News in Food Safety

FDA Publishes Draft Guidance on Initiation of Voluntary Recalls

Quality Assurance Mag - April 23, 2019 - 9:52am
For recalls to be effective and timely, companies be prepared in advance to take all necessary steps for when a recall is initiated. As part of its efforts to guide companies on steps needed to ready their facilities and staff for possible recall situations, FDA has issued a new draft guidance that, when finalized, will provide industry with clear information on ways to prepare, plan, and work with the FDA to ensure voluntary recalls are initiated properly and promptly.

The draft guidance, “Initiation of Voluntary Recalls Under 21 CFR Part 7, Subpart C,” includes recommendations in three key areas:

  • Training. Proper training of personnel is perhaps one of the most important elements to effectively executing a recall. The draft guidance provides recommendations for companies who manufacture or distribute FDA-regulated products to adopt in readying their staff for potential recall situations. Specifically, it advises companies on ways to best identify and train appropriate personnel on their responsibilities during a recall, establish a recall communications plan, and identify what FDA reporting requirements there may be, among other things.
  • Recordkeeping. Thorough and organized recordkeeping is especially important as the agency continues its efforts to improve recalls through product traceability by tapping into modern approaches such as blockchain technology to further advance our mission of protecting public health. The draft guidance advises companies on the importance of properly coding their products and maintaining distribution records in order to conduct the most effective recall possible
  • Procedures. Written recall initiation procedures help minimize delays created by uncertainty. For companies that initiate a recall, using initiation procedures can help reduce the amount of time a defective or potentially harmful product is on the market and that in turn reduces the potential exposure to consumers. For consignees of a company that initiates a recall, these procedures can help extend the recall quickly throughout the distribution chain. The guidance recommends that firms consider preparing and maintaining written recall initiation procedures to swiftly ensure their recalled products are removed from the market. These procedures should clearly describe the appropriate actions to take when a decision is made to initiate a recall. They should also help ensure that necessary actions are not overlooked and may minimize the disruptive effect a recall can have on a company’s operations.

The draft guidance reflects the latest step in the agency’s ongoing commitment to working with companies to quickly act to protect consumers from potentially dangerous products, the agency said. It builds upon 18 months of proactive and systematic improvements to the FDA’s recall processes, during which the agency alerted companies of the situations where the FDA would disclose certain supply chain and retail distribution information during certain human and animal food recalls; provided mandatory recall guidance for human and animal foods, which answered common questions about the mandatory food recall provisions; and issued final guidance on public warnings and notifications of recalls for all FDA-regulated products outlining specific circumstances in which the agency would expect a company to issue a public warning about a voluntary recall. The agency has also adopted new policies for moving forward with rapidly posting new recalls to the FDA’s Enforcement Report, which is a web listing of all recalls monitored by the FDA.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Parmacotto Brings its Italian Prosciutto Cotto to U.S. Market

Quality Assurance Mag - April 23, 2019 - 9:40am
Parmacotto is a new player in the American food market. 70% of the company is controlled by Parmacotto, SpA, founded in 1978 in Parma, Italy. The remaining 30% of the company is owned by the founding members of Cibo Italia, Larry Saia and Alessandro Sità, who are now respectively president and CEO of Parmacotto.

Parmacotto's core business is in the production of cooked ham (prosciutto cotto) and its core value is in using top quality products that are 100% made in Italy, which is the focus of its product launch in the U.S. market. Parmacotto results from the acquisition of Cibo Italia established 10 years ago to sell Italian "salumeria" (cold cuts and cured meals) in the U.S. market to both large-scale retail and traditional delicatessens.

The company aims to reach an annual growth of 25% within the next 3 years, with a target turnover of $20 million by 2020. "We have decided to focus on the US market because it presents significant opportunities for the development of our products. In terms of positioning and distribution, our investment in Cibo Italia aims to create synergies with the American market," said Parmacotto, SpA CEO Andrea Schivazappa.

"Thanks to our know-how, today we are at an important milestone: the introduction of a brand in the American market, a brand made of history and quality, that will respond to the consumers' expectations,” said Sità and Saia. “We will focus on the introduction of Parmacotto products (cooked and roasted ham) in the deli area and as pre-sliced products for retail shelves.  The heritage of this brand will be the true ambassador, our 100% made in Italy products."

For more information, visit http://www.parmacotto.com

 

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Categories: News in Food Safety

IAFP Presents 21 Student Travel Scholarships

Quality Assurance Mag - April 23, 2019 - 7:30am
The International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) will present Student Travel Scholarships to 21 students at IAFP 2019, July 21–24, in Louisville, Ky. Sponsored by the IAFP Foundation, the scholarships provide travel funds to enable the students to travel to and participate in IAFP 2019.

