Federal food safety act to take effect next month
Source : https://suffolktimes.timesreview.com/2015/12/64129/federal-food-safety-act-to-take-effect-next-month/
by Nicole Smith (Nov 06, 2015)
Many things come with a new year — new resolutions, new opportunities and, for some local produce farmers, new federal guidelines.
On Jan. 26, the Food and Drug Administration’s Food Safety Modernization Act will officially take effect, establishing “science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption,” the FDA website reads.
Sandy Menasha, a vegetable/potato specialist at Cornell Cooperative Extension, said the new regulations mean farmers will need to keep additional records, have a written farm food safety plan, conduct regular water testing for E. coli and follow regulations regarding planting after laying manure or compost.
A farm food safety plan is a guide to minimizing the potential for produce contamination, and can contain the farm’s policies and practices for keeping products safe.
“Our growers here on Long Island have been doing a great job managing food safety,” said Ms. Menasha. “I think that it’s good to have a rule in place for food safety, but it does add an extra burden to the small farmer.
“Cost is a huge thing, especially for small farmers that we have here on Long Island,” she continued. “Usually, at larger corporate farms, they can hire somebody to be in charge of food safety. Usually at small family farms, the farmer himself is the farmer, the manager, the businessman, the record keeper, the food safety guy — he’s doing everything — so to add one more responsibility is [a lot].”
Chris Laughton, director of knowledge exchange at Farm Credit East, agreed that local farms will be affected by the act, but said many will be exempt.
“If they have average annual gross revenue of less than $500,000 and sell most of their products within 275 miles, then they’re exempt from most of the rules,” he said, stressing that farms have to meet both requirements to be exempt from FSMA.
He added that the majority of the produce has to be sold to qualified end users, which include consumers, restaurants and grocery stores — either within the same state or within the aforementioned 275 miles. Although some local farms will be exempt from these guidelines, Mr. Laughton said some grocery stores are considering requiring farmers to comply with FSMA, even if the FDA exempts them.
The guidelines resulted from a string of food-borne illness outbreaks that occurred across the country in the early 2000s, and were signed into law by President Obama on Jan. 4, 2011, according to the FDA website.
Each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly one in six Americans — approximately 48 million people — contracts a food-borne disease. Of those, 128,000 are hospitalized and 3,000 die.
A 2014 CDC Food Safety Progress Report cited a 13 percent increase in campylobacter and a 52 percent increase in vibrio since 2008. Conversely, the report noted a 32 percent reduction in E. coli cases and a 22 percent drop in yersenia. No changes were reported in the rates of salmonella and listeria between 2008 and 2014.
Ms. Menasha emphasized that local food has always been safe, saying, “No food-borne illness outbreak is associated with Long Island farms.”
Although the act officially takes effect Jan. 26 — 60 days after the Nov. 27 Federal Register post date — farms, depending on their size, have between two and four years to come into full compliance with FSMA. The smaller the farm, the more time it is allowed.
The complete FSMA guidelines can be found on the FDA website.
About 30 Sickened With Campylobacter at NJ Boarding School
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/12/about-30-sickened-with-campylobacter-at-nj-boarding-school/#.VmToucKheUl
By News Desk (Dec 06, 2015)
About 30 people were recently sickened by Campylobacter at Blair Academy, reports the New Jersey Herald. The school is a private boarding and day school for high school students located in Blairstown, NJ.
“In mid-November, our health center saw an increased incidence of gastrointestinal-related illness and we alerted all parents by email on November 20 prior to students leaving campus for Thanksgiving break,” Suzy Logan, a spokesperson for the school, told the newspaper in an emailed statement. “Late that weekend, we found out that several of those who experienced symptoms tested positive for Campylobacter. Upon receiving confirmation of several positive results, our director of health services informed the parents of those affected by phone and updated our entire parent body by email the next day.”
Logan said all affected students have recovered. The source of the illnesses has not yet been identified.
Campylobacteriosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria of the genus Campylobacter. Most people who become ill with campylobacteriosis get diarrhea, cramping, abdominal pain, and fever within two to five days after exposure to the organism. The diarrhea may be bloody and can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. The illness typically lasts about one week. Some infected persons do not have any symptoms. In persons with compromised immune systems, Campylobacter occasionally spreads to the bloodstream and causes a serious life-threatening infection.
Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of diarrheal illness in the United States. Most cases occur as isolated, sporadic events, not as part of recognized outbreaks. Most cases of campylobacteriosis are associated with eating raw or undercooked poultry meat or from cross-contamination of other foods by these items. Outbreaks of Campylobacter have most often been associated with unpasteurized dairy products, contaminated water, poultry, and produce.
