News in Food Safety

Clear Labs’ Clear Safety Platform Receives AOAC Certification for Listeria Testing

Quality Assurance Mag - September 25, 2019 - 9:46am
Clear Labs flagship product, Clear Safety, has received AOAC Performance Tested Methods certification for genus Listeria and Listeria monocytogenes testing, license number #091901. Clear Safety is also AOAC Performance Tested for Salmonella enterica testing, having received AOAC certification in 2018.

The AOAC test found that Clear Safety provides qualitative detection of Listeria. In inclusivity and exclusivity evaluations to test the sensitivity and specificity of the Clear Safety Method, the platform performed as well as or better than the relevant methods from FDA’s Bacterial Analytical Manual and FSIS’s Microbiology Laboratory Guidebook. “The pace of adoption of next-generation sequencing is increasing rapidly, and we’re now starting to see this technology play a major role in food safety,” said Clear Labs CEO Sasan Amini.

In July 2019, Clear Labs announced the addition of new Listeria testing and Environmental Mapping capabilities to its Clear Safety Platform. As a three-in-one solution for Listeria detection, persistence monitoring (resident/transient analysis), and visualizing contamination incidents, Clear Safety does not require multiple platforms or the creation of isolates, which reduces the turnaround time for identifying and characterizing contamination and pinpointing its source, resulting in significant cost savings and operational efficiency for Listeria testing and environmental mapping, the company said

The Clear Safety Platform provides an automated end-to-end NGS-based food safety platform for routine pathogen testing. Leveraging the latest technology in molecular testing, proprietary bioinformatics algorithms, a modern software suite, and robotics, Clear Safety helps food safety professionals reduce risk with highly accurate pathogen testing, identify serotypes faster than ever, and react quickly to pathogen outbreaks, the company said.

In addition to Clear Safety, Clear Labs’ Platform supports testing for ingredient authenticity, GMO, and microbiome testing. Clear Labs is accredited by A2LA for technical competence in the field of biological testing. To learn more about Clear Labs, visit:


Categories: News in Food Safety

African-Crafted Chocolate to Debut in the U.S.

Quality Assurance Mag - September 25, 2019 - 9:27am
​​Although more than 70% of the world's cocoa is grown in Africa, only 3% of chocolate is made in Africa, even less by Africans themselves. To achieve true sustainability, Africans need to be able to do things for themselves – not through charity, and that's why De Villiers Chocolate said it is driven to create the very best chocolate possible – with ingredients sourced across the African continent, crafted by Africans, for Africans.

Cape Town, South Africa-based De Villiers Chocolate has been a journey 10 years in the making. From an exploration of the vast African continent in search of the finest cocoa beans, and a backyard garage hobby using recycled home appliances as equipment, to an obsession with the richness and diversity of a single origin chocolate, which continues to this day.

Along the way their passion for traditionally crafted, authentic products led them into coffee and homemade ice cream. These are produced and sold at their Spice Route Café in Paarl, a historic Cape Dutch estate and key attraction in the heart of South Africa's Cape Winelands.

Classed among the finest cocoa beans in the world, the crops grown in the tropical, rainy Bundibugyo district of Western Uganda produce a cocoa bean rich in a complexity of flavors. De Villiers Chocolate uses only these UTZ Certified beans because supporting sustainable cocoa farming is vitally important to Africa's future.

Thanks to the three voluntary sustainable standards (VSS) bodies actively involved in the sector, Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ, the percentage of certified cocoa sold worldwide has increased significantly, from 2% in 2008 to 31% in 2017.

"Once we discovered the cocoa beans of the vibrant Bundibugyo region in Uganda, we began to realize the potential of the journey we had embarked upon. It became our mission to create a chocolate brand true to its origin and the exotic taste of Africa,” said, De Villiers Chocolate CEO and Master Chocolate Maker Pieter de Villiers.

De Villiers believes their chocolate should reflect true artisanal values, thus all ingredients are sourced ethically, mindful of doing no harm to people, animals or the environment. They also use no palm oil, because the importance of preserving the rainforests and protecting the health of the planet is fundamental to this philosophy. And the chocolate has no artificial flavors, colorants, stabilizers, preservatives, or hydrogenated vegetable oils. Only unrefined brown sugar is used, and all products are naturally gluten free. Following a worldwide trend towards a vegan lifestyle, their dark chocolate is vegan and boasts many health benefits.

With their positioning as the first African-originated UTZ Certified chocolate brand, De Villiers is hoping to bring is products and flavors to the U.S., with a diverse range designed to provide unique African flavor profiles with ingredients from sea salt sourced from the pans of the West Coast of South Africa, vanilla pods obtained from Uganda, handmade honeycomb developed in their kitchens by a renowned chef, to the coffee beans they roast themselves. They handcraft their own caramel and biscotti, and roast their almonds and coconut, enabling them to continually explore and develop unique inclusions and flavor combinations that reflect Africa's passion and personality.

