News in Food Safety

Cherney Announces Promotions and Hiring

Quality Assurance Mag - July 18, 2018 - 8:07am
Green Bay, Wis.,-based Cherney Microbiological Services has announced three new promotions/hires:

  • Katie Mattson has been promoted to Director of Quality & Continuous Improvement. Mattson is a 12-year employee, having worked in the laboratory for seven years and most recently holding the position of proficiency program manager for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Lake Superior State University with a Chemistry minor.
  • Ashley Erdman was promoted to Proficiency Program Manager. A six-year employee, Erdman has worked in the laboratory for four years, most recently as quality technician for two years.She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from St. Norbert College with minors in Chemistry and Psychology.
  • Paul Monet has been hired as director of sales and marketing.Monet, former market segment manager at MilliporeSigma, a business of Merck KGaA, has more than 20 years of industry experience within the life sciences industry in both marketing and business development roles. Reporting to COO Steve Kuchenberg, he will be responsible for the development and execution of the sales and marketing strategy to achieve Cherney’s long term growth plan.

 

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Hy-Vee Voluntarily Recalls Spring Pasta Salad Due to Reported Illnesses

CDC Food Safety news - July 18, 2018 - 12:28am
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa (July 17, 2018) - Hy-Vee, Inc., based in West Des Moines, Iowa, is voluntarily recalling its Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salad due to the potential that it may be contaminated with Salmonella. The potential for contamination was brought to Hy-Vee's attention last night when approximately 20 illnesses in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa were potentially linked back to customers consuming the salad. The voluntary recall includes Hy-Vee Spring Pasta Salads in both 1 pound (16 oz.) and 3 pound (48 oz.) containers produced between June 1, 2018, and July 13, 2018, and available from the deli service case.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Hy-Vee pulls pasta salad after reports of 20 illnesses in 4 states

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:33pm

About 20 people are reportedly sick after eating ready-to-eat pasta salad, spurring Hy-Vee Inc. to recall the product from all of its 244 grocery stores.

Although the company’s recall notice, which it posted July 17, references apparent Salmonella illnesses in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, federal officials had not posted any information about the recall or outbreak as of 12:30 a.m. today. Similarly, health departments in the four states did not appear to have any information about the situation on their websites.

“The potential for contamination was brought to Hy-Vee’s attention last night (July 16) when approximately 20 illnesses in Minnesota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa were potentially linked back to customers consuming the salad,” according to the recall notice on Hy-Vee’s website.

“The pasta salad was distributed to all of Hy-Vee’s 244 grocery stores across its eight-state region of Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.”

The recalled “Spring Pasta Salad” is packaged in plastic containers with plastic lids. The expiration date range is between June 22 and Aug. 3. The expiration date can be found on the side of the container. The recall includes1-pound and 3-pound containers. The recalled salad was produced between June 1 and July 13. It was sold from the deli service cases in Hy-Vee grocery stores.

Officials with Hy-Vee, which is headquartered in West Des Moines, urged customers who purchased the salad to dispose of it or return it to their local Hy-Vee store for a full refund.

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has eaten the Hy-Vee pasta salad and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria. Specific laboratory tests are necessary to diagnose Salmonella infections.

Symptoms of salmonellosis can include fever, diarrhea that can be bloody, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In otherwise healthy adults the bacterial infection usually lasts a few days and does not require hospitalization.

However, in high risk people Salmonella bacteria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections. In extreme cases infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and cause arterial infections such as infected aneurysms, as well as endocarditis and arthritis. 

High risk groups include young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems, including cancer and transplant patients.  

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Poke kits recalled from Aldi because of temperature violations

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:02pm

AnnaSea Wasabi Ahi Poke Hawaiian Poke Kits and Limu Ahi Poke Hawaiian Poke Kits are being recalled from some Aldi stores in North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia because they were stored at incorrect temperatures.

The poke kits are required to be held at freezing temperatures to ensure safety, however, the Aldi stores displayed and sold the products from their cooler sections. Because they were stored at temperatures above freezing prior to consumption, the poke kits were rendered unsafe for consumption, according to a recall notice.

The recall notice says Aldi has removed all of the affected AnnaSeaPoke Kits from store shelves, and is not currently selling these items. However, Aldi is urging customers to discard any implicated items they have purchased, or return them to their nearest Aldi store for a full refund.

Aldi reports it has removed all affected products from store shelves in North Carolina, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia, and is not currently selling AnnaSea Poke Kits with the following label information:

  • Wasabi Ahi Hawaiian Poke Kit and Limu Ahi Poke Kit with the UPC number “99221 0010”;
  • Limu Ahi Hawaiian Poke Kit, UPC number “99221 00109”; and
  • Best by dates of “5/23/2020”, “6/11/2020”, “6/12/2020”, and “6/14/2020”.