Celery and Onion Diced Blend Linked to 2 E. coli Outbreaks in 2 Years
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/celery-and-onion-diced-blend-linked-to-2-e-coli-outbreaks-in-2-years/#.VmTo88KheUl
By Bruce Clark (Dec 06, 2015)
Costco hit in 2015, Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering hit in 2014.
The CDC reported as of November 23, 2015, 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 have been reported from 7 states. Five ill people have been hospitalized, and 2 have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, a type of kidney failure. No deaths have been reported. Preliminary laboratory evidence indicates that a celery and onion diced blend produced by Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc. may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. This product was used to make the Costco rotisserie chicken salad eaten by ill people in this outbreak. Fourteen (88%) of 16 people purchased or ate rotisserie chicken salad from Costco in the week before illness started.
The Montana Public Health Laboratory tested a sample of celery and onion diced blend collected from a Costco location. Preliminary results indicated the presence of E. coli O157:H7. Laboratory testing is ongoing to isolate the E. coli bacteria and then determine the DNA fingerprint. As a result of the preliminary laboratory results, on November 26, 2015, Taylor Farms Pacific, Inc., voluntarily recalled multiple products containing celery because they may be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7.
According to a 2014 report by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDOH), 57 individuals who met the case definition were deemed to be part of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak linked to Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering. Of those ill, 65% were women. All cases reported diarrhea, 96% cramps, 61% bloody stool, 37% vomiting and 19% fever. 37% sought medical treatment with 16% hospitalized. No one developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
After an exhaustive investigation, MDOH concluded that the common server at the five events between July 1 and July 17 on the Fond du Lac Reservation was Jim-N-Joe’s Northland Katering. MDOH also found that the most common food items were the celery and onions. Potato Salad, which included celery and onions was found to be tainted with E. coli O157:H7. Cases were also identified at events where potato salad was not served, but celery was. The celery was traced back to a field adjacent to a defunct dairy operation near Gonzales, California.
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections 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 E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.
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New food safety rules will affect Canadian growers exporting to the U.S.
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/12/new-food-safety-rules-will-affect-canadian-growers-exporting-to-the-u-s/
By Doug Powell (Dec 05, 2015)
Susan Mann of Better Farming writes that Canadian horticultural industry leaders are poring over documents issued by the United States Food and Drug Administration last month outlining new food safety requirements for American growers and businesses shipping produce to the United States.
Canadian and Ontario growers exporting produce to the United States may be impacted by the new rules released as part of the American Food Safety Modernization Act and slated to take effect January 26, 2016. The American Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released the three sets of rules November 13. They are: the produce rule governing growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce; foreign supplier verification and accreditation of third-party auditors and certification bodies.
Companies and farmers in the states along with those exporting to the United States are being given time to meet the new requirements.
Jim Gorny, vice president of food safety and technology for the U.S.-based Produce Marketing Association, says the rules will have “a significant impact on produce businesses, in that they will affect how businesses operate on a daily basis and set definitive regulatory compliance expectations for FDA regulated businesses.”
The compliance dates depend on the size of a business, Gorny says. Large businesses with more than US $500,000 annually in sales have two years to comply with the new regulations and four years to meet the new water testing provisions. Small farms, defined as US $250,000 to $500,000 a year in sales, have three years to comply with the rules and five years to fall in line with the water rules. Very small farms, US $25,000 to $250,000 in sales annually, have four years to comply with the rules overall and six years for the water rules.
Heather Gale, executive director of CanadaGAP, the Canadian food safety program for the fresh fruit and vegetable sector, says they will be reviewing the new U.S. rules and comparing them to the requirements in Canada’s program. The program’s analysis will be published on its website sometime “in the new year,” Gale says.
Al Krueger, executive assistant with the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, says by email Ontario cucumber growers are “already doing what’s required under the new Food Safety Modernization Act.”
Another part of the American package of new food safety rules is the Foreign Supplier Verification Program. It specifies importers are required to verify food imported into the United States has been produced to the same food safety standards required of U.S. producers, Gorny says.
Food safety inspectors ordered to publish horse meat customers’ names
Source : http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2015/12/food-safety-inspectors-ordered-to-publish-horse-meat-customers-names/
By dutchnews.nl (Dec 02, 2015)
Food campaign group Foodwatch has won a case against the food safety authority, forcing it to reveal the names of companies which bought meat potentially contaminated with horse.
The food safety board NVWA had refused to publish the names of all the products which might have been contaminated following the horse meat scandal of two years ago.
In April, meat trader Willy Selten was found guilty of mixing over 300,000 kilos of horse into products which were labelled as pure beef over a two year period. He was sentenced to 30 months in jail.
The court in Amsterdam found in favour of Foodwatch which wanted a publication of the complete list of products and brand names which were potentially contaminated. The NVWA had published a partial list last November, but Foodwatch said it did not go far enough.
