News in Food Safety

Mild Taco Seasoning Mix Recalled for Salmonella

US Food Safety - July 26, 2019 - 8:23am

RECALL Company: Williams Foods LLC, Company Location: Lenexa, KS

Item name: Great Value Mild Taco Seasoning Mix
Product Size: 1 oz
Product UPC: 0 78742 24572 0
Item number: 564829444
Product dates: Best if used by 07/08/21, Best if used by 07/09/21

Sold at: Walmart
____________
Item name: HEB Taco Seasoning Mix Reduced Sodium
Product Size: 1.25 oz
Product UPC: 0 41220 79609 0
Item number: 050215
Product dates: Better by 07/10/21, Better by 07/11/21, Better by 07/15/21

Sold at: HEB
_____________________

Recall reason: Items contain cumin spice involved in a recall initiated supplier, Mincing Spice Co. May contain Salmonella Consumer complaints: none What to look for:  “Best By” date information can be found on the top part of the back side of the package. Sold:  select retail grocery stores located in Washington, DC and the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WI, WV, WY.

What you need to do: Consumers who have purchased the product with the above “Best By” dates are urged not to consume the product but to discard it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may call our Customer Service Center at 1-800-847-5608 or by e-mail at customerservice@chg.com for more information. Our customer service desk will be staffed in person from 8am to 5pm CST Monday to Friday.

Company Contact Information: Customer Service Center: 1-800-847-5608 customerservice@chg.com

Product Photos

© 2019 US Food Safety Corporation. No copyright claim is made for portions of this blog and linked items that are works of the United States Government, state governments or third parties.

Categories: News in Food Safety

How To Cook Raw Chicken Safely: Real Life Advice You'll Actually Use

Huffington Post Food Safety news - July 26, 2019 - 2:45am
What's the best way to wash a cutting board? Should you toss out sponges that've touched raw poultry? An expert answers all your questions.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Methanol deaths in Costa Rica are likely due to alcohol fraud

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:06pm

The recent deaths of 15 men and five women reported by the Costa Rica Ministry of Health are blamed on methanol poisoning in alcohol. The fatalities, ranging from 32 to 72 years of age, are among 41 people known to be affected by tainted alcohol.

Costa Rican Police are now being assisted in the investigation by the U.S. FBI. Alcohol-related deaths of tourists in the Dominican Republic preceded the current reports from Costa Rica. The Costa Rica Ministry of Health this week searched a Pinares de Heredia facility and seized boxes of liquor suspected of containing methanol. Authorities have also seized 30,000 bottles of alcohol from brands including Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Star Welsh, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Aguardiente Molotov.

Costa Rica  is home to 50,000 U.S.expatriots and annually welcomes 1.7 million American tourists for its gracious people, awesome natural beauty, and the safety of the little Central American country without army. 

Small amounts methanol are common in alcohol. However too much methanol consumption will result in dizziness, amnesia, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and kidney failure.  This week, Costa Rica issued a national alert about the deaths from consuming alcohol tainted with toxic levels of methanol. The Ministry of Health said it was carrying out operations throughout the country to lessen the exposure consumers to adulterated products.

Methanol  is found in antifreeze, fuels, paints and varnishes. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has tracked methanol poisonings involving alcohol in  Cambodia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Estonia, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Libya, Nicaragua, Norway, Pakistan, Turkey, and Uganda. Each of those instances, involving 20 to 800 victims each, occurred before the Dominican and Costa Rican events.

“Some illicitly-produced drinks are made to appear legitimate through bottle design and labelling and consumers can be misled into believing they are buying a genuine brand of alcohol,” reports WHO. “Bottles may be sold in shops, markets and bars, often at a ‘bargain’ price.”

Consumers should refrain from purchasing illegal alcoholic drinks, be aware of the symptoms of methanol poisoning, and seek medical attention immediately if they become ill, according to the WHO.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Bill patches up tensions between state and FDA for ‘consumers’ best interests’

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:05pm

The public has the right to know.

But does it?

When it comes to food safety, that was the question at the heart of tensions between Washington state and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

On one hand, the state’s Public Records Act, which favors disclosure, requires the state and local agencies to make their written records available to the public for inspection and copying, upon request. That is unless the information fits into one of various specific exemptions in the act or otherwise provided in state law.

For example, the state’s Public Records Act provides exemptions from public disclosure for certain information that relates to agriculture and livestock.

On the federal level, the federal Freedom of Information Act provides for the disclosure of information and documents controlled by the U.S. government. But not all information. Some types of information are exempt from disclosure under the federal act. These would include trade secrets, certain commercial and financial information obtained from a person, and geological information and data concerning wells.

The tension between the federal and state entities hinged on cases in which FDA food safety information, collected with assurances that it was protected from disclosure, was shared with Washington state where it was deemed a public record. By sharing the records with the state, the FDA was creating backdoor access to the protected information.

This type of conflict arose last April when some publications, including the Food Safety News obtained federally protected information about pet food through public disclosure request of the Washington State’s Department of Agriculture.

The FDA said the department shouldn’t have released it, citing exemptions the FDA has under the Freedom of Information Act that relate to such issues as trade secrets and confidential trade information. FDA reacted to the department’s disclosure by cutting the department off of  what the FDA refers to as “non-public” information. This came as a blow to the department’s food-safety team since collaboration between the FDA and the department is critically important.