  • Hiroki Abe is a first-year Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Agriculture at Hokkaido University in Sapporo, Japan. Inspired by an early childhood experience of intense food poisoning, Abe elected to conduct research on predictive microbiology. He is currently working on developing a stochastic approach describing individual cell heterogeneity during thermal inactivation, and recently in the human body. Abe received both his undergraduate and master’s degrees at Hokkaido University.
  • Jennifer Acuff is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science & Technology at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, where her current research is focused on low-water activity food (LWAF) safety, specifically regarding nuts and dried fruits, examining the efficacy of low-temperature, vacuum-assisted steam on various LWAF that are contaminated with STEC, L. monocytogenes, and Salmonella spp., while also seeking surrogate organism for this process. Acuff is also a teaching assistant, helping instruct Food Microbiology and Fermentation Microbiology courses at the university. She received a B.S. in Biology at Abilene Christian University and an M.S. in Food Science at Kansas State University, where her research focused on food microbiology and safety.
  • Justin Anast is completing his Ph.D. in the Interdepartmental Microbiology program at Iowa State University in Ames. Anast’s doctoral research focuses on the foodborne pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, during competition with food bacteria, with the goal of uncovering what genes are utilized by Listeria during co-culture using transcriptomics. His additional research focuses on elucidating the role of a rearrangement hotspot protein (RHS) in competition. He also studies the genomes of Brevibacterium strains from Austrian mountain cheese rinds and their adaptability to the cheese rind environment, leading to a first author publication. Anast received his B.S. in Microbiology from the University of Idaho, during which he was a research assistant in biology and chemistry labs and a teaching assistant in the chemistry department.
  • Katrien Begyn is a Ph.D. candidate at the Research Unit of Food Microbiology and Food Preservation (FMFP-UGent) of the Department of Food Technology, Safety and Health located at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University in Belgium. Her research focuses on the impact of Bacillus cereus endospore evolution on food safety, with an emphasis on UV and wet heat stress, as part of a cooperative research project between three Belgian institutes with extended knowledge of B. cereus. She received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Biomedical Sciences from Ghent University. Begyn was the recipient of the IAFP European Student Travel Scholarship in 2018.
  • Melanie Firestone is completing her Ph.D. in the Division of Environmental Health Sciences at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health in Minneapolis. Firestone’s current doctoral work focuses on developing a framework to enhance understanding of the relationship between restaurant inspections, food exposures, and risk of illness to identify opportunities for foodborne illness prevention. She has authored and co-authored articles for food safety publications, including IAFP’s Food Protection Trends. Firestone received a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science from Wake Forest University and an M.P.H. in Epidemiology from Columbia University, after which she worked as a research scientist at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, developing her interest in foodborne illness epidemiology. After graduation, she will continue her research to help directly inform public policy to reduce the burden of foodborne illness.
  • Catherine Gensler is completing her M.Sc. in the Department of Animal Science at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Her research is on evaluating the use of commercially available protective cultures to control Listeria monocytogenes and Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli in soft, surface-mold ripened raw milk cheese. Gensler received a B.S. in Food Science from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. After graduation, she looks forward to supporting food safety education work with small producers and entrepreneurs in an extension capacity.
  • Carly Gomez is working toward her M.Sc. in Biosystems Engineering at Michigan State University in East Lansing, where she also received her B.S. During her studies, Gomez is continuing the risk modeling project from her undergraduate studies using engineering approaches to develop improved risk models for foodborne illness in cancer patients; modeling bacterial survival during hyper-hygienic preparation processes; and conducting risk analyses of foodborne illness and nutritional impacts in immunocompromised populations following neutropenic diets. She plans to continue this work through her doctoral studies, with the end goal of developing patient-centered educational materials and training for produce preparation in healthcare facilities.
  • Gayathri Gunathilaka is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Michigan State University in East Lansing. Her current research focuses on optimizing the conditions for engineered nanoparticles (ENP) removal in an existing fresh-cut pilot-scale processing line. Gunathilaka earned her M.Sc. in Food Science and Nutrition with a concentration on food microbiology from Wayne State University and her B.S. in Agriculture, Technology and Management from the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka.
  • John (Jack) Hodges is a junior undergraduate at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston in Houston, Texas, where he is jointly pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management and an M.Sc. in Hospitality Management. During the past year, Hodges has studied the effect of foodborne illness on restaurant patrons’ satisfaction through online review channels and the use of big data analytics to monitor foodborne illness outbreaks nationwide. His studies also include food safety in emerging foodservice concepts such as food trucks and mobile app food delivery. He plans to pursue his Ph.D. in Hospitality Administration to enter academia and apply innovative analytics and technology to the foodservice industry.
  • Rochelle Keet is a current M.Sc. student in the Department of Food Science at Stellenbosch University in South Africa, where she received her undergraduate degree in Food Science. Her graduate studies focus on Listeria monocytogenes and its related virulent strains, which are responsible for listeriosis, with the aim of filling in the gaps between food and clinical strains, as well as investigating potential links between the two areas. Keet is also investigating the efficacy of a current known listeriaphage to determine if these phages are effective in controlling virulent strains of L. monocytogenes.
  • Muhammad Nadeem Khan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Biological Sciences at Quaid-I-Axam University in Islamabad, Pakistan, where he also received his master’s in Food and Nutritional Microbiology. During his master’s studies, Khan evaluated the impact of Intermittent Energy restriction on human physiology and gut microbiome, with the objective of understanding the effect of intermittent fasting on the diversity of microorganisms present in the intestine, helping prevent and manage metabolic diseases. Khan is currently conducting research on a project aimed at developing economical and effective starter cultures for the dairy industry. He is also researching probiotics and their role in control and management of metabolic diseases.
  • Sakshi Lamba is pursuing her Ph.D. in Molecular Microbiology at the University College Dublin (UCD) in Dublin, Ireland. Her current research project, “No-Spores-DFI,” integrates fundamental with molecular microbiology to investigate the behavior and interactions of spore-forming bacteria, their resistance profile, and biofilm-forming abilities within the low-moisture food (LMF) manufacturing environment. A native of India, Lamba received a bachelor’s of Applied Science from the University of Delhi and her M.Sc. in Food Technology from the Haryana Agricultural University, both in India, as well as an M.Sc. in Food Safety and Risk Analysis from UCD.
  • Ruiling Lv is a Ph.D. student at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, in the College of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science. Lv’s doctoral project at Zhejiang University focuses on investigating the effects and mechanisms of ultrasound in combination with other treatments as innovative hurdle technology to inactivate bacterial spores (e.g., Bacillus cereus) in different agri-food products. Lv was selected for a one-year research internship program at the University of British Columbia (UBC), where she is currently a visiting doctoral student under the supervision of Dr. Xiaonan Lu, researching the determination and characterization of VBNC Campylobacter under stress.
  • Sarah Murphy is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, working in the Milk Quality Improvement Program/Food Safety Lab. Murphy’s research is focused on expanding knowledge of microbial dynamics in food systems to develop evidence-based practices that promote lasting impacts to food quality and safety throughout the supply chain. She has also worked with colleagues in Cornell Dairy Foods Extension over the past three years to design and implement trainings for plant employees and management, promoting practices leading towards safe, high-quality dairy products. Murphy received her B.S. in Biological Chemistry from Bates College. Her career goals include establishing her own research program focused on food quality systems.
  • Oladipupo Odunayo Olatunde is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Technology at Prince of Songkla University in Songkhla, Thailand. Olatunde’s current research is focused on the application of non-thermal processing technologies, particularly dielectric barrier discharge high voltage cold atmospheric plasma (DBD-HVCAP) for inactivation of both pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms in fish. A native of Nigeria, he received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Food Science and Technology, both from the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta in Nigeria. After graduation, he plans to return to Nigeria to apply his knowledge to academia, with a goal of joining a dedicated research team directed toward meeting the imminent needs of society, particularly in food safety and quality.
  • Nurudeen Olalekan Oloso graduated in April 2019 after conducting full-time postdoctoral work in the Department of Production Animal Studies (Epidemiology) at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. Dr. Oloso is also part of the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the university. His eight-chapter doctoral thesis is on “Prevalence and characterization of Salmonella isolates originating from the broiler production value chain in Nigeria.” From this research and other projects related to food safety in Nigeria, Dr. Oloso has published six manuscripts, which are under review or in the course of submission to the university’s peer-reviewed journals. He holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria, where he also earned his master’s in Preventive Veterinary Medicine.
  • Ruth Oni is a Ph.D. student in the Nutrition and Food Science Department at the University of Maryland – College Park, studying Food Science and Technology, where she also received her undergraduate and master’s degrees in Food Science. Oni’s current research is evaluating certain in-process steps and their potential impact on the assessment of Salmonella risk during chocolate production, as well as the development of targeting thermal resistance data as critical components for a quantitative microbial risk assessment. She recently completed work on a multi-university project designed to facilitate integration of computer simulation into traditional Food Science lectures and laboratory activities to help students better understand quantitative food safety concepts. Her career aspirations include working as a food microbiologist/safety specialist utilizing scientific knowledge and tools to help establish innovative policies to enhance microbial food safety.
  • Elvina Parlindungan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Food Science and Technology at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her current research in food microbiology involves studying the effect of stress on a bacteriocin-producing strain of Lactobacillus plantarum to enhance its survival and stability for improved safety and protection in food application, utilizing several techniques. Parlindungan received her bachelor’s in Biomedicine with the university, where she worked on projects with several high-profile labs in Australia.
  • Surabhi Rani is pursuing her Ph.D. in the Department of Nutrition and Food Science at the University of Maryland – College Park. Rani’s research is focused on evaluating food safety risk factors associated with Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) infection in the farm-to-fork framework. She is currently working on estimating the prevalence of T. gondii in naturally infected food animals in the Animal Parasitic Disease Laboratory at the Agricultural Research Services (ARS), part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She is a published author and co-author. A native of India, Rani holds a Bachelors of Technology degree from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati in India.
  • H. Lester Schonberger is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Schonberger served as the graduate assistant for the university’s Campus Kitchen, which inspired his research to identify opportunities for increased food safety education and support for food recovery organizations through cooperative extensions. Some of his research was published in an issue of Food Protection Trends, and he has presented his research and co-organized symposia for past IAFP Annual Meetings. He achieved his B.S. in Food Science and Technology from Virginia Tech.
  • Mary Kathrynn Yavelak will graduate in May 2019 with an M.S. in Food Science from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where she also received her B.S. Throughout her university studies, Yavelak’s research focused on food safety education at temporary events, with an emphasis on the risk of Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli (STEC) foodborne illness from beef. She also developed a youth food safety program to educate young consumers on managing the risk of STEC in beef from farm to fork. Other research interests include modernizing current approaches to risk communications using various social media platforms and helping develop consumer and retail food safety programs through North Carolina’s Cooperative Extension Program. Yavelak plans to use her research experience to impact consumer food safety educational efforts, both nationally and worldwide.

 

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Florida lawmakers close to giving residential vegetables gardens a green light

Food Safety news - April 22, 2019 - 9:04pm

One of the more bizarre powers of local government will likely end this week or next when the Florida House of Representatives votes to make vegetable gardening a right that comes with owning residential property.