The NVWA said on Wednesday it was studying the court ruling before making a decision on whether to reveal the names of companies which bought the contaminated meat between 2011 and 2013.
Foodwatch welcomed Wednesday’s ruling but said it had still taken too long for the public to be briefed.
‘Food is eaten quickly and when fraud is involved, information should be made public as soon as possible,’ a spokesman said.
The economic affairs ministry, which runs the food safety board, refused to publish the full list of names, saying it would be unreasonably detrimental to companies which had not done anything wrong.
The court said in its ruling that the ministry could make it clear when publishing the names that the fact a product had been recalled did not necessarily mean the meat was contaminated.
Food Safety Talk 83: Many peoples’ thermometers
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/12/food-safety-talk-83-many-peoples-thermometers/
By Ben Chapman (Dec 03, 2015)
Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University. Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour. They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed. You can download the audio recordings right from the website, or subscribe using iTunes.
After establishing that Joni Mitchell is not dead and Nova Scotia is New Scotland the guys jump into food safety of microgreens. There is a wide range of microgreens available. One microgreen company Fresh Origins describes over 400 different types of greens products and has a cursory mention food safety on their website. The guys attempt to clarify the confusing world of sprouts, microgreens, and hydroponic techniques. There is a difference between sprouts and microgreens; Sprouts are sprouted seeds whereas microgreens are often sprouted once and then harvested repeatedly. There are also many different hydroponic designs where plants are rooted in a non-soil substrate and fed by circulated nutrient containing water. Hydroponic production can be done safely but does not guarantee safe food. A lot of circulating nutrient rich water allows bacteria to grow and move around. As with sprouts, the seeds used for microgreens combined with the growing conditions, does create risk of pathogen growth as described in this paper (STEC survival in microgreens).
The guys talk Listeria in produce and the challenges of risk assessments. Don is going to a Produce Safety policy conference where he will give a talk on assessing public health risk for product associated Listeria monocytogenes exposure. A 2003 risk assessment ranked Listeria in produce as low risk however produce recently affected by listeria are caramel apples, cantaloupe, and stone fruit and this shows that risk assessments can become outdated. New information is always becoming available, for example, Listeria growth on the outside of cantaloupe at room temperature. The data is also getting more applicable as researchers now appreciate the importance of using relevant strains.
Ben and Don discuss consumer recommendations lagging behind food safety science. For example the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board a ‘sliced melon should be stored in the refrigerator until it is ready to be eaten’ while data support a recommendation more similar to deli meats. Something like: if you don’t know your refrigerator’s temperature, eat deli meats and sliced cantaloupe within 2 days; if you know it holds food below 41F, you have 4 days.
Ben and Don talked about visiting Austin and the 5by5 studios. And if you are in Texas try to eat at Torchy’s tacos.
The guys talk about food retail and Ben gets on a rant about how when people talk about food safety culture they don’t quite get it. Ben describes a frustrating situation he encountered at a food safety meeting: food safety nerds reporting that decision makers respond to perceived risks more strongly than public health risks. Like one retailer spending more resources on hairnets than norovirus control because hair is what their CEO perceives as an issue.
Politicians get involved in NZ hep A in berries outbreak
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/12/politicians-get-involved-in-nz-hep-a-in-berries-outbreak/
By Ben Chapman (Dec 03, 2015)
Supply chains are messy and as products get co-mingled, mixed and distributed tracking down contamination sources gets difficult. An outbreak of hepatitis A linked to frozen berries in New Zealand is getting political as government officials were questioned by law makers, according to Scoop.Unknown-7
Ministry for Primary Industries officials say no link was found between frozen berries from China blamed for an outbreak of Hepatitis A in Australia early this year and fruit finding its way onto the New Zealand market.
Director-General Martyn Dunne and deputies Scott Gallacher and Deborah Roche were appearing before the primary production select committee for the ministry’s annual review and were questioned by Labour’s food safety spokesman Damien O’Connor and Green MP Stefan Browning on why no brands or countries of origin for contaminated frozen berries had been identified yet.
Australia had at least 28 cases of Hepatitis A that were tied to brands of frozen berries imported from China. Gallacher said the two countries shared a lot of information after Australia was able to identify both the strain of the virus and a specific brand, and New Zealand officials did “due diligence” to ensure that brand wasn’t supplying New Zealand and “hasn’t been to this day.” (but were the same farms selling to other brands? -ben)
O’Connor, who has a boysenberry farm at Motueka, asked if there was any reason to think any other source countries were involved, to which Gallacher said stricter screening had been put in place for all imported berries because the information to date hadn’t identified the source country. Dunne added that it was “not fair to that country because we’re not sure.”
“At what stage will New Zealand consumers or businesses know they’ve got contaminated berries in their freezer or what brands they should stop buying,” O’Connor asked, to which Gallacher replied it would hopefully be very shortly as MPI further refines its investigation.