The retail location in North Carolina where the products were displayed and sold at incorrect temperatures is at 110 Duncan Hill Road, Hendersonville, NC.

The retail locations in Ohio where the products were displayed and sold at incorrect temperatures are at 2725 Maret St. NE in Canton and at 4664 Sawmill Road in Columbus.

The retail locations in Maryland and Virginia where the products were displayed and sold at incorrect temperatures are reported as:

  • 8256 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria, VA
  • 6301 Marlboro Pike, District Heights, MD
  • 1312 Business Center Way, Edgewood, MD
  • 3250 East Fayette St., Baltimore, MD
  • 7500 Albert Rd., Brandywine, MD
  • 20904 Frederick Road, Germantown, MD

According to the recall notice, any AnnaSea Poke Kits purchased from the freezer section at any other Aldi location in North Carolina, Ohio, Virgina, or Maryland are not part of this recall and are considered safe for consumption.

To date, no illnesses related to this product have been reported. Consumers with questions can contact Aldi at 1-800-325-7894.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Food processors to agree to cease production over Listeria scare

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:01pm

Operators of two New York food processing companies agreed to stop preparing foods until they can comply with federal food safety laws and regulations. The action comes after Listeria monocytogenes was found in food preparation areas of their jointly owned processing facility.

The companies process a variety of foods, including a variety of ready-to-eat foods and certain salt-cured and pickled fish, according to a notice from the Food and Drug Administration. 

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Brian M. Cogan for the Eastern District of New York entered a consent decree of permanent injunction between the federal government and Euroline Foods LLC; Royal Seafood Baza Inc.; the companies’ co-owners Eduard Shnayder, Syoma Shnayder and Albert Niyazov; and a manager, Oleg Polischouk.

Euroline Foods LLC and Royal Seafood Baza Inc. jointly own a food processing facility in Staten Island, NY. The consent decree prohibits the defendants from receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, labeling and/or distributing foods at the facility, or any other facility that receives, prepares, processes, packs, labels, holds and/or distributes food that presents a Listeria monocytogenes hazard, which is a violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) until the defendants meet certain requirements.

The consent decree does not, however, prevent defendants from receiving, holding and distributing food that remains completely sealed and enclosed by a container, as long as it is in compliance with the FD&C Act, or from operating retail food establishments such as grocery stores.

“FDA investigators found widespread L. mono (Listeria monocytogenes) contamination at the Euroline and Royal Seafood facility,” FDA Associate Commissioner for Regulatory Affairs Melinda K. Plaister said in the agency’s notice. “With this agreement, the company will not be able to bring any contaminated products or potentially contaminated products to market. Conditions, where their products were being produced, were unacceptable, and the FDA took action to protect Americans.”

According to a complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of FDA, the agency inspected the defendants’ facility in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The inspections revealed that the defendants failed to comply with the FD&C Act and its regulations, including the seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (“HACCP”) regulations and Current Good Manufacturing Practice (“CGMP”) regulations.

In 2015, the FDA issued a warning letter to Royal Seafood Baza after a facility inspection identified violations of HACCP and CGMP regulation requirements.

During 2016 inspections, the FDA’s investigators conducted environmental sampling and found Listeria monocytogenes in the seafood and vegetable processing environments, as well as ongoing inadequate sanitation practices by employees.

Listeria monocytogenes is a pathogenic bacterium that can cause listeriosis, a rare but potentially life-threatening illness. People with compromised immune systems, the elderly, pregnant women and developing fetuses are particularly susceptible to listeriosis.

While the company subsequently conducted a voluntary, nationwide recall of its ready-to-eat herring products because of Listeria monocytogenes concerns. At that time company officials  made assurances that they were correcting violations. the FDA’s subsequent inspections revealed that adequate corrective actions had not been implemented.    

The consent decree requires defendants to, among other things, retain an independent laboratory to collect and analyze environmental and finished food samples for the presence of Listeria monocytogenes; retain a qualified independent expert to assist the company in developing a program to control the pathogen and ensure compliance with CGMP requirements; and take other corrective actions if they wish to resume food preparation operations at the facility or any other facility that receives, prepares, processes, packs, labels, holds and/or distributes food that presents a Listeria monocytogenes hazard.

Should the defendants be permitted to resume or permit food preparation operations at its current facility in the future, the FDA maintains oversight over such operations under the consent decree and may order the defendants to take corrective actions if the agency discovers further food safety violations.