Using the Kickstarter platform, De Villiers Chocolate hopes to launch in the U.S. with unique, limited-edition pledges created to invite people to join them on their Good Chocolate Journey. Their goal is to raise $10,000 to cover the costs of manufacturing, marketing and distributing their chocolate in the U.S. For information, visit or


Categories: News in Food Safety

Cherney College Offers Continuing Education Courses

Quality Assurance Mag - September 25, 2019 - 9:17am
Cherney College, which offers continuing education courses, has three courses remaining for 2019:

  • Environmental Monitoring & Sanitation Essentials (October 9-10) $1,095. Gain an understanding on how to use sanitation as a control of hazards and the importance of a strong environmental monitoring program for verification. This course will give you the tools to build or improve an environmental monitoring program based on industry best practices. This is a great course for all levels of quality and sanitation teams
  • Advanced Food Microbiology (October 24-25) $995. A follow-up class to  Introduction to Food Microbiology, the course expands on the discussion of test methods and interpretation of results. It is targeted towards quality managers or laboratory supervisors who are in decision-making roles.
  • FSPCA Preventive Controls for Human Food (PCQI) (November 13-15) $800. This course is for anyone involved in food safety. From quality and sanitation to production leadership, it will help you understand how to implement and meet the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) requirements in your facility. Using the standardized FSPCA curriculum that is recognized by the FDA to meet the training requirements necessary to become a Preventive Controls Qualified Individual (PCQI), you can learn how to develop and understand a Food Safety Plan in 2.5 days, and use a model production plan to actively build a mock Food Safety Plan with a group of your peers.

For registration or additional information, visit




Categories: News in Food Safety

PMMI Presents 2019 Technology Excellence Awards Winners

Quality Assurance Mag - September 25, 2019 - 8:43am
After months narrowing down over 100 qualified entries, two days of onsite voting allowed Pack Expo Las Vegas and Healthcare Packaging Expo attendees to be the ultimate judge of PMMI’s inaugural Technology Excellence Awards. Following are the winners in food packaging:

  • Baking & Snack. Entour Front of Store Recycle capable Bear Naked Granola Package, Berry Global, Inc. As part of the Entour family of products, this barrier film offers all the functionality and performance of traditional barrier films while remaining PE recycle stream compatible. This coex film designed has excellent moisture and oxygen barrier that can go through the store drop-off PE recycle stream. The film can be surface printed or used as a component in a lamination.
  • Beverage & Dairy. Applicator Machine for E6PR Rings, Tecma Aries. The E6PR is the first eco-friendly four- and six-pack ring made from by-product waste and other compostable materials. They are designed to replace the traditional plastic rings on 12 oz. and 16 oz. cans. Made from compostable organic materials, the ring does not cause any harm to wildlife and can withstand humidity, moisture, transportation and stress in the distribution channel.
  • Meat/Poultry/Seafood. Matrix Ultra Labeler, UltraSource, LLC. The UltraSource Matrix Ultra Labeler is an innovative and unique film labeling machine that provides high speed and accurate performance in a portable and affordable design. The Matrix Ultra Labeler quickly and accurately applies labels to the top film on a horizontal rollstock form/fill/seal machine. Standard film labelers are stationary and require expensive mounting brackets. 


PMMI, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, represents more than 850 North American manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, components and materials as well as providers of related equipment and services to the packaging and processing industry. For more information, visit

Categories: News in Food Safety

New England Meat’s QA officer pleads guilty in falsified tests case

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

Debbie L. Smith, a quality control officer for New England Meat Packing LLC, has entered a guilty plea that could send her to federal prison for five years. Her sentencing is scheduled for December.

Smith, 60, from Ellington, CT, plead guilty to falsifying E. coli tests required by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Her boss, Memet “Matt” Beqiri, owner of Connecticut’s New England Meat Packing LLC, pleaded guilty in August to submitting fraudulent E. coli tests.  Beqiri, 32, is from Tolland, CT.

By pleading guilty, Smith and Beqiri each gave up rights to trial and appeal. Beqiri is set to be sentenced in November. The defendants also must accept the judge’s obligation to consider federal sentencing guidelines.

According to court documents and statements made in court, New England Meat Packing LLC, located in Stafford Springs, is a federally inspected business engaged in the slaughtering, processing, selling and transporting of meat and meat food products for human consumption.

Pursuant to a USDA approved Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan for New England Meat Packing, the company is required to perform one generic E. coli carcass swab for every 300 animals slaughtered and to periodically collect ground beef samples for E. coli testing.

Beqiri, as the owner and general manager of New England Meat Packing, and Smith as the HACCP Coordinator/Quality Control Officer for the company were responsible for the testing.

Between Nov. 3, 2016, and Sept. 9, 2017, Smith prepared and submitted in the company’s Lab Sample Report binder, which the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) reviews, a total of 36 documents relating to 52 separate carcass swabs and ground beef samples on behalf of New England Meat Packing.

