You can thaw and refreeze meat: Five food safety myths busted
Source : http://startsatsixty.com.au/health/you-can-thaw-and-refreeze-meat-five-food-safety-myths-busted-2
By Cathy Moir (Feb 01, 2016)
This 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.
We have to ask today… Do you thaw and refreeze meat or live by other meat handling rules?
Idaho defines cottage foods; food safety unaddressed
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/idaho-lawmakers-give-ok-to-cottage-food-industry/#.Vq6vCk5umUl
By Coral Beach (Jan 30, 2016)
Idaho activists have won their fight to “unchain the cupcake” gaining approval from two state legislative committees that agreed this month to define cottage foods and require such home cookin’ to be labeled when offered for sale.
The OK from the Health and Welfare Committees in the Idaho House of Representatives and Senate keeps homemade baked goods and certain other foods sold by cooks directly to consumers outside the realm of many food safety regulations and inspections.
Freedom from the burdens of what some cottage food advocates have described as over regulation got a boost in 2015 when officials with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare argued in favor of rules and against a bill that would have created state law governing cottage foods. That bill was withdrawn.
The new definitions and the requirements for labels and no-cost licensing mark “a great success for small to medium-sized home-based businesses, rural communities, farmers markets and consumers,” according to the Idaho Organization of Resource Councils (IORC).
“Cottage food producers are now allowed to produce certain foods from home kitchens and sell directly to consumers. The foods allowed under the rule pose very low risk for foodborne illnesses, and can be safely produced outside of commercial kitchens,” the IORC leadership said in a news release.
Having gained popularity as locavores’ lust for local food has grown, cottage foods are spawning an up and coming class of entrepreneurs, according to the IORC.
Julia Page, chairwoman of the IORC board, said the news release the new rules will take cottage food producers out of legal limbo and ensure their equal treatment by health districts across Idaho
“These rules … will help our members avoid the delays, uncertainty and cost they have experienced in the past,” Page said when the legislators were considering the matter. “(They) will unlock entrepreneurship and vitality across the state, by making this homegrown, small-scale business model available all over Idaho.”
The new rule requires producers to submit an application that is available online that discloses what kind of cottage foods they produce. They must also include a label on their product that says it was prepared in a home kitchen not subject to state inspection and that it may contain allergens.
Cottage foods covered by the rule include, but are not limited to, baked goods, fruit jams and jellies, fruit pies, breads, cakes, pastries, cookies, dried fruits, dry herbs and seasonings.
‘Food safety is very very important’ 390 sick after attending Kansas dinner theater
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/01/food-safety-is-very-very-important-390-sick-after-attending-kansas-dinner-theater/
By Doug Powell (Jan 29, 2016)
Nearly 400 people have reported feeling ill after recently dining at a suburban Kansas City dinner theater, with some testing positive for norovirus, health officials said on Thursday.
The diners who fell ill had eaten at the New Theatre Restaurant in Overland Park, Kansas since Jan. 15, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment said in a news release.
“Food safety is very important to us,” said theater vice president Rob McGraw. “We are inspected regularly and it is very, very important to us.”
According to the Department of Agriculture, a follow-up inspection at the theater three days after the outbreak found nine violations, including an employee who handed a tray of raw chicken with gloved hands and then handled a pan of fried chicken.
Slow cookers and food safety
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/slow_cookers_and_food_safety
By Jane Hart, Michigan State University Extension (Jan 28, 2016)
Five tips for staying safe with slow cookers.
Arriving home on a chilly winter night and opening your front door to be greeted by the inviting aroma of dinner wafting from a slow cooker can be a dream come true in today’s busy world. An electric cooking pot can make life a little more convenient. And by planning ahead, you can save time later. It also takes less electricity to use a slow cooker than a regular oven. If you choose to use a slow cooker, here are some ideas to make your experience a safe one:
1.Safe beginnings: Begin with a clean cooker, utensils and work area. Always wash your hands before and during the food preparation when working with different types of foods. Keep foods refrigerated until prep time. The cooker may take several hours to reach a safe temperature and constant refrigeration assures that bacteria won’t get a “head start” during the first hours of cooking. If you cut meat and veggies in advance, use separate cutting boards and store them separately in the refrigerator to avoid cross-contamination.
2.Thaw ingredients: Always thaw your beef, chicken or another type of meat before putting it into a slow cooker. Choosing to create meals with high moisture contents, like chili, soups, stews or spaghetti sauce are good ideas.
3.Use the right amount of food: Believe it or not, vegetables cook slower than meat and poultry in a slow cooker, so put the vegetables in first. After they have started cooking you can add the meat and desired amount of the liquid of your choice. There are many options available for liquids you can add – be creative. Do not overfill the cooker and keep the pot covered; only open it to stir or check for doneness.
4.Settings: Most cookers have two or more settings as foods take different times to cook. Foods will cook faster on high, but for all-day cooking or for fewer tender cuts of meat, you may want to use the low setting. Ideally, turn the cooker on high for the first hour and then to low or the setting called for in your recipe. If that can’t be done because of your schedule, it is safe to cook foods on low the entire time. Make sure the lid fits tightly to maintain a safe temperature.
5.Handling leftovers: Michigan State University Extension recommends cooling the food within two hours after your meal is cooked. Leftovers should be stored in a shallow covered container and refrigerated. Once the leftover container is cooled, you can label it to freeze for a future meal or eat it again within three days. Do not reheat the leftovers in a slow cooker! Leftovers should be reheated on the stove, microwave or in an oven until they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
By making healthy choices and keeping food safety in mind, we can hopefully avoid food poisoning. Don’t wait for a bout with foodborne illness; be proactive to keep yourself safe. Be aware of cross contamination; thaw your foods correctly; use recipes that are food safe, and if you would like more information about food safety, contact your local MSU Extension office.