City halls and county commissions in Florida have long had the power to prohibit vegetable gardens on residential properties, and that’s exactly what some have done. It means residential property owners can be told their residentially zoned land is off limits to the growing of herbs, flowers, fruits, vegetables or anything else that is cultivated for human ingestion. How healthy or how safe is not a consideration.

Last year after residential property owners who were growing vegetables in their front yard were fined $50 a day by the city of Miami Shores until they came into compliance. Florida courts then took their turn on the issue.

The Miami Shores residents challenged the constitutionally of the zoning ordinance.

“The residents challenged the ban (as) a violation of their rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Florida Constitution, as we as their rights to acquire, process and protect property and the right to privacy,” Flordia House documents say.

Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals upheld the Miami Shores ordinance, saying such zoning provisions are “inherent in the state to promote the general welfare of the people through regulations that are necessary to secure the health, safety, good order (and) general welfare.” The court said the ordinance banning front-yard vegetable gardens “was rationally related to the Villiage code’s design standards and landscaping regulations.”

The Florida  Supreme Court would not review the case, but during the 2018 Florida legislative session, the Senate passed a bill to strip local government of the power to ban growing vegetables on private residential properties. There wasn’t time to pass the bill in the House before adjournment,

This year, Florida’s legislative calendar is shining a light on the vegetables. The Senate, which passed the bill last year, again approved it March 21 on a 35-5 vote. This past Thursday, in a 13-to-1 vote, the House State Affairs Committee sent House Bill 145 to the House for a final floor vote.

With this week and next remaining on the House calendar, there’s time this legislative session to save the vegetable gardens. If that happens, it will be a victory for Hermine Rickets and her husband Tom Caroll, the Miami Shores couple who made the ban a statewide issue by taking their town to court.

Their attorney, Ari Bargil of the Institute for Justice, appeared before the House State Affairs Committee last week.

“Lawmakers have an opportunity to right a wrong and secure every Floridian’s right to use their property to grow food,” said Bargil. “I look forward to the day when local governments may not forbid residents from peacefully and productively using their own property. Hopefully, this legislation will soon be on its way to the governor’s desk.”

If Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ends up with the bill to sign, it does not entirely keep local government out of those front-yard gardens. City governments will still have powers to do such things as regulating water use during droughts, seasonal fertilizer use, or the control of invasive species.

The Florida League of Cities, which represents the state’s municipalities, continues to oppose the bill and is certain to continue that opposition right up to the end.]

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Lytton analyzes food safety from Mom’s countertop to top B2B relationships

Food Safety news - April 22, 2019 - 9:02pm

With the release of his new book — “Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety” — Timothy D. Lytton seeks to shine a light into some of the more dimly lit corners of the U.S. food system’s safety checks and balances.

Now available from Amazon.com and the University of Chicago Press, the book provides a history and analysis of the country’s food safety system. Lytton gives particular attention to business-to-business elements in the U.S. system, including private audits and liability insurance.

In the book Lytton, a University of Georgia law professor, describes food safety efforts in the United States dating back to the 1800s. He analyzes the battle against pathogens such as E. coli and Salmonella, which have become familiar to consumers in recent years during deadly outbreaks and massive recalls. Lytton doesn’t suggest the fight for safe food is easy, or that it will come without a price. Rather, he explores the food safety responsibilities of consumers and businesses.

“Foodborne illness is a big problem. Wash those chicken breasts, and you’re likely to spread Salmonella to your countertops, kitchen towels, and other foods nearby,” Lytton said in his publish announcement April 19. “Even salad greens can become biohazards when toxic strains of E. coli inhabit the water used to irrigate crops. . .

“Over time, deadly foodborne illness outbreaks caused by infected milk, poison hamburgers, and tainted spinach have spurred steady scientific and technological advances in food safety. Nevertheless, problems persist.”

Lytton discusses how inadequate budgets restrict the ability of government to develop and enforce meaningful regulations. Pressure from consumers to keep prices down constrains industry investments in safety. The limits of scientific knowledge leave experts unable to assess policies’ effectiveness and whether measures designed to reduce contamination have actually improved public health.

“Outbreak” offers practical reforms that will strengthen the food safety system’s capacity to learn from its mistakes and identify cost-effective food safety efforts capable of producing measurable public health benefits, according Lytton’s publisher.

The book has earned praise from big business officials, academic researchers, and lawyers who specialize in food safety cases.

“In ‘Outbreak,’ Lytton gives us a legal scholar’s superb analysis of how government, lawyers, and civil society are struggling to prevent the tragic and unnecessary illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths caused by microbial food contaminant,” Marion Nestle said about the book. “Foodborne illness may seem like an intractable problem, but Lytton’s suggestions for dealing with it are well worth attention, as is everything else in this beautifully written, thoughtful, and readable account. I couldn’t put it down.”

Fellow academic Stephen Sugarman of the University of California-Berkeley School of Law, said “Outbreak: Foodborne Illness and the Struggle for Food Safety” said the book is a good read for consumers as well as corporate executives.

“{The book is) a remarkable sweeping overview and evaluation of food safety practices that well serves both experts working in the field and members of the general public interested in the problem of food safety. Lytton shows how major outbreaks have prompted a variety of changes to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. Yet, as he argues persuasively, we don’t have firm scientific knowledge as to the degree to which—if at all—most of these measures have actually achieved their goal,” Sugarman said.

A founding member of the Seattle law firm Marler Clark LLP said Lytton’s new book covers the infield and outfield with equal ease. The law firm specializes in representing foodborne illness victims and their families.

“From swill milk to HACCP to FSMA to Blockchain, Lytton weaves a compelling biological story of how we feed ourselves and the interplay between the supply chain, regulation, media, and civil litigation,” said Bill Marler, who entered the food safety arena during the deadly 1993 E. coli outbreak that was traced to Jack in the Box hamburgers.

Lytton said his goal was to help readers understand the science, practicality, liability, enforcement and self-monitoring measures necessary to achieve higher levels of food safety. Meeting that goal includes helping readers understand the following:

  • Why government spends so much more money justifying food safety regulations than evaluating whether they actually work.
  • The need for greater experimentation in food safety regulation.
  • Improving private third-party food safety auditing through greater liability exposure for negligent auditing.
  • The potential for liability and recall insurance to improve food safety.
  • The history of third-party food safety auditing (which goes back much earlier than AIB in the 1920s).
  • The litigation dynamics of food safety lawsuits.

The author is Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Development; Distinguished University Professor; and Professor of Law at the  at the University of Georgia. To receive a 20 percent discount on Lytton’s book, use with the promo code: UCPNEW.

Editor’s note: Bill Marler is publisher of Food Safety News.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Acidic foods risk botulism and so do North Dakota lawmakers

Food Safety news - April 22, 2019 - 9:00pm

North Dakota lawmakers last week had a choice to make. Either fix their 2-year-old cottage food law or risk some botulism once in a while. In the name of “food freedom,” the North Dakota House decided to go with botulism, voting 26-to-65 not to amend  the cottage food law.

Earlier in the day when the Senate approved amending cottage food law on a 44-to-2 vote, it seemed the Legislature was going to heed warnings about botulism potential in low acid canned foods made under the Cottage Food Act. Amending the North Dakota Century Code 23-09.5 Cottage Food Production and Sales law excluded such safety steps for acid foods.

The North Dakota Cottage Foods Act went  into effect on Aug. 1, 2017, It allows for the sale of un-inspected, homemade cottage food products to an informed, end consumer for at-home consumption. 

According to the ND Foods and Lodging Office, the Cottage Foods Act “provides new opportunities for small, start-up businesses and home-based operations without having the extra burden of start-up costs for an approved kitchen outside the home and no license or inspection fee charges.”

 While enriching a new market and new food products available in our state, the  office says  it is “important to instill practical, science-based food safety guidance to protect public health and maintain access to a safe food supply.”

Meanwhile, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDOH) recommends that food safety and sanitation standards are applied to cottage food products for sale under the ND Cottage Foods Act.   That’s where the concern about low-acid foods comes from.