Not only that, the FDA temporarily withheld about 50 percent of its emergency response funding to the department — funding that pays for staff and infrastructure to respond to outbreaks and other emergencies.

Steve Fuller, assistant director of the department’s Food Safety and Consumer Services Division, described the situation as having “a significant negative impact on our ability to do our work and effectively collaborate with FDA.”

For example, the department could no longer participate in national conference calls about outbreaks and recall activities because some federally nonpublic information might be shared on those calls.”

He said that without a doubt, that limits the department’s ability to protect public health. A solution needed to be forged.

Good news from state lawmakers
The department submitted request legislation, HB 1385, to the legislators, and they, in turn, voted unanimously for it, with the governor swiftly following with his signature.

It wasn’t about trying to win but rather to come to an agreement with the FDA that would benefit food safety and therefore consumers.

In short, the bill says that information or records obtained from the department from the FDA that are in agreement with an FDA contract or commissioning agreement (commissioners are those who qualify to obtain FDA information but must hold it confidential) are exempt from public disclosure under the state’s Public Records Act. But that’s only as long as the information or records are also exempt from disclosure under the federal Freedom of Information Act.

The bill lists these examples of information that would be exempt:

  • Confidential commercial information;
  • Information under the federal deliverative process privilege;
  • Information compiled b law enforcement; and
  • Information expressly required to be kept confidential by other laws.

A staff comment at the end of the bill points out that “it would seem that it would be in the public’s interest to disclose this kind of information However certain information provided by the FDA is not disclosable under federal law. The Washington State Department of Agriculture is in a position to either abide with the federal disclosure laws, or not receive information from the FDA necessary to ensure food safety.”

In short, “This bill provides the narrowest of exemptions to Washington’s public disclosure laws so that communication can be reopened between the state and the FDA.”

Prime sponsor of the bill, House Deputy Majority Leader Rep. Larry Springer, said it was necessary to pass the bill because “if we didn’t fix this” we wouldn’t get important food-safety information from the FDA.

“This is really important for public health,” he said. “It’s in the consumers’ best interest.”

He gave as an example of what FDA was concerned about. “Let’s say the people in a conference call between the FDA and the department were trying to determine if some chicken was contaminated,” he said. “Under our laws, we would have had to divulge the information.

“You don’t want to create a reaction before the FDA can determine if the problem is real and can start making plans,” he said. “You don’t want to jump the gun.”

And while the bill doesn’t go into effect until July 28, 2019, Fuller said WSDA’s working relationship with FDA has already started to improve.

“Our relationship with the FDA is starting to get better,” he said.

He thinks that resolving issues around “commissioning” people, those who can obtain a free-flow of information from the FDA, will happen soon, “but it could take a few weeks.” And that, in turn, is linked to getting a free flow of information with FDA.

“To their credit, the FDA worked hard to preserve the funding,” he said.

One thing the bill didn’t do was restrict the state from disclosing information that it gathers.

“The public will have access to that,” he said. “It’s important that people see us as transparent. Transparency is an important part of what we do.”

He also pointed out that most people in the state want citizens to have access to information. And while the bill restricts some of it, in the end run, he said, it “actually results in Washington state having more access,” thanks to the agreement on this issue.

“It’s better to have half the conversation than zero,” he said. “The bill lets us get as much information as possible by having more access to information through the FDA. ”

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

Categories: News in Food Safety

WGS project helps Denmark uncover Campylobacter outbreak

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:04pm

Fifty people are ill in Denmark from Campylobacter after eating chicken meat but authorities believe the actual number of patients may be much higher.

Statens Serum Institut (SSI), Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) and DTU Food – National Food Institute are investigating the Campylobacter jejuni outbreak.

Campylobacter is the main cause of bacterial intestinal infections in Denmark and more than 4,500 cases were registered in 2018.

The same type of Campylobacter, sequence type 122, identified in patients by whole genome sequencing has also been found in chicken meat from one slaughterhouse, named as HKScan in Vinderup, a town in Northwestern Jutland.

HKScan is a Nordic meat and meals company employing more than 600 people in Denmark at production units in Vinderup and Skovsgaard. The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration is continuing to investigate and officials have been sent to help the company track and eliminate the source of infection.

Looking at sources of Campylobacter

Those sick are 20 women and 30 men aged 14 to 87 with a median age of 49 years old.

As part of a project this year involving the Clinical Microbiology Department (KMA) in Aalborg, the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration and SSI; Campylobacter isolates from patients diagnosed in Aalborg since March 2019 have been collected, sent to SSI and whole genome sequenced.

Campylobacter isolates are not routinely submitted and sequenced so the outbreak has been detected due to the project and may otherwise have gone unnoticed. In the past it has been difficult to detect and solve such outbreaks.

Some isolates also come from other KMA’s as part of the Danish Integrated Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring and Research Programme (DANMAP) project.

Steen Ethelberg, a senior scientist at SSI, said patients have fallen sick over a couple of months and are still being reported.

“The most recent estimate for how many more cases are in the population relative to the diagnosed laboratory controlled cases is a factor of 12 so there would be more cases that are actually ill in any outbreak,” he told Food Safety News.

“The reason we know about this outbreak is because we are running a project in one part of the country where all the patient isolates are being collected and subjected to whole genome sequencing. Since the outbreak is mainly based on one of the 10 labs only you would expect patients all over the country. It seems likely that there could be more cases and we also have some smaller clusters detected in the project.”