The 36 documents were each on the letterhead of a certified laboratory that tests food product samples to ensure safety and wholesomeness and appeared to have been signed by the laboratory director. The documents stated that the required E. coli testing of samples submitted by New England Meat Packing had been conducted and completed and that all 52 samples tested negative for E. coli.

In fact, none of the 52 carcass swabs or samples had been submitted to or tested by the identified laboratory, or any other laboratory, and the 36 documents were fraudulently prepared using laboratory letterhead obtained from the previous testing that New England Meat Packing had conducted with that laboratory.

The investigation revealed that Beqiri authorized the preparation and submission of the fabricated E. coli test results. During an interview with a USDA’s FSIS investigator, Beqiri admitted that the documents were fraudulent, and that his business did not collect and submit the samples to the certified laboratory because he did not correlate the potential impact on food safety with his sampling program and wanted to create the appearance he was compliant with all USDA HACCP testing requirements.

There have been no known instances of illnesses reported by anyone who consumed the meat in any of the states where the meat was distributed.

Smith pleaded guilty to one count of making and using a false document, a charge that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

Both defendants are free on bond until their sentencing hearings.

The investigation was conducted by the FSIS Office of Investigations, Enforcement, and Audit.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah R. Slater.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Swedish officials investigate Salmonella outbreak

Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 9:04pm

Authorities in Sweden are investigating a national outbreak of monophasic Salmonella Typhimurium which has affected almost 40 people.

Folkhälsomyndigheten (Public Health Agency of Sweden) reported that the source of the infections is still unknown.

During September, there was an increase in the number of cases of Salmonella. The outbreak was identified thanks to Folkhälsomyndigheten’s microbial surveillance program. The latest date of illness onset is Sept. 6.

Ongoing investigation

To date, 36 illnesses from 10 counties have been linked by whole genome sequencing. Most patients live in Västra Götaland, Jönköping, Halland, and Dalarna.

Those ill come from all age groups, including children and the elderly. More women, 22, than men, 14, have become ill.

Local authorities, Livsmedelsverket (Swedish Food Agency) and Folkhälsomyndigheten are investigating the outbreak to identify the source of infection that is suspected to be a food widely distributed in Sweden.

People are being interviewed about what they ate the week before illness, with the aim of identifying common suspect foods.

The outbreak strain has multilocus variable-number tandem-repeat analysis (MLVA) pattern 3-12-11-N-211.

In 2018, isolates from 864 Salmonella cases were typed; 91 percent were infected in Sweden and 18 percent had been infected abroad. Among cases infected in Sweden, Enteritidis, typhimurium and monophasic typhimurium were the most common serotypes.

Swedish food controls

Most people infected with Salmonella develop signs 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms can include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps and vomiting that lasts for several days.

Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

Meanwhile, a report has found controls in the food chain generally work well in Sweden but the follow-up of how companies address deficiencies needs to be improved.

Monitoring the impact of controls and companies actions is difficult to follow at a national level because of a lack of detail. Businesses need to address any deficiencies identified so food is safe to eat. Follow-ups help to see what type of production poses the highest risk and needs the most controls.

How many companies are controlled is about the same as in previous years and checks detected the same types of deficiencies.

The annual report on Sweden’s control of the food chain was sent to the European Commission last month.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Former PCA quality control officer Wilkerson moves into half-way house

Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 9:03pm

Mary Wilkerson, quality control officer for now-defunct Peanut Corporation of America, has been released from a federal prison in Tallahassee, FL to a half-way house in Atlanta.

Wilkerson, 46, has also had her full release date moved up by one month to Feb. 4, 2020. Supervision of her release process has moved to the U.S. Probation Office in Albany. GA.

Until then, she is in “pre-release” status with Residential Reentry Management (RRM), which manages reentry centers housing 8,060 inmates nearly their release dates. Dismiss Charities Inc operates the half-way house.

Wilkerson’s conviction came during a 2014 jury trial where she was found guilty on one count of obstruction of justice and acquitted on another. She was sentenced a year later to five years in prison.

Wilkerson, who was presented by a court-appointed local attorney, appealed her conviction and sentence to the U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta without success. Her conviction stemmed from her response to a question from an FDA about PCA’s peanut butter and peanut paste testing for Salmonella.

Wilkerson’s was a so-called “process crime.” The government acknowledged she was not part of the conspiracy that led to the Salmonella poisonings, nor was she responsible for any restitution to any victims.

Wilkerson is the first PCA defendant who went to trial to finish with federal prison. Brothers Stewart and Michael Parnell were sentenced for 28 and 20 years, respectively, after convictions on multi-felonies.

Samuel Lightsey, who managed the PCA plant at Blakely, GA, cut a deal with the government and served less than three years. Lightsey was a star witness at the trial for the Parnells and Wilkerson.

Next to get out will be Daniel Kilgore, PCA operations manager at Blakely, GA, who also plead guilty in a deal with government prosecutors. Kilgore, 50, is doing six years at the low-security federal prison at Oakdale, LA. His release date is Jan. 30, 2021.