But when the bill with its clarifying language got to the House last week, Rep. Daniel Johnston, R-Kathryn, said an out -of -control Health Department was undermining legislative intent about North Dakota’s “food freedom.”

Johnson also said the Health Department is opposed to “Grandma’s apple butter.”

Minutes later, the cottage food fix sought by the Health Department was dead,

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Categories: News in Food Safety

California growers say their new water rules mean safer romaine for everyone

Food Safety news - April 21, 2019 - 9:05pm

For the second time this year, romaine lettuce growers are imposing measures they hope will end the recent string of E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that were associated with their products last year. This latest action to strengthen food safety practices that will be required by romaine lettuce farms came Friday in a vote by the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board of Directors.

California and Arizona’s Yuma Growing Region together account for 90 percent of the leafy greens grown the United States. Growers in both states signed on to Leafy Green Marketing Agreements after the deadly 2006 E. coli outbreak associated with freshly bagged spinach to overcome doubts that major retail buyers were expressing about the industry at that time.

Last year, those doubts returned with back-to-back-to-back E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks that were linked to eating romaine lettuce grown in the Yuma region and in California. Those three outbreaks were also deadly events, killing six people out of the 297 confirmed E. coli cases that resulted from the outbreaks that began in the final days of 2017 and continued into early 2019.

Both LGMAs previously adopted new standards for their growers that were announced in January. Those involved equipment cleaning practices, proactive steps for flooding and high wind weather-related events, mandatory traceability measures, and buffers between growing areas and feedlots with 1,000 or more animals. California’s LGMA imposed the larger buffers.

The vote Friday, according to officials with the California LGMA, will strengthen its mandatory food safety practices for farms in order “to protect consumers and prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks.” 

“The California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement Board of Directors have adopted additional requirements to reduce risk when it comes to water used in growing lettuce and leafy greens,” said Scott Horsfall, CEO of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement (LGMA).

“This means that every box of leafy greens placed into commerce by a certified LGMA member will now be produced under new, more stringent requirements. We have effectively changed the way leafy greens are farmed.”

The new standards approved by the LGMA board are in direct response to investigations conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration into the 2018 E. coli outbreaks involving romaine lettuce. A group of leafy greens industry members, growers and scientists have been working for several months in an effort, facilitated by Western Growers, to update LGMA requirements for agricultural water use. The updates include specific directives such as no longer allowing the use of untreated surface water for overhead irrigation of leafy greens prior to harvest.

Horsfall explained the LGMA program has always required growers to test their water because it can easily carry pathogens. But the new requirements now include additional safeguards that ensure farmers categorize the source of their water; consider how and when water is applied to their crops; conduct testing to assure the water is safe for the intended uses; sanitize water if necessary; and verify that all of the precautions have been taken.

“The way to improve the safety of leafy greens is through the LGMA,” said Horsfall explaining this unique program exists only in the leafy green industry to enforce science-based food safety practices and includes certified government audits of farms to verify the required methods are being followed. The LGMA’s food safety practices meet, and often exceed, what is required under federal Produce Safety Rule regulations for other produce crops.

“For example, testing of irrigation water is currently not required by federal law,” said Horsfall. “But the actions taken by the LGMA board today (Friday) strengthen existing water testing and treatment requirements for 99 percent of the leafy greens grown in California.”

A grower who is also chairman of the LGMA board says farmers must take responsibility for the food they produce.

“Leafy greens farmers have an obligation to produce safe leafy greens,” said Dan Sutton, chairman of the LGMA and general manager of Pismo-Oceano Vegetable Exchange, a producer of lettuce and other vegetables near San Luis Obispo. “We are keenly aware of the tragic impacts of foodborne illness. This is why we are so passionately committed to producing the safest leafy greens possible. To validate this commitment and compliance with food safety practices, we participate in the LGMA program which requires mandatory government audits of our farms.”

The president of a Markon, a California company that distributes fresh produce for foodservice companies throughout the U.S. and Canada, says the LGMA is crucial for the future of the leafy greens industry.

“Markon and its members are committed to buying leafy greens from certified members of the LGMA,” said Markon president Tim York. “We believe the LGMA is the best tool we have to ensure consumer safety for leafy greens. I encourage all buyers of leafy greens to purchase only from LGMA members. I’d consider anything less both irresponsible and reckless.”

The LGMA will begin immediately to make sure everyone in the leafy greens community understands how to comply with the new requirements.

Additional information on specific changes to the LGMA food safety practices will be provided in the coming weeks and a webinar for retail and foodservice operations will be scheduled soon, according to the organization’s officials.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Publisher’s Platform: It’s past time to offer foodservice workers Hep A vaccinations

Food Safety news - April 21, 2019 - 9:04pm
Opinion

Vaccinating food service workers will not solve the entire HAV problem — we need a nationwide focus on homelessness and drug use as well.

According to a recent health warning, the CDC reported multiple states across the country have reported outbreaks of hepatitis A (HAV), primarily among people who use drugs and people experiencing homelessness. Since the hepatitis A outbreaks were first identified in 2016, more than 15,000 cases, 8,500 hospitalizations, and 140 deaths as a result of HAV infection have been reported.

The states’ data show about 65 percent of the individuals sickened have been linked to drug use and/or homelessness. The remaining 35 percent have been Epi-Linked — people infected who are not drug users or homeless — or the cause of their infections is unknown.

In 2000, I said this:

“In the last six months Hepatitis A exposures have been linked to two Seattle-area Subways, a Carl’s Jr. in Spokane, WA, Hoggsbreath, a Minnesota restaurant, and three restaurants in Northwest Arkansas, IHOP, U.S. Pizza, and Belvedeers. Restaurants and food manufacturers must take action and voluntarily vaccinate all of their employees.”

Since then — especially recently — hardly a day goes by that the press does not report another food service worker possibly exposing thousands of patrons to HAV. Yet, neither the CDC nor any restaurant association has recommended HAV vaccination for such workers — until after the exposure. This is not an acceptable public health response.

What is Hepatitis A?
Hepatitis A is one of the five hepatitis viruses that are known to cause inflammation of the liver. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 150,000 people in the U.S. are infected each year by hepatitis. The illness is characterized by sudden onset of fever, malaise, nausea, anorexia, and abdominal pain, followed by jaundice. The incubation period for Hepatitis A, which varies from 10 to 50 days, is dependent upon the number of infectious particles consumed.

Where does Hepatitis A come from?
Hepatitis A spreads from the feces of infected people and can produce disease when individuals consume contaminated water or foods. Cold cuts, sandwiches, fruits, fruit juices, milk, milk products, vegetables, salads, shellfish, and iced drinks are also implicated in outbreaks. Water, shellfish, and salads are common sources. Contamination of foods by infected workers in food processing plants and restaurants is increasingly common.

How can a Hepatitis A infection be prevented?

  • Get vaccinated.
  • If exposed, the illness can be prevented by a shot of immune globulin or Hep A vaccine within two weeks of exposure.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and warm water after using the bathroom; changing diapers; and before preparing, serving or eating food.
  • Clean and disinfect bathrooms and diaper-changing surfaces frequently.
  • Never change diapers on eating or food preparation surfaces.
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly before eating it.
  • Drink water only from approved sources.

Editor’s note: People infected with Hepatitis A can pass the virus to others, as well as contaminate foods or beverages they handle, before they develop symptoms. Some infected people do not develop symptoms. These two facts make it even more important for foodservice workers and employees in the food industry to be vaccinated.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Researchers find immune responses that have key role in controlling trichinosis

Food Safety news - April 21, 2019 - 9:02pm

Scientists from Lancaster University have discovered immune responses that are important in eliminating the causative agent of Trichinosis.

Researchers from the university in the United Kingdom found immune responses that prevent fungal infections also help eliminate Trichinella spiralis. The work has been published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.

They hope findings will help to design new treatments for people who suffer from intestinal parasitic infections and may inform other intestinal diseases involving altered muscle function.

People acquire trichinellosis by eating raw or undercooked meat infected with the Trichinella parasite such as wild game meat or pork. Trichinella spiralis infects pigs, horses, rats and other animals.