Ethelberg said the project is trying to see how WGS may be helpful in understanding Campylobacter.

“It is about collecting patient isolates from one lab and at the same time analyzing chicken meat and subjecting the Campylobacter isolates in chicken meat to WGS and then comparing the sequences. In the project we are learning about the etiology of Campylobacter but we also see outbreaks in real time. This outbreak is big enough that we thought it should be reported to the public but in a sense it is not so different because we know many people are ill from Campylobacter from poultry products.”

DVFA investigation

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration has been taking samples for Campylobacter of various cuts of chicken from different stores and these have been sequenced.

Annette Perge, from the agency, told Food Safety News that it was still too early to conclude the outbreak was over.

“The slaughterhouse produces both fresh and frozen products hence we can´t rule out that products may still be on the market or bought and stored frozen at private households. Based on patient interviews it has not been possible to point out specific products, places of purchase or periods of purchase,” she said.

“Furthermore there is no legal requirements stating that Campylobacter is prohibited in poultry meat. However even without legal requirements foods used as intended should not result in illness. The slaughterhouse is a large establishment and their products are sold at all the major Danish retail chains.”

The agency does not yet know if a link was limited to one farm or establishment, according to Perge.

“The link between food isolates and routine samples taken at the slaughterhouse, samples of thigh skin from chickens taken routinely for analyses, and the patient isolates was seen when comparing whole genome sequencing results. However it has not been possible to verify the link through interview with patients.

“We have no indication that this outbreak is due to a contamination persisting in the slaughterhouse. They have been allowed to continue production. They are assisting us in any way possible to solve the case.”

Perge said samples from chickens from a specific farm showed a close resemblance to the patients.

“The farm has been visited by the audit team from the slaughterhouse and corrections to practices have been made. At the moment no chickens are delivered for slaughter as they are not yet old enough. Meat from chickens slaughtered from that farm will be tested for Campylobacter and eventual isolates will be sequenced and compared to the outbreak strain. If the meat contains larger numbers of Campylobacter, the use of the meat will be restricted.”

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

Categories: News in Food Safety

Import alerts include seafood, tamarind, animal feeds

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:02pm

The Food and Drug Administration uses import alerts to enforce U.S. food safety regulations for food from foreign countries. The agency updates and modifies the alerts as needed.

Recent modifications to FDA’s import alerts, as posted by the agency, are listed below. Click on the links to view the full alerts.

Import Alert

Description

URL

IA-12-03

Detention Without Physical Examination of Imported Soft Cheese and Soft Ripened Cheese from France

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_7.html

IA-16-105

Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood and Seafood Products from Specific Manufacturers/Shippers Due to Decomposition and/or Histamines

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_19.html

IA-16-119

Detention Without Physical Examination Of Fish And Fishery Products For Importer And Foreign Processor (Manuf) Combinations

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_23.html

IA-16-125

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF REFRIGERATED (NOT FROZEN) RAW FISH AND FISHERY PRODUCTS THAT ARE VACUUM PACKAGED OR MODIFIED ATMOSPHERE PACKAGED OR PACKAGED IN A MATERIAL THAT IS NOT OXYGEN- PERMEABLE DUE TO THE POTENTIAL FOR CLOST

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_28.html

IA-16-35

Detention Without Physical Examination of Raw And Cooked Shrimp from India

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_43.html

IA-16-39

Detention Without Physical Examination of Processed Seafood and Analogue Seafood (Surimi) Products for Listeria Monocytogenes

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_44.html

IA-16-81

Detention Without Physical Examination of Seafood Products Due to the Presence of Salmonella

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_49.html

IA-21-07

Detention Without Physical Examination of Tamarind Products (Fresh and/or Processed) from All Shippers from All Countries Due to Filth

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_63.html

IA-23-14

Detention Without Physical Examination of Food Products due to the Presence of Aflatoxin

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_581.html

IA-62-01

Laetrile (Amygdalin, other Names)

None

IA-66-40

Detention Without Physical Examination of Drugs From Firms Which Have Not Met Drug GMPs

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_189.html

IA-66-66

APIs That Appear To Be Misbranded Under 502(f)(1) Because They Do Not Meet The Requirements For The Labeling Exemptions In 21 CFR 201.122

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_202.html

IA-68-19

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF UNAPPROVED NEW ANIMAL DRUGS

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_1147.html

IA-80-06

Detention Without Physical Examination of Fraudulent and Deceptive Medical Devices

None

IA-89-08

Detention Without Physical Examination of Devices Without Approved PMAs or IDEs and Other Devices Not Substantially Equivalent or Without a 510(k)

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_244.html

IA-99-05

Detention Without Physical Examination of Raw Agricultural Products for Pesticides

http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_258.html

IA-99-08

Detention Without Physical Examination Of Processed Human and Animal Foods for Pesticides

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_259.html

IA-99-19

Detention Without Physical Examination Of Food Products Due To The Presence Of Salmonella

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_263.html

IA-99-21

Detention Without Physical Examination and Surveillance Of Food Products Containing Sulfites

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_265.html

IA-99-38

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF LOW-ACID CANNED FOODS OR ACIDIFIED FOODS DUE TO INADEQUATE PROCESS CONTROL

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_1132.html

IA-99-39

DETENTION WITHOUT PHYSICAL EXAMINATION OF IMPORTED FOOD PRODUCTS THAT APPEAR TO BE MISBRANDED

https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_1144.html

 

Categories: News in Food Safety

Changing food sector could impact microbiological safety risks

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:02pm

Changes to the way food is produced, processed and offered to consumers could affect food safety, according to a microbiology society in the United Kingdom.

