stores – that’s a place where people buy food.
But, here goes the PR from Western (in Canada).
Dr. Michael Rieder and his team have created a new rapid-test system to detect E. coli O157 – a foodborne bacteria most commonly found in ground meat. The test would allow manufacturers to identify contaminated food quickly before it leaves the processing plant and enters the grocery store. The system was developed as a result of collaborations between Dr. Rieder, associate scientist at Robarts, and London entrepreneurs, Michael Brock and Craig Coombe.
Current conventional testing can take from three to 21 days for definitive results and relies on bacterial culture. By the time the bacteria are identified, the food has been shipped to grocery stores and may have already caused illness. With this current system, two weeks of food may need to be recalled to ensure against cross-contamination.
Dr. Rieder’s rapid-test system would allow food to be sampled at the end of one day, and the results would be available before the food is shipped the next morning. “This means that one day’s production is lost, not five day’s production,” he said. “This has the potential to save companies considerable money, and more importantly could save a lot of people from being exposed to food-borne disease.”
The rapid-test relies on targeting proteins identified by Dr. Rieder’s lab that are only present in the organisms that cause people to become ill. By collaborating with Toronto-based company International Point of Care, the team was able to use flow-through technology to mark the protein with colloidal gold so that it is visible to the naked eye. The process is similar to that used in pregnancy tests – one line for negative, two lines for positive.
Much of the work has been funded through a grant from Mitacs, a provincial program that encourages academic and industrial collaboration. Dr. Rieder credits the success of the project to these collaborations with industry, as well as colleagues at Robarts and Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Sadly, Michael Brock, a key member of the project, died suddenly just as it was entering its final stages.
The rapid-test system has completed testing at Robarts and the Health Canada-certified Agriculture and Food Laboratory at the University of Guelph. The final application has been submitted to Health Canada for approval.
Kirkland Quinoa Salad Sold in Canada Recalled for Illnesses
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/kirkland-quinoa-salad-sold-in-canada-recalled-for-illnesses/
By Linda Larsen (Nov 10, 2015)
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Costco Wholesale Canada are recalling Kirkland Signature brand Quinoa salad from the marketplace because illnesses have been reported in connection with the consumption of this product. There is no information given about what kind of illnesses have occurred or what kind of bacteria or virus may have caused these illnesses.
The recalled product was sold from the Costco store in Ancaster, Ontario between October 26 and November 3, 2015. It is Kirkland Signature brand Quinoa Salad (Item/Art. 0273943), in 1.070 kg. packages. The code on the product is Packaged on: 15/OC/26 to 15/NO/03, inclusive. The UPC number is 0 00002 73943 4.
If you purchased this product, do not eat it. Throw it away in a sealed or double bagged container or return it or the receipt to the place of purchase for a refund. If you ate this product and have been sick, see your doctor. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation and verifying that this product is removed from the market.
Food Safety Groups Oppose Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/11/food-safety-groups-oppose-trans-pacific-trade-partnership/#.Vk1PqI2heUl
By Lydia Zuraw (Nov 10, 2015)
Pacific-map_406x250The full text of the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership (TPP) was released last week, and after initial reviews of the proposed treaty, concerns raised by food safety advocates during the negotiations have not been mollified.
Debbie Barker, International Programs Director for the Center for Food Safety, says the predominant issues with TPP are the Rapid Response Mechanism and the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Mechanism.
The trade agreement’s chapter on sanitary or phytosanitary measures states that border inspections on imported food must be “limited to what is reasonable and necessary, and is rationally related to the available science.” And if there’s an issue, a country has to provide “an opportunity for a review of the decision and consider any relevant information submitted to assist in the review.”
Barker refers to this measure as the Rapid Response Mechanism and says it might give countries exporting food to the U.S. the right to challenge “even laboratory food safety testing and the new food import rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act.”
Barker and her colleagues are also concerned about the inclusion of the ISDS, which the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) calls “a neutral, international arbitration procedure.” However, the Center for Food Safety calls it “an extrajudicial legal body that allows private corporations to sue national governments over rules that companies believe inhibit their profit-making ability.”
ISDS is the place to see the real effects of TPP over the years, Barker says, adding that TPP might make it easier for companies to challenge food safety standards than in prior trade agreements.
“A particular concern is that a U.S.-owned food and agribusiness can now challenge domestic public health laws they do not like through their subsidiaries in TPP countries,” she adds.
USTR doesn’t see it that way. Concerns about ISDS affecting governments’ ability to regulate “are why we have been at the leading edge of reforming and upgrading ISDS,” USTR said in a fact sheet released last March. “The United States has taken important steps to ensure that our agreements are carefully crafted both to preserve governments’ right to regulate and minimize abuse of the ISDS process.”
Because of these issues and others related to jobs, the environment, public health, the Center for Food Safety, Food & Water Watch, Public Citizen and other organizations oppose the trade deal.
Earlier this year, Congress voted for “fast track” authority over TPP, meaning that it will be brought up for discussion without amendments and with limited debate.
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