It was 11 years ago that PCA’s lax Salmonella testing led to a 46-state outbreak that sickened thousands and killed at least nine. The fallout also included the recall of 3,900 peanut products by almost 400 companies.

Indictments came four years later after an investigation led by the FBI led to the indictment of owner Steward Parnell and his peanut broker brother Michael Parnell and the others.

The PCA criminal case, in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, and ultimately the U.S. Supreme Court, took over five years.

For the Stewart brothers, getting out of jail is still far in the distance.   Stewart,65,  has a release date of Feb. 9, 2040 from the federal prison at Estill, SC.

And Michael Parnell, recently moved to the minimum security lockup at Fort Dix, NJ  has an release date of Feb. 17, 2033.  He was origianlly incarerated at a federal prison near Detroit.


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Categories: News in Food Safety

Belgian Salmonella outbreak traced to tartare sauce

Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 9:02pm

A Salmonella outbreak that sickened almost 200 people at a Belgian school was likely caused by eggs used to make a tartare sauce, according to authorities.

The Agency for Care and Health (Zorg en Gezondheid) and Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) investigation detected Salmonella in the freshly prepared tartare sauce. Findings from an online survey of students and teachers also reached the same conclusion on the source.

The Agency for Care and Health had previously received information about a number of students from the school complaining of gastrointestinal illness.

Since Sept. 14, no new cases of illness have been reported so the Spermalie Hotel and Tourism School in Bruges has been allowed to resume normal operation.

About 200 students and teachers from the school became ill from Sept. 6 onward. Laboratory analyses of stool samples revealed students and teachers had been affected by Salmonella.

Online survey, sampling part of investigation

The Agency for Care and Health handled the online survey part of the investigation, FASFC took samples of meals served on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays at the school restaurant. The samples were sent to the lab of Sciensano, the Belgian Institute for Health.

The online survey showed the tartar sauce was the most likely source of the outbreak.

A total of 65 samples were sent to Sciensano and after analysis of the different dishes, Salmonella was detected in the freshly prepared tartar sauce. Bacteria present in the food appeared to be the same as in the stool samples from patients.

Staff and students were asked to pay particular attention to hand hygiene and those sick were encouraged to stay at home.

The kitchen of the school restaurant and all kitchens and related equipment have been cleaned and disinfected. The sale of any raw food was also suspended. Control measures have been verified by environmental sampling and no Salmonella has been detected in lab analysis of these samples.

Belgium reported 2,698 confirmed salmonellosis cases in 2016 compared to 3,050 the year before.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food.

Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

More pig ear pet treats recalled because of Salmonella

Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 9:01pm

TDBBS is recalling some of its pig ear pet treats because state testing found Salmonella in a sample. As with other pet product companies recently, the TDBBS recall comes amidst a nationwide outbreak among people who have links to such pet treats.

“This recall is the result of routine sampling conducted by the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development. The sample bag tested positive for Salmonella,” according to the company’s recall notice posted on the Food and Drug Administration’s website.

“Salmonella can affect animals eating the products, and there is risk to humans from handling contaminated pet products, especially if they have not thoroughly washed their hands after having contact with the products or surfaces exposed to these products.”

As of the posting of the recall notice no confirmed illnesses had been reported in relation to the TDBBS pig ears. A current Salmonella outbreak associated with such pet treats has sickened more than 140 people across 35 states. Several companies have recalled products.

TDBBS stopped production and distribution of its pig ear product and is assisting the FDA with an investigation, according to the company’s recall notice. 

The company shipped the implicated product to customers between April 22 and Aug. 13.

“Customers should dispose of any USA Thick Pig Ear 8 Pack and USA Thick Pig Ear 20 Pack from these shipments,” according to the recall notice.

Specific products subject to this recall can be identified by this label information:

Thick Pig Ear 8 Pack TDBBS, LLC USA
Thick Pig Ear 20 Pack UPC: X001768PNB UPC: X000RBC5VF Best By Date: 4/22/2021 Lot Code: 1129T1 Best By Date: 4/22/2021 Lot Code: 1129T1 Best By Date: 6/06/2021 Lot Code: 1549T1 Best By Date: 5/13/2021 Lot Code: 1339T1 Best By Date: 8/05/2021 Lot Code: 2179T1

Pets with Salmonella infections may be lethargic and have diarrhea or bloody diarrhea, fever, and vomiting. Some pets will have only decreased appetite, fever and abdominal pain. Infected but otherwise healthy pets can be carriers and infect other animals or humans. 

Anyone whose pet has consumed the recalled product and has these symptoms, should contact their veterinarian, according to the company.

Consumers may contact customer service at 877-483-5853 or email TDBBS at

About Salmonella infection
Human and pet food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has come into contact with the recalled pet treats — or surfaces, containers or utensils used for them — and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. 

Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. 