Contaminated meat contains “nurse cells” of the parasite. Once in the stomach these cells hatch, releasing infective larvae which then bury themselves within the lining of the small intestine.

Previously, immune responses to expel the parasite have been shown to rely on white blood cells called T-helper 2 cells, specialized for eliminating gastrointestinal parasites. However, scientists discovered that following this T-helper 2 reaction, a second T-helper 17 response, previously shown to be specialized for eliminating fungal infections and certain bacterial infections occurred.

One protein that can be key in controlling immune responses is transforming growth factor beta. With Professors Mark Travis and Richard Grencis from the University of Manchester, the team identified how the T-helper 17 cells arose and that they were key in maintaining intestinal muscle contractions needed to flush out the worms.

Mice were infected with 300 Trichinella spiralis larvae and followed throughout the course of infection. Findings showed mice lacking the ability to activate a key signaling molecule important in producing T-helper 17 cells have a reduced ability to expel the parasite.

Researchers saw a delayed transit time in the small intestine hinting at alterations in muscle contraction. In isolating the small intestine they demonstrated that a molecule produced from T-helper 17 cells, termed IL-17, could increase intestinal contraction and restoring levels of IL-17 in the mice rescued their ability to expel the parasite.

It is estimated there are 10,000 human trichinellosis infections per year worldwide. Symptoms depend on stage of the infection. Initially when larvae or adults are in the intestines there may be abdominal discomfort with nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fatigue and fever, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

As larvae migrate into the muscles they may cause severe pain, headaches, fevers, chills, cough, eye swelling, aching joints and muscle pains, itchy skin, rash, and diarrhea or constipation. Severity of the disease is related to the number of larvae ingested, and fatalities can occur with high doses.

John Worthington, from the department of biomedical and life science at Lancaster, said they were surprised by what was found.

“Normally, these immune responses are thought of as acting quite distinctly depending on what type of infection you may have. It’s well established that the T-helper 2 response is beneficial during gastrointestinal worm infections, so traditionally any other response would be thought of as hindering worm expulsion. So, it was quite surprising to see that this late acting T-helper 17 response was actually beneficial to the mouse’s ability to resolve an infection and get rid of the worm,” Worthington said.

He also said the study provides insights into how the immune system interacts with muscle contraction during intestinal inflammation.

“Although the occurrence of this infection is very rare in the developed world, we hope it will help us to design new treatments for the many millions of people who suffer from intestinal parasitic infections worldwide and may even inform other intestinal diseases involving altered muscle function.”

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Categories: News in Food Safety

New Zealand officials seek feedback on rules for unpasteurized, raw milk

Food Safety news - April 21, 2019 - 9:01pm

Authorities in New Zealand want feedback by the end of the month on whether rules around processing and selling raw drinking milk are working as intended. Between 2009 and 2016 there were 46 outbreaks where consuming raw milk was a risk factor. Of these, at least 70 percent involved children, ranging in age from one to 16 years and 28 were caused by Campylobacter and four by STEC.

The New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) said the work is not about rewriting the rules or making radical changes but is an assessment of the existing system. The agency also promised another chance to provide comments if any further work is done on the regulations.

One survey is for raw, unpasteurized milk drinkers and consumers and the other is for suppliers to help review the Raw Milk for Sale to Consumers Regulations 2015.

Requirements for the sale of raw milk to consumers came into effect in March 2016. They were aimed at managing the risks to public health while recognizing consumer demand for the product. There was a transition period for existing producers until November 2016.

Under these requirements, farmers need to register with MPI to sell raw milk, the product must be home-delivered or bought at the farm and collection points are not allowed and labels must be used to highlight the health risks.

Notices and labels on containers and at point-of-sale areas have been required since November 2016 and must also provide use-by dates, information on refrigeration, contact details of the farmer who produced the raw milk and specific warnings for consumers in high-risk groups – such as the young, pregnant, elderly and people with weakened immune systems.

MPI said the safest option is to consume only pasteurized milk or to heat raw milk to 70 degrees Celsius and hold at that temperature for one minute.

Consumers can buy any quantity of raw milk for personal and household use but it’s illegal to sell onwards as milk or as part of another product like cheese.

Farmers selling raw milk must record the customer’s name, address and phone number, along with volume and date of sale. This will enable them to contact the consumer if a batch fails safety testing.

Raw unpasteurized milk from any animal may be contaminated with illness-causing bacteria including Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC), Listeria and Campylobacter.

The anonymous online surveys, which take 10 minutes, can be completed until April 30 by following this link.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Analysts report picture of food hygiene ratings in UK; warn about inspection scams

Food Safety news - April 20, 2019 - 9:03pm

More than one in every 15 food businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have a hygiene rating of two of lower, according to a report on data from across the United Kingdom.

High Speed Training investigated how regions, towns and cities compared. The Yorkshire based e-learning provider looked at the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme (FHRS) and extracted Food Standards Agency (FSA) data for a quarter of a million businesses to provide an overall picture. FHRS gives customers an idea of how well a premises complies with food hygiene standards.

Environmental health officers from the local government agencies visit businesses between every six months and two years, depending on the level of risk involved. The officers inspect the establishments to ensure they comply with food safety regulations and give a rating based on their findings.

Hygienic food handling, physical condition of the site, and food safety management are combined to make a food hygiene rating from zero to five. Zero means “urgent improvement” is necessary. Five means “very good.”

While one in every 15 businesses across England, Wales and Northern Ireland have an overall rating of two or lower, suggesting they required improvement, only one in every 30 sites involved concerns on physical handling of food.

In Wales and Northern Ireland it is compulsory for businesses to display their food hygiene rating, but that rule does not apply in England. Wales and Northern Ireland both have an overall higher food hygiene rating than England.

Scotland’s system is called the Food Hygiene Information Scheme (FHIS). There, after an environmental health officer has reviewed safety systems in place, observed food hygiene in practice and spoken with staff, businesses are given either a rating of “pass” or “improvement required.” Displaying the ratings on site isn’t required by law, but they can be viewed online.

Lee Batchelor, who led the data team on the project, said ratings are based on more than just personal hygiene.

“There are different areas of inspection and the schemes do have their limitations. It’s just about understanding that and knowing where to get the right information. Our report aims to improve consumers’ understanding of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and the Scottish Food Hygiene Information Scheme so they can make informed decisions around where to eat and drink,” he said.

Regional performance
Harrogate came in at the top with an average rating of 4.85, followed by Hastings with 4.82, and Southport in third place. The top three large cities with more than 1,000 establishments were Nottingham, Belfast and Newcastle upon Tyne. For regions, Northern Ireland was first, followed by South West and East Midlands.

Only Ipswich, Burton upon Trent, and Winchester improved or maintained their average rating in the 2018-19 inspections, with all other towns and cities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland receiving lower ratings.

Walsall, Luton, Birmingham and Bolton had the lowest average scores on the towns and cities table. One in five Birmingham establishments had a rating of two or lower. London was last in the regional table, with Barking and Dagenham scoring an average of 3.43.

One limitation of the ranking system is that inspections give only a snapshot of businesses, meaning the ratings may not be reflective of day-to-day running, according to High Speed Training.

It can take up to six months for premises to be re-visited following an unsatisfactory rating and a further 28 days for any change to be reflected publicly.

Data was downloaded on Jan. 25 from the FSA. Four of 14 business types were included. A total of 239,783 establishments were used for the overall ranking analysis.

Takeaway restaurants and sandwich shops were the biggest offenders across the U.K., with one in nine rated two or lower.

Almost 7 percent of takeaways and sandwich shops across England, Northern Ireland, and Wales require ‘major’ or ‘urgent’ improvement (a rating of one or lower).

Just Eat, a takeaway food delivery service, announced in February that any zero-rated restaurants listed on its platform would have until May 1 to improve their hygiene rating or they would be removed.

The company will work with restaurants on its platform with an official rating of zero, one or two to help them improve. Any restaurants signing up are now required to have a minimum food hygiene rating of 3 or be registered with the FSA and awaiting inspection.

