Letter From The Editor: A Modest Suggestion
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/letter-from-the-editor-a-modest-suggestion/#.VonLKk5umUl
By Dan Flynn (Jan 03, 2016)
Last month when they were going through their petulant period with too many outbreaks on their hands, the boys at Chipotle Mexican Grill were even complaining about the reporting practices by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta.
They did not like the trailing nature inherent of reporting on illnesses from a multi-state outbreak. Later reports often include illnesses with onset dates similar to those reported earlier. Chipotle was all concerned about the public getting the most accurate and complete information about outbreaks.
No wait. That is CDC’s task and they do a damn fine job with it. If Chipotle cared about the public getting the latest information it could have mentioned its Simi Valley norovirus outbreak was more than twice as large as originally reported. Surely, the boys in Denver knew that.
In a multi-state outbreak, CDC has the job of coordinating with the nation’s 2,700 state, district, and local health agencies and overseeing the lab testing they and others do. CDC’s reporting is consistent and efficient.
Food Safety News has had only one problem with CDC over the years and that’s when the agency choses to keep a restaurant’s name out of a report because they’ve determined a health risk no longer exists. We’d like CDC to adopt the approach most police departments take on accident reports—making all the information is public even if the names of drivers who were not at fault.
But Chipotle’s recent mishaps in food safety have raised another issue about reporting that we think needs to be addressed. With as many as a half dozen outbreaks on the table, only the E. coli O26 illnesses were experienced in multiple states and therefore falling under the CDC’s investigation and reporting.
The July E. coli outbreak in Washington State, the Salmonella Newport outbreak in Minnesota and the two norovirus outbreaks in Simi Valley and Boston were all single state events. But all involve the same national restaurant chain. Outbreaks contained in one state are the responsibility of that state.
States like those involved in the recent Chipotle investigations all do a fine job. But the states do not adhere to a uniform reporting system and there’s no one place to go for state reports.
We’d like to suggest that it’s time for the states to come up with a uniform reporting system for single state outbreaks that would adhere to some of the basics CDC uses. Most useful would be to continue to report new cases until the state agency in charge is able to declare the outbreak over just as CDC does now with the multi-state events.
Since public information is fundamental to the public health mission, there should be someplace where this issue gets taken up seriously. Perhaps the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers (ASTHO), for example, could set up a task force to study it and see that we are not smoking anything here.
We’ll go anywhere for a meaningful discussion of why improved information delivery is in everybody’s interest. If the state’s could pull together more complete and more timely outbreak information the public would be better served.
15 E. coli Outbreaks of 2015
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/15-e-coli-outbreaks-of-2015/
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 03, 2016)
E. coli is a major source of food poisoning sickening thousands of Americans each year. Symptoms of an E.coli infection, which include abdominal cramping and bloody diarrhea, usually set in about three days after exposure and last about a week. Complications include hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can lead to kidney failure.
Leafy greens, ground beef and petting zoos are common sources of E.coli outbreaks, but they’re not the only ones, as a look back at the outbreaks in 2015 shows.
Although most food poisoning outbreaks occur restaurants, the settings for these outbreaks varied. Of the 15 high-profile E. coli outbreaks of 2015, three were associated with restaurants: Chipotle, Twisted Fork and Worthy Burger. One, Los Chilangos, was associated with food from a food truck.
Petting zoos and animal exhibits at fairs are also common sources of E. coli outbreaks. Children are most often the victims of these outbreaks as was the case for three 2015 outbreaks linked to fairs and festivals: Red River Valley, Milk Makers Fest and the Oxford County Fair in Maine.
Unpasteurized juices and dairy products represent an increased risk of food poisoning. Two of the outbreaks in 2015 were associated with these types of beverages: unpasteurized apple cider from High Hill Ranch and unpasteurized milk from Natural Farm Fresh Dairy.
The remaining outbreaks were associated with daycare centers, a correctional facility, unknown sources and Rotisserie Chicken Salad from Costco.
Chipotle, Multistate – An E. coli outbreak linked to food served at Chipotle restaurants in nine states has sickened at least 52 people, hospitalizing 20 of them. Although produce was initially suspected, a food source has not been identified.
Twisted Fork, Nevada- An E. coli outbreak at the Twisted Fork in Reno, Nevada was linked to a chocolate mousse dessert prepared by another Reno Provisions. The source of contamination was a blender used for meat that was not cleaned properly before it was used again to make the mousse. Twenty two people were sickened.
Worthy Burger, Vermont- Eleven people who ate at Worthy Burger in South Royalton in Vermont contracted E. coli infections. The case patients were from three states, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire.
Los Chilangos, Washington – Los Chilangos food trucks had expired food service permits at the time they were linked to an E. coli outbreak that sickened 10 people who attended the Issaquah and Sammamish farmers markets in Washington state. Three people were hospitalized including a 4-year-old girl with HUS kidney failure.
Fairs and Festivals
Milk Makers Fest, Whatcom County, Washington – Most of the 25 people sickened after attending the Milk Makers Fest in Whatcom County Washington were first graders. Ten people were hospitalized, four of them with HUS. Health officials linked the illnesses to environmenatl contamination from the Dairy Barn at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds in Lynden, Washington.
Oxford County Fair, Maine – A September E. coli outbreak at the Oxford County Fair sickened two small boys, killing one of them. Both toddlers developed E. coli O111 infections after attending the fair. Their parents believe the petting zoo was the source of contamination, but health officials were unable to confirm a source.
Red River Valley Fair, West Fargo, North Dakota – All five people who developed E. coli infections after attending the fair were children. Four of them were hospitalized. A source of the outbreak was not confirmed by health officials.
High Hill Ranch, California – State health officials found E. coli O111 in a sample of apple juice from High Hill Ranch establishing a link to and outbreak that sickened 13 people with the same strain. At least one person was hospitalized.
Natural Farm Fresh Dairy, Idaho – A raw milk outbreak sickened 12 people with Campylobacter and E.coli infections. Four people who drank raw milk from Natural Farm Fresh Dairy in Kuna developed E. coli O157: H7 infections and four people developed Campylobacter infections. Four others had symptoms consistent with food poisoning. Two people were hospitalized.