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Listeria risk prompts recall of salad kits, bagged kale

Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 7:54pm

Randsland Farms Inc. is recalling bagged salad kits and kale because federal inspectors found they are potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

“This recall was triggered by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency’s (CFIA) inspection activities,” according to a recall notice on the agency’s website. 

“The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated food recall warnings.”

Randsland Farms distributed the implicated products in New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia. The Randsland branded “Super Salad” kits and bagged kale should not be consumed, according to the recall notice. 

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace. As of the posting of the recall notice, there hadn’t been any reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Specific products subject to this recall are:

Name Common Name Size UPC
number Code(s)
on Product Randsland Super Salad
Kit 454 g 0 57225 00005 6 2919071
100119 Randsland Kale 340 g 0 57225 00006 3 2919071

About Listeria infection
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop. 

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses. 

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

State testing finds Listeria risk; salmon filets under recall nationwide

Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 2:40pm

Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. of Brooklyn, NY is recalling some of its packages of “CAPITAN K” salmon slightly salted pieces because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

“The contamination was discovered after sampling by New York State Department of Agriculture and Market Food Inspectors and subsequent analysis by Food Laboratory personnel revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in some 7.05 oz vacuum packages of ‘CAPITAN K’ salmon slightly salted pieces,” according to the company’s recall notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration.

The recalled salmon pieces were distributed nationwide in retail stores and through mail orders. The product comes in vacuum packages marked with a container code of 070519 and with a best by date of 01/30/20. The product’s UPC code is 607059000362.

No illnesses have been reported to date and connection with this problem.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled salmon are urged to return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 718-768-3400.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. Recalls "Capitan K Salmon Fillet" Due to Possible Health Risk

CDC Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 11:52am
Euphoria Fancy Food Inc of Brooklyn, NY is recalling its 7.05 oz packages of "CAPITAN K" salmon slightly salted pieces because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Michigan Hepatitis A Outbreak

US Food Safety - September 24, 2019 - 7:40am

Michigan Hepatitis A Outbreak

Public health officials and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are continuing to see an elevated number of hepatitis A cases in the state.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in August 2016, public health response has included increased healthcare awareness efforts, public notification and education, and outreach with vaccination clinics for high-risk populations.No common sources of food, beverages, or drugs have been identified as a potential source of infection. Transmission appears to be through direct person-to-person spread and illicit drug use. Those with history of injection and non-injection drug use, homelessness or transient housing, and incarceration are thought to be at greater risk in this outbreak setting. Notably, this outbreak has had a high hospitalization rate.
Michigan Hepatitis A Outbreak Cases and Deaths as of September 11, 2019*
*Table will be updated weekly by 4:00pm each Friday

Cases Hospitalizations Deaths 920 738 (80.2%) 30 (3.3%)

Please note: Table does not include all reported hepatitis A cases in the outbreak region; only those cases that are identified as outbreak-related. More descriptive data on the current outbreak can be found within the Comprehensive Summary.  Data are provisional and subject to change.


 Confirmed Cases Referred August 1, 2016 – September 11, 2019
Meeting the MI Hepatitis A Outbreak Case Definition  County (or city) Total Cases  County (or city) Total Cases  Cass 2  Saginaw 5  Macomb† 223  Gratiot† 3  City of Detroit† 173  Midland† 3  Wayne† 164  Allegan† 2  Oakland† 120  Mecosta† 2  St. Clair† 33  Bay† 1  Ingham 30  Charlevoix† 1  Genesee 28  Clare† 1  Shiawassee† 22  Hillsdale† 1  Washtenaw† 20  Huron† 1  Monroe† 18  Ionia† 1  Calhoun† 10  Leelanau† 1  Isabella† 8  Lenawee† 1  Lapeer† 7  Missaukee† 1  Clinton† 6  Newaygo† 1  Livingston† 6  Schoolcraft† 1  Sanilac† 6  St Joseph 1  Eaton 6  Van Buren† 1  Grand Traverse† 4  Other*† 2  Kent† 4 † Indicates no confirmed case in the past 100 days

*Jackson Michigan Department of Corrections

Indicates counties with outbreak-associated cases that are not currently included in the outbreak jurisdiction

© 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

Frozen and Refrigerated Cookie Dough Products Recalled Due to Potential Health Risk from Allergens

CDC Food Safety news - September 24, 2019 - 7:40am
California New Foods has issued a voluntary recall of frozen and refrigerated cookie dough products due to a lack of labeling that addresses the potential for the products to contain peanut and walnut allergens.
Categories: News in Food Safety

Kroger posts Poultry, Beef, and Pork products Recall

US Food Safety - September 24, 2019 - 7:15am

Kroger posted the following recall on its website.

Affects City Market and King Soopers stores.

Reason: The refrigerated product may have been subject to temperature abuse when it was stored out of the 41 degree cooler in excess of 24 hours.