A Society for Applied Microbiology (SfAM) briefing looked at recent and upcoming developments in food processing, food manufacture and the supply chain, which will have an impact on risks related to harmful microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses and their toxins in foods.

The report found future innovations in the manufacturing process, particularly microbial detection, control, packaging and storage will be crucial to tackle threats to food safety posed by microorganisms and their toxins.

Applied microbiologists play a role in identifying, understanding and tackling microbes and their toxins. The science of microbiology has applications from activities on the farm and in food manufacturing to retailers and consumer behaviors at home.

Role of automation

The report found manufacturing is shifting to increasingly complex automated processes, making use of advanced robotics and digital approaches. The meat industry already uses video image analysis to evaluate the quality of carcasses.

Full automation has potential food safety benefits such as the need for fewer workers reducing the risk of contamination through manual handling, according to SfAM. However, formation of biofilms on machinery is a significant challenge in food processing that must be addressed. The need to tackle biofilms will become greater as 24-hour automated production lines become more common and more advanced machinery is employed, such as robotics and 3D printers.

The UK National Biofilms Innovation Centre (NBIC) was established in 2017 to understand biofilms. Food safety projects announced in 2018 focus on use of blue light and plasma to prevent and remove the coating produced by some microorganisms when they stick to surfaces, such as metal, plastic or food. Biofilms are difficult to remove as they can be resistant to chemicals and may form in hard-to-reach areas.

Genomic technologies such as Whole Genome Sequencing are fast and effective when investigating outbreaks of foodborne disease. While this technology was expensive and only done by a limited number of laboratories, it is now more cost-effective and can be undertaken with minimal training.

Portable WGS devices are now being used to research foodborne pathogens. In the near future, it is plausible these devices will work off a mobile phone battery and could be used virtually anywhere. As this technology becomes increasingly accessible, however, it is important users are sufficiently trained to interpret data they produce.

Another approach is use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Genome sequencing and use of big data and AI have potential to transform public health strategies to prevent disease and rapidly respond to outbreaks, according to SfAM.

The report found algorithms would need to be able to take account of information such as how microorganisms interact with different environments and food materials, changes in storage time and temperature and whether the intended consumers are within a vulnerable group like hospital patients.

IBM and Mars are gathering data on the microbiomes of various ingredients in the supply chain as part of the Sequencing the Food Supply Chain Consortium (SFSCC). Detecting a shift from a “normal” microbiome in the food chain may reveal potential issues such as contamination. In 2017, the SFSCC said it was applying this approach to the dairy industry in the United States.

Blockchain and bacteriophages

The use of distributed ledger technology (DLT), such as blockchain, is rapidly gaining traction in the agri-food sector with Nestlé, Unilever and IBM already using it for traceability and transparency in food supply chains.

Blockchain could promote the standardization of data across the food industry but usefulness will depend on the quality of data going in. Routine inspection, audit and analysis efforts will remain the most important method of ensuring food industry practices are safe, said SfAM.

One method being looked at to decontaminate food is bacteriophages, which are viruses that selectively infect bacteria but not humans or animals. Phages have been Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and have been used since the mid-2000s.

The report found one hurdle facing their use in the U.K. is public acceptance of them in the food chain and that lessons could be learned from food irradiation.

“As the food supply chain increases in complexity with many more ways for consumers to receive food, the risk of contamination will change and regulators will need to adapt to meet new challenges,” according to the briefing.

“Further, local environmental health officers and other regulatory officials must be given sufficient support to understand changing food processing and purchasing trends, how these impact on microbiological risks in their local area and the technologies that are used to control these risks. This translates to a need to strengthen and maintain the U.K. skills base in food microbiology to keep up with the fast-evolving consumer environment.”

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

Categories: News in Food Safety

Dried fruit recalled for undeclared sulfites

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:00pm

Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. of Brooklyn, New York, is recalling its 500-gram packages of “Tainy Vostoka Assorted Dry Fruits-Apple” because they contain sulfites, which are not properly declared on the label.

According to the recall notice posted on the FDA’s website, people with a sensitivity to sulfites should not consume the recalled product described below:

Product Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC Tainy Vostoka Assorted Dry Fruits-Apple 500g 21 01 19 SS 4605932006197

The recall was triggered after routine sampling by New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets Food Inspectors and subsequent analysis by Food Laboratory personnel revealed the presence of sulfites in the 500gram packages of “Tainy Vostoka Assorted Dry Fruits-Apple,” which were not declared on the label.

The consumption of 10 milligrams of sulfites per serving has been reported to elicit severe reactions in some asthmatics. Anaphylactic shock could occur in certain sulfite sensitive individuals upon ingesting 10 milligrams or more of sulfites.

Although no adverse reactions have been reported to date in connection with the recalled product, the FDA urges consumers to see if they have the recalled product in their home; “If you have a sensitivity to sulfites, do not consume the recalled product as it may cause a serious or life-threatening reaction.”