Fulton County, Indiana – Indiana health officials said an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that included three confirmed cases, three suspected cases and one fatality was associated with a daycare facility they did not name. The child who died did not attend the daycare. It is not clear if she contracted the infection through secondary contact or if the source contamination was more widespread than health officials initially thought. All of the children were from the northern Indiana counties Fulton, Wabash, and Marshall.
Learning Vine Daycare, South Carolina – Learning Vine was linked to an outbreak that sickened a total of 14 children. One child died. Attorneys from the national food safety law firm PritzkerOlsen filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of the family who lost their o 2-year-old boy.
Prepared Grocery Items – An E. coli outbreak linked to Costco Rotisserie Chicken Salad sickened 19 people in seven states. Five people were hospitalized; two of them developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
Sacramento County, California – Seven Sacramento County children were sickened with E. coli in June. A source of the illnesses was not identified. Three who were hospitalized were treated and released.
Lodi, California – An E. coli outbreak sickened at least six children in Lodi, California who attended the same elementary school. The principal said health officials ruled out the school as the source of the outbreak. One child was hospitalized.
Lovelock Correctional Facility, Nevada – An E. coli outbreak sickened three inmates at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Lovelock, Nevada. A source of the outbreak was not identified.
2015 Food Poisoning Outbreaks from Pets
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/2015-food-poisoning-outbreaks-from-pets/
By Carla Gillespie (Jan 01, 2016)
During 2015, there were seven multistate food poisoning outbreaks linked to contact with pets. All of them were Salmonella outbreaks. Here is a brief look at each one.
Two of the outbreaks were linked to turtles and occurred at the same time. The Salmonella outbreaks linked to tiny pet turtles sickened 51 people in 16 states. About half of the illnesses, which were reported between January 22, 2015 and September 8, 2015, affected children 5 and under.
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.
A Salmonella outbreak linked to crested geckos sickened 20 people in 16 states. Three people were hospitalized. The pet lizards, which come in a variety of colors, were sold at a variety of stores.
And four Salmonella outbreaks linked to live poultry occurred concurrently sickening 181 people in 40 states. Most of those sickened reported tending to backyard flocks before becoming ill.
The outbreaks were linked to live poultry from multiple hatcheries sold at 17 different feed supply stores. Thirty three people were hospitalized.
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Food Safety Regulatory Forecast for 2016
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/food-safety-regulatory-forecast-for-2016/#.VonMBU5umUl
By Lydia Zuraw (Jan 01, 2016)
It’s impossible to say what will be the big food safety story of 2016. The ultimate unpredictable is what foodborne outbreaks will dominate the headlines and how they may impact policy decisions.
But we’ve done our best to list the regulatory activities to keep on your radar for the coming year.
FSMA: The Food Safety Modernization Act will continue to be prominent work from the Food and Drug Administration. The last two major rules regarding sanitary transportation and intentional adulteration, will be finalized by March 31, 2106, and May 31, 2016, respectively. The agency is likely to release a bunch of new guidance documents for industry and food safety advocates will be watching to see how implementation of the major rules goes.
FSMA was fully funded in Congress’ spending package for 2016. FDA will have to report the details of how that money is spent in the hopes that Congress continues the full funding in fiscal year 2017.
Mechanically Tenderized Beef: Labeling requirements for mechanically tenderized beef go into effect in May.
Catfish Inspections: The switch from FDA inspections of catfish to USDA inspections should happen in March.
Hog Slaughter Rule: It’s not on the White House’s regulatory plan, but USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is poised to issue a proposed rule expanding the HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP) beyond the five hog plants currently participating.
Performance Standards: Also excluded from the regulatory plan is the rule for new pathogen performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground poultry and chicken parts. The proposed rule was issued in Jan. 2015 and food safety advocates are hoping it gets finalized in 2016.
COOL Changes: Mandatory country-of-origin labeling for meat was repealed in the most recent funding bill, but it’s possible USDA could change to a voluntary program.
Antibiotics: FDA Guidance #213, which asks animal pharmaceutical companies to remove growth-promotion claims from medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, goes into effect at the end of 2016 so there will likely be a flurry of activity from industry and those watching to see if industry complies this time next year.
And FDA and USDA will likely do some preliminary work on collecting additional on-farm antimicrobial drug use and resistance data.
You can thaw and refreeze meat: five food safety myths busted
Source : http://www.timeslive.co.za/sundaytimes/opinion/2016/01/01/You-can-thaw-and-refreeze-meat-five-food-safety-myths-busted
By Cathy Moir (Jan 01, 2016)
his time of year, most fridges are stocked up with food and drinks to share with family and friends. Let’s not make ourselves and our guests sick by getting things wrong when preparing and serving food.
As the weather warms up, so does the environment for micro-organisms in foods, potentially allowing them to multiply faster to hazardous levels. So put the drinks on ice and keep the fridge for the food.
But what are some of those food safety myths we’ve long come to believe that aren’t actually true?
Myth 1: if you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken you can’t refreeze it
From a safety point of view, it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. Some quality may be lost by defrosting then refreezing foods as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.
Another option is to cook the defrosted food and then divide into small portions and refreeze once it has stopped steaming. Steam in a closed container leads to condensation, which can result in pools of water forming. This, combined with the nutrients in the food, creates the perfect environment for microbial growth. So it’s always best to wait about 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing hot food.
Plan ahead so food can be defrosted in the fridge, especially with large items such as a frozen turkey or roll of meat. If left on the bench, the external surface could be at room temperature and micro-organisms could be growing rapidly while the centre of the piece is still frozen!
Myth 2: Wash meat before you prepare and/or cook it
It is not a good idea to wash meats and poultry when preparing for cooking. Splashing water that might contain potentially hazardous bacteria around the kitchen can create more of a hazard if those bacteria are splashed onto ready-to-eat foods or food preparation surfaces.
It is, however, a good idea to wash fruits and vegetables before preparing and serving, especially if they’re grown near or in the ground as they may carry some dirt and therefore micro-organisms.
This applies particularly to foods that will be prepared and eaten without further cooking. Consuming foods raw that traditionally have been eaten cooked or otherwise processed to kill pathogenic micro-organisms (potentially deadly to humans) might increase the risk of food poisoning.
Fruit, salad, vegetables and other ready-to-eat foods should be prepared separately, away from raw meat, chicken, seafood and other foods that need cooking.