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Tumultuous Year for Eggs Might Next See Biosecurity Review
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/tumultuous-year-for-eggs-might-next-see-biosecurity-review/#.Vq6wuE5umUl
By Dan Flynn (Jan 28, 2016)
The 3-day International Poultry Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta concludes today. The annual event sponsored by the U.S. Poultry & Egg Association comes after a tumultuous year that left the industry’s egg producers with a lot to talk about.
With their product usually thought of as a cheap protein source and food staple, they usually just talk up the incredible egg at the Expo. A year ago, they were worried about national egg prices declining as California accepted only “cage-free” eggs, which they knew would fetch a premium because they’d be in short supply.
But those expectations were wrong. High egg prices dominated in 2015 because the Avian Flu problem turned into a massive disaster. Before the ended, 211 commercial flocks and 21 backyard flocks were infected with Avian Flu. Almost 50 million birds, including thousands upon thousands of laying hens, had to be destroyed.
The results were dramatic.
Killing so many laying hens caused a spike in national prices. The price of one dozen eggs last summer reached over $2.65, up from a 3-year average of around $1.75. California consumers suffered by paying about $2.00 more per dozen than national prices by region.
That, says expert, can be blamed entirely on the cage-free requirement because the state largely cut itself off from the national supply of eggs before the Bird Flu epidemic, which had a minimum impact on laying hens in the Golden State.
Overnight, the United States switched from being a net exporter to being a net importer of foreign eggs because demand exceeded supply.
In Atlanta this year, the talk was about whether these trend lines will continue.
USDA’s latest Agricultural Marketing Service Livestock, Poultry & Grain Market News says regional egg prices are 13.5 to 43 cents per dozen higher, while California is up 40 cents more on Jumbo eggs, 59 cents on larger sizes and 62 cents higher on medium and small sized eggs.
California’s high prices continue because the demand it created for “cage-free” eggs still is not being met with enough supply. The law permitting only “cage-free” egg sales took effect in California in 2015, but was approved by voters years earlier, catching many consumers by surprise.
Only about 4.5 percent of the laying hens in the U.S. are kept in housing systems considered to be “cage-free,” according to Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) data for September 2015. That’s up from 2.8 percent a year earlier.
In supermarkets, the cage-free eggs may account to one in five eggs on the shelf, according to AMS. That’s because many eggs sold are “broken” for commercial uses, such as ingredients in baking products.
The fact that current cage-free egg supplies cannot meet current demand is why various national retail chains are promising to buy only “cage-free” eggs, but only at some future date.
Most eggs in the U.S. are produced in so-called battery cage systems that separate laying hens from their own feces, and collects and removes eggs automatically from the housing system. Animal activists claim such cages are inhumane because laying hens cannot move around and flap their wings.
Many in the industry, however, say chickens left to move about get into fights over the “pecking order” in the flock and do harm to one another, resulting in a more stressful life for many hens than when they are caged.
“More chickens together, such as in a cage-free system, means more pecking and those chickens lower on the pecking order are being pecked the most,” explains Ken Klippen, president of the National Association of Egg Farmers. “That explains why cage-free systems often times have three (3) times more chicken deaths than the modern conventional cages.”
“An increase in deaths is hardly better welfare,” adds Klippen, who is attending the Expo.
The latest battleground for this debate is Massachusetts where a ballot measure gives the Bay State Legislature time to act before a “cage-free” ballot measure will be sent to voters.
Promises to purchase cage-free eggs in the future, but not now, underscores the simple fact that the supply is just not keeping up with demand.. The pledges, which often are made in concert with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), are a marketing device for the companies that make such promises because they get covered as “news.”
And many companies are doing it, including Target, Denny’s, McDonald’s Subway, ConAgra, Mondelez, Kellogg’s, Jack-in-the-Box, Bob Evan’s, Dunkin Donuts, and others who say its will happen but not until the year 2025. Some are promising to deliver a little sooner, like the year 2020. Promising to be cage-free four years from now are Aramark, Nestle, Centerpiece, Unilever, and Wendy’s.
Klippen says he wonders why so many food companies are so willing to increase food prices when more people are falling into the “food insecurity” category.
“Egg farmers are advising food companies not to adopt this new policy of buying only cage-free eggs because of the misinformation that they improve the welfare of the chicken or that they improve the quality of the egg.”
Major companies making demands almost always results in supply being created, but so far egg producers have been reluctant to toss their battery cages, which are actually “Rube Goldberg-like” contraptions that not only cage the laying hen, but removes the eggs, separates out the manure and delivers food and water all one contraption.
Replacing battery cages with another housing system—such as “enriched colony cages–” to give the chickens more room to move around —is a capital investment that can run into millions of dollars for a mid-sized operation.
Until egg producers decide to spend their own money or go into debt to make those changes, so-called “cage free” demand is likely to outstrip supply, which usually translates into higher prices and shortages.
Egg producers hoped that the Avian Flu epidemic would end after 2015.
But two weeks ago, a commercial turkey flock in Dubois County, IN was condemned for the presence of highly pathogenic H&H8 influenza. In responding to the first infections of 2016, state and federal officials said they were reviewing biosecurity practices for all flocks, including those in residential backyards.
The N and H protein viruses involved in bird flu have not caused any human illnesses, but the rapid spread that occurs in poultry requires “an immediate response” or “depopulation,” as officials call it. What they mean is the birds are killed and deposed of as rapidly as possible.
A 2009-10 federal egg rule provides the latest direction to egg producers on biosecurity.
Your Food's Bacteria is a Big Data Gold Mine
Source : http://fortune.com/2016/01/27/ibm-mars-food-safety-big-data/
By David Z. Morris (Jan 27, 2016)
IBM and Mars are tracking food’s microbiome to improve safety and productivity.
IBM’s data scientists are pioneering a robust new way to prevent the kind of food contamination that kills thousands of Americans every year (and may well end up killing Chipotle).
The goal—at once futuristic and a little icky—is to track food across the sprawling, global supply chain by sequencing the DNA of the microorganisms that live on it.