Food safety regulator must follow global practices
Source : http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/food-safety-regulator-must-follow-global-practices-115120201167_1.html
By Business Standard Editorial Comment/New Delhi (Dec 02, 2015)
The indication by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) that it would reintroduce the system of pre-launch product approvals by issuing new regulations has dealt a blow to the food processing sector. This issue was deemed to have been settled after the Supreme Court upheld a Bombay High Court verdict that the system of product approvals introduced by the FSSAI through advisories was arbitrary and illegal. However, the uncertainty and confusion over this issue resurfaced with the FSSAI declaring that even while respecting the court's decree over its advisories, it will come up with new regulations to revive the approval procedure. This has turned prospective investors - both domestic and foreign - wary of committing resources in this sector. For the first time in several years, the festival season hardly saw the launch of any fresh food product, variant of an existing product or a new health food or food supplement despite over 700 such products being in the pipeline. The industry bodies are once again knocking at the doors of the government to get the FSSAI's intended move quashed.
India's food regulation law, the FSSAI Act of 2006, in fact does not require a new product to be formally approved by the regulator if its ingredients are as per the law - the generally accepted global practice. The industry maintains that the regulator cannot bring back the product approval system unless the law is amended. Even the food processing ministry feels that some of the recent actions of the FSSAI, including those against Nestle India's Maggi noodles, created a "fear psychosis" in the industry, killing innovation. There have been allegations of harassment of companies by FSSAI officials on trivial grounds. Objections are often raised to the quality of the products without getting them tested at recognised laboratories. Thus, the basic objective of the FSSAI Act of putting in place a transparent and scientific system of food safety seems to have been belied.
This does not bode well for a sector that, after a prolonged period of infancy, had begun to grow at over eight per cent a year. Food processing not only adds value to, and prolongs the shelf life of, farm produce, but it helps reduce the huge wastage of perishable products like fruits and vegetables, estimated at anywhere between 20 and 40 per cent. The FSSAI has already finalised 12,000 standards for food ingredients and additives, which are in harmony with the globally recognised Codex norms. It should also follow the global convention of allowing the industry to self-certify compliance with these standards. Such a system would end the need for cumbersome product-by-product approval, which takes years to complete. The FSSAI could monitor adherence to these standards by getting randomly selected samples tested in a non-controversial manner at accredited laboratories. The ultimate objective, after all, is to ensure that consumers get food products and health supplements that are good in quality, safe to consume, and varied in nature. Adventurism by the regulator is in the interest of neither the industry nor consumers.
Vaccinations Offered After Hepatitis A Case Confirmed in NY Pizza Worker
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/12/hep-a-vaccination-clinics-offered-after-case-confirmed-in-ny-pizza-worker/#.VmTjPsKheUl
By News Desk (Dec 02, 2015)
The Seneca County Health Department has confirmed a case of Hepatitis A in a food service worker employed at Mark’s Pizzeria at 1963 Kingdom Plaza, Waterloo, NY.
Public health officials stated that individuals not previously vaccinated for Hepatitis A and who consumed cold foods, such as subs, salads, vegetables, lemons and celery sticks, from Mark’s Pizzeria should seek treatment.
Anyone previously immunized for Hepatitis A by their physician or through clinics recently held by the Seneca County Health Department DO NOT need to be re-immunized.
Individuals who consumed cold foods from the Mark’s Pizzeria located at 1963 Kingdom Plaza, Waterloo, NY, on Nov. 13, 2015, through Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, are advised to monitor themselves for signs and symptoms of Hepatitis A for the next 4-6 weeks.
If you consumed cold foods from Mark’s Pizzeria located at 1963 Kingdom Plaza, Waterloo, NY, on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2015, through Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015, you should seek treatment for Hepatitis A.
Vaccination clinics will be held in the Seneca County Office Building located at 1 DiPronio Dr., Waterloo, NY, Third Floor Board of Supervisor’s Room, on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2015, 1-7 p.m.; Monday, Dec. 7, 2015, 3-7 p.m., and Thursday, Dec. 10, 2015, from noon-4 p.m. ET.
Individuals are strongly encouraged to preregister and arrive during their scheduled appointment times. To pre-register, visit here, or call the New York State Department of Health Hotline at 1-844-364-6397 for more information.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hepatitis A is a contagious liver disease that results from infection with the Hepatitis A virus. It can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months.
Hepatitis A is usually spread when a person ingests fecal matter — even in microscopic amounts — from contact with objects, food, or drinks contaminated by the feces, or stool, of an infected person.
Salmonella outbreak linked to JEM Nut Butter Spreads
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-jem-nut-butter-spreads/
By Carla Gillespie (Dec 02, 2015)
A Salmonella outbreak has been linked to nut butter spreads produced by JEM Raw Chocolate of Bend, Oregon. At least 11 people have been sickened.