Myth 3: Hot food should be left out to cool completely before putting it in the fridge
It’s not OK to leave perishable food out for an extended time or overnight before putting it in the fridge.
Micro-organisms can grow rapidly in food at temperatures between 5° and 60°C. Temperature control is the simplest and most effective way of controlling the growth of bacteria. Perishable food should spend as little time as possible in the 5-60°C danger zone. If food is left in the danger zone, be aware it is potentially unsafe to eat.
Hot leftovers, and any other leftovers for that matter, should go into the fridge once they have stopped steaming to reduce condensation, within about 30 minutes.
Large portions of hot food will cool faster if broken down into smaller amounts in shallow containers. It is possible that hot food such as stews or soup left in a bulky container, say a two-litre mixing bowl (versus a shallow tray), in the fridge can take nearly 24 hours to cool to the safe zone of less than 5°C.
Myth 4: If it smells OK, then it’s OK to eat
This is definitely not always true. Spoilage bacteria, yeasts and moulds are the usual culprits for making food smell off or go slimy and these may not make you sick, although it is always advisable not to consume spoiled food.
Pathogenic bacteria can grow in food and not cause any obvious changes to the food, so the best option is to inhibit pathogen growth by refrigerating foods.
Myth 5: Oil preserves food so it can be left at room temperature
Adding oil to foods will not necessarily kill bugs lurking in your food. The opposite is true for many products in oil if anaerobic micro-organisms, such as Clostridium botulinum (botulism), are present in the food. A lack of oxygen provides perfect conditions for their growth.
Outbreaks of botulism arising from consumption of vegetables in oil – including garlic, olives, mushrooms, beans and hot peppers – have mostly been attributed to the products not being properly prepared.
Vegetables in oil can be made safely. In 1991, Australian regulations stipulated that this class of product (vegetables in oil) can be safely made if the pH (a measure of acid) is less than 4.6. Foods with a pH below 4.6 do not in general support the growth of food-poisoning bacteria including botulism.
So keep food out of the danger zone to reduce your guests’ risk of getting food poisoning this summer. Check out other food safety tips and resources from CSIRO and the Food Safety Information Council, including testing your food safety knowledge.
- Cathy Moir, Team leader, Microbial and chemical sciences, Food microbiologist and food safety specialist, CSIRO
This article first appeared on The Conversation
When Consumers and Science Collide
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/december-2015january-2016/when-consumers-and-science-collide/
By Charlie Arnot
The food system needs to change its perspective on consumers and science. The issue isn’t that consumers don’t understand science—it’s that the food industry assumes science will be the definitive factor behind consumer decision making.
Refrigeration, precision planting, pasteurization and drought-tolerant hybrids are just a few examples of advances in technology that have provided countless benefits to society. Innovation and technology help us meet one of humanity’s most basic needs—the need to provide safe, nutritious food for the people we love.
It’s understandable that consumers are concerned and skeptical about food production. The consolidation, integration and application of technology that makes food safer, more available and more affordable than ever before also prompt concerns. Consumers wonder if technology benefits society or only those who control it. Skepticism abounds on the motivation of those in food and agriculture.
The food system’s traditional approach has been that consumers don’t understand because they haven’t been provided enough information. The reality is that consumers do not believe the food system has their best interests at heart. Consumers increasingly believe that because farms and food companies have dramatically increased in size and are using technology they don’t recognize or understand, the food system is likely to place profit ahead of public interest. No amount of science-based information is going to change that perception.
The goal should not be to win a scientific or social argument, but to find more meaningful and relevant methods to introduce science and technology in a way that encourages thoughtful consideration and informed decision making.
Instead of assuming the problem is uninformed consumers, the food system must reframe the issue. Consumers will continue to be uninformed and prone to believe the food system does not have their best interests at heart. The question is not what to do about recalcitrant consumers, it’s how we help consumers better understand that despite the changes in size, scale and technology, the food system will do the right thing for consumers.
The Peanut Case: Placing Profit Ahead of Public Interest
Shirley Almer looked forward to being home for Christmas.
The Minnesota grandmother had a lot to celebrate. A lung cancer survivor, she’d had brain tumor surgery in June and had now beaten cancer twice. She had been in a nursing home the last few weeks, recovering from an infection. Her daughter Ginger visited often. On two consecutive evenings, she made her mom peanut butter toast as they talked about the upcoming holiday and plans for Almer to come home.
On December 21, 2008, Almer fell gravely ill. Family rushed to her side at the local hospital. She died within hours.
A week later, the Minnesota Department of Health called her family. The cause of death had been determined to be salmonellosis. The state had experienced an outbreak of cases, and the contamination had been traced to a brand of peanut butter that was used at the nursing home.
In fact, an alarming number of Salmonella cases had occurred in the fall of 2008; many of those affected were elderly. Cliff Tousignant, a Korean War veteran with three Purple Heart medals, died in a Minnesota nursing home due to salmonellosis.
The cases were linked to peanut butter that had been processed at Peanut Corporation of America (PCA)’s facility in Blakely, GA. Investigators and media converged on the plant. Conditions discovered inside were disgusting. A leaky roof let rainwater drip on containers of food. Rats, insects and mold were all present. Birds flew through open windows, leaving droppings behind. It also came to light that PCA operated another plant in Texas that wasn’t licensed and had never been inspected.
A nationwide recall was issued that covered everything manufactured by PCA in the previous 2 years and more than 3,600 different products, including peanut butter, cookies, crackers, cereal, candy and even pet treats.
In all, more than 700 people in 46 states were sickened with Salmonella. Nine people died.
The investigation uncovered something even worse than unsanitary conditions. PCA and owner Stewart Parnell had knowingly sold unsafe, Salmonella-tainted food. His customers included big-name food corporations such as Kellogg and Sara Lee, as well as schools, institutions such as nursing homes and the federal government.
Over the previous years, PCA products had tested positive for Salmonella at least six times. The company routinely shipped product before waiting for test results. Parnell replied in one internal email, “[expletive] Just ship it. I cannot afford to lose another customer.” He approved sending out containers of product “covered in dust and rat crap.” When one lab consistently returned results positive for Salmonella, the peanut processor quit using it.