Individuals who have eaten products purchased from the companies should contact a healthcare professional if they experience any symptoms of listeriosis. In addition, consumers are encouraged to contact the FDA to report problems with any FDA-regulated products.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Australia links Listeria death to Europe’s frozen veg outbreak

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:01pm

Australian authorities have identified a fatal Listeria infection in their country that is linked to a deadly outbreak from frozen vegetables in five European countries.

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services said the case, reported earlier this year, has been tied to the strain in Europe that has infected at least 47 and killed nine people in Finland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark and Austria. The Australian agency said it is the same serotype with similar genetics.

The infected person in Australia died, so authorities were not able to confirm whether the victim consumed any of the implicated frozen vegetables. Australia has recalled a range of imported frozen vegetables.

This year in Victoria, 15 cases of listeriosis have been reported to the Department of Health and Human Services, compared to 12 for the same period in 2017. There were 21 cases in all of 2017; 25 in 2016; and 22 in 2015.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has warned vulnerable people to check freezers for recalled frozen vegetable products possibly contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Acting CEO Peter May said: “While many people will follow cooking instructions properly (which should kill Listeria bacteria) we are aware that some people eat frozen vegetables straight from the freezer and there is a risk of some people not cooking produce properly.”

Greenyard Frozen Belgium NV conducted the recall of certain products sold at Woolworths, Aldi, IGA, Campbells and independent grocery stores in Australia.

The company also recalled certain frozen vegetables in New Zealand. 

Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) food compliance services group manager Melinda Sando said there have been no reports of associated illness in the country.

“People need to follow instructions on the label and observe good food safety practices to keep themselves safe,” she said. 

“Cooking frozen veggies before eating them is particularly important if you are in one of the more vulnerable groups that include the elderly, pregnant women, babies, and people with weakened immune systems.”

In the United Kingdom, Greenyard Frozen UK recalled various frozen vegetable products sold at Waitrose, Aldi, Tesco, Sainbury’s, Lidl and Iceland.

The suspected food source was initially believed to be just frozen corn but has been expanded to include other frozen vegetables. The outbreak is believed to have begun in 2015.

Greenyard, a producer of fresh, frozen and prepared fruit and vegetables, previously told Food Safety News that production is on hold at the Hungarian plant suspected to be where products where made until the cause of contamination is found and eliminated.

In late June, the Hungarian Food Chain Safety Office banned the marketing of certain frozen products made by the plant between Aug. 13, 2016, and June 20, 2018. Authorities also ordered a product withdrawal and recall.

Frozen corn and vegetable mixes were distributed to plants belonging to the company in EU Member States, including Belgium, UK, Germany, France and Poland. Final products were also sent to Romania, Italy, Slovenia, Slovakia, Germany, Finland, Czech Republic, Croatia and Austria.

Cyprus, Denmark, Iceland, Luxembourg, Netherlands and South Africa are also impacted, according to the RASFF portal. 

New cases may be identified due to the long incubation period of listeriosis, which is up to 70 days, the long shelf life of frozen vegetables, and possible future consumption of implicated product bought before the recall.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Stefano’s recalls 12 tons of calzone after consumer is injured

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:00pm

Consumer complaints about an injury from sharp, clear plastic in Stefano’s brand calzone have sparked a recall.

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., doing business as Stefano Foods in Charlotte, NC, is recalling 24,048 pounds of pepperoni five cheese calzones that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of hard, sharp, clear plastic, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The not fully cooked pepperoni five cheese calzone products were produced on May 23, 2018. The recalled products include:

  • 8-oz. deli tray of “Stefano’s Calzone PEPPERONI FIVE CHEESE STUFFED WITH PEPPERONI AND A FIVE CHEESE BLEND,” with “Lot Code 14318B” on the individual packages and “USE BY DATE 1/18/2019” on the product cases.

The recalled calzone bears the establishment number “EST. M-19140” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail stores nationwide.

FSIS learned of the complaints on  July 16 when notified by the Stefano Foods. At least one consumer reported experiencing a small oral laceration while eating the product. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some of the recalled calzone may be frozen and in consumers’ and retailers’ freezers. Consumers and retailers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume or sell them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution lists will be posted on the FSIS website.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Beautiful Pig products recalled for lack of required inspections

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:00pm

To view photos of labels from all of the recalled Beautiful Pig products, please click on the image.