The company is recalling its full line of nut butter spreads which are packaged in glass jars, and sold under brand name JEM Raw Organics. They were distributed nationwide in retail stores and through mail order between June 2015 and November 2015. Consumers who have purchased these products should not eat them as Salmonella can cause serious illness and death.
The recalled products include: 1 oz sizes of: Cashew Cardamom – Sprouted Cashew Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97861 7; Cinnamon Red Maca – Sprouted Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97862 4; Hazelnut Raw Cacao – Sprouted Hazelnut Spread with UPC 6 09728 97865 5; Superberry Maqui Camu – Sprouted Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97864 8. Six-oz sizes of Cashew Cardamom – Sprouted Cashew Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97860 0; Cinnamon Red Maca – Sprouted Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97848 8; Hazelnut Raw Cacao -Sprouted Hazelnut Spread with UPC 6 09728 97857 0; and Superberry Maqui Camu – Sprouted Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97858 7. Sixteen oz sizes of Cashew Cardamom – Sprouted Cashew Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97854 9; Cinnamon Red Maca – Sprouted Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97850 1; Hazelnut Raw Cacao – Sprouted Hazelnut Spread with UPC 6 09728 97851 8 and Superberry Maqui Camu – Sprouted Almond Spread with UPC 6 09728 97852 5.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include fever, diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In some cases, Salmonella infections an move from the gastrointestinal tract to the bloodstream and produce more severe conditions such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.
Those most at risk for Salmonella infections include young children, seniors and those with weakened immune systems. Health officials have not released much information about those who have been sickened except to say that there have been no hospitalizations or deaths.
FDA’s New Food Safety Rules Won’t Accomplish Much
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/12/fdas-new-food-safety-rules-wont-accomplish-much/#.VmTm_MKheUl
By Baylen Linnekin (Dec 01, 2015)
(This article was posted here on Nov. 21, 2015, and is reposted with permission from the author.)
In mid-November, I spent two days lecturing to a group of visiting food-safety regulators from China’s Hubei province.
I shared a great deal of current and historical food safety facts with them. The data that really stunned these food-safety regulators — to the extent that they asked me three times, through my translator, if the numbers I cited were correct — were on the number of cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year.
Every year, about 48 million Americans are sickened by foodborne illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data I cited. This results in 125,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
It’s not that foodborne illness isn’t a problem in China. After all, a 2007 estimate, considered lowball, suggested that 300 million Chinese are sickened by foodborne illnesses each year. It’s just that the Chinese had traveled here to learn because their country is attempting to emulate our food-safety system. And the numbers I cited shocked them.
The visit by the Chinese delegation coincided with the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) release this past month of the second of two key Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules that I’ve long argued won’t make our food safer. The data the FDA cites in those rules may shock you.
The final produce rule, released in November, estimates that it will help in “averting approximately 331,964 illnesses per year” that are attributable to contaminated fruits and vegetables. The final good manufacturing practice (GMP) rule, released earlier this year, estimates that it covers foods responsible for 903,000 out of the 48 million total U.S. cases of foodborne illness each year. The agency estimates that it need only prevent about 156,500 of those 903,000 illnesses for the GMP rule to be cost-effective.
The math on these final rules is basic and clear. Together, according to FDA’s own estimates, the GMP and produce rules can reduce foodborne illnesses by between 488,464 and 1.23 million cases.
Those aren’t exactly groundbreaking numbers. In fact, the lower end would result in a combined reduction of 1 percent of total foodborne illness cases, while the higher end would result in a 2.6-percent reduction. As I’ve previously noted, this is no lowball estimate. It’s FDA’s own best-case scenario for the effectiveness of these rules.
This is a small sliver of an already tiny slice of the foodborne illness pie.
Why so small? The impact of FSMA is so low because — despite the fact that FDA proudly regulates roughly 80 percent of the food in America — the foods it regulates are responsible for a startlingly low percentage of foodborne illnesses.
Put another way, FDA regulations can’t touch the most likely sources of foodborne illness. For example, norovirus causes 58 percent of all foodborne illnesses. That makes norovirus the leading cause of foodborne illness in this country. It’s caused in large part by improper food-handling practices.
“Sick food handlers specifically caused 53 percent of the foodborne norovirus outbreaks by contaminating food and may have contributed to another 29 percent of the outbreaks,” reports CDC. “Over 80 percent of outbreaks involved food prepared in commercial settings, such as restaurants, delis, or catering businesses.”
But FDA doesn’t regulate food preparation or handling in restaurants and hospitals. That job is left to states, counties, and cities. That means FDA has no impact at all on the leading source of foodborne illness.
What’s more, FDA also doesn’t regulate meats, such as beef, pork, and poultry, which are responsible for another 22 percent of foodborne illnesses. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, rather than FDA, is responsible for ensuring the safety of the nation’s meat supply.