The recalled product can be returned to the store where it was purchased for a full refund. Consumers with questions can contact the company at 718-768-3400.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Beef stick products recalled for misbranding and undeclared allergens

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 9:00pm

CM&R Inc. in St. Paul, MN, is recalling approximately 25 pounds of ready-to-eat beef stick products due to misbranding and undeclared allergens, according to a recall notice posted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The products contain milk, a known allergen, which is not declared on the product label.

According to the recall notice, the ready-to-eat beef snack stick items are labeled as “Smoked & Uncured Maple Beef Snack Sticks” products, but contain “Smoked & Uncured Mild Beef Sticks with Cheddar Cheese” products.

The recalled beef products were produced on June 19, 2019 and can be identified by the following information:

  • 6-oz. plastic vacuum packed packages of “MARKET SAUSAGES SMOKED & UNCURED MAPLE BEEF SNACK STICKS” with lot code 1712019 and Sell-By: 9/15/19.

The recalled products bear establishment number “EST. 45394” inside the USDA mark of inspection. These items were shipped to retail locations in Minnesota.

“The problem was discovered when FSIS inspection program personnel determined that the firm had received a consumer complaint reporting that the product was incorrectly labeled,” the recall notice said.

There have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to the consumption of these products. Anyone concerned about an injury or illness should contact a healthcare provider.

FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ refrigerators. 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.”

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify that recalling firms are notifying their customers of the recall and that actions are being 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.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

FDA warns about fresh basil imported from Siga Logistics de RL de CV from Morelos in Mexico

Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 4:27pm

Consumers should not buy, eat, or serve any fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV from Morelos, Mexico to the United States.

The fresh basil from Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico is the subject of a multi-state outbreak investigation of Cyclospora illnesses potentially linked to fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico.

As of July 9, health official found 132 illnesses in ten states that are attributed to the outbreak.   Four patients required hospitalization.   Restaurants in Florida, Minnesota, New York and Ohio exposed patrons to the parasite.

Cyclospora is a parasite typically transmitted by contaminated food.    Some areas, such as Massachusetts, are this year experiencing higher Cyclosproa case counts than normal. States with Cyclospora cases associated with the current outbreak are found in CT, FL, IA, MA, MN, NY, OH, RI, SC, and WI.

The investigation is underway by the  U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local partners. The probe is ongoing, and CDC’s analysis of epidemiologic information indicates that contaminated fresh basil is the likely cause of the illnesses.

FDA’s traceback investigation indicates that the fresh basil available at points of sale where consumers became ill was exported to the United States by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. FDA has requested and the firm has agreed to a recall.   FDA has increased import screening on basil and will continue to investigate the cause and source of the outbreak as well as the distribution of products.

FDA is working with the firm to facilitate recall. As this outbreak investigation continues, the FDA will work with our Mexican food safety regulatory counterparts to better define the cause and source of this outbreak. Additionally, the FDA will update this advisory as more information becomes available.

Do not consume or serve uncooked items like pesto or salad, that may include fresh basil from Mexico, unless you are certain that the fresh basil was not exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV, according to FDA.

However, if consumers cannot determine if the basil is from this company, they are urged to avoid basil from Mexico. If they do not know what country the basil is from, they should avoid it.

The FDA strongly advises importers, suppliers, and distributors, as well as restaurants, retailers, and other foodservice providers, do not sell, serve or distribute fresh basil exported by Siga Logistics de RL de CV located in Morelos, Mexico. If you are uncertain of the source, do not sell, serve or distribute the fresh imported basil.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Home Market Foods, Inc. Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Beef and Pork Meatball Products due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens

Home Market Foods, Inc., a Norwood, Mass. establishment, is recalling approximately 53,217 pounds of frozen ready-to-eat beef and pork meatball products due to misbranding and undeclared allrgens.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Home Market Foods, Inc. Recalls Frozen Ready-To-Eat Beef and Pork Meatball Products due to Misbranding and Undeclared Allergens

CDC Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 3:41pm
Home Market Foods, Inc., a Norwood, Mass. establishment, is recalling approximately 53,217 pounds of frozen ready-to-eat beef and pork meatball products due to misbranding and undeclared allrgens.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Two Bio-Rad iQ-Check Kits Receive AOAC International Approval

Quality Assurance Mag - July 25, 2019 - 9:06am
Bio-Rad Laboratories announced that AOAC International has evaluated and approved the level 3 modification of the iQ-Check E. coli O157:H7 and iQ-Check STEC VirX and SerO real-time PCR detection kits to extend these kits to different types of samples. AOAC is a globally recognized third-party association that develops microbiological and chemical standards to facilitate public health and safety.

To obtain this approval through the AOAC Performance Tested Methods Program, a validation study was performed that demonstrated no differences between the iQ-Check methods and the reference methods. The iQ-Check E. coli O157:H7 assay was modified to include 375-gram test portions of raw ground beef (83% lean), raw beef trim, and fresh spinach. It was also modified to include 25-gram test portions of raw chicken breast without skin, raw chicken thigh with skin, mechanically separated chicken and raw ground pork.

The iQ-Check STEC VirX and SerO assays were modified to include 375-gram test portions of raw ground beef, raw beef trim and fresh spinach from buffered peptone water.

The level 3 modification also included the use of the iQ-Check Free DNA Removal Solution and a single enrichment in buffered peptone water. This harmonized method also allows for the simultaneous enrichment and subsequent detection of Salmonella and pathogenic E. coli from the same sample, providing both a time and cost savings when testing large sample sizes.