Just like our bodies, our food has thousands of these tiny hitchhikers, the vast majority harmless, making up what’s known as a “microbiome.” According to lead researcher Jeff Welser, conditions as diverse as soil and processing methods all influence a food’s microbiome, making the collective DNA of its microorganisms a detailed and unique record of its path to your plate.
The data has huge potential to improve not just food safety, but nutrition and production efficiency. IBM (IBM 2.10%) is currently testing the idea in collaboration with food company Mars by tracking the ingredients arriving at one of the company’s dog food plants.
To explain how microbiome testing could improve on current food safety standards, Welser points to the appearance of melamine in Chinese food products in 2008. The problem initially went undetected because, he says, no one was specifically testing for melamine. But a microbiome-based test could detect any shift away from a ‘normal’ baseline, because anything from tampered ingredients to unsafe handling would change a food’s microorganism profile.
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Welser points out that most current food safety tests come back negative—which is great, but doesn’t provide a lot of bang for the testing buck. Microbiome testing wouldn’t just improve existing standards, it would also produce a data set with many other applications—something like a Google Analytics for food production.
“Wouldn’t it be great,” he asks, “If every test I did taught me something?”
Microbiome DNA testing could help producers track which healthy microbiomes help meats, fruits, and vegetables stay fresh longer on store shelves. That data could then be used to tailor farming or processing globally to promote microbiomes with preservative properties.
“The other thing you get for free on this,” Welser continues, “Is a really easy and clear way to stop food fraud.” For instance, testing fish would confirm that it’s the species a supplier claims it to be.
Of course, there is something counterintuitive to the idea of making food safer by cataloging the thousands of bacteria living on it. But the public is getting used to the idea that not all microorganisms are bad—probiotic foods, for example, are now widely marketed to consumers hoping to encourage their own bodies’ “good” bacteria.
For now, selling the public and regulators on microbiome testing is still on the horizon. Welser says broad application will require building a massive database of microbiome profiles. Some databases exist, and IBM is also building its own, while seeking more partners in the food production world to join the project.
“What we’re building up,” says Welser, “Is a database of, here are the bacteria that live in particular kinds of food. Harmful variations, don’t care variations, [or some] that have some benefits for you.”
There is No Mistaking Butter Says Irish Food Safety Authority
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/122898/#.Vq6y105umUl
By News Desk (Jan 27, 2016)
Butter is now defined in Ireland as a churned-cream dairy product consisting primarily of milk fat, water, non-fat milk material and if necessary, salt, according to Dr. Pat O’Mahon, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland’s chief specialist in food technology.
The new official definition comes from a recently published guidance note on “The Use of the Term BUTTERCURL_406x250‘Butter’ in the Labelling and Advertising of Fat Spreads” from the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, also known as FSAI. The guidance is considered an “aid in the compliance by the food industry with relevant food law.
The Irish agency says the ultimate aim is to ensure that consumers are not misled and that when ‘butter’ is used, it complies with the specific and general legislation governing its use.
The guidance document is available on www.fsai.ie and was developed in light of a complaint received by the FSAI which indicated that some fat spreads were using the term ‘butter’ in marketing materials when it was not appropriate.
“Specific EU (European Union) legislation is in place that establishes a common organization of the markets in agricultural products,” says Dr. O”Mahony. ” A section of this legislation is dedicated to ‘milk and milk products’, whereby products like butter and other types of fat spread are clearly defined. The legal onus is on food businesses to ensure that they are compliant with all relevant legislation so that consumers can have trust in the product they are purchasing and make informed choices using reliable information. To assist food businesses, the FSAI has developed this guidance document which identifies the various pieces of legislation that must be considered when labelling and marketing fat spreads, particularly those that can use the term ‘butter’”.
“By setting out the pertinent legislation in the guidance document, we are making it easier for food businesses to avoid the apparent confusion that currently prevails in relation to what constitutes ‘butter’, as compared to the variety of other fat spreads on the market. In addition, it is made clear that general food labelling legislation in place since 2011, prohibits the use of any labels or advertising that could mislead consumers. This means that food businesses must carefully consider using the term ‘butter’ or derived terms such as ‘buttery’ or ‘butterly’ so that consumers are not misled in terms of the nature of the product… The guidance document is not prescriptive in terms of what can or cannot be used on the labelling or advertising of fat spreads, as the legislation is very clear on this for the most part,” added O’Mahony.
The guidance document also provides a number of conclusions that highlight specific issues for food businesses to consider when they are labelling and advertising their fat spreads, along with certain advice that should help them to fully comply with the legislation.
“It is natural that marketing specialists will use every means at their disposal to gain a competitive edge over their rivals, but this must not be achieved at the expense of consumers’ trust. We hope that our guidance document will assist the industry to comply with the complex legislation in this area, so that consumers can be confident that the foods they purchase and consume are accurately and truthfully described on the label or in associated advertising,” concluded Dr O’Mahony.
Grant Will Help Keep Your Food Safe
Source : http://www.wilx.com/home/headlines/Grant-Will-Help-Keep-Your-Food-Safe-366761871.html
By Ann Pierret (Jan 27, 2016)
A push to make your food preparation and cooking safer.
"Food safety is a team effort," Jennifer Holton of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said. "So, it requires everyone from farmers to restaurants to grocers to consumers to really do their part."
That's why the Department has awarded a grant to six groups, like the Michigan Restaurant Association, for food safety and education projects.
"Allergens are becoming more prominent, so we need to make sure that we're providing proper labeling, that people know how to handle allergens, whether they need to separate those foods, things along those lines. Cooking temperatures, proper handling, all of that goes into play," Holton explained.
Those are measures that the East Lansing Marco's Pizza takes seriously.
"One issue could cause us to be out of business it probably would and on top of that we don't want somebody else to be sick, or anything of that nature, because we didn't do something," explained Owner, Donna Sturgis.
She makes sure her employees take a number of safety steps each day.
"We have health and safety tests that every employee takes within the first 3 days that they're employed here and it talks about things of how food is dated," she said. "And even, from pulling food out of the freezer, how it has to un-thaw inside our walk in, not putting it on the counter."