Warning about food hygiene scam
Meanwhile, the FSA has urged vigilance after reports of a person claiming to be from the agency or local authority approaching businesses demanding money for a food hygiene re-rating and warning failure to pay will result in a fine.

The scam has been reported to three local authorities in Wales and one in England. Local authorities may charge only when a re-rating inspection is requested by the food business.

Angela Towers, head of the food hygiene rating team at the FSA, said: “Although the number of reports of this particular scam are low, we are concerned that businesses may lose money to fraudsters pretending to be from the FSA or a local authority.

“If you are approached by someone asking you to hand over money in this way, do not make any payment and always advise your local authority.”

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Avoid egg food safety risks on Easter, Passover with these easy steps

Food Safety news - April 19, 2019 - 9:47pm
Contributed

Seeing your first robin may be the sign of warm things to come, but once Easter and Passover have arrived, you know that Spring is here! Interestingly, both Easter and Passover include the wondrous egg, as a springtime symbol of new life, in their festivities.

We all know the Bunny brings Easter eggs, but what many folks don’t know, is that Passover Seders (ceremonial meals) typically include a hard-boiled egg course. Additionally, many recipes for Passover, which is also known as the “feast of unleavened bread,” call for eggs or egg whites which take the place of yeast and other leavenings.

Eggs are a symbol of new life. Enjoy them but be aware of the risks they carry.

If not handled smartly, eggs can cause food poisoning because salmonella is a common bacteria found in uncooked, unbroken eggs. Salmonella can be present on both the outside and the inside of eggs. Stop Foodborne Illness, the national advocacy group that educates people on being food safe (http://stopfoodborneillness.org), has some good advice on how to keep your holiday “eggstravaganza” pathogen-free.

The bad news is Salmonella poisoning:

  • Typical symptoms are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cramps, and fever.
  • Symptoms usually last, at least, a couple of days.
  • Susceptibility and severity are generally associated with babies and young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and others with compromised immune systems. However, anyone can get ill from salmonella.
  • Severe cases can be life-threatening.
Click on image to enlarge.

The good news is that there are safe ways to handle and prepare eggs! If you follow these guidelines from Stop Foodborne Illness, you and yours will be much more likely to have a fun and safe holiday!

Always choose clean and fresh eggs. When purchasing eggs, open the carton and make sure they’re clean, and intact. Handle with care: Chickens can harbor Salmonella without showing any signs of being sick, so all unpasteurized eggs — even those that are fresh, organic, or unbroken — can contain Salmonella. Buying in-shell pasteurized eggs reduces that risk.

Wash your hands thoroughly. Everybody, including children, must wash their hands with soap and water before and after handling eggs – which includes prepping, cooking, cooling, dyeing, hiding and hunting them.

Be smart with Easter eggs. Decorating eggs for the holiday is a joy, but do it safely by using only food-safe dyes. Use care when hiding eggs outside or in. The total time for hiding and hunting eggs should not exceed 2 hours. Avoid areas where eggs would come in contact with pets, wild animals, birds, or lawn chemicals. Eating eggs that have been on the ground is not recommended. Don’t hide cracked eggs because bacteria could contaminate the inside. Cracked eggs should never be used. A good alternative is to use plastic Easter eggs for the hunt and save the real eggs for eating.

Refrigerate, refrigerate, refrigerate eggs at 40 degrees F or below. Safely storing and cooking your eggs before consumption is important. When storing eggs make sure they go inside the fridge, not the fridge door. Once hard-cooked, refrigerated eggs can be stored for up to one week. Eggs can be out of refrigeration for 2 hours (when it’s under 90°F) and still be safe to eat. Colored eggs being used as decoration (for several hours or days) should not be eaten. Even though eggs will show signs of spoilage (taste, smell, appearance) when they’re past the “best by” date, we don’t recommend using this as an indicator of an egg’s safeness – mainly because eggs that harbor Salmonella taste, smell, and appear exactly the same as “normal” eggs.

Avoid cross-contamination and cook eggs thoroughly

  • Using soap and water, wash your hands and all surfaces that may have had contact with raw eggs. This includes countertops, pots and pans, utensils and dishes.
  • Don’t let in-shell eggs, raw whites or yolks cross-contaminate foods that will be eaten raw.
  • Eggs should be cooked until the egg white and yolk are firm. A lightly cooked egg with a runny yolk increases your chance of pathogenic contamination. If a recipe calls for lightly cooked eggs, we recommend using pasteurized egg products.
  • Dishes with eggs in the recipe must be cooked to a safe internal temperature of 160°F (71°C)
  • Eggs should be eaten or refrigerated within 2 hours after cooking.
  • Do not eat eggs that have been left at room temperature for more than 2 hours.

Know the safest way to boil eggs
According to Deirdre Schlunegger, CEO of Stop Foodborne Illness, when cooking hard-boiled eggs, place a single layer of eggs in a saucepan. Cover the eggs with at least one inch of water. When the water is at a full boil, remove the pan from the heat source and let the eggs stay in the water for between 12-18 minutes, depending on the size of the eggs. After the eggs have set for the appropriate amount of time, run cold water over them. When the eggs are cooled enough to handle, put them in the refrigerator.

If you and your loved ones celebrate the holidays at a restaurant, and the dish calls for lightly cooked eggs—as some sauces do—ask your server if the dish can be prepared using pasteurized eggs, or liquid egg products, when possible.

Some other Spring holiday food safety tips
Easter Ham: If your Easter ham is prepared with a fresh, uncooked ham, be sure to cook it to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C) and allow the ham to rest for a few minutes before serving. Always avoid cross-contamination from countertops, knives, dishes and pots and pans. Do not let the uncooked ham come into contact with foods you will eat raw.

If you purchase a pre-cooked Easter ham, which can be served cold or heated, be sure to reheat leftovers to at least 140°F before serving.

Beef brisket: This is a popular Passover dish that nearly everyone enjoys if it is prepared well. This cut of meat needs to be cooked for a long time because it is less tender. Preferably, set the oven temperature to 350°F and no lower than 325°F. Place the brisket fat-side up. The brisket should be almost covered with water and the cooking pan should be lidded. Brisket should be cooked for about one hour per pound of meat to a safe temperature of 145 degrees F (63 degrees C). Avoid cross-contamination from the uncooked meat.

Lamb: Lamb is another popular dish for Easter and Passover. Remember that lamb should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 145°F. Let it rest a few minutes before serving. As always, avoid cross-contamination with uncooked meat and juices.

Be smart with leftovers, too
Making a little extra is almost a given at holiday time, as is taking home goody bags. Just remember to keep food safety in mind. Here are some tips for handling leftovers.

  • Make an educated guess as to how much food you will need on the table, then refrigerate the leftovers.
  • Prepared foods should not sit at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Put leftovers in air-tight containers for travel.
  • For an extra-nice touch, purchase insulated bags and ice so that leftovers can stay ice-cold during your guests’ long drive home.
  • Remind your guests to put the goodies in the refrigerator as soon as they get home.

About Stop Foodborne Illness: Stop Foodborne Illness is a national nonprofit, public health organization dedicated to preventing illness and death from foodborne pathogens by promoting sound food safety policy and best practices, building public awareness, and assisting those impacted by foodborne illness. For more food safety tips please visit www.Stopfoodborneillness.org/awareness/. If you think you have been sickened from food, contact your local health professional. You may subscribe to receive Stop Foodborne Illness e-Alerts and eNews here: www.Stopfoodborneillness.org/take-action/sign-up-for-e-alerts/.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Officials report 21 global food safety investigations in first quarter of 2019

Food Safety news - April 19, 2019 - 9:03pm

A global food safety network investigated 21 incidents between January and March this year.

Most events the International Food Safety Authorities Network (INFOSAN) dealt with in the first quarter of 2019 involved a biological hazard. Five were because of Salmonella, three each because of Listeria monocytogenes and E. coli, and one each involving Clostridium botulinum and Ciguatera toxin.