The iQ-Check kits for foodborne pathogen detection are routinely used in food safety programs worldwide and are recognized by renowned international validation organizations. For more information on Bio-Rad’s iQ-Check real-time PCR test kits, visit http://www.bio-rad.com/iqcheck.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Serenity Kids Baby Food Closes $1.5 Million Round of Funding Led by Wild Ventures

Quality Assurance Mag - July 25, 2019 - 8:19am
Serenity Kids, a baby food company on a mission to provide quality nutrient-dense foods from the first bite, support regenerative agriculture and help enable small American family farms to succeed, has closed a $1.5 million funding round led by Wild Ventures. The investment will support the operations, inventory, research, and development, and extend the national presence for the high-fat, low-sugar baby food company.

Wild Ventures’ founder and general partner John Durant will join the company’s advisory board. Additional investors in the round include Whole30 founder Melissa Hartwig Urban; Wellness Mama founder Katie Wells; Vani Hari the Food Babe; celebrity nutritionist Kelly LeVeque; neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter; Thrive Market founders Nick Green, Gunnar Lovelace and Sasha Siddhartha; and more. Thrive Market Ventures, the in-house investment vehicle of online retailer Thrive Market, also backed the company.

The investment builds on an exceptional year for Serenity Kids, which has only been to market since August 2018, yet recently launched nationwide in Whole Foods, doubled its team, and brought eight SKUs to market, including a pouched baby foods with grass fed beef and wild caught Alaskan Salmon. The brand also is launching in nearly 80 Hy-Vee grocery stores in August.

“We’re so pleased to have found a partner that fully believes and lives our mission,” said Serenity Kids CEO and Co-Founder Serenity Carr. “Support from Wild Ventures will allow us to make even more impact in improving how our babies eat, and ultimately help provide a healthier nutritional foundation for the kids and adults they will become.”

Serenity Kids supports regenerative and ethical farming techniques by only sourcing American-grown organic vegetables and GAP-certified meat from small family farms in the U.S. Ingredients are free of any antibiotics, added hormones, pesticides, fillers, GMOs, and the brand extends its commitment to supporting ethical farming by giving a portion of its profits to the Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund. The pouches are also recyclable for free via a partnership with TerraCycle.

Shelf-stable for 18-months and designed for infants over six months old, all recipes are pediatrician-recommended with nutritional formulations created under the guidance of Dr. Sarah Ballantyne, PhD and founder of The Paleo Mom. Dr. Ballantyne also sits on the brand’s advisory board, which also includes wellness and food industry leaders Taylor Collins, CEO of EPIC Provisions, Sam Elick, CEO of BrainJuice, and Robb Wolf, author of The Paleo Solution. Currently available in more than 700 retail stores including Whole Foods, Lassen's, MOM’s Organic Market, King’s, DeCicco & Sons and online via Amazon, Thrive Market and One Stop Paleo Shop, Serenity Kids aims to eventually be everywhere baby food is sold. For more information, visit www.myserenitykids.com or www.wildventures.vc.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

3M Food Safety and Hamilton Partner in Food Testing

Quality Assurance Mag - July 25, 2019 - 8:12am
3M Food Safety and Hamilton have partnered to offer food testing laboratories interoperability between the Hamilton foodInspect Nimbus automated multi-channel pipetting technology and the award-winning 3M Molecular Detection System, technologies that were each introduced in 2011. U.S. companies can increase their testing volumes and efficiency, while further reducing the potential of human-introduced error by leveraging these two technologies in tandem within their laboratories, the company said.

Hamilton's automated system performs all pipetting, heating, cooling, and reagent reconstitution steps leading up to the point where the 3M Molecular Detection reagent tubes are inserted into the 3M Molecular Detection System for real-time amplification and detection of target bacterial DNA. Thus, the individual steps of the workflow remain the same, but the steps are performed through automation.

The technologies of 3M and Hamilton integrate well because their value to customers align, the company said. Hamilton’s pipetting automation and 3M’s pathogen detection technologies were both brought to market to offer methods that were simpler, faster, and required fewer technician interactions that might lead to errors. The minimal footprint of both the Hamilton foodInspect Nimbus and the 3M Molecular Detection System are also critical to food testing laboratories with limited space. 

Customers can choose from two Nimbus workstations which operate the same, but one model increases the number of pipetting channels that provides users greater sample throughput. This model also adds barcoding capabilities for increased tracking throughout the process. The system provides a solution for any organization regularly performing pathogen testing and looking to create more efficiencies and reduce the potential of human error, the company said, but high-volume processors and contract laboratories are expected to be the core customers.

The Hamilton foodInspect Nimbus technology is compatible with all eight of the 3M Molecular Detection Assays – Salmonella, Listeria species, Listeria monocytogenes, Cronobacter, Campylobacter, E. coli O157 (including H7) and the two Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

The technology partnership is currently available in the U.S.; support for other countries may be added in the future, as both organizations have a global presence. 3M and Hamilton will be providing technical support for their respective products and consumables, enabling them to focus on their strengths and market expertise. For more information, visit  3M.com/foodsafety/automation or hamiltoncompany.com/automated-liquid-handling/assay-ready-workstations/foodinspect-nimbus

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Categories: News in Food Safety

3M’s New Molecular Tests for STEC Give Food Safety Labs More Options

Quality Assurance Mag - July 25, 2019 - 7:27am
St. Paul, Minn.-based 3M Food Safety has introduced two assays that can detect the genes associated with Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), organisms that can pose severe health threats. The 3M Molecular Detection Assay 2 - STEC Gene Screen (stx and eae) can rapidly detect the genes for Shiga toxin types 1 and 2, as well as eae, the intimin gene that allows the bacteria to attach to intestinal cells. The second assay, the 3M Molecular Detection Assay 2 - STEC Gene Screen (stx) detects only Shiga toxin genes, allowing labs to serve varying screening needs.