Plus, attention to the little things, like washing your hands.
Crucial steps of food safety that the grant money will help remind companies and consumers how to do properly.
"What those monies do is help provide education materials, training, multi-media outreach, consumer education," Holton said.
"This money will help a lot of people be able to get that education that they need that they might not otherwise be able to afford," Sturgis added.
To guarantee you're getting the safest product.
MSU's Meat Quality Extension is one of the groups receiving a grant. It's going to work to train both restaurants and regulators on the best practices for processing and curing meats.
Ask Away: Street food safety
Source : http://www.nzherald.co.nz/travel/news/article.cfm?c_id=7&objectid=11579971
By nzherald.co.nz (Jan 27, 2016)
I'm travelling to India later this year. I love Indian food, but am anxious to avoid gastro-dramas. I'm a meat-eater, but happy to go vegetarian for a spell if that's the safest thing. Any advice?
I asked Swamy Akuthota, an Indian food expert who founded Auckland's acclaimed Satya restaurants and has travelled extensively in India to research food.
He says the two problem areas are water-borne infections and viral infections.
To avoid the first, drink bottled water with tamper-proof lids from reputable stores.
Street food is generally safe if it's being cooked in front of you at high temperatures. "For example samosas and pakoras, which are freshly deep fried in front of your eyes, are absolutely okay," he says.
Cold mango lassis, which are freshly churned from full yoghurt trays are usually safe - go for disposable cups rather than glass, as the later may have been washed in stagnant water.
Fruit juice vendors squeeze from fresh fruit - and according to Akuthota, Indian fruits can have an intense flavour. Try a few until you find one that suits your palate.
Viral infections can be avoided by using a face mask in very crowded areas and using hand sanitiser before eating. "Try to eat at crowded popular outlets as the food standards are generally good and there is no stagnation of food," he says.
And yes, avoiding meat is a good idea.
Can I travel to Canada for a three-week holiday if I have a minor drink-driving conviction from quite a few years ago? How hard is it to get a pardon?
Asking for a friend
Though Canada is very strict on this, it's not impossible. An applicant would first need to have an "admissibility assessment" through Canadian immigration.
Depending on the outcome, you'd either get access to standard routes (electronic Travel Authority, visitor visa) or would have to go through a different process and apply for a criminal rehabilitation and/or a temporary resident permit.
Normally, you would have to pay a fee of CAD$200 ($215) to process an application for a temporary resident permit. However, a policy introduced in 2012 means you may be able to skip this fee for one visit if you have served no jail time and have committed no other acts that would prevent you from entering Canada.
You will need to prove that your reason to travel to Canada is justified and you do not pose a risk because of your conviction. Trips for leisure are not normally considered justified. If you were convicted of a crime when you were under the age of 18, you may still be able to enter Canada.
It would be wise to discuss your plans with a travel agent, as they have the knowledge to help with a situation like this and can look at your specific circumstances in more detail. Short answer: It's worth a try, but you'd want to apply well in advance and definitely before you book.
Food fraud: Ton of meat seized by food safety officers from halal butchers in Glasgow
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/01/food-fraud-ton-of-meat-seized-by-food-safety-officers-from-halal-butchers-in-glasgow/
By Doug Powell (Jan 27, 2016)
Glasgow City Council’s environmental health teams have been investigating allegations that halal meat is being supplied by illegal sources to city food outlets.
In the biggest case to date, food safety officers seized 1000kg of meat from two halal butchers operating in the city.
The meat – which was believed to be lamb but couldn’t be verified because it had no labels – had been supplied by an unapproved cutting plant in Lancashire.
Halal meat involves slaughtering animals or poultry in a specific way. It is eaten by followers of Islam and is supplied by specialist butchers.
A report has been sent to the council’s Health and Social Care Police Development committee about traceability in the halal meat supply chain.
The report says officers launched a project in 2010 to find out if illegal meat was being processed in or distributed to Glasgow food outlets following allegations.
They found there was no evidence of meat being illegally slaughtered but documentation and labelling was “in many cases insufficient”.
The biggest haul happened in 2012. Recent allegations received include the supply of meat by unregistered traders, the supply of meat without any health marks and illegal street trading of meat from unmarked vans.
The report also referenced the horsemeat scandal in January 2013, which raised public awareness of the potential for food fraud in the meat supply chain.
The report said: “It would appear that some food businesses have not learned lessons from the horsemeat scandal.
“Unless traceability significantly improves it will continue to be impossible to differentiate legal meat from that originating from illegal sources.
“Consequently Glasgow food businesses remain at risk of food crime from elsewhere in the food chain.”
There are a total of 43 halal butchers across the city.
Food safety training delayed as materials edited by FDA
Source : http://www.thepacker.com/news/food-safety-training-delayed-materials-edited-fda
By Tom Karst (Jan 26, 2016)
Workshops by the Produce Safety Alliance that were to begin in January have been postponed until September because the training materials have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
The delay was acknowledged in a Jan. 22 e-mail to industry leaders from the Produce Safety Alliance acknowledging “lengthy delays during the editing and final approval process” at FDA.
The alliance, along with the Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance and the Sprout Safety Alliance, was formed by the FDA in 2011 to help educate growers and other food safety instructors on the requirements of the produce safety rule.
With Produce Safety Alliance officials working on training materials for years — the FDA has been working on them for several months — there is no certain date for FDA approval of the food safety training materials for fruit and vegetable growers, according to Cornell University’s Betsy Bihn, director of the Produce Safety Alliance, Geneva, N.Y.
Bihn said the Produce Safety Alliance and the FDA have gone back and forth on changes to training modules after the publication of the final produce safety regulations in November. Some of the training module materials have been through as many as four edits, she said.
“FDA’s primary concern is they want to make sure that whatever is in the modules is spot on from a regulatory standpoint, so it’s not misleading and its very clear what is required, versus what is a Good Agricultural Practice or best practice,” she said. “Our primary concern is that, and we also have a concern about conserving language that is understandable for farmers,” she said.