In June 2008, about 6 months before Shirley Almer got sick, an employee notified Parnell of more problems. “This lot is presumptive SALMONELLA!!!” she wrote. Parnell seemed unconcerned. “I go thru this about once a week…I will hold my breath…again.”
In an email in October, the plant manager reported positive tests for Salmonella on 400 cases of product. Parnell’s reply focused only on the bottom line. “The time lapse besides the cost is costing us huge $$$$$ and causing obviously a huge lapse in time from the time we pick up peanuts until the time we can invoice…we need to protect ourself.”
While Parnell was worried about “$$$$$,” his actions proved very costly. PCA went belly up within days. Sales of all types of peanut butter plunged. The loss to the nation’s peanut growers was estimated at more than $225 million.
Such blatant disregard for safety and public health spurred the U.S. Department of Justice to charge Parnell with a string of federal crimes. In September 2014, a jury found him guilty of 71 counts including conspiracy, interstate shipments fraud, obstruction of justice and introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce with intent to defraud or mislead. His brother Michael was convicted on 29 counts of similar crimes. Stewart Parnell was later sentenced to 28 years in prison.
For the victims’ families, it was justice served.
“If Stewart Parnell is convicted and does jail time, it might make someone else think twice,” said Lou Tousignant, whose father had died. “He played Russian roulette with his products. How can you defend that?”
You can’t. Parnell’s actions are indefensible. And that is the challenge facing Big Food.
Eroding Public Trust
During the last 45 years, while Americans have been taught not to trust institutions, the food business has grown into a large, complex system. Sweeping consolidation, integration, industrialization and application of technology have caused the public to wonder whether the food system has become an institution and as such is no longer worthy of trust.
No doubt about it, food is big business. Consumers experience this firsthand when they trek to the store to purchase their supplies. The nation’s first grocery store opened in Memphis, TN, in 1916 when Piggly Wiggly introduced an innovative concept—shoppers going around picking up items for themselves instead of giving their list to a clerk who would gather the goods. The median-size grocery store now measures 46,500 square feet, a trend that has been steadily increasing.
Grocery chains have also grown larger as small, neighborhood stores become bygones. In 1993, the top 20 food retailers controlled 40 percent of sales. Two decades later, they control more than 60 percent (Figure 1). Walmart, which opened its first grocery store in 1998, now takes in $1 of every $4 Americans spend on food. Americans are conflicted when it comes to Walmart. The company earned both the highest sales and the lowest customer ratings.
The supply chain that delivers food to the stores has also become the domain of Big Food. Data from the Government Accounting Office illustrate how food processing became concentrated in a 25-year period (Table 1).
In the decade since 2006, the trend has continued toward fewer, bigger firms:
• Beef: Four packers produce 85 percent of beef.
• Flour: Three companies control 55 percent of flour milling.
• Poultry: Ten companies process 83 percent of chicken.
• Milk: Fifty dairy cooperatives produce 79 percent of milk.
• Pork: Four packers handle 65 percent of processing.
• Lamb: Four packers control 65 percent of processing.
• Beverage: Three firms control 89 percent of soft drink sales.
Since World War II, the number of farms and farmers has declined dramatically. In 1950, the United States had 5.6 million farms. That number is now 2.1 million. Farms themselves are larger, with the average now 434 acres, about one-third larger than in 1960.
Traditionally, public trust of our food and the people who grow it has been taken for granted. Family farms and all they represent are deeply rooted in our culture. Thomas Jefferson extolled the yeoman farmer as the backbone of democracy.
But just as the techniques of food production and processing have progressed tremendously, consumer attitudes about food have changed. Technology and innovation have made food safer, more affordable and more available than ever before. At the same time, consolidation, integration and technological advances in the way food is produced have increasingly resulted in the food system’s being viewed as an institution.
In these ways, Big Food is similar to Big Oil, Big Pharma or Big Banking—seemingly destined to join the Hall of Shame for America’s Most Hated.
And yet, food is different. Cooking dinner is nothing like completing a financial audit.
Food is so incredibly personal. It is necessary for survival. Food insecurity causes tremendous anxiety for a person, a family, a nation. Where food insecurity exists in a region of the globe, it almost always results in conflict. And when conflict erupts, it frequently results in food insecurity.
We provide food to those who are most vulnerable—children, the elderly, those who can’t provide for themselves. Rarely do our gatherings not center around a meal. Food is integral to cultural identity, religious ceremonies and celebrations of family and community.
Big Food is susceptible to growing public sentiment that profit is being placed ahead of the public interest. When this triggers social outrage, it can have profound ripple effects, as we have already seen.
But why do some issues erupt into crisis while others seem to fade away? The Center for Food Integrity (CFI) looked at specific factors to get a better understanding of how some lead to social outrage. The research found two factors are critical to igniting outrage: First, if the issue is a “concern” to the public, and second, if it has an “impact” on those perceived as vulnerable. Specifically, issues that can have an impact on “me and my family” heighten these factors. That’s why food safety and the impact of diet on health top the list of issues on the edge of outrage, waiting for a triggering event to push them over the brink.
In 1993, four children died during an incident often described as a wakeup call for the industry. They ate ground beef that was contaminated with Escherichia coli and served at Jack in the Box restaurants. The victims ranged in age from 6 years to 17 months. The shortened lives of these four children triggered social outrage that continues to affect food safety research and policy.
PCA cooked up the perfect recipe for social outrage. Those internal emails spelled out that the corporation put profit ahead of everything else. The victims were vulnerable and unsuspecting—elderly patients in nursing homes.
The frequency and visibility of foodborne illness created sustained public concern that served as a catalyst for government intervention. The most deadly was an outbreak of Listeria in cantaloupe in 2011. The contamination killed more than 30 people and was caused by contaminated equipment at the farm where the melons were washed and processed.
Other cases have involved celery, eggs, cilantro, berries and cucumbers.
In the wake of these deadly foodborne illnesses, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration enacted the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). It is the most sweeping reform of food safety laws in the U.S. in more than 70 years. The goal of the massive program is to shift the food safety focus from responding to contamination to preventing it.
The program is estimated to have a net cost to the government of $2.2 billion over 5 years. No estimates are yet available on the cost to industry.
Nor is it possible to determine whether the act has impacted trust—do consumers feel their food is safer? In 2015, while FSMA was awaiting implementation, Listeria contamination in Blue Bell ice cream caused 10 people to be hospitalized and three people died.