The Beautiful Pig Inc. in Longview, WA, has recalled an undetermined amount of more than 20 different ready-to-eat and raw pork and beef products because they were produced, packed and distributed without the benefit of inspection. The products were also under U.S. retention when shipped without approval, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The recalled products were produced on various dates from June 2, 2017, through July 8, 2018. They have the establishment number “EST. 1098” printed inside the USDA mark of inspection on their labels. The product labels do not include any identifying lot codes or use-by dates. Beautiful Pig Inc. distributed the products to retail locations in Oregon and Washington.

The lack of inspection was discovered when FSIS received a report from a third party regarding sales of the product that had not been produced with the benefit of inspection. There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about a reaction should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. To view the complete list of 22 recalled products, click here.

To view photos of labels from all of the recalled products, click here.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)

Categories: News in Food Safety

New Seasons recalls chicken salad for undeclared peanuts

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:00pm

New Seasons Market of Portland, OR, is recalling an undetermined amount of its branded “Sesame Noodle Chicken Salad” because of undeclared peanuts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Peanuts are a known allergen and federal law requires them to be declared on product labels. The ready-to-eat (RTE) chicken salad was produced on July 13. Consumers can identify the recalled product by looking for the following label information:

  • 24-oz clear clamshell plastic containers of “NEW SEASONS SESAME NOODLE CHICKEN SALAD,” with a “BEST BY” date of “07/18/2018”

The company’s kitchen operates “exempt from FSIS inspection” and the products produced there do not have a USDA establishment number on their packaging.

The chicken salad was shipped to retail locations in Oregon and Washington. Click here for a preliminary list of retailers that carried the chicken salad.

The problem was discovered on July 14 by a New Seasons Market employee who identified the problem at the company’s retail store. After discovering the mistake, the firm notified FSIS of the problem.

As of this week, there have not been any confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of the product. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

Consumers who have purchased the chicken salad are urged not to consume it. The product should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase, according to the recall notice. The FSIS is concerned that some of the product may still be in consumers’ refrigerators.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers. When available, additional the retail distribution list(s) will be posted on the FSIS website.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

EU follows up on meat safety recommendations made to Brazil

Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 9:00pm

A follow-up audit by EU authorities in Brazil has found measures have been put in place to prevent a repeat of the meat scandal uncovered last year, but some areas still need further action.

A criminal investigation, Operation “Carne Fraca,” revealed alleged bribery of food inspectors in beef and poultry plants to allow sale of product unfit to eat and to falsify documents. 

Twenty-six officials were prosecuted. Six have been acquitted of all charges. Those six have resumed official tasks that do not include EU certification.

An audit by the Directorate General for Health and Food Safety conducted from Jan. 22 to Feb. 5 this year was a follow-up procedure to check on recommendations made in May 2017 and actions promised by Brazilian authorities. It covered the production of beef, poultry meat, meat preparations and derived meat products.

They visited nine poultry and four bovine slaughterhouses, 13 cutting plants, nine meat preparations establishments in poultry slaughterhouses and eight meat products sites; two stand-alone and six in slaughterhouses. 

An audit in May 2017 resulted in horse meat exports being halted and demands for 100 percent pre-export checks for Salmonella in poultry meat, meat preparations and meat products exported to the EU. A regime of re-enforced checks for Brazilian meat, preparations and products was also introduced at EU border inspection posts.

Brazilian officials raised concerns about EU restrictions on poultry meat due to Salmonella detection at a November and March meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO). 

Auditors said an overhaul of the competent authority organization is underway to enhance accountability by the state level to the central level and reduce the risk of conflict of interest. They also said full implementation of the new system will require a long time and political support.

Since December 2017, employment of a number of official veterinarians (OVs) on a temporary basis, helped provide the required EU guarantees. A shortage of OV’s in EU-approved slaughterhouses had meant requirements were not fulfilled regarding presence during slaughter and ante and post-mortem phases performed by OVs.

The audit found slaughterhouse staff performed post-mortem inspection in cattle slaughterhouses, which violates Regulation (EC) No 854/2004. Brazilian authorities argued that the controls, although different from those of the EU, still provided an assurance of safety. 

Examples of enforcement actions seen by the audit team included slaughter line stoppages and reductions of line speeds.

At the time of the audit, 15 out of more than 230 active establishments listed for exports to the EU were suspended. Several were banned for up to six months, while developing and implementing action plans to address RASFF notifications.

After an establishment has its certification for export suspended, and if shortcomings are not addressed within 90 days, state authorities must request DIPOA to de-list the plant for these activities. The audit team found the procedures available for suspension and delisting of sites for the EU market are not adequate.

“The provisions in place for suspension and de-listing of non-compliant establishments do not ensure that, where warranted, non-compliant establishments are de-listed swiftly. In addition, there is no framework in place to notify the Commission of the prolonged suspension of certification out of listed establishments,” they said. 