Three of the food safety training modules are complete, but four are still in the editing process, she said.
Bihn said the Produce Safety Alliance was initially optimistic the process would go much faster, and that is why training sessions across the U.S. were scheduled early this year. When it became apparent it was taking longer, training sessions were put off until September. If all the training materials are approved by the end of February, she said the alliance would likely conduct a couple of pilot training session before September. The alliance is confident that delaying training until September will be sufficient and no further cancellations in workshops will be required, she said.
The delay in the FDA’s approval of the materials is unfortunate, said Jim Gorny, vice president of food safety and technology for the Newark, Del.-based Produce Marketing Association.
“The Produce Safety Alliance had done really good work going forward as far as being prepared, and it is my understanding that all the materials sit on somebody’s desk at FDA,” he said. “Hopefully it will see the light of day sooner rather than later.”
Gorny said the produce safety rule doesn’t explicitly mention the Produce Safety Alliance, but the regulation does refer to a “standardized” training materials for the industry. The Produce Safety Alliance is working on that curriculum, he said.
The produce safety rule requires that there is one responsible person for each producer subject to the law that has gone through the food safety training, Gorny said. In addition, every person that handles produce in a packinghouse has to be trained, likely by the company’s “responsible person” that has gone through the required training.
“That’s why this review is important,” he said. “FDA has to make sure the curriculum has all the salient points correct.”
The good news, Gorny said, is that the largest firms still have two years — until early 2018 — to prepare for the effective date of the produce safety regulation.
“I don’t think it will have a major impact on training, although it would have been nice because I know a lot of folks were planing on teaching the curriculum immediately,” he said.
Growers like to get training in the winter, when they are not busy with field work, he said.“Unfortunately, we will have lost a whole growing season in much of the Northeast,” he said.
Another concern is the delay in sprout safety training curriculum, because that goes into effect in one year, Gorny said.
The produce safety training materials are a very high priority for the FDA and the agency is working to wrap up the process as soon as possible, said Liz Freedman, spokeswoman for the FDA.
“Right now the Produce Safety Alliance and the FDA are working on revisions to the curriculum based on the final rule that was issued in November,” she said. What has been very time-consuming, Freedman said, is that the agency is working to make sure the training material is technically accurate and reflects the final rule.
Freedman said the Produce Safety Alliance will still be able to make the trainer courses available well in advance of the compliance date of January 2018 for large growers.
“We don’t know when the trainings will be available but we are expecting them to be available this year,” she said.
Freedman said the training materials for the Sprout Safety Alliance and the Preventive Controls Alliance also are in the in the process of being finalized.
6 things that one food safety expert refuses to eat
Source : http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/6-things-that-one-food-safety-expert-refuses-to-eat-1.2752401
By CTVNews.ca Staff (Jan 26, 2016)
If you live in Ontario, Quebec or Atlantic Canada, chances are you may have thrown out a packaged salad from your fridge this weekend due to yet another food safety recall.
A Listeria outbreak linked to salads produced at a Dole facility in Ohio was blamed for the death of at least one person in the U.S. The recall affected five Canadian provinces and more than 20 U.S. states.
The outbreak is just another example of the many foodborne illnesses reported across North America on a regular basis. Bill Marler, a prominent food-safety lawyer in the U.S., has studied some of the worst-case scenarios while representing victims of major outbreaks throughout his career.
As a result, there are some foods that he says he will never eat. He listed them in a Food Poison Journal post this week:
Unpasteurized milk and juice
“There’s no benefit big enough to take away the risk of drinking products that can be made safe by pasteurization,” Marler says.
He says that unpasteurized, or “raw,” milk can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses and parasites and notes that there were nearly 150 related food poisoning outbreaks in the U.S. between 1998 and 2011.
One of Marler’s earliest cases involved a 1996 E. coli outbreak linked to unpasteurized apple juice.
Marler says that all types of sprouts, “including alfalfa, mung bean, clover and radish sprouts,” can have seeds contaminated by bacteria, and therefore cause illness if consumed raw. He says he only eats sprouts if they are cooked.
Marler says he only eats medium-well or well-done steaks because there is too much risk of bacterial infection when steaks are tenderized – a common practice in restaurants. His burgers must be well-done because “any bacteria that’s on the surface of the meat can be ground inside of it.”
Raw or undercooked eggs
Although egg contamination is less of a risk now than it was two decades ago, consuming raw eggs can still lead to salmonella outbreaks, says Marler, who only eats well-cooked eggs.
Marler says he has seen an increase in foodborne illnesses related to raw shellfish, especially oysters, in the last five years. He believes that could be linked to warming sea waters, which cause more bacteria to collect in the oysters.
Prewashed/precut fruits and vegetables
Marler says he avoids them “like the plague,” because the more food is handled and processed, the bigger the risk of contamination.
“Convenience is great, but sometimes I think it isn’t worth the risk,” Marler says.
Something to think about the next time you reach for that salad kit in the grocery store
Can new food safety law stop Egypt's 'donkey slaughter mafia'?
Source : http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2016/01/egypt-food-safety-regulations-new-law-disease-beef.html#
By al-monitor.com (Jan 26, 2016)
CAIRO — Egypt hopes to crack down on “food fraud” and prevent epidemics by strengthening its safety regulations — quickly.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has instructed authorities to form a committee to develop and pass a food safety law. Observers say the expedited order has rekindled hopes for a strong committee that monitors markets, enforces the law and prevents fraud. On Jan. 4, Sisi met with Abla Abdel-Latif, president of the Economic Development Board, and board member Mohsen Helmy to discuss several issues, including the committee.
The committee will be completely independent of all ministries and government parties, and will be directly linked to the president so it can perform its oversight role properly.
Hussein Mansour, head of the Egyptian Food Safety Authority — the unit tasked with forming the committee — talked about expectations for the committee.
He told Al-Monitor, “The main task of the committee is to monitor all food products, like dairy and meat, and all health-related issues. It will also conduct the necessary tests and laboratory exams to ensure food safety. The food products will be subject to tests to confirm their quality and production standards before being put on the market.