Social License and Shared Values
Every organization, no matter how large or small, operates with some level of social license. Social license (Figure 2) is the privilege of operating with minimal formalized restrictions (regulation, legislation or market-based mandates) based on maintaining public trust by doing what’s right. Social license is granted when you operate in a way that is consistent with the ethics, values and expectations of your stakeholders. Your stakeholders include customers, employees, the local community, regulators, legislators and the media.
Once lost, either through a single event or a series of events that reduce or eliminate public trust, social license is replaced with social control, which involves regulation, legislation, litigation or market action designed to compel you to perform to the expectations of your stakeholders. Operating with social license is flexible and low-cost. Operating with a high degree of social control increases costs, reduces operational flexibility and increases bureaucratic compliance.
The social license once enjoyed by food companies and producers is at risk as a growing group of skeptical stakeholders raises questions about whether today’s food system is worthy of public trust. Once public trust is lost, the tipping point is crossed and high-cost social control replaces flexible, lower-cost social license. Once social control is in place, it can be modified, but social license is never fully recovered. Maintaining social license has real economic value. It is not just the right thing to do, it is enlightened self-interest.
The question then becomes, what can be done to maintain public trust that grants social license and protects freedom to operate?
CFI introduced a research-based consumer trust model in 2006 and determined the three primary elements that drive trust—confidence, competence and influential others (Figure 3).
Confidence is related to perceived shared values and ethics and a belief that an individual or group will do the right thing. Competence involves skills, ability and technical capacity. We have traditionally focused our communication about food on competence, assuming stakeholders will make logical data-based decisions if provided credible information. Influential others include family and friends as well as respected, credentialed individuals such as doctors and veterinarians.
A nationwide consumer survey in 2007 determined the roles that confidence, competence and influential others play in creating and maintaining trust. Consumers were asked to rate their level of confidence, perceived competence and trust in various groups of influential others in the food system on questions related to food safety, environmental protection, nutrition, animal well-being and worker care.
The results were consistent and conclusive. On every issue, confidence, or shared values, was three to five times more important than competence for consumers in determining whom they will trust in the food system.
These results were a call to action for everyone in the food industry. No longer is it sufficient to rely solely on science or to attack our attackers as a means of protecting self-interest. This new environment requires new ways of engaging and new methods of communicating if we want to build trust, earn and maintain social license and protect our freedom to operate.
A New Way of Communicating
Building trust isn’t just about giving consumers more science, research and information. It’s not enough anymore. Science tells us if we can do something; society tells us if we should. We have to be able to understand the difference and cannot substitute scientific verification for ethical justification.
CFI’s research shows that to build consumer trust, it’s crucial to demonstrate that you share their values when it comes to the things consumers care most about, such as safe food, quality nutrition, good animal care and conscientious environmental stewardship. Helping people understand that we value what is important to them paves the way for introducing science into the conversation.
To be sustainable, communication must also be grounded in ethics, then supported by science and economics (Figure 4). The information we provide impacts knowledge. But ethics (or values) impact feelings and beliefs, which drive consumer decisions.
We’re seeing increasing pressure on branded food companies from nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and advocacy groups on specific issues. How can we do a better job engaging consumers in a way that helps them understand and even support food production?
Rather than defending or responding with science, we need to listen to and acknowledge consumer concerns, and engage in a conversation that helps us recognize what they want from today’s food system. This then allows us to help consumers understand what we are doing to address their concerns and also understand that what we are doing is probably more consistent with what they want us to be doing than they might realize. It also provides the opportunity to take real steps to increase transparency.
Food system stakeholders must develop new models for authentic engagement. In this dynamic new environment, producers and processors are inextricably linked to their customers and NGOs interested in food issues. The question is no longer “Will you be transparent?” but rather, “How will you protect your social license in an age of radical transparency?”
The Big Three
Major issues the food system should be addressing include:
• Big food bias
• The relationship between diet and health
• Increased concern over food ingredients
1) Big Food Bias:
As discussed earlier, consolidation, integration and other issues have contributed to the public perception that “big is bad” and big food companies are going to put profit ahead of public interest.
CFI’s research has shown the only way to overcome “big food bias” is through increased transparency.
While consumers have been asking for transparency, there have been varying attempts at defining it. CFI’s research has not only defined it but it also provides a clear path to effectively address growing skepticism about food. Effectively implementing CFI’s Transparency Model (Figure 5) can help companies and organizations build trust with their most important audiences.
Motivation is only one of the seven points in the model, but it’s a dominant one. Consumer perception that big companies are putting profit ahead of public interest must be overcome before science-based information can be introduced into the conversation. The process used to address public concerns is also very important. Consumers ask, “Are you listening? Are you acknowledging I’ve been heard? Are you explaining how and why you make decisions?”
Overcoming this perceived motivation requires a commitment to engaging consistently and over time. A proven process shows that your motivations are aligned with consumers and that you are being transparent.
In the past, our responses to concerns about Big Food may have sounded like this:
“The size and scale of operations today allow us to produce food more efficiently. The new technology used today is based on sound science and allows us to produce more food and keep food prices down.”
Compare a response utilizing shared values:
“We understand that food is a personal and emotional issue. It involves the health and well-being of family and friends. It’s understandable that people are concerned about today’s food production methods because there’s been dramatic change over the last few decades. While methods used today may look different, it’s important to realize that today’s food producers have the same commitment to providing safe, nutritious, affordable food as previous generations.”
2) Relationship between Diet and Health:
Addressing this pivotal issue needs to start with the food system’s embracing consumer skepticism and their concerns about diet and health. As a country, we now spend more on diet-related healthcare than on tobacco-related healthcare. As baby boomers and millennials continue to raise questions, the food system needs to embrace the skepticism and be willing to transparently and authentically answer questions about how diet impacts health. Candid discussions on the issue will better position us to gauge the public dialogue about many factors that relate to diet and health.
The issue of diet and health contains a number of contributing factors. It’s a combination of what and how much people eat as well as fitness and exercise. But unless we embrace the consumer skepticism and are willing to acknowledge the concern, any discussion about other factors comes across as defensive and deflecting and undermines trust. The food system needs to avoid sounding as if it’s not willing to take responsibility or to accept any contribution to the concern.