© 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

Frozen and Refrigerated Cookie Dough Products Recalled

US Food Safety - September 24, 2019 - 7:05am

California New Foods has issued a recall of frozen and refrigerated cookie dough products due to a lack of labeling that addresses the potential for the products to contain peanut and walnut allergens.

The recalled products are not in production and are not currently sold in stores.  Consumers, however, may have the products at home.   The recall was necessitated by a consumer complaint.

Outreach to retailers who received the recalled products has been underway to ensure products are no longer in inventories or anywhere in the stream of commerce.

The following products sold at retail in the state of California are subject to the recall:

  • Carolyn’s Cookie Co. frozen cookie dough in the following flavors, packaging and date codes:
    • Chocolate Chip, Oatmeal Raisin, Chocolate Chip Toasted Walnut, Double Chocolate with Sea Salt, Oatmeal Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk and Snickerdoodle
    • 22 oz. plastic pouch
    • All date codes beginning September 12, 2019 through March 29, 2020
  • Country Baking Company refrigerated cookie dough in the following flavors, packaging and date codes:
    • Chocolate Chip and Happy Trails
    • 24 oz. see-through cardboard sleeve
    • September 18, 2019 through September 25, 2019

Consumers with peanut and walnut allergies who have the products in their refrigerators or freezers should discard and not consume them.

Consumers may request a refund where purchased.  Consumers with questions may call California New Foods Monday – Friday at (213) 306-7060 during the hours of 9am to 5pm Pacific time.

Product Images

© 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

Smoky Bar Harbor® Fish Tacos Recipe

US Food Safety - September 24, 2019 - 7:00am

Sponsored Recipe

Smoky Bar Harbor® Fish Tacos

A great recipe for the ever popular fish tacos made the New England way. A huge reduction in cost, pared with the smoky flavor only found in Bar Harbor® Skinless, Boneless Smoked Sardines makes this phenomenal taco twist into a fast and glorious repast.

Creamy Cucumber Cilantro Sauce (recipe below)

1 (6.7-ounce) can Bar Harbor® Skinless, Boneless Smoked Sardine Fillets

Three 6-inch flour tortilla shells

1 cup shredded lettuce

1/4 cup shreedded Cheddar cheese

A few slices onion

Make Creamy Cucumber Cilantro Sauce, letting it sit in refrigerator for at least an hour before using.

Gently transfer sardines to skillet and heat over low until warmed throughout; set aside. Open all three tortilla shells on a large plate and mound lettuce down the center of each. Evenly divide the sardines on top of lettuce, followed by Creamy Cucumber Cilantro Sauce, cheese and onion. Fold up and have at it!

Creamy Cucumber Cilantro Sauce: mix 1/4 cup each sour cream and mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons minced cucumber, 1 teaspoon lime juice, 1 teaspoon dried coriander, large pinches of garlic powder, cumin, salt and black pepper as desired, Blend well and refrigerate.



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Categories: News in Food Safety

Extension scientists to conduct new environmental study on Yuma’s produce region

Food Safety news - September 23, 2019 - 9:05pm

Environmental factors impacting the risk of produce becoming contaminated in the Yuma growing region of Arizona are the subject of a new study.

University of Arizona (UA) Cooperative Extension scientists are partnering with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Yuma growers, local irrigation districts, and the Arizona Department of Agriculture on a multi-year study of growing practices and the environment in the Yuma produce growing region.

The study follows the deadly 2018 E. coli O157: H7 outbreak linked to romaine lettuce grown in the region.

The outbreak sickened at least 210 people and killed five. The romaine lettuce was the source of the largest outbreak of E. coli O157: H7 seen in the United States in 10 years. It included reports from 36 states.

Inquiries into just how the romaine became contaminated with bacteria usually associated with bovine intestines have been underway since the outbreak.

FDA investigators found irrigation water samples from a canal in the Wellton district that tested positive for the same genetic strain of E. coli that infected the outbreak patients.

One mile upstream from the tainted canal is the Five Rivers Feedlot, with a capacity of 120,000 cattle. FDA’s traceback investigation found 36 growing areas on 23 farms that were potential sources of the contaminated romaine during the outbreak.

The new study, announced by UA Cooperative Extension, “comes in order to provide recommendations toward enhanced food safety after the 2018 outbreak of E. coliO157: H7 linked to romaine lettuce grown in the (Yuma) area.”

The previous environmental assessment, conducted from June through August 2018 by FDA and other state partners, narrowed the scope of the outbreak. However, according to UA Cooperative Extension Service, the specific origin, environmental distribution, and potential reservoirs of the outbreak remain unknown.

As part of the new study, UA researchers will work with the FDA, the Arizona Leafy Green Marketing Agreement participants, and the Wellton Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District to:

  • Assess potential sources of microbial contamination in the growing region; and
  • Examine the prevalence and persistence of pathogens in the ecosystem and effect that temporal fluctuations from season to season might have on the microorganisms of public health significance that they may be in or near the growing environment.

The researchers will use critical findings to provide recommendations to Yuma growers on best management practices to enhance food safety in the region.