“The EU border inspection posts, the Commission services and the competent authorities of other non-EU countries (risk of triangular trade) are not aware that these establishments are suspended for export to the EU.”

The previous audit found five unit samples were not taken from the same batch which was not in line with legislation. Food business operators are now required to collect daily a minimum of five unit samples, from the same batch to test for the presence of Salmonella for meat products. 

A requirement for testing poultry carcasses for enumeration of Campylobacter spp was also introduced.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. Recalls Pepperoni Five Cheese Calzone Products Due to Possible Extraneous Material Contamination

CDC Food Safety news - July 17, 2018 - 7:09pm
Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., doing business as Stefano Foods., a Charlotte, N.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 24,048 pounds of pepperoni five cheese calzones that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of hard, sharp, clear plastic.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. Recalls Pepperoni Five Cheese Calzone Products Due to Possible Extraneous Material Contamination

Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp., doing business as Stefano Foods., a Charlotte, N.C. establishment, is recalling approximately 24,048 pounds of pepperoni five cheese calzones that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically pieces of hard, sharp, clear plastic.
Categories: News in Food Safety

New Seasons Market Recalls Ready-To-Eat Sesame Noodle Chicken Salad Products Due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens

CDC Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 11:02pm
New Seasons Market, a Portland, Ore. establishment, is recalling an undetermined amount of ready-to-eat sesame noodle chicken salad products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens.
Categories: News in Food Safety

The PictSweet Company Recalls 12 Ounce Steam'ables Baby Brussel Sprouts for Undeclared Milk and Soy Allergens

CDC Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:42pm
Bells, TN - The Pictsweet Company has recalled 960 cases of Pictsweet Farms 12-ounce Steam'ables Baby Brussels Sprouts because they may contain undeclared milk and soy allergens. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to milk or soy may run the risk of serious allergic reaction if they consume this product.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Widely distributed potato chips recalled for undeclared soy

Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:02pm

For additional photos of the recalled Utz potato chips, please click on the image.

An undeclared soy allergen has caused the recall of select expiration dates of Utz Carolina Style Barbeque Potato Chips by Utz Quality Foods LLC.

Ute officials initiated the recall after the company found a certain number of packages were mislabeled. People who have an allergy or severe sensitivity to soy run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume these products.

No adverse reactions had been reported as of the posting of the recall notice on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

The items subject to the recall were distributed to retail outlets in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.

Consumers should look for the following packaging information to identify the recalled potato chips:

Item Description UPC Expiration Date FROM Expiration Date TO Utz 2.875 oz. Carolina Style
Barbeque Potato Chips 0-41780-00153-5 October 6th October 20th Utz 7.5 oz. Carolina Style
Barbeque Potato Chips 0-41780-00049-1 August 18th October 27th

 

Consumers are urged NOT to eat the recalled products. Consumers who purchased the recalled product may return it to the store where it was purchased for a full refund or exchange, or they may simply discard it.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Salmonella outbreak at seniors’ facility linked to two deaths

Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:01pm

A Salmonella outbreak at a senior citizens’ home in a German town has been linked to two deaths. At least 23 people have been confirmed with salmonellosis in the outbreak.

Since June 26, two nurses and 21 residents of the Alten-und Pflegeheim Karlslust facility in Storkow have fallen ill. Salmonella Panama was detected in eight of the patients. Storkow is a town in Oder-Spree district, in Brandenburg.

Seven people were hospitalized but four of them have since been discharged. Two people, who had existing underlying medical conditions, have died.

The public health department of Oder-Spree ordered isolation and additional disinfection measures to stop the spread of infection. Food in common areas has been temporarily stopped and residents must take it to their rooms.

The agency said laboratory tests to detect salmonellosis will be intensified to provide a faster result. It is being helped by the Veterinary and Food Surveillance Office to identify the source of infection. Cooking foods to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F kills the bacteria.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection usually appear 12 to 72 hours after exposure and last from four to seven days. Healthy adults often recover easily, but high risk groups including young children and people older than 65, frequently develop serious infections that can lead to lasting complications and death.

In a separate warning on Salmonella, authorities reported a different serotype of the pathogen has been found in eggs from Poland. Salmonella Enteritidis was detected in a product sample tested by sanitary authorities.

‘Jaja z chowu klatkowego kl. Wag. M’ with expiration dates of July 23-24  and a code stamped on the eggs, 3PL26111314, are affected.