So, if FDA regulations don’t speak to the most common cause of foodborne illness in America, and they don’t cover meats, what’s left? After all, norovirus and foods regulated by USDA account for four out of every five cases of foodborne illness in America (58 percent and 22 percent, respectively). That means that FDA regulations could prevent, at best, only one out of every five cases, or up to 9.6 million cases of foodborne illness.
But the key FSMA rules show nowhere near even that sort of impact.
This is why I’ve blasted FDA for arguing for years now that foodborne illness is a largely preventable problem and that more FDA enforcement authority and a bigger budget are keys to solving the problem of foodborne illness. They’re not. And the agency and its supporters need to own up to this fact.
World AIDS Day: Focus on Food Safety
Source : http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/world-aids-day-focus-on-food-safety-300145113.html
By prnewswire.com (Dec 01, 2015)
December 1, 2015, is World AIDS Day. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reminds people with HIV/AIDS (and those preparing food for them) about the importance of safe food handling in preventing foodborne illness.
Learn about safe selection and preparation of foods for people with HIV/AIDS in the free booklet Food Safety for People with HIV/AIDS:
•Download at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/PeopleAtRisk/ucm312669.htm
•Order a copy by calling 1-888-MPHOTLINE (1-888-674-6854) or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Practicing food safety is critical because the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) that causes Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) can damage, or destroy the body's immune system, making those living with this disease more susceptible to foodborne illness (often called "food poisoning"). If a person with HIV/AIDS contracts a foodborne illness, he or she is also more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die. This increased risk underscores the critical role safe food handling plays in managing HIV/AIDS.
Make Wise Food Choices
Some foods are more risky for people with HIV/AIDS because they are more likely to contain harmful bacteria or viruses. In general, these foods fall into two categories:
•Uncooked fresh fruits and vegetables.
•Certain animal products, such as unpasteurized (raw) milk; soft cheeses made with raw milk; and raw or undercooked eggs, raw meat, raw poultry, raw fish, raw shellfish and their juices; luncheon meats and deli-type salads (without added preservatives) prepared on site in a deli-type establishment.
Follow the Four Steps to Food Safety
Anyone who has HIV/AIDS or who prepares food for people with HIV/AIDS should also follow these steps:
1.CLEAN: Wash hands and surfaces often. Bacteria can be spread throughout the kitchen and get onto hands, cutting boards, utensils, counter tops, and food.
2.SEPARATE: Keep raw meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood and their juices away from ready-to-eat foods.
3.COOK to the right temperatures. Use a food thermometer to ensure meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products are cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature to destroy any harmful bacteria. Refer to the chart at: http://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/ResourcesForYou/Consumers/UCM462491.pdf
4.CHILL foods promptly. Cold temperatures slow the growth of harmful bacteria. Use an appliance thermometer to be sure the refrigerator temperature is 40 degrees F or below and the freezer temperature is 0 degrees F or below.
Know the Symptoms
Consuming dangerous foodborne bacteria will usually cause illness within 1 to 3 days of eating the contaminated food. However, sickness can also occur within 20 minutes or up to 6 weeks later. Symptoms of foodborne illness include: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and flu-like symptoms (such as fever, headache, and body ache).
If you think that you or a family member has a foodborne illness, contact your healthcare provider immediately. Also, report the suspected foodborne illness to FDA in either of these ways:
•Contact the Consumer Complaint Coordinator in your area. Locate one at: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/ReportaProblem/ConsumerComplaintCoordinators
•Contact MedWatch, FDA's Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program: ?By Phone: 1-800-FDA-1088
Contact: Media: 1-301-796-4540 Consumers: 1-888-SAFEFOOD (toll free)
If You Bought Taylor Farms Celery or Costco Chicken Salad, Here’s What to Do
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2015/if-you-bought-taylor-farms-celery-or-costco-chicken-salad-heres-what-to-do/
By Linda Larsen (Dec 01, 2015)
A massive recall of Taylor Farms celery products was issued on November 26, 2015 after testing discovered E. coli O157:H7 bacteria in one of the products. A celery and onion mix produced by Taylor Farms was used to make Costco Wholesale Rotisserie Chicken Salad that is linked to a multistate E. coli outbreak. That outbreak prompted the Montana Health Department to test the Taylor Farms product, and the bacteria was discovered.
The CDC has advice to consumers about this recall and outbreak. If you purchased rotisserie chicken salad from any Costco store in the United States on or before November 20, 2015, do not eat it. Throw it away, even if part of it has been eaten and no one has gotten sick. Then wash your hands carefully and clean out the fridge where the salad was sold.
The recalled Costco product is labeled “Chicken Salad made with Rotisserie Chicken” and has the item number 37718 on the label. This product has a typical shelf life of three days, but some people may store the product in their home freezer.