INFOSAN, which is managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), also handled a physical hazard such as glass in three cases, and one each for metal and plastic. Another incident involved a chemical hazard (Hydrocyanic Acid), and another was about undeclared peanut ingredients.

The 21 incidents in 1Q this year are similar to the 19 recorded for October to December 2018.

All WHO regions were covered including Europe, the Americas, Western Pacific, Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and South-East Asia.

Food categories mostly involved, in order, were milk and dairy products, nuts and oilseeds, cereals and cereal-based products, fish and other seafood, fruit and fruit products, sugar and confectioneries, vegetables and vegetable products, food for infants and small children, products for special nutritional use, snacks, desserts, and other foods and starchy roots and tubers.

Role in managing Salmonella Poona outbreak
Officials reported that during the quarter, a multi-country outbreak of Salmonella Poona infections in France, Belgium and Luxembourg was linked to consumption of infant formula products manufactured for at one factory in Spain. Products linked to the outbreak were distributed globally.

The implicated powdered milk formula was made at the Industrias Lacteas Asturianas SA (ILAS) factory in Anleo, a municipality in the Spanish province of Asturias.

The factory was the same as the one in a 2010 and 2011 incident. Salmonella Poona strains in the two outbreaks were genetically related. The 2010-11 outbreak linked to powdered milk sickened almost 300 infants in Spain.

In February, Peter K. Ben Embarek, INFOSAN management, department of food safety and zoonoses at WHO, spoke to Food Safety News about INFOSAN’s involvement.

The INFOSAN Secretariat worked with INFOSAN emergency contact points in Spain and France to identify and share distribution details with network members in recipient countries. The secretariat also worked with the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) during the outbreak.

Information sharing through INFOSAN helped with a recall of affected infant formula products and with identification of secondary international distribution. No cases of illness were reported to the INFOSAN Secretariat in countries outside of Europe.

INFOSAN also exhibited during the first International Food Safety Conference, organized by the FAO, the WHO and the African Union in February in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The second part of the event, the International Forum on Food Safety and Trade, is set for April 23 and 24 in Geneva, Switzerland, at the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In January, a study began to look at experiences of INFOSAN members and better understand the network’s role in mitigating the burden of foodborne illness worldwide.

It will examine access to and usage of the INFOSAN community website, explore barriers and facilitators to active participation in the network, determine perceptions about the utility of INFOSAN to mitigate foodborne illness, and scrutinize if and how participation creates value for members.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Pea shoots recalled after positive test result for Listeria contamination

Food Safety news - April 19, 2019 - 9:02pm

Golden Pearl Mushrooms Ltd. is recalling GPM brand Pea Shoots from the marketplace due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. 

Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below, according to a notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).

Golden Pearl Mushrooms distributed the raw pea shoots to retailers in the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia.

The recall was triggered by CFIA test results. The agency 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.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC GPM GPM Sweet Pea Shoots 230 g 10851 6 84469 00008 7 GPM GPM Pea Shoots 100 g 10851 6 84469 00012 4 GPM GPM Pea Shoots 455 g 10851 6 84469 00018 6

Listeria information for consumers
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 product 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 product 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

Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand veggie burgers recalled because of metal pieces

Food Safety news - April 19, 2019 - 9:01pm

Belmont Meat Products is recalling Kirkland Signature brand Harvest Burger, “Veggie Burgers” because they may contain pieces of metal, according to a recall notice posted Thursday on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) website. Kirkland Signature is Costco’s trademarked house brand.

The Canadian company distributed the Kirkland Signature brand Harvest Burger products to British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and “possibly national” retail locations. The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.

Consumers can use the following information to see if they have any of the recalled product in their homes:

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC Kirkland Signature Harvest Burger – Gourmet Blend – Veggie Burgers 1.7 kg A 1748 B20 BB/MA:
2019 AL 23 112 0 96619 30958 0

Any consumers who have unused portions of the products in their homes are urged to immediately throw them out or return them to the place of purchase.

“There have been reported injuries associated with the consumption of this product,” the recall notice said.

CFIA noted that this recall was triggered by a consumer complaint. 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.”

Consumers with questions about the recall can contact the Belmont Meat Products toll free line at 800-442-2342.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Amos Miller’s days of ignoring food safety laws may be coming to an end

Food Safety news - April 18, 2019 - 9:06pm

The U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has filed a civil action against Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm in Bird-in-Hand, PA.

It is not the first time that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has enlisted the Department of Justice (DOJ) to get Miller to comply with some of the federal government’s basic food safety laws and regulations.

The last time the DOJ went up against the “ethical Amish farmer,” government attorneys wanted the court to enforce an administrative subpoena issued by FSIS for Miller’s meat and poultry records that were needed to assess product safety, the need for federal inspection and compliance with the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and other laws.

In the new complaint, the government contends Miller’s business “is neither small-scale nor primarily local.” The DOJ reports Miller’s sales records for just three months of 2016 included $85,062 for 9,015 pounds of red meat and $39,050 for 5,085 pounds of poultry that were sold to customers nationwide.

Miller, who has not yet responded to the government’s new complaint, is depicted on a GoFundMe page as the “ethical Amish farmer,” who is “struggling financially” and in need of $15,000 to purchase a new milk bottling machine. The campaign has raised close to $22,000.

The fundraising pitch says the new bottling machine is required to get raw milk permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. It also says the new bottling machine will permit Miller to take on new raw milk customers.

“Miller’s Biodiversity Farm has been under intense scrutiny by government agencies, as have many farmers who sell raw dairy,” says the GoFundMe page. “Although these government interactions have the goal of protecting consumers, they have cost the farmer dearly. He has lost almost $100,000 in sales while also incurring many unplanned expenses and extra work.”

In a 15-page declaration by FSIS Compliance Investigator Paul Flanagan of the agency’s Office of Investigation, Enforcement, and Audit (OIEA), the government discloses what it now knows as facts regarding Miller’s business.

Miller’s Organic Farm, also known as Amos Miller Organic Farm, is at 648 Millcreek School Road in Bird-in-Hand, PA. The site is located in Lancaster County, PA. The operation is an unincorporated association registered in Pennsylvania and describes itself as a “private membership association” on its commercial website. Miller’s Organic Farm is a business schedule filed as part of Amos Miller’s personal tax return.

Amos Miller is responsible for and has authority over all meat and poultry operations at Miller’s Organic Farm. Through the farm’s on-site retail store, Miller’s sells meat, poultry, meat food products, and poultry products to both in-store and out-of-store customers via telephone, email, and one Miller’s website.

Miller ships telephone-ordered, email-ordered, and internet-ordered meat, poultry, meat food products, and poultry food products both directly to consumers and to multiple pickup locations throughout the United States.

“Miller’s is thus slaughtering, processing, storing, offering for sale, selling, offering for transportation and transporting throughout the United States meat, poultry, meat food products, and poultry products that require federal inspection under FMIA and PPIA,” Flanagan said in his sworn statement.

Flanagan acknowledges other establishments, including those that appear to be Amish-owned or Mennonite-owned, may also be doing business outside the federal inspection system. He says FSIS representatives first learned about Miller’s farm in early 2016 and were subsequently denied access to the facility.

It was after being denied access that the FSIS administrator issued an administrative subpoena, but Miller continued to deny Flanagan and his associates access. Miller then introduced the FSIS investigators to his membership association. The Pennsylvania man contends the association of customers is protected by the Constitution.

Flanagan said Miller, on several occasions, offered access to his farm’s facilities and records, but only if the FSIS compliance investigator would sign a statement saying he does not represent any “state or federal agency whose purpose is to regulate and approve products.”

While the court did order Miller to honor that 2016 FSIS subpoena, he continued to defy the food safety inspectors access. But, the FSIS team did collect evidence. Flanagan told Miller that based on his observations and review, the FSIS team could show his meat and poultry products were not federally inspected and sales were being made beyond Pennsylvania. Federal law prohibits the transportation or sale of raw, unpasteurized milk across state lines.