UA’s extension assistants, students and staff will be collecting and examining samples from the environment such as surface water, canal sediment, and dust, according to Channah Rock, UA professor and extension specialist.

“The team will also be collecting scat samples to assess the impact that animal intrusion and native wildlife in the area may have on the growing environment,” Rock said.

Collaborators say the findings from the study will contribute new information on how various environmental influences on bacterial persistence and distribution in the Yuma agricultural region impact the risk of produce becoming contaminated, leading to improved growing and harvesting practices to prevent or mitigate those risks, and ultimately enhancing the safety of produce grown in the region.

“While production of safe food is paramount to growers of leafy greens, outbreaks still occur,” Rock said. “Because of the commitment of local Yuma produce industry to food safety, we’re able to work side-by-side to find solutions, enhance food safety, and ultimately protect public health.”

The Yuma growing region is part of the Arizona/California area known for producing $4 billion of leafy greens annually, or about 90 percent of the country’s leafy greens. The Wellton-Mohawk Irrigation and Drainage District runs along the Gila River, eventually making it to the  Imperial Dam. The Mohawk Main Canal is 48 miles long while the Wellton Canal is 20 miles long.

The district pours 230,000 acre-feet of irrigation water on a variety of crops, turning the desert green.

Growers are participants in the Leafy Green Marketing Agreement that since the outbreak has imposed larger buffers between crops and feedlots. The buffers were expanded to 1,200 feet, up from 400 feet before the outbreak. Some growers are opting for larger buffers.

Water from a 3.5-mile segment of the Wellton canal was contaminated with the outbreak strain of E. coli O157: H7, according to the earlier study by FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Michigan warns residents about hepatitis A risks, and latest cases

Food Safety news - September 23, 2019 - 9:05pm

Michigan is not most at risk for hepatitis A, but the state has begun warning residents about the widespread outbreak it and surrounding states are experiencing.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) says it is “encouraging residents to be aware of the associated risk factors, the importance of handwashing and the available vaccination to prevent the hepatitis A infection.”

MDHHS reports 920 hepatitis A cases, with 80 percent requiring hospitalization, since the outbreak began in August of 2016. Michigan also reports 30 deaths from hepatitis A infections. MDHHS says although many cases occurred earlier in the outbreak, it is important for residents “to remain diligent in awareness around hepatitis A.”

Public health messages about hepatitis A usually are directed at populations believed to be most at risks, such as IV drug users and people living on the streets. Michigan’s new warning to residents at large likely says something about the size and duration of the hepatitis A outbreaks around the country.

MDHHS reports seven recent acute cases of hepatitis A have occurred in Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, and Antrim counties in the Northwest lower Michigan. Those cases did not involve the Michigan outbreak strain, but one that has been circulating nationally.

Some of those individuals were “substance users,” which makes them part of an at-risk group.

“Although Michigan has not seen the number of cases of hepatitis A that we have during the height of the outbreak, it is essential that people with risk factors for hepatitis A continue to be vaccinated,” says Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, MDHHS’s chief medical executive.

Since the outbreaks began in 2016, 30 states have reported cases to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. As of Sept. 20, total cases have reached 26,013 with a 60 percent hospitalization rate. The number dead from hepatitis A infections stands at 262.

CDC says when hearing about hepatitis A, many people think about contaminated food and water. However, in the United States, hepatitis A is more commonly spread from person to person.

The people most at risk for hepatitis A infections include:

  • People who use drugs, injection or non-injection.
  • Homeless or people in unstable housing.
  • Men who have sex with men.
  • People who are currently or were recently in jail or prison.
  • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis, hepatitis B, or C.

All states are reporting some patients that do not fall into any of the high risk groups. Many states are reporting restaurant employees and foodservice workers who have tested positive. As a result, some health departments have had special vaccination programs to offer post-exposure treatment, which much be given within two weeks of exposure to be effective.