The implicated eggs were produced at Gospodarstwo Rolne and packed at the Fermy Drobiu Niewczas plant.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Restaurant closed for second time amidst Salmonella outbreak

Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:01pm

The North Reading Health Department and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health report Kitty’s Restaurant & Lounge is closed until further notice because of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened at least 19 people, including some of the restaurant’s employees.

It is the second time since July 5 that the restaurant has closed because of the Salmonella infections, according to a July 13 update from public health officials.

North Reading officials began investigating the illnesses on July 3. The state health department had received complaints on June 23 about Kitty’s Restaurant & Lounge at 123 Main St. in North Reading. Initially health officials identified the restaurant’s antipasto salad as the source of the Salmonella.

“The Health Department conducted an initial investigation that evening, working with the restaurant owners in an attempt to determine how the food was contaminated. The investigation included determining the source of the food, how the food was prepared, who prepared it, how it was served and to whom it was served,” North Reading officials reported.

After receiving additional information regarding potential illnesses associated with June 25 visits to the restaurant, the Board of Health recommended that Kitty’s management close up shop on July 5 to conduct a full cleaning and sanitization of the building.

The restaurant was thought to have complied and it reopened on July 6.

“The Health Department, working with the State Division of Epidemiology and Immunization, also provided information and guidance to Kitty’s management to test 46 employees who may have been working during the outbreak,” according to the outbreak alert from North Reading officials.

All tested employees are to be cleared by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health before returning to work.

As the investigation continued, the NRHD reviewed additional complaints about the restaurant on July 9. In response, the North Reading Health Department conducted an onsite inspection of Kitty’s.

According to the NRHD, the inspection revealed food safety and sanitation concerns including issues of unsanitary conditions, cross contamination and time and temperature abuse.

“It also indicated that the restaurant had not complied with the Health Department’s original orders of July 5, and several employees prohibited from working from the salmonella incident from June 23-25 were working on site and preparing food,” according to the update from local officials.

Those employees had not been cleared to return to work by either the state or local health departments. Also, in addition to the antipasto salad, the restaurant’s house salad dressing was identified as a potential source of the Salmonella. A sample was collected for testing.

“In the interest of protecting the public health due to the potential of a secondary outbreak, and in response to the establishment’s failure to comply with the orders of the North Reading Health Department, on July 9 the establishment was ordered closed until further notice,” the outbreak update says.

The restaurant owners were ordered to clean and sanitize the facilities. All remaining staff are required to be tested and cleared prior to returning to work.

On Friday, representatives from the local and state health departments met with Kitty’s management and employees to re-initiate salmonella testing.

“This testing has been implemented to protect the public and employees of the establishment by ensuring that employees return to work at the establishment only after being confirmed to be free of salmonella,” according to the update.

Testing protocols stipulate that two negative test results at least 24 hours apart are needed to determine whether an individual is free of salmonella. Consequently, health officials say the earliest that any employee could likely be determined to be free of Salmonella is July 19 or 20.

In order for Kitty’s to re-open, it must be in compliance with state and local health laws, regulations, and orders. It also must show it has that sufficient staffing and food supplies to operate.

As a precautionary measure, the North Reading Health Department recommends anyone who ate antipasto salad or house dressing, purchased takeout antipasto or salad or house dressing, purchased packaged house salad dressing, or took home leftovers from the Kitty’s establishment after June 1 to not consume the items.

Anyone who has an unopened bottle of house salad dressing in their home, is asked to contact the North Reading Health Department. The department may want to test the dressing as a precautionary measure while the investigation continues

Consumers with questions can contact the North Reading Health Department for more information at 978-357-5242.

Advice to consumers
Anyone who ate food from the restaurant and became ill should contact their doctors and tell them about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Salmonella infections.

Most victims develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after exposure to the bacteria. Salmonella symptoms usually last four to seven days, and most otherwise health adults recover without treatment. Antibiotics can be used to treat infections from the Salmonella bacteria.

In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs hospital care. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other parts of the body. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.

The elderly, young children and those with impaired immune systems, including cancer and transplant patients, are more likely to develop severe infections and other complications.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Salmonella causes 1 million illnesses in the United States each year.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Parasites linked to McDonald’s likely not part of Del Monte outbreak

Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:00pm

McDonald’s officials decided to pull salads from 3,000 of their U.S. restaurants while they work with federal and state investigators to find the specific source of Cyclospora parasites that have infected more than 100 people.

The outbreak of cyclosporiasis linked to the McDonald’s salads is not thought to be related to another ongoing outbreak of the parasitic infections associated with pre-cut vegetable and dip trays marketed under the Del Monte brand, according to federal officials. 