To correct the FMIA and PPIA violations would require taking livestock to a federal establishment to be slaughtered, processed and packaged with USDA marks of inspection, or gaining federal establishment status for his farm.

The investigative findings were the basis of a formal warning letter sent to Miller over his FMIA and PPIA violations.

The membership association is among the details FSIS is bringing to the table in this complaint, but it does not appear to be all that significant.

“I have investigated scores of Pennsylvania meat and poultry establishments during my FSIS tenure,” Flanagan told the court. “In my experience, Miller’s is the only establishment (private membership association or not) that have similarly persisted in: a) not recognizing FSIS’ authority to review meat and poultry facilities and documents; b) resisting FSIS’ exercise of its authority to review those facilities and documents; and c) ignoring, despite oral an

FSIS may have a Miller problem, but it does not have an Amish problem. Belmont Meats in Paradise, PA, is the latest Amish-owned business that won USDA inspection status on Feb. 27.

The civil action filed by William M. McSwain, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, awaits Miller’s response. Gregory B. David and Gerald B. Sullivan are the assistant U.S. attorneys who will represent the government in court. They will be assisted by USDA attorneys Sheila H. Novak and Tracey Manoff.

A permanent injunction to prohibit Miller from violating the federal inspection laws is sought in the court action.

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Categories: News in Food Safety

Weis Markets Recalls WQ Banana Puddin Ice Cream

US Food Safety - April 18, 2019 - 6:19am

Weis Market is recalling its Weis Quality Banana Puddin Ice Cream (48oz) since the product’s ingredient label fails to list an egg allergen due to a supplier error.

There have been no reports of illness from customer’s consuming this product to date.

This product has been removed from sale. It was sold in 200 Weis Markets’ stores in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Delaware and West Virginia. The ice cream is packaged in a scround container with a UPC of 041497-01305. All lot codes are affected. An example of the label has been included with this release. Customers who have purchased this product may return it for a full refund.

Customers requiring additional information may contact Weis Customer Service at 1-866-999-9347 Monday through Friday 8am-5pm.

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

Mediterranean Diet Roundtable in Washington, D.C.

US Food Safety - April 18, 2019 - 6:10am

 

Sponsored Advertorial

Join the Mediterranean Diet Roundtable (MDR)  Thursday, June 27, 2019

Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center

1300 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest

Washington, DC 20004

The Mediterranean Diet Roundtable is an inspirational and experiential conference, where scientists and Food Industry leaders discuss dietary trends in America. An elite gathering, the MDR so far has attracted hundreds of professionals from all over the U.S. and the Mediterranean Countries. A team of outstanding professionals will lead a two half-day programs organized in panels about scientific findings, nutrition and social impact, menu’s engineering, exemplary stores and cafeteria strategies, and regulatory matters about Food and Beverages. Gain a deep understanding of the health values, commercial benefits & market trends in our dynamic, informative and interactive event! Don’t miss out the upcoming Mediterranean Diet Roundtable!

The MDR is an exclusive signature program by Accent PR.

EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT!

Register by May 13 and receive a $100 discount!
Use code MDR-EB2019 (case sensitive) on the blue link at checkout. JOIN THE MDR AMBASSADORS’ BREAKFAST PROGRAM FOR JUNE 27
(subject to change) Audience: scientists, doctors, dietitians, nutritionists, importers, manufacturers, distributors, directors of different food service programs, procurement directors, etc.

• 8:30 registration

• 9:00 am introductions and welcoming remarks.

• 9:15 am – 10:15 am: “Nutrition Education in Primary Schools: an international perspective and Innovative Approaches.” Francesca Scazzina, Università di Parma (Italy). Antoni Caimari Palou, Eurecat, Centre Tecnològic de Catalunya (Spain). Early education in nutrition is a crucial steep to fight childhood obesity and dependency. A seed for lifetime wellness and health.

• 10:15 am – 10:45 am: Global challenges for adaptation of plant based diets. Prof. Eric Decker Professor and Head of the Department of Food Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

• 10:45 to 11 coffee break

• 11:00 to 12:15 In Sickness and in Health: Mediterranean Diet Applications across the Continuum of Care
This panel of experts, moderated by experienced nutrition and healthcare executive, Mary Angela Miller, MS, RDN, LD, will discuss implementation and implications at each stage of the healthcare cycle.
Care Experts: Community Care: Michael Folino, RDN, LD, Associate Director, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Columbus, OH.
Acute Care: Angelo Mojica, Ph.D., RD, CEC, Senior Director of Nutrition and Culinary Services, Johns Hopkins Health Services, Baltimore, MD.
Chronic Care: Amanda Goldman, Director, Diabetes & Nutrition Care, KentuckyOne Health, Lexington, KY.
Extended Care: Suzanne Cryst, RDN, CSG, LD, Nutrition Services Director, Hickory Ridge Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, Akron OH

• 12:30 – 2:00 pm Experiential lunch with educational tasting about Mediterranean Flavors.

• 2:00 pm to 2:30 pm COUNTRY PRESENTATION: CYPRUS, the gem of the Mediterranean Sea

• 2:30 pm – 3:00 pm Menus of Change: Reframing and Advancing the Mediterranean Diet. Greg Drescher, VP Culinary Institute of America

• 3:00 – 3:30 pm Challenges to Progress in School Food: Farmers, Manufacturers, and Food Policy Fundamentals. Prof. Parke Wilde, Ph.D. (Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University).

• 3:30 – 4:30 pm Challenges to Progress in School Food: Key Stakeholders on the Long Road to Implementing the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act. A panel discussion about how science and consensus-based school food regulations, which had previously enjoyed bipartisan support, became politicized to the point of reversal, reopening a debate health advocates believed to be settled. Moderated by Prof. Parke Wilde. With Colin Schwartz, Deputy Director, Legislative Affairs, or Margo Wootan, Vice President for Nutrition, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI); Fania Yangarber, Executive Director, Healthy School Food Maryland; Elizabeth Marchetta, Executive Director, Food and Nutrition Department, Baltimore City Public Schools

At the end: Roundtable discussion with the audience and all the speakers.

DON’T MISS IT.

 

 

Sponsorship opportunities are available for this wonderful, international event. Tickets to participate and additional information can be found at www.mdrproject.com.

© 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

CDC: Listeria investigation from deli products

US Food Safety - April 18, 2019 - 6:04am

CDC: Latest Listeria Outbreak Information at a Glance

  • A total of 8 people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 4 states.
    • All 8 people have been hospitalized, and one death has been reported from Michigan.
    • Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicates that meats and cheeses sliced at deli counters might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and could make people sick.
    • In interviews, ill people report eating different types and brands of products, including meats and cheeses, purchased from and sliced at deli counters in many different retail locations.
    • The outbreak strain has been identified in samples taken from meat sliced at a deli and from deli counters in multiple stores.
    • A single, common supplier of deli products has not been identified.
  • CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating products prepared at delis, or that retailers stop selling deli-sliced products.

© 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

EZGluten Testing Kit- the simple way to detect gluten in food

US Food Safety - April 18, 2019 - 5:45am

Sponsored Advertisement

INTRODUCING….    

 

                       EZ GlutenTM, manufactured by ELISA Technologies, is an easy to use home test that will quickly detect the presence of gluten in foods. It is sensitive enough to detect levels of gluten as low as 10 parts per million (ppm). For reference, current FDA standards require < 20 ppm for gluten free labeling.

This simple test is also small and portable for use at home and when traveling. It can be used to test individual ingredients in foods, or to test finished and cooked products and beverages.

How it works.

In the EZ GlutenTM testing kit, a food sample is ground to a fine consistency, added to the gluten extraction solution, and then mixed. A few drops of the sample extract are placed into a test tube.

The EZ GlutenTM test strip is placed into the test tube and allowed to absorb the sample extract. After 10 minutes, the test strip can be read for the presence of gluten in the sample.

The EZ GlutenTM testing kit is also a good solution for testing prepping and cooking surfaces. ELISA Technologies also offers sterile swabs available for purchase. Please call (352) 337-3929 for more information.

 

 

© 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

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