“The committee will also oversee the way that meat is cut, transferred and frozen, as well as its safety standards,” he said. “The situation in slaughterhouses is chaotic, and health requirements are almost absent. Moreover, the transportation of meat allows the spread of diseases. Some people transport the meat without covering it, which exposes it to car exhausts, soil, insects and microbes.”
Mansour admitted there is a crisis in Egypt’s food market in light of poor oversight. “This is an undeniable reality,” he said. “But following the president’s instructions to form a committee, we will now have a food safety bill. This will be the only law strictly related to food products in terms of monitoring, observation and follow-up.”
Currently there is a hodgepodge of regulations — some more than a century old. “These laws that date back to 1893 are archaic and unable to keep up with scientific developments, new monitoring methods or even the developed training programs,” Mansour said.
Based on official figures, there are 17 food safety monitoring bodies in Egypt, and there have been around 2,446 relevant pieces of food legislation since 1893.
Mansour added, “The new law will eliminate the problem of multiple parties conducting lab exams to test food products and will regroup them under one food safety committee allowed by law to carry out tests and analyses without referring to any other body. The committee would also enjoy full independence in implementing its job. This would forbid any attempts to deceive citizens in the quality of food products offered to them.”
There are 3,000 factories established according to the law and complying with standards and regulations governing food products, but they only produce 20% of food produced by factories. The rest of the factories often do not abide by any rules, laws or oversight regulations. This makes it harder for factories that strictly follow government regulations to compete and also poses a huge health threat to citizens.
Recently, the slaughter of donkeys has been on the rise at several farms and slaughterhouses. In June 2015, investigators in Faiyum province found a farm that slaughters donkeys and distributes them to butchers who sell them as food fit for human consumption. Investigators found 50 slaughtered donkeys ready for sale, while 300 others were waiting to be slaughtered.
Consequently, the General Authority for Veterinary Services, which is affiliated with the Ministry of Agriculture, announced a plan to monitor the number of donkeys and horses in the provinces. Thus, the authority will confront what the local press has deemed “the donkey slaughter mafia.”
Fathi Abdul Aziz, head of the monitoring and distribution department at the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade, told Al-Monitor, “The ministry launches daily campaigns to detect any fraud in shops. It has not spared any effort to catch outlaws. Several cases of commercial fraud were caught after it was discovered that shops were selling expired meat to citizens.”
Abdul Aziz said, “When cases of commercial fraud are discovered, we file a report, shut down the place and refer its owner for public prosecution, by virtue of law No. 48/1941 combating fraud and deception.”
Article 10 of that law states that if the fraud is repeated, the contravening party shall be sanctioned by imprisonment for a period not less than five years and a penalty of 30,000-60,000 Egyptian pounds ($3,800-$7,700), or of a value equivalent to the amount of the goods involved, whichever is higher.
Sayyed Ahmad, a member of the Tourist Guides’ Union, told Al-Monitor, “Food contamination not only affects citizens’ public health and infects them with diseases, it also impacts tourism in Egypt. Some countries are warning their citizens who are planning to visit Egypt how to prevent diseases by avoiding food from unknown sources sold by street vendors or drinking unclean ‘potable’ water to avoid epidemics like hepatitis.”
Mohammad Sayyed Massoud, executive manager of the Egyptian Food Security Information Center, welcomed news of a food safety committee. In a Jan. 4 press release, he underlined the importance of facing “food fraud” and checking for compliance with food safety standards. He told Al-Monitor, “Food contaminants infect many Egyptians with diseases.”
He said that the food safety law needs to be enacted as soon as it is ratified by parliament, and that the president is pushing for the law to be implemented in the next few months.
How Companies Win Back Your Trust After A Food Safety Scare
Source : http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2016/01/how-companies-win-back-your-trust-after-a-food-safety-scare/
By Beth Skwarecki (Jan 26, 2016)
Whether it’s Hepatitis A in frozen berries or huntsmen spiders in bags of grapes, companies that distribute contaminated food don’t usually go out of business. They clean up, fix problems and move on. If they handled the outbreak well, their food should be safe, but we understand if you’re a little skittish. Here’s what you need to know.
It’s impossible to guarantee that food is safe, whether there’s been a recent outbreak or not. Depending on how careful you are about food safety at home, the food at restaurants and from factories might even be safer. Those producers have requirements to test the temperature of their refrigerators, for example and the amount of time food sits in the danger zone.
But when a company has an outbreak, obviously something has gone wrong. It may be a bad batch of ingredients or an ongoing, systemic problem in how they run their business. Either way, it’s the company’s responsibility to make sure that Listeria or Salmonella or E. coli don’t make it to your plate. Understanding what goes on after the outbreak may put your mind at ease — or at least allow you to do some better-informed worrying.
They Notify You (Hopefully)
It’s best for the public if the offending company acts right away to close stores or recall products. Fortunately, companies have begun to realise that acting quickly is in their best interests too. Food Standards Australia New Zealand can force a recall usually the companies recall products voluntarily.
Crisis management specialist Gene Grabowski, who worked with US company Blue Bell Creameries during its infamous listeria outbreak in ice cream this year, told International Business Times: “You don’t wait for the government to require a response because the government isn’t responsible for your reputation.”
Blue Bell didn’t act quickly enough, he said. They recalled small batches of ice cream before “rip[ping] the band-aid off,” closing all of their plants and issuing a massive recall. FDA reports showed that the company had known about contamination years earlier and didn’t do enough to address the problem.
The Mexican restaurant chain Chipotle responded to the current E. coli outbreak by quickly closing 43 stores and responding to customers’ comments on social media. They still could have done better, according to crisis communicator Aaron Kwittken, who notes that they should have updated their web site sooner with information about the outbreak.
In New Zealand and Australia, you can keep tabs of government food recalls by visiting the Food Standards’ website.
They Look For the Source, But May Not Be Able to Find It
It’s reassuring to know that the source of an outbreak has been found. But that’s not always possible: Investigations take time, and sometimes the source of contamination was already eaten and gone by the time authorities, or the company, went looking for it.