If you purchased any of the recalled Taylor Farms celery products, do not eat them. Throw them away in a sealed or double bagged container so other people and animals can eat them, then wash 9our hands carefully. Look at the list carefully, since the recall includes 71 products. Some of those products are chicken salad kits, turkey sandwiches, carrot and celery trays, diced celery, Asian salads, Macaroni salad, potato salad, and diced celery. Different products were sold in various states around the country. Some are food service products; others were sold directly to consumers.
The recalled products were sold at Costco stores, King Sooper, 7-Eleven, Pantry, Raleys, Savemart, Tonys, Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Starbucks, Target, and Walmart across the country. The expiration dates on these products extend into December 2015.
Some of the patients in this outbreak have been seriously ill. Five people have been hospitalized as a result of their illnesses, and two people have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), which causes kidney failure.
The symptoms of an E. coli O157:H7 infection include watery and/or bloody diarrhea, severe and painful abdominal cramps, a mild fever, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms usually appear three to seven days after exposure to this bacteria. An accurate diagnosis for this infection is crucial, since if a patient is given antibiotics, the development of HUS becomes more likely.
The symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome include little or no urine output, skin rash, pale skin, lethargy, bleeding from the nose and mouth, and easy bruising. This complication can cause kidney failure, seizures, strokes, and death, so anyone who is experiencing those symptoms should see a doctor immediately.
Sesame Gains Traction in Push for Food-Labeling Requirements
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/11/sesame-gaining-traction-in-congressional-push-for-food-labeling-requirements/#.VmTn9cKheUl
By Cookson Beecher (Nov 30, 2015)
For the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 people in the United States who are allergic to sesame, the recently introduced Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015 comes as good news.
Included in the act’s provisions, which primarily seek to give consumers easy-to-understand labels on food so they can make healthy choices, is Section 8, which would require sesame to be placed on the list of major food allergens. That, in turn, would compel the Secretary of Health and Human Services to implement a final regulation no later than three years after enactment for determining how sesame must be disclosed on food labels.
Section 9 of the proposed legislation goes one step further and requires that, within three years of enactment, signs listing the major food allergens be placed adjacent to non-packaged foods being offered for sale at retail outlets.
Currently, only what are referred to as the “Big 8” allergens — milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybean — must be listed on food labels in clear, easy-to-understand language. That list hasn’t been updated since 2004.
While at that time, the foods on the “Big 8” list accounted for 90 percent of the allergies in the U.S., sesame has increasingly become what many refer to as the “ninth major allergen.”
Some scientists say that the likely reason is that more Americans are eating what could be referred to as “exotic” foods, such as hummus (a popular spread or dip made primarily from chickpeas, which are also known as ganbanzo beans) and halva (a popular dessert in Asia, Africa, and Eastern Europe).
A quick look at recipes for these two foods reveals that they contain tahini, or sesame paste, as a main ingredient. (Other names for sesame and related products are “benne,” “teel,” “gingelly oil,” or “til oil.”)
Sesame oil has also become a popular cooking ingredient, and sesame is often used as an ingredient in vegetarian burgers.
Why so confusing?
The problem with this is that even people who know they’re allergic to sesame don’t always know the other names for it, nor do they know that sesame can be hidden within such vague labeling terms as “natural seasonings” or “spices.”
For example, sesame-based ingredients can turn up in surprising places, such as Brach’s candy corn, which contains sesame oil, and the tortillas in Kashi’s chicken enchilada, which are made with sesame flour, according to a Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) report, “Open Sesame: Why Sesame Must Be Disclosed As an Allergen on Food Labels.”
The CSPI report also revealed that of the 19 major food manufacturers in the U.S. that were contacted, only three — Kraft, General Mills, and Mondel?z — voluntarily labeled sesame on their products. And CSPI found that some companies that don’t voluntarily label it will provide information to consumers, but others won’t even respond to requests for sesame information.
Petitioning for change
In November 2014, CSPI filed a Citizen Petition asking that sesame seeds and sesame products be regulated the same way as other major allergens. The petition includes an appendix with letters from several parents of sesame-allergic children explaining why better labeling is so important for their families.
For those with an allergy to sesame, accidentally consuming it can trigger “life-threatening anaphylaxis,” CSPI says. Other symptoms include breaking out in hives, developing a swollen tongue, and having difficulty breathing.
In a news release about the petition, CSPI highlighted the case of a 10-year-old boy in Virginia who was rushed to an emergency room after eating a restaurant meal despite his parents getting the assurance of the staff before ordering that the meal contained no sesame seeds.
That boy’s father, Brian Heller, launched a petition on Change.org in October 2014 asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat sesame as a major allergen. More than 7,500 supporters have signed it.