In the past, when food’s role in public health issues has been called into question, a company’s response might have been:
“Studies show that the leading chronic health issues in America are more related to sedentary lifestyles than ingredients and the processes we use to produce food. People need to get out and exercise more.”
Injecting shared values into the response would increase chances of connecting with your audience:
“Health and fitness is important to everyone, and we acknowledge diet as a key component of this issue. That’s why we’ve established a website to provide not only nutrition information on our products but also advice on healthy living. A combination of healthy weight, prudent diet and daily physical activity plays a role in improved health, and we want to be a resource to people on this very important issue.”
3) Concern over Food Ingredients:
More specifically, ingredients that are hard to pronounce and can’t be defended solely by science.
Concern on this issue was evident in the qualitative portion of CFI’s latest consumer research. Focus groups showed us that consumers are increasingly concerned and confused by complex ingredients they believe don’t have consumer benefits. Many believe these ingredients only benefit food processors and manufacturers.
For the food system to be given the social license to continue to use these ingredients, we need to not only explain what the ingredients are in easy-to-understand language but to also engage in conversations about how they have a societal benefit.
One example would be the ingredients used in bread that allow consumers to keep it in their pantries longer without it molding—a definite consumer benefit. The ability to preserve a loaf of bread longer reduces food waste and saves money. When food is wasted, it requires additional resources to replace it as well as resources to dispose of it. These ingredients have benefits for consumers and for society as a whole. Talking only about preservatives carries an “ick” factor for consumers unless you help them understand the big picture.
In the past, when traditional food ingredients were called into question, a company’s response might have been:
“Based on peer-reviewed studies, this ingredient is generally recognized as safe and approved by the Food and Drug Administration. It’s something that should not be cause for consumer concern.”
A better response, using shared values, could be:
“We know people are concerned about our use of this ingredient because we’ve heard it loud and clear from our customers. We share that concern and want food for our families to be healthful and safe. That’s why we’re happy to answer questions about this particular ingredient (then talk about why it’s used and the societal benefits it provides). Are there other ingredients that you’re concerned about? We’d like to be a resource if you have more questions.”
We discussed earlier the need to overcome perceived motivation before science-based information can be introduced into consumer engagement. One U.S. food company is developing a major research and development laboratory to focus on products that don’t include artificial ingredients. It is essentially saying to consumers, “We understand your concern about diet and health. While science tells us our ingredients are safe, we appreciate your concerns and that’s why we’re investing money to look for alternatives.”
This is the type of action that can clarify motivation. Perceptions will change with continuous use of these kinds of messages.
It’s about Trust
How technical and scientific information is introduced is key to supporting informed decision making by today’s consumers. Our research clearly shows that once a values-based connection has been made, permission is granted to introduce technical information. Simply having science on your side is clearly not enough to encourage and support informed decision making. Being right is not enough to ensure information is considered in the social decision-making process.
As we increase both the distance most consumers have from food production and the level of technology we implement, we must dramatically improve our ability and commitment to build trust with consumers and other stakeholders who grant social license. This will require a new way of thinking, a new way of operating and a new way of communicating.
To be successful, we have to build and communicate an ethical foundation for our activity and demonstrate our commitment to practices that are ethically grounded, scientifically verified and economically viable.
Charlie Arnot is CEO of CFI, a national nonprofit organization established in 2007 to build consumer trust and confidence in today’s food system.
PAHO stresses holiday season food safety
Source : http://stluciatimes.com/2015/12/28/paho-stresses-holiday-season-food-safety
By stluciatimes.com (Dec 28, 2015)
More than 210,000 people suffer an episode of foodborne illness every day in the Americas, and half of them are children under 5.
During the holidays, the risk of these illnesses can be increased by poor handling and inadequate refrigeration of foods prepared ahead of time and in large quantities. To prevent these illnesses, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) recommends “five keys to food safety.”
These five simple keys to safe and healthy food are: keep clean, separate raw and cooked, cook thoroughly, keep food at safe temperatures, and use safe water and raw materials.
“Following these five keys helps consumers know they are handling foods safely and preventing microbes from multiplying,” said Dr. Enrique Perez, PAHO/WHO senior advisor on food-borne diseases and zoonoses. “They are simple and practical, and can be applied in people’s home as well as in food establishments.”
Food prepared and consumed at home are responsible for about a third of outbreaks of foodborne illness, and a large proportion of all episodes of foodborne illness are caused by bacterial contamination that results from a handful of dangerous practices.
Food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, or harmful chemicals causes over 200 diseases, from diarrhea to cancer.
In the Americas, an estimated 35 million children under 5 suffer from these illnesses each year. In addition to children, pregnant women, people with compromised immune systems and older adults are more vulnerable to these types of illness.
Symptoms of foodborne illness include stomach pain, diarrhea, nausea, chills, fever, and headache. In some cases, foodborne illness can be fatal. Symptoms can appear anywhere from 30 minutes to two weeks after a person has come in contact with foodborne bacteria, although they usually appear in the first 4-48 hours.
The PAHO/WHO Five Keys to Safer Food are, step by step:
1. Use safe water and ingredients
Use safe water or treat it to make it safe; select fresh and wholesome foods; choose foods processed for safety such as pasteurized milk; wash fruits and vegetables, especially if eaten raw; do not use food beyond its expiry date.
2. Keep your hands, utensils, and surfaces clean
Wash your hands before handling food and often during food preparation; wash your hands after going to the toilet; clean all surfaces and equipment used in food preparation; protect kitchen areas from insects, rodents and other animals.
3. Cook food thoroughly
Cook food thoroughly, especially meat, poultry, eggs and seafood; bring foods like soups and stews to boiling. For meat and poultry, make sure juices are clear, not pink; reheat cooked food thoroughly.
4. Keep food at safe temperatures
Do not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than 2 hours; refrigerate promptly all cooked and perishable food (preferably below 5°C); keep cooked food piping hot (more than 60°C) prior to serving; do not store food too long in the refrigerator; do not thaw frozen food at room temperature.
5. Separate raw from cooked food
Separate raw meat, poultry and seafood from other foods; use separate equipment and utensils such as knives and cutting boards for handling raw foods; store food in containers to avoid contact between raw and prepared foods.