Both test kits are applicable to samples enriched from foods and from food processing environments. The assays have received Performance Tested Methods (PTM) certification from the AOAC Research Institute based on validation research conducted by independent laboratories. The 3M Molecular Detection Assay 2 - STEC Gene Screen (stx and eae) (Certificate #071902) demonstrated equivalent performance to the USDA FSIS method for raw beef trim and raw ground beef, and to the FDA BAM reference method for fresh spinach. The 3M Molecular Detection Assay 2 - STEC Gene Screen (stx) (Certificate #071903) demonstrated equivalent performance to the USDA FSIS method for raw ground beef, and to the FDA BAM reference method for fresh spinach.

The new assays bring the number of next generation test kits compatible with the award-winning 3M Molecular Detection System to eight, three of which now relate to E. coli. The 3M Molecular Detection Assay 2 - E. coli O157 (including H7) was introduced in 2016 as a method for detecting the strain most commonly associated with E. coli O157 outbreaks. However, many manufacturers still wish to screen for non-O157 STECs, including eae-negative subsets like the O104:H4 strain that was responsible for a large outbreak in Europe earlier this decade.

“Pathogen testing isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition so our team has worked diligently to give food processors a number of test kits to address the needs and regulations that may be uniquely confronting them,” said Caroline Michael, 3M Food Safety new product marketer. “We’re proud to offer a stx-only assay, as we know there are food manufacturers who want flexibility to test for a specific genetic profile. Flexibility is also enhanced with the (stx and eae) test kit, which clearly indicates the presence or absence of each of these genes in a test sample. For example, some companies want to rule out the presence of enteropathogenic E. coli – isolates that contain the eae gene but not stx – when interpreting results.”

The award-winning 3M Molecular Detection System platform and its various assays use progressive loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to amplify DNA sequences with high specificity and sensitivity, and then combine this process with bioluminescence as a means for detection, the company said. Presumptive positive results are revealed in real-time while negative results display once the test complete. For more information, visit www.3M.com/STEC.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Hygiena Introduces New Tests for Salmonella in Poultry and Bacteria in Edibles

Quality Assurance Mag - July 25, 2019 - 7:13am
Camarillo, Calif.-based Hygiena, a global provider of food safety technology, introduced a method that uses the BAX System for Real-Time PCR to quantify the amount of Salmonella in poultry facilities. The method, which is an alternative to the traditional Most Probable Number (MPN) technique, was unveiled at the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.

Salmonella has been a constant concern for the poultry industry, and USDA has begun demanding prevalence levels of no higher than 23% in a facility. Currently, poultry production facilities have been recording 50% prevalence rates on average, and processors have been searching for better, more accurate detection and quantification techniques that provide increased resolution into their food safety programs, the company said.

Salmonella naturally thrives in poultry and can spread throughout the carcass during processing, resulting in a chronic challenge for the industry,” said Tyler Stephens, Hygiena territory sales and government affairs manager and a co-inventor of the Salmonella-Quantification (Sal Quant) method. “The BAX PCR solution generates rapid, real-time data in the processing facility, giving processors the actual size—and source—of reservoirs harboring Salmonella.”

The Sal Quant method uses the BAX System Q7 and BAX System PCR assay for Salmonella, performing real-time PCR on samples collected from a facility, he said. Running samples on the Q7 generates cycle threshold values (CT) for positive samples, which can be used to quantify the number of colony-forming units (CFUs) in any sample. Lower CTs indicate a higher level of contamination, and data curves from these results can be computated to determine levels of contamination.

“The BAX Sal Quant results provide real data for making key decisions like slaughter order, corrective actions, line speed, gut health and water contamination,” said April Englishbey, Hygiena technical support specialist and Sal Quant project manager. “This alternative to MPN can be used in almost any industry matrix, including boot swabs, ceca, whole viscera packs, whole bird, parts, and skin rinsates, and ground turkey or chicken final products. You can literally enumerate bacteria from flock to final product.”

 

MicroSnap. At IAFP, the company also announced a new method for rapid detection of potential bacterial pathogens in cannabis-infused cookies and cannabis flowers, without interference from existing, harmless microbes, based on its MicroSnap bioluminescence technology.

Hygiena’s study showed that the MicroSnap method could detect Enterobacter, Coliform and total viable count bacteria in five hours in spiked samples of cannabis flowers and infused edible cookies. Cannabis has a diverse microbiome of beneficial microbes that do not harm humans, making it necessary to determine minimum threshold values that indicate safety.

In Hygiena’s study, the lowest concentration of experimentally inoculated bacteria in cannabis-infused suspensions, which varied depending upon target bacteria and sample types, was detected in eight hours. The study shows that MicroSnap bioluminescence can provide a significant measure of safety testing in the growing Cannabis-infused food market, and legalization in certain U.S. states and countries worldwide has led to a need for more rapid testing of products.