“Most pre-packaged breads, buns, rolls, bagels and other baked goods do not say anything about sesame on the label,” Heller stated in his petition to FDA.
Becoming more common
According to the CSPI report, some physicians have noticed that sesame allergies have become far more common, “even outpacing other common allergic reactions.”
Robert Wood, M.D., director of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is quoted in the report as saying that sesame allergies have probably increased more than any other type of food allergy over the past 10 to 20 years.
“They’re now clearly one of the six or seven most common allergies in the U.S.,” he said, adding that “it’s remarkably common to see sesame allergy and to see severe reactions to it.”
Wood estimated that, in 2010, sesame was the fourth or fifth most common allergy in his patient population of 4,000 children with severe food allergies. And while food allergies are on the rise generally, he said that the sesame allergy “appears to have increased somewhat more than the others.”
A challenging allergy
Lynda Mitchell, senior vice president of community services with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, told Food Safety News in an email that a sesame allergy can be very challenging because it is not currently identified as a major allergen. Therefore, under existing labeling law, the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA), it does not need to be listed in plain English on food ingredient labels.
Because of that, she said, sesame can hide in terms such as “natural flavor.” People with a sesame allergy would need to call the product manufacturer to find out whether “natural flavor” contained sesame before purchasing it.
“Even traces of an allergen can trigger severe allergic reactions in some people,” Mitchell said, “so it’s important for people with a sesame allergy to know if sesame is in a product, or if a product is made on equipment shared with sesame.”
According to the CSPI report, studies show that even amounts as low as 100 mg (approximately 1/50 of a teaspoon) of sesame-derived ingredients can provoke a dangerous reaction, while a 30-mg reactive threshold has been observed in some individuals.
Congress is listening
Citizen petitions, along with growing consumer concern and awareness about sesame as an allergen, have caught the attention of some members of Congress. In June, U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Edward Markey (D-MA) sent a letter to FDA calling for a mandatory labeling rule for products containing sesame, stating that the agency needs to do this to help protect the health and safety of consumers.
“Without required uniform labeling of the presence of sesame, consumers with this serious allergy have no way of protecting themselves or their family members from its potentially life-threatening consequences,” the letter stated.
The senators pointed to the lack of FDA rules requiring manufacturers to disclose the possibility that traces of sesame can be introduced through production of an array of food items, and they urged the agency to address this issue as well and come up with wording so consumers can be informed of the possible presence of the allergen.
The letter also asked FDA to consider adding corn and mustard to the list of major allergens.
Allergen laws in Canada, the European Union, and Australia require that sesame and sesame-based ingredients be labeled on packaged food.
An added push
Just this past week, four members of Congress — U.S. Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA) — introduced the Food Modernization Act of 2015, which includes the provision calling for sesame to be included as one of the major allergens and to be clearly labeled on food items containing it.
“The push for sesame labeling is finding supporters in Congress,” Laura MacCleery, CSPI’s chief regulatory affairs attorney, told Food Safety News in an email.
She said that the proposed addition of a requirement for sesame labeling is “good news because our estimates are that between 300,000 and 500,000 people in the U.S. have a sesame allergy, which can be life-threatening. Because sesame is not considered a major allergen currently under federal law, but can be hidden in flavorings and thus omitted from the ingredient list, it (the food-labeling act) represents progress.”
As for the fate of the bill, MacCleery said that the organization is working to gather co-sponsors in both the House and Senate.
“Like all legislation, the items in the bill are part of an ongoing conversation between Congress and the federal agencies concerning their priorities,” she said. “We hope that FDA will see the interest in Congress in all these items, including sesame, and order its docket accordingly.”
She described the proposed bill as a nice step forward for labeling on many fronts, including pushing the government to require front-of-package labels that would clearly indicate the healthfulness of a food.
“Consumers are showing keen interest in healthier products, and better labeling is a natural step in the evolution of the food industry,” MacCleery said.
Food labeling reform
The goal of the Food Labeling Modernization Act of 2015, according to the sponsors, is to minimize confusing and misleading information that consumers encounter on food packages. It addresses front-of-package labeling, misleading health claims, and requiring updates to the Nutrition Facts label and the ingredient list.
“When families make the effort to eat nutritious, healthy food, the labels on food products should help them make the right choices, not confuse or mislead them,” Pallone said, pointing out that healthy eating is especially critical to combating the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.
In an effort to help consumers select healthy products, the Act’s signature initiative will direct the Health and Human Services Secretary to establish a single standard front-of-package nutrition labeling system in a timely manner for all food products required to bear nutrition labeling.
“When ‘whole grain’ waffles can be made with white flour, and ‘all natural’ ingredients can contain synthetic high-fructose corn syrup, it’s clear our food labels are due for a makeover,” MacCleery said.
Go here for a section-by-section breakdown of the bill.
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