Investigators from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in recent days that the implicated salads were pulled from McDonald’s restaurants in 14 states.

“Many ill people reported eating salads from McDonald’s restaurants located in the Midwest. People reported eating a variety of McDonald’s salads,” according to the CDC.

A statement from the multi-national fast food chain reported the states where the implicated salad was distributed as Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“McDonald’s has been in contact with public health authorities from Iowa and Illinois about an increase in Cyclospora infections in those states,” according to the McDonald’s statement. “In addition, the CDC also has received reports of people who became sick in Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin who ate salads sold at McDonald’s locations in those states.

“… we voluntarily stopped selling salads at impacted restaurants until we can switch to another lettuce blend supplier.”

As of Friday the CDC was reporting 61 confirmed infections from Cyclospora parasites in people across seven states — Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin. However, Illinois officials have reported 90 confirmed cases in their state alone.

The discrepancy is not unusual, though, especially with Cyclospora. There can be up to six weeks lag time between when a person becomes ill from the parasite and when their confirmed lab tests are reported to federal officials. The CDC says Cyclospora illnesses that began after June 1 likely have not yet been added to the federal case count. 

Illnesses in the parasitic outbreak linked to the McDonald’s salads started on or after May 1. The most recent person known to have been infected became ill on July 10. The sick people range in age from 16 to 79 years old. Two  people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

To view the full sized graphic about the transmission and life cycle of Cyclospora parasites, please click on the image.

“If you have eaten a salad from a McDonald’s restaurant in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Wisconsin since mid-May — on or after May 14 — and you developed diarrhea, see a healthcare provider to be tested for Cyclospora infection and to be treated if you are sick,” the CDC advised consumers.

“Do not eat leftover salads from McDonald’s restaurants that were purchased in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Wisconsin. Throw them away.”

The FDA reports it has not identified which salad ingredient could be the source of the microscopic Cyclospora parasite. The agency is working with McDonald’s officials to trace all of the salad ingredients back through the supply chain. 

“… multiple components of these salads are under consideration. The investigation is ongoing and the FDA is currently reviewing distribution and supplier information,” according to the agency’s outbreak report.

Anyone who has eaten a McDonald’s salad in any of the 14 states where the salad blend was distributed and developed symptoms of cyclosporiasis should seek medical attention. Specific laboratory tests are needed to diagnose cyclosporiasis, which sometimes mimics symptoms of flu and other illnesses. 

It takes Cyclospora parasites days to weeks after being passed in a person’s bowel movement to become infectious for another person. Therefore, it is unlikely that cyclosporiasis is passed directly from one person to another. It is commonly spread via fresh produce. Washing and rinsing food does not remove or kill the parasite, according to the CDC and FDA.

Some people infected with the parasite do not develop symptoms, but they can infect others.

“Most people infected with Cyclospora develop diarrhea, with frequent, sometimes explosive, bowel movements. Other common symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, stomach cramps/pain, bloating, increased gas, nausea, and fatigue. Vomiting, body aches, headache, fever, and other flu-like symptoms may be noted,” according to the FDA notice on the outbreak.

“If not treated, the illness may last from a few days to a month or longer. Symptoms may seem to go away and then return one or more times.”

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Yersinia hits Norway; previous outbreaks traced to salad

Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:00pm

An outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica has affected 18 people across Norway, according to authorities. It is the third Yersinia outbreak in the country since 2011.

Folkehelseinstituttet (Norwegian Institute of Public Health) said the source of infection is being investigated and bacteria with similar DNA profiles have been detected in all cases. The outbreak of Yersinia enterocolitica O:9 is also being investigated by local authorities, Veterinærinstituttet (Veterinary Institute) and Mattilsynet (Food Safety Authority).

Outbreak victims are between 13 and 60 years old. Public health officials report 60 percent of them are women. All of the people fell ill in May and June. Folkehelseinstituttet said interviews have been conducted with patients and samples taken from their homes to try and find the source of infection.

The agency warned investigations can be complicated and take time and it might not be possible to find the source of infection or clarify if there was a common source. Infections have been reported in Troms, Oslo, Akershus, Trøndelag, Vestfold, Rogaland, Nordland, Hordaland and Møre og Romsdal.

In 2011, Folkehelseinstituttet identified an outbreak involving 21 cases of Yersinia enterocolitica O:9 infection linked to bagged salad mix containing radicchio rosso, also known as Italian chicory.

Three years later, another outbreak affected 130 people mostly from military camps in Troms with salad served in different kitchens suspected to be the source.

Yersiniosis is a mandatorily notifiable disease and one of the most commonly reported cause of bacterial diarrhoeal disease in Norway. Between 50 and 150 cases are reported in the country each year.