“Our study shows that rapid microbiological methods can be successfully applied to the growing cannabis food industry,” said Brandon Katz, Hygiena research scientist. MicroSnap tests use a unique bioluminescence reaction that generates light when enzymes characteristic of the target bacteria react with specific molecules in the test. Light reactions are then quantified as relative light units (RLUs), which can determine any possible contamination over a threshold value determined by the tested substances. Thresholds were set using the background signal average and three times standard deviations. According to Hygiena:

  • For Coliform—the lowest concentration of potential pathogens was detected in eight hours. The lowest inoculum for cannabis flower and edible product was detected after just 5 and 6 hours. RLU thresholds of positive results ranged from 8 to 250 RLUs.
  • For Enterobacter—detection in all flower strains occurred within 8-hour and as early as the 5th hour. RLU thresholds for all strains were >2 RLUs.
  • For Total Viable Count--detection occurred within 8 hours for all three strains. The lowest bacterial concentration with edible was detected in 7 hours. RLU thresholds were >8 RLU for strain 1 and >3 RLU for the other two strains and the edible.

Cannabis is rapidly expanding as an ingredient in a variety of foods, including baked goods, oils, drinks, and butter. While some states have enacted safety regulations and FDA has begun to regulate hemp-related products for safety, cannabis companies run higher risks of producing contaminated and unsafe products. Hygiena’s study shows how a cannabis food manufacturer could use MicroSnap to first set RLU threshold levels for its products and tests, and then detect any bacterial contamination that produces RLUs in excess of those thresholds. The study is available from the IAFP website here.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Reading Thermal Develops New Way to Measure Humidity in Baking Processes

Quality Assurance Mag - July 25, 2019 - 6:54am
Robesonia, Pa.-based Reading Thermal has developed a new Digital Humidity Sensor that uses proprietary Anti-Saturation Technology to increase accuracy in measuring humidity in ovens, proofers, dryers and cooling tunnels.

Commercial bakers work to maintain the delicate balance of moisture in the environment needed to achieve consistent finished product quality. As stated by the company, the new Digital Humidity Sensor allows greater control to:

  • Improve product consistency and quality control.
  • Increase product throughput.
  • Prevent product cracking and blistering.
  • Increase product shelf life.
  • Support food safety.

The new generation sensor produces data that is unaffected by combustion gases as it measures dew point temperatures, absolute humidity, and relative humidity with an improved design that precisely records measurements in very high dew point environments such as the steam injection used in bread ovens, the company said. The new capabilities maintain tight tolerances regardless of the oven platform, it stated, adding that the sensor now provides users the benefit of no preheating, increased dwell time, and two product probe inputs.

To learn more about the Digital Humidity Sensor and the full SCORPION 2 Data Logging Measurement System, call +01 610-678-5890 ext. 2 or visit www.readingthermal.com.

 

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Categories: News in Food Safety

How To Crack An Egg Perfectly, Without Getting Shell Everywhere

Huffington Post Food Safety news - July 25, 2019 - 2:45am
Do you use the edge of the bowl or crack it flat on the countertop?
Categories: News in Food Safety

Multiple multistate Salmonella outbreaks with multiple serotypes due to backyard flocks

Food Safety news - July 24, 2019 - 9:05pm

The July report for backyard poultry was bleak for the adults and children who care for them.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta reports that since June 13 it added 489 patients and eight states to the Salmonella outbreaks associated with backyard chicken flocks.

With the July totals added in, the backyard poultry flocks are responsible for multiple national outbreaks totaling 768 confirmed Salmonella cases across 48 of the 50 states. CDC also reports the ongoing continuing outbreaks are responsible for two deaths and have seen at least 122 people admitted to hospitals. Texas and Ohio each recorded one death associated with the outbreak.

CDC added five additional bugs to the list of involved pathogens. The Salmonella serotypes involved include Agona, Alachua, Anatum, Braenderup, Enteritidis, Infantis, Manhattan, Montevideo, Muenchen, Newport, and Oranienburg.

Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicate that contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings, from multiple hatcheries, are the likely source of these outbreaks.

In interviews, CDC found 237, or 75 percent, of 315 ill people reported contact with chicks or ducklings. People reported getting chicks and ducklings from several sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries.

Five of the outbreak strains making people sick were in samples collected from backyard poultry environments in four states. The sampling was from backyard poultry environments in ill people’s homes in California and Ohio and from retail poultry environments in Michigan and Oregon.

The nation’s premiere disease laboratory reports that regardless of where poultry is purchased, they can carry Salmonella germs that can make people sick. It says backyard poultry owners should always follow steps to stay healthy around their poultry.

Meanwhile, it is clear the multiple multistate outbreaks of Salmonella from backyard flocks is not over. Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of these outbreaks.

PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS).

CDC’s PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE. WGS performed on Salmonella from ill people in this outbreak showed that they are closely related genetically. This means that the ill people are more likely to share a common source of infection.

WGS analysis of 117 isolates from ill people predicted antibiotic resistance to one or more of the following drugs: amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, gentamicin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole.

Testing of 5 isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory confirmed these results (fosfomycin and kanamycin were not tested by this method). If antibiotics are needed, this resistance profile may affect the choice of antibiotic.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

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