State-Reported Hepatitis Cases and Clinical Outcomes State Case Total Hospitalizations
n (%) Deaths Outbreak
Start Date Data Current
Through Total 26013 15643 (60%) 262 States with an ongoing outbreak Alabama 142 78 (55%) NR 9/1/2018 9/4/2019 Arizona 575 454 (79%) 8 11/1/2018 9/19/2019 Arkansas 412 209 (51%) 3 2/7/2018 9/20/2019 Colorado 173 126 (73%) 1 10/1/2018 9/18/2019 Florida 2903 2071 (71%) 39 1/1/2018 8/31/2019 Georgia 656 450 (69%) 4 6/1/2018 9/14/2019 Idaho 59 30 (51%) 0 1/1/2019 9/19/2019 Illinois 157 104 (66%) 1 9/1/2018 9/18/2019 Indiana 2106 1163 (55%) 4 11/1/2017 9/20/2019 Kentucky 4902 2370 (48%) 61 8/1/2017 9/7/2019 Louisiana 541 308 (57%) 1 1/1/2018 9/20/2019 Massachusetts 502 405 (81%) 7 4/1/2018 9/6/2019 Michigan 920 738 (80%) 30 8/1/2016 9/11/2019 Minnesota 29 19 (66%) 0 12/16/2018 9/13/2019 Mississippi 49 31 (63%) 0 4/1/2019 9/16/2019 Missouri 453 255 (56%) 2 9/1/2017 9/17/2019 Nevada 89 77 (87%) 1 11/1/2018 9/16/2019 New Hampshire 209 126 (60%) 1 11/1/2018 9/10/2019 New Jersey 414 270 (65%) 5 12/1/2018 9/14/2019 New Mexico 145 114 (79%) 2 11/8/2018 9/18/2019 North Carolina 96 64 (67%) 1 1/1/2018 9/20/2019 Ohio 3327 2035 (61%) 16 1/1/2018 9/16/2019 Pennsylvania 516 390 (76%) 7 1/1/2018 9/14/2019 South Carolina 409 260 (64%) 1 11/1/2018 9/13/2019 Tennessee 2484 1493 (60%) 20 12/1/2017 9/20/2019 Virginia 177 110 (62%) 0 1/1/2019 9/19/2019 Washington 24 15 (63%) 0 4/1/2019 9/11/2019 West Virginia 2555 1262 (49%) 23 3/19/2018 9/13/2019 States with a declared end to their outbreak California 708 464 (66%) 21 11/1/2016 4/11/2018 Utah 281 152 (54%) 3 5/8/2017 2/12/2019

NR: not publicly reported

  1. “Outbreak-associated” status is currently determined at the state level in accordance with each state’s respective outbreak case definition.
  2. Outbreak-related hepatitis A deaths are defined at the state level in accordance with each state’s respective hepatitis A-related death definition. Some states are reviewing death certificates on a regular basis to actively find hepatitis A-related deaths, while other states are using passive surveillance.
  3. Outbreak start dates are defined at the state level and may represent the earliest onset date of an outbreak case (AR, AZ, UT), the left censor date for which cases are considered part of the outbreak based on the state outbreak case definition (AL, CA, CO, FL, GA, ID, IL, IN, KY, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, NV, NH, NJ, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WA), or when a state declared a hepatitis A outbreak (NM, WV).

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Food aid linked to illness again in Uganda after fatal outbreak earlier this year

Food Safety news - September 23, 2019 - 9:03pm

Distribution of some food aid in Uganda has been suspended for the second time this year because more than 30 people have fallen ill and been hospitalized. It is unknown how many more may have been affected.

Super Cereal is distributed as part of a program to protect and improve the health and nutrition of mothers and children by the World Food Programme (WFP). It is corn or wheat blended with soya beans, fortified with vitamins and minerals and processed into flour.

A total of 33 people were sick after a non-governmental organization (NGO) partner of WFP distributed Super Cereal, sugar and oil at Awich Health Centre in the Palabek refugee settlement in the West Nile region of northwestern Uganda on Aug. 26.

“A total of 33 people who fell sick were admitted to health centers in Palabek on Aug. 27 and 28 and all 33 were discharged after treatment by Aug. 30. It included men, women and children,” Peter Smerdon, a WFP spokesperson told Food Safety News.

Replacing Super Cereal
Distribution of all Super Cereal across Uganda has been suspended. WFP is substituting Super Cereal Plus for Super Cereal in Palabek and elsewhere in Uganda.

“It is still suspended because we are working with the government of Uganda to investigate whether there is any link between this outbreak of sickness in Palabek and the previous outbreak in March and April,” said Smerdon.

“Incidents such as this, we really need to track down whether there is a link with the previous outbreak and if so, what that link was and then we will be able to take action to hopefully stop it ever happening again and that is the process we are doing now with the government. We have taken samples and they have been sent off for tests.”

WFP resumed distribution of Super Cereal in West Nile with government permission following a three-month suspension after food poisoning in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda in March and April this year.

Earlier food poisonings
In the previous outbreak, four people died and almost 300 fell ill. The food came from a Turkish supplier.

Smerden said it was not yet known if there was any link to the Turkish supplier in the latest incident.

“There are test results that come back all the time but we don’t release them piecemeal, as we haven’t either for the other outbreak, precisely because we keep testing until we find out what was the cause. If we come out with them piecemeal the public may get confused as to whether we’re saying this is the cause or that is the cause,” he said

The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Food and Drug Administration were involved in efforts to find the source of the first outbreak.

FDA detected traces of alkaloids, specifically atropine. Other tests found aflatoxin B1, low levels of yeast and mold, Bacillus cereus and Salmonella but the causative agent was not specified.

“There hasn’t been a definitive cause found yet because it needs to be agreed by all the parties to the testing so the Ministry of Health, WFP and our partners and so we are still testing to come up with the cause of the original outbreak and see whether it is related to this new one,” said Smerdon.

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Categories: News in Food Safety


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