So far, Chipotle has no idea what caused their E. coli outbreaks. The illness takes a week to start showing symptoms. Samples from the restaurants didn’t have any E. coli, which makes sense: if the contaminated food was a batch of tomatoes, say, or lettuce, that food would have been served and gone in a matter of days.
Even the most recent outbreak, announced this week, involves cases that happened last year. So when you hear about an outbreak unfolding, remember that information lags behind the actual spread of the illness.
If the contaminated food is longer lasting, or if the problem is an ongoing one at a factory (rather than just a single bad batch of ingredients), detective work is more likely to pay off. The FDA put together this video to explain how they tracked down a 2009 salmonella outbreak to its source in a peanut butter factory:
If they can find the source, the next stage is easier: where companies try to fix the problem so it can’t happen again.
They Change the Way They Do Things
First, of course, they clean everything. Before Chipotle’s stores could reopen, they had to throw out all their food and sanitize every surface.
Blue Bell’s first job after closing its ice cream plants was intensive cleaning, followed by a plan to never let things get so dirty again. Rather than a single bad batch, their problem was contamination in multiple plants, over the course of years — the 2015 recall was preceded by problems in 2013 and possibly as early as 2010.
Sometimes, fixing the problem can require a complete reversal in a company’s philosophy. Odwalla built its juice business on the idea that juice is healthier and better tasting when it’s not pasteurised, and that there’s no danger as long as fruit is picked and handled according to guidelines — for example, picking apples off the tree rather than using apples that have fallen on the ground. But in 1996, a batch of apples came in with E. coli contamination, leading to an outbreak that killed a toddler. The company reversed their position, and now pasteurizes their juices.
Foster Farms also changed significantly after their 2013 outbreak of multi-drug-resistant Salmonella that sickened hundreds. Tracking down the source was tricky, because Salmonella is fairly common in poultry. It turned out that the flock in one of the chicken houses had a persistent infection with the Salmonella strain involved in the outbreak, and that the usual steps in processing chicken resulted in higher bacterial counts.
Since then, Foster Farms has reduced their risk of Salmonella by doing things like vaccinating their hens against it. The company lists their anti-Salmonella practices here, and boasts that they have reduced their Salmonella rate on cut-up chicken parts to 5%.
Chipotle uses produce from many small suppliers, which can make it more difficult for them to ensure that all the suppliers are keeping their food safe. Their strategy to minimise risk, going forward, is a smart one: instead of switching suppliers, they’re now chopping, sanitizing, and DNA-testing vegetables at central prep kitchens. This will reduce the risk of contamination no matter where the veggies came from.
They Try to Return to Normal
After an outbreak, companies try to reassure customers that the danger has passed. Blue Bell is returning to its former ice cream markets one phase at a time, replaying its original expansion into those areas. Chipotle’s plan includes full-page ads and direct mail coupons to encourage customers to come back to stores. Unfortunately, the delay in recognising outbreaks meant that a spate of cases were announced just after the company made its changes. To be sure that the new procedures are preventing outbreaks, we’ll have to wait a few more weeks.
You can never be guaranteed that food is safe, whether there’s been a recent outbreak or not. Paying attention to the news is your best bet if you want to find out whether an outbreak is over, and what the company is doing to prevent another one. And if you’re not sure, feel free to eat a different brand of food or make it yourself using raw produce.
The Troubling Problem for the Fresh Produce Industry
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/costa/#.Vq62QE5umUl
By Roy Costa, RS, MS (MBA) (Jan 25, 2016)
Once again, the fresh produce industry has been hit with a deadly Listeria monocytogenes outbreak. The latest involves fresh-cut salad items, reportedly produced at a Dole processing plant in Ohio.
While it is shocking to see a serious outbreak in such a popular brand, Listeria contamination is a troubling problem for most everyone in the food industry, and the fresh-cut, bagged salad industry is highly vulnerable.
The food industry has controls in place to combat Listeriosis, along with other pathogens; yet outbreaks continue to occur, and we must ask the difficult question… why? A look at the disease transmission factors associated with Listeria monocytogenes point out some unique and difficult problems that can confound our controls.
Listeria has a relatively low infectious dose in the immune compromised; no one knows the amount of Listeria in every case sufficient to cause disease, but it is believed just a 1000 cells can cause disease. It is well adapted to a wide variety of environments, and can readily colonize most surfaces. Listeria can be found in about 7 percent of produce growing areas, and is widely distributed in nature, with a detection rate of about 3 percent of soils sampled in undisturbed areas.
The organism is hardy and survives well. Listeria may colonize a surface, but it can also be transient in an operation and gains entry into a plant with products, in soil, on shoes, and in dust. An effective sanitation program should be taking care of the transient Listeria that finds its way into a plant. From a risk perspective, finding Listeria in a drain or on a floor, is a totally different thing than finding the organism on a food contact surface or in a finished product.
Listeria contaminates cold, wet environments and harbors in drains and on floors and any damp surface if cleaning is not effective. Listeria can create bio-films that resist removal. Cells can multiply in the environment, albeit slowly, perhaps to 10 generations in about seven days at typical refrigeration temperatures. Temperatures around 41° F stop most other human pathogens from multiplication, but not Listeria. Eventually, these cells find their way onto surfaces that contact food, and the food itself.
The pathway for infection is further enhanced by the vulnerability of cut, nutrient rich fruits and vegetables to further support survival and multiplication of the organisms during storage and shipping.
The Listeria phenomenon is a relatively new public health problem in produce and is related to supply chain factors such as centralized processing of fruits and vegetables and extended refrigeration times. Such factors provide ample time and temperature conditions for Listeria to multiply.
Listeria monocytogenes is a very virulent pathogen, having a relatively low infectious dose. Symptoms may not present for at least three weeks after exposure and long incubation periods hamper efforts to identify suspect products, increasing the attack-rate in outbreaks.