“Food safety: From farm to plate. Keep it safe.” was the slogan of this year’s campaign for World Health Day, April 7, which marks the anniversary of the founding of WHO in 1948.
The campaign calls for action to ensure food safety throughout the food chain, from production to consumption. Salmonellosis, gastro-intestinal illnesses and infections with E. coli, among others, sicken some 582 million and kill more than 350,000 people worldwide each year.
‘Floating sick bay’ Australia cruise ship rocked by Norovirus claims
Source : http://barfblog.com/2015/12/floating-sick-bay-australia-cruise-ship-rocked-by-norovirus-claims/
By Doug Powell (Dec 28, 2015)
Passengers aboard P&O’s newly-launched cruise liner say it is anything but a Pacific Eden, with a gastrointestinal outbreak affecting at least 60 passengers ahead of its return to Sydney on Monday.
norovirus-2The ship Pacific Eden, which docked in Sydney on Monday morning, has been accused of being a “floating disaster” and some passengers are seeking a refund.
Several passengers have contacted the Herald, claiming a norovirus gastrointestinal outbreak has affected a large number of passengers.
But a spokeswoman for P&O, which owns the ship, disputes the allegations. She said only 11 out of 1500 passengers aboard are ill, including five who were in isolation on Saturday. That number had reduced to two by Sunday.
This is about the same rate as the general population at any time, she said.
The departure of the 55,820 tonne cruise ship from Sydney on December 16 was delayed three to four hours to allow the crew to sanitise the ship after an outbreak of gastro on the previous trip. Yet the spokeswoman said she understood the previous cruise had a similar number of people who were sick with norovirus.
Yvonne Hubscher of the Sunshine Coast said she had seen children running along a deck singing, “We’re all living on a spew ship.”
She said the captain had mentioned that there had been 247 cases of norovirus on the previous trip. Many others had been sick on this trip.
Other passengers also contacted the Herald with similar allegations, including Cherie Butcherine from Dundas Valley.
vomit cruiseThe number affected by the outbreak is far higher than the 11 reported ill by a P&O spokeswoman on Sunday. It was the second outbreak of the Pacific Eden’s short life – she joined the fleet on November 25 after being purchased and refurbished by P&O.
But disease was only one of the young cruise liner’s problems. Guests who spoke to Fairfax Media also complained of mouldy bathrooms, a dearth of toilet paper, flooding, leaks and poor customer service.
“It was worse than a one-star motel, basically,” said Cherie Butcherine, who was travelling with her husband, mother and daughter Alexa. “We were just devastated to have to stay on board.
“There was food all over the floor, the bathroom was absolutely disgusting, it was covered in mould.”
2015 in Review: Animal Antibiotics
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2015/12/2015-in-review-animal-antibiotics/#.VonOL05umUl
By Lydia Zuraw (Dec 28, 2015)
It’s difficult to summarize what happened on the animal antibiotics front this year. There were lots of pledges, lots of discussions and lots of reports, but not very many actions. Still, we still wanted to recap what happened in the 2015 regarding animal antibiotics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that antibiotic-resistant infections sicken at least 2 million people every year and that more than 23,000 die as a result.
Although the majority of these infections occur in healthcare settings, concern is growing over antibiotic-resistant infections from food and the contribution that subtherapeutic antibiotic use on farms (meaning below the dosage levels used to treat diseases) makes to resistance.
Each year, antibiotic-resistant infections from foodborne germs cause an estimated 430,000 illnesses in the United States. Multi-drug-resistant Salmonella, from food and other sources, causes about 100,000 illnesses in the U.S. each year.
Antibiotics are commonly used to promote the growth of food-producing animals and to prevent, control and treat disease. Overuse on farms can lead to resistant bacteria that cause infections in both animals and humans and could spread resistance genes from animal bacteria to human pathogens.
By some estimates, about 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used in animals, though FDA cautions that it’s difficult to draw conclusions from direct comparisons between human and animal data because of differences such as population size (number of people compared to the number of animals in each of the many veterinary populations).
An international issue
In November the World Health Organization hosted the first World Antibiotic Awareness Week to help people learn more about antibiotics on both the human and animal side and try to prompt governments to take action.
An analysis published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that livestock across the globe consumed about 63,151 tons of antimicrobials in 2010. They expect the number to increase by 67 percent by 2030.
“More than 110 of the countries evaluated — mainly developing and emerging countries — do not yet have relevant legislation concerning appropriate conditions for the importation, manufacture, distribution and use of veterinary products, including antimicrobials,” wrote World Organisation for Animal Health Director General Bernard Vallat. “In some cases, legislation is totally non-existent. Where it does exist, it is very often not properly applied because of lack of public funds for the implementation of controls.”
A couple weeks after the World Antibiotic Awareness Week, U.K.’s Review of Antimicrobial Resistance released a comprehensive report on antibacterial use in agriculture that recommends setting a global target for reduction.
Some interesting antibiotics research that came to our attention this year found that: antibiotic-resistant bacteria may travel via feedlot dust, a greater proportion of Shigella infections are now resistant to a very important antibiotic, and antibiotic resistance in some types of Salmonella infections is increasing.
Most notably, scientists in China discovered a gene in E. coli that makes it resistant to a class of “last-resort” antibiotics and transfer resistance to other epidemic pathogens.
The federal National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) 2012 Retail Meat Report and an interim report for 2013 solely focused on Salmonella did have some encouraging findings which included a decrease in cephalosporin resistance among poultry and a decline in resistant Salmonella in retail chicken and ground turkey.
The struggle for on-farm data
Each year, FDA publishes a summary of the information animal drug sponsors are required to report every year by the Animal Drug User Fee Act (ADUFA), but the data are only broken down by drug class. An ongoing issue for the public health community is that sales and distribution information is not directly correlated with how the drugs are actually used and such information is needed to inform antimicrobial stewardship.
According the ADUFA sales data from 2013, sales of medically important antimicrobials used in food-producing animals in the U.S. increased by 3 percent in 2013 and by 20 percent between 2009 and 2013. FDA also released the data for 2014 which showed another 3-percent increase in 2014 and 23 percent increase between 2009 and 2014.
In May, FDA issued a proposed rule to expand animal drug data to include information about species. In comments about the proposal, many groups supported its finalization while also noting the need for on-farm use – especially purpose for use – in addition to sales data.