Symptoms appear three to seven days after consuming infected food and can last for one to three weeks. Raw or undercooked meat such as pork or consumption of contaminated vegetables and salad is often the cause of infection in humans. Direct transmission from other animals or through contaminated food or drink is possible.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

FDA should choose public safety over corporate confidentiality

Food Safety news - July 16, 2018 - 9:00pm

The FDA has an opportunity now to update its recall disclosure policy to provide consumers critical information they need and want to protect themselves during an outbreak. The agency can, and should, begin routinely identifying which retailers and individual store locations sold recalled food. This information will motivate consumers who have shopped in these stores to check their homes for recalled food and discard the food before anyone becomes ill.

That is the message that consumer groups, members of Congress, and others have been delivering to the FDA. Just last week, food safety lawyer Bill Marler wrote in his blog that “the time has come for the FDA to reassess what are considered ‘trade secrets’ or ‘confidential’ so that consumers can know which retailers have sold recalled foods.” He pointed out that the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has been routinely doing this for the past decade, “and the sky did not fall.”

FDA commissioner recognizes value of giving consumers more information
Six months ago, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb stated publicly that he wants to do more to make sure that consumers have the information they need to avoid exposure to products that are the subject of recalls. He affirmed that by disclosing information about stores and other locations that may have sold or distributed recalled food, “consumers would have an easier time knowing if they might have, or have been, exposed to a recalled product that could cause potential risks if it were consumed.”

And just last month, the FDA released a list of store locations and retail chains in a recall of pre-cut melons linked to a multistate Salmonella outbreak. In this specific case, the agency determined that providing this information could be made public on the basis that it was necessary “to effectuate a recall.”

FDA is expected to update its policy soon, and those favoring greater transparency are cautiously optimistic. While the agency is required to withhold “confidential commercial information,” it can disclose the information if it determines it is “necessary to effectuate a recall.”

Consumers need to know which retailers sold recalled foods
A fundamental understanding of risk communications principles and literature show that the more “real” and “close to home” a risk appears to be, the more likely consumers will focus on it and take appropriate action. The “appropriate action” of checking for and discarding (or returning) recalled food will improve the effectiveness of recalls and save lives.   

In 2009, Dr. William Hallman of Rutgers Food Policy Institute, and a former chair of FDA’s Risk Communications Advisory Committee, wrote in a report entitled “Food Recalls and the American Public: Improving Communications:”

“Simply telling people about a food recall is often not enough to motivate them to look for and discard recalled products. Instead, getting people to take action requires that they are aware of the recall, believe it applies to them, believe that the consequences are serious enough to warrant action, can identify the affected products, and believe that discarding (or returning) the product is both necessary and sufficient to resolve the problem.”

A critical element required to motivate people to act during a recall is to help them see that the recall may be personally relevant to them.

Unfortunately, this can be challenging, as people tend to assume that if there is a food recall, it will affect others, and not them. This tendency is known as the “optimistic bias” and results in people erroneously believing that they are at less risk than others for something adverse happening to them.

A 2008 Rutgers national survey assessing consumers’ responses to food recalls found that while 92 percent of Americans agree that food recalls save lives, only 17 percent think it is likely that they have recalled foods in their homes.

Informing consumers that a store where they regularly shop was identified during a food recall increases personal relevancy, and, in so doing, makes consumers more likely to check the foods in their homes.

That, in fact, was the rationale FSIS used when finalizing its policy to regularly release the names of retail locations. The agency stated that providing such information serves as “an additional mechanism for prompting consumers to examine products stored in their refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard when there is a reasonable probability that the product will cause adverse health consequences.”

Disclosing retailers will improve recall effectiveness and increase consumer confidence
The FDA has been under mounting pressure to release the names of retailers that have sold recalled foods to consumers, a practice that USDA has been doing since 2008.  In December 2017, FDA Commissioner Gottlieb stated his desire to release such information, recognizing that it would increase the likelihood that consumers would not be exposed to recalled food.

I have confidence that FDA will work to provide this important information to consumers. Since the commissioner’s statement, the agency already has, on a case-by-case basis, named retailers. The risk communications literature provides a scientific basis to justify FDA providing information to consumers that will make it more personally relevant to them and increase the likelihood that they will not be exposed to recalled food.

Identifying individual stores throughout the country that have sold recalled foods will have the added benefit of increasing local media coverage, thereby raising consumer awareness. Further, as consumers come to count on the agency to provide this valuable information, they will have increased confidence in the FDA and its commitment to protect consumers.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

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