Up to 10 percent of humans carry Listeria in their digestive tract, and are asymptomatic. Symptoms in those who become ill can progress rapidly to life-threatening sepsis and eventually to shock. The severity of illness is enhanced in the immune compromised host, and high mortality (~30%) occurs in outbreaks. The elderly, pregnant women, those on immune suppressive drugs, neonates, and those with common disorders of the blood, and internal organs are most at risk for serious infection. The number of at-risk consumers is increasing, along with the demand for fruits and vegetables.
Bagged salads are some of the most popular supermarket items. The convenience of pre-processed vegetables and the perceived health benefits of a vegetable rich diet further increase the exposure.
Due to the ever-present danger that Listeria may be in a processing environment, a food manufacturer must adhere to strict sanitation and testing programs. Together, these controls can effectively reduce the likelihood that Listeria bacteria will reach food-contact surfaces or products.
The first line of defense in a food plant is the design and maintenance of equipment and the environment. All surfaces where food is in contact with processing equipment, even the hard to clean surfaces and hidden areas, must be rigorous cleaned. Effectiveness of cleaning needs to be analyzed and verified. There are several popular testing methods including ATP Bioluminescence, protein and sugar detection swabs, and microbial testing (including rapid DNA detection).
If the surfaces of equipment cannot be properly cleaned and sanitized, and the situation goes unnoticed, the sanitation controls will fail, and a very difficult to remove bio-film will develop.
Produce operations use water processes to move products (in flumes for example), cool product (hydro-coolers), to cool with ice, and to wash products. A large volume of water is typically required in a fresh-cut salad plant. If adequately sized drains are not in place to catch water discharge, or if they are not properly placed, wholesale wetting of the production environment occurs. Given that these processing areas are also refrigerated in fresh-cut operations, adds to the risk of colonization.
Condensation is another enemy; dripping water is especially troublesome in refrigerated areas due to ventilation problems and design issues. Condensation significantly increases the risk of contamination.
Microbial testing is perhaps the most effective prevention strategy, yet it is largely underutilized. Both surfaces and products (raw, in-process, and finished product) should be under a microbial monitoring program. Diligence in executing the sampling program must be maintained; with sampling schedules developed based on risk assessments. Importantly, management needs to plan for an immediate and effective response if unsatisfactory tests results are received.
The keys to prevention of Listeria are vigilance and management oversight, and making the right decisions. Upper management involvement in sanitation problems is critical, along with management support for needed capital improvements in facilities that have issues. Furthermore, sufficient resources must be applied to the frequent and ongoing monitoring of the environment and the verification of sanitation.
No details are available at this time as to conditions in the plant associated with the current bagged salad problem, but history has shown that failures in past Listeria outbreaks occurred in the typical controls; e.g., equipment design and maintenance; environmental sanitation, environmental and product testing; and food safety management decision-making.
While Listeria monocytogenes is a major threat to the food industry, we should not be overly anxious, but have confidence in our food safety program, even if the organism is found somewhere in a plant. A systematic, well-executed, verifiable, and effective sanitation program applied to well-designed and cleanable surfaces will reduce much of the risk. An effective sanitation program along with properly established environmental assays and product-testing programs are the ultimate defenses against “Listeria Hysteria”.
Coalition’s Job is to Crush Raw Milk Bill in Dairyland
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/01/122851/#.Vq62p05umUl
By Dan Flynn (Jan 25, 2016)
With both its health and its dairy industry, Wisconsin has a lot to protect.
With its high rates for immunizations and high school graduations and low uninsured percentages, Wisconsin is right in the middle when it comes to America’s Health Rankings at 24th best. And when it comes to the dairy industry, not even California can catch it. Wisconsin—America’s Dairyland—is No. 1 with a growing $43.4 billion dairy industry.
When the organizations that exist to protect Wisconsin’s health and the state’s best known industry linkup in Madison to oppose raw milk bills, they’ve been unstoppable. The Coalition for Safe Milk came together after 2010 when the Wisconsin Legislature actually did pass such a bill.
At that time, health providers and dairymen were both reaching out to former Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle to request that he veto the raw milk bill. Those concerned about the health of nearly six million “cheeseheads” did not want milk that is not pasteurized sold in the state because “raw milk” is well known for spreading dangerous pathogens.
“America’s Dairyland” did not want the publicity that comes with raw milk outbreaks because that kind of news just isn’t good for business. Six years later, Wisconsin’s health-dairy industry coalition is a power in Madison. Since Gov. Doyle vetoed that 2010 bill, the legislative coalition has held off any and all attempts to legalize raw milk.
This legislative session, however, finds it facing the most serious threat since that bill Doyle vetoed. A bipartisan coalition is said to be behind Assembly Bill (AB697). The bill would make the sale of raw milk and raw milk products legal for sale on the farm where they are produced. A raw milk dairy relying on such on-the-farm sales would then be able to sell non-Grade A milk without pasteurization and without dairy plant or food processing licensing.
Upon introduction, AB697 was assigned to the Assembly Committee on Agriculture. It’s not yet been scheduled for any action.
Wisconsin requires legislative lobbyists to register their intent to support or oppose any bill. AB697 is in for a lot of opposition, much of it coming from organizations involved in the health/dairy industry coalition.
Among the opponents are: the American Family Insurance Group, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Cooperative Network Association, Dairy Business Association, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, Wisconsin Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Board, Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, Wisconsin Dairy Products Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Grocers Association, Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, Wisconsin Medical Society, Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Public Health Association and Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association.
The Wisconsin Raw Milk Association filed in support of AB697, which is also being monitored by the Midwest Food Producers Association.
AB697 likely does not comply with the recommendations of the 261-page report with recommendations from Wisconsin dairy and health experts that was prepared in 2011 after Gov. Doyle’s veto. The state’s raw milk advocates have largely ignored the report, which offered recommendations on the safety raw milk.
Even with raw milk sales being illegal in Wisconsin, two schools have been subjected to outbreaks involving non-pasteurize milk since 2010. In both instances, those involved claimed the raw milk wa
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