In September, FDA held a public meeting alongside USDA and CDC to discuss possible approaches for collecting additional on-farm antimicrobial drug use and resistance data. Consumer groups supported the idea of obtain this use information from feed mills.
The Veterinary Feed Directive rule, which was finalized earlier in the year, brings the use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals under veterinary supervision so that they are used only when necessary for assuring animal health. It also will require feed mills to keep records of use, so it’s already an aggregation of data and close enough to the farm to allow for species distinction.
Attempts to reduce subtheraputic use
The concerns surrounding FDA Guidance #213, which asks animal pharmaceutical companies to remove growth-promotion claims from medically important antimicrobial drugs in food-producing animals, were quieter in 2015 than in 2014. But the debate surrounding the guidance’s effectiveness is sure to rear its head at the end of 2016 as the voluntary policy goes into effect.
In the meantime, California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill which will enact requirements that go beyond what FDA has proposed thus far. The new law, which takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018, will ban subtherapeutic uses on farms and require that data be collected on antibiotic use.
Antibiotic advocates in Congress also reintroduced their bills for banning non-therapeutic uses of medically important antibiotics in food animal production at the federal level. This included Rep. Louise Slaughter’s (D-NY) Preservation of Antibiotics for Medical Treatment Act (PAMTA) and Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Susan Collins’ (R-ME) Prevention of Antibiotic Resistance Act (PARA).
One of the bigger antibiotics stories of the year was President Obama’s declaration that it is now the policy of the federal government to encourage responsible use of antibiotics in the production of meat and poultry. This means supporting the supply chain for those products by directing federal departments and agencies to create a preference for acquiring them.
And schools were given a new option for the type of chicken they purchase for school lunches – a USDA-verified standard that allows producers to use antibiotics only under the supervision of a veterinarian and only to appropriately control and treat disease, not to promote growth.
More companies make judicious use pledges
It became clear this year that chicken really is at the forefront of the shift to antibiotic-free sourcing. We learned that this is mostly likely chickens produced for food have short life spans — typically 42-45 days – so it’s easier to raise the birds with fewer or no antibiotics because there’s a lot less opportunity for any microorganisms.
And making a swath of changes in order to reduce antibiotic use is easier to do in the vertically integrated production systems of companies like Tyson or Perdue because one company owns and controls multiple stages of production from the breeder flocks to the feed mill, the processing plant, etc.
In April, Tyson Foods, the largest poultry producer in the U.S., announced it would strive to quit using human antibiotics in its chicken flocks by the end of September 2017. A few months later, Foster Farms, the California-based company linked to an outbreak of multi-drug resistant Salmonella Heidelberg that sickened 634 people in 2013 and 2014, introduced two new lines of antibiotic-free chicken.
McDonald’s made lots of headlines in March when it announced that within two years, all of the chicken served at its 14,000 U.S. restaurants will come from farms which raised the birds without medically important antibiotics. Walmart began urging U.S. suppliers to its stores to adopt and implement judicious use principles for antibiotic use this year. And just this month, Papa John’s pledged to cut antibiotics from its chicken by summer 2016.
Subway also said they plan to switch to chicken raised without antibiotics, but antibiotic preservationists were frustrated by the lack of details from the company. The sandwich chain was one of 20 chains that failed in a ranking of antibiotics policies and sourcing practices which was produced by several organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Center for Food Safety.
A similar ranking of top turkey producers found that most allow routine antibiotic use.
And on the pharmaceutical side of things, Elanco Animal Health announced a new antibiotic stewardship plan and pledged to host an animal health accountability summit in 2016 to provide a progress report on its efforts.
Other stories of interest:
•What Makes Antibiotic Resistance a Food Safety Issue?
•Why Chicken Is Going Antibiotic-Free First
•Indiana University Gets Big NIH Grant to Research Antibiotic Resistance
•USDA Awards Food Safety Research Grants
•Senators Still Want Answers From Antibiotic Resistance Task Force
•White House Wants to Nearly Double Funding for Antibiotic Resistance Fight
•Federal Report on Antimicrobial Trends Gets Interactive Update
After China probe, OSI food-safety trial opens in Shanghai
Source : http://www.reuters.com/article/china-osi-trial-idUSL3N14D27720151228
By reuters.com (Dec 27, 2015)
The long-awaited China trial of U.S. food supplier OSI Group opened in Shanghai on Monday, kicking off the final act of a scandal that dragged in fast-food giants McDonald's Corp and Yum Brands Inc .
In July, 2014, a Chinese TV report alleged to show workers at a Shanghai unit of OSI using out-of-date meat and doctoring production dates, a scandal which rippled as far afield as Japan and prompted apologies from OSI clients McDonald's and Yum.
The criminal trial opened at the Shanghai Jiading People's Court, a court official and lawyers told Reuters. Shanghai prosecutors charged two OSI China units and 10 employees for producing and selling sub-standard products in September.
A large fine against OSI could threaten the firm's business in the country and would signal an aggressive approach by China towards food-safety regulation, long a major risk for restaurant chains and retailers in the world's second-largest economy.
Under China's criminal law, firms and individuals can face large fines and jail sentences if found guilty of knowingly producing and selling sub-standard products.
OSI did not offer an immediate comment.
A spokesman for MWE China Law Offices, which is representing OSI, declined to give details about the case.
Operations at OSI unit Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd were suspended following the 2014 report, some executives were detained, local authorities launched an investigation and OSI's chief executive said he was appalled over missteps at the plant.
OSI, however, criticised the handling of the case by the local food regulator earlier this year, a rare act in China where firms are usually careful not to openly challenge the authorities.
The trial is expected to last two to three days, although the verdict is likely to be handed down following a period of deliberation by a panel of judges after the trial.
Food safety is one of the top issues for Chinese consumers after scandals from smuggled "zombie meat" to a tragedy in 2008 where dairy products tainted with industrial chemical melamine led to the deaths of six infants and made many thousands sick.
China has vowed to crack down on food safety violations, with the country's top court calling for "heavy penalties" in August after new food safety laws earlier in the year set out tougher punishments and tighter regulation.
Food-safety scares, including at OSI, have had a major impact on some international firms in China, hitting reputations and sales at firms from McDonald's and KFC-parent Yum to France's Danone SA and Wal Mart Stores Inc. (Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)
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