Tag Archive: E. coli O157:H7


Food Safety

 

 

Frozen Strawberries Linked to 11,000 Food Poisoning Norovirus Illnesses in Germany

Food Poisoning Bulletin

 

Frozen strawberries are most likely the cause of a huge food poisoning outbreak that has sickened at least 11,000 students in Germany. The students attended 500 schools and day care centers in the eastern parts of the country in the last week. The cause of the outbreak was norovirus.

The Robert Koch Institut, which is used by the German Health Ministry to investigate outbreaks and infectious diseases, said there was a “strong and statistically significant link” between those illnesses and a shipment of frozen strawberries. The Google translation of the statement is as follows: “The largest food-borne outbreak of acute gastroenteritis (diarrhea and vomiting) in Germany is on the currently available data in the most affected provinces over. Only in Saxony, it is on the 4th October occasionally come again outbreaks of gastroenteritis in community facilities. The Notes have compressed that noroviruses were the causative agent of the outbreak. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) was initiated immediately epidemiological studies to investigate the responsible food. These studies have a strong and statistically significant association between the consumption of strawberry dishes, prepared from frozen strawberries, and the resulting diseases of diarrhea and vomiting.”

The berries came from a distributor to Sodexo, which is a private companies that provides foods and beverages to the schools. At least 32 of the students were hospitalized after becoming ill. The government of Germany has set up a task force to investigate this outbreak, which is the largest in that country to date.

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Recalls

 

 

Canadian Beef Outbreak Grows, Recall Expands

By News Desk

Food Safety News

The number of Canadians ill with E. coli O157:H7 from XL Foods ground beef officially grew to 10 on Saturday as the company also expanded its list of recalled products once again, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Those ill include 7 in Alberta, 2 in Quebec and 1 in Newfoundland.

According to eFoodAlert, beef from the company’s now-suspended Brooks, Alberta plant shipped all over Canada, as well as to the U.S. and Hong Kong, before the recall was announced. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has not provided the public with information on the list of affected XL products being sold in the U.S.

On Friday the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that the U.S. received approximately 2.5 million pounds of potentially contaminated beef from the plant before its suspension. Thus far, no illnesses in the U.S. or Hong Kong have been linked to the recall.

 

 

Canadian XL Food Beef Recall for E. coli 0157:H7 Expands for 16th Time

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Sirloin SteakThe Canadian recall of XL Foods beef for possible E. coli 0157:H7 contamination has expanded for the sixteenth time. The trace out of the beef to secondary and tertiary distributors, manufacturers, and retailers has resulted in this expansion.

You can see all of the products, sizes, UPC numbers, code dates, and distribution of the recalled products at the CFIA web site. This time, ready to eat products made from XL Foods beef are recalled. They were sold under the brand name Africa Trading and include Biltong Hunters, Biltong Traditional, Chilli Bites, and Dry Sausage Traditional sold from bulk bins in British Columbia.

In addition, raw beef products were sold under the brand name HanAhReum Mart, and sold at Urban Fare. Those products include kabobs, top sirloin steak, roasts, short ribs, hindshank, and eye of round steaks. If you have purchased these products, do not eat them. Return them to the place of purchase or discard them. To see all of the foods recalled, visit the CFIA web site.

There is an outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 linked to XL Foods beef that has sickened at least 10 people in Canada. If you ate beef products and experienced the symptoms of E. coli food poisoning, including watery and/or bloody diarrhea, severe cramps, mild fever, and nausea or vomiting, see your doctor immediately.

 

 

Gretchen’s Shoebox Starbucks Protein Bistro Boxes Peanut Butter Salmonella Recall Expands

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Gretchen’s Shoebox Express in Seattle Washington is expanding its voluntary recall of Starbucks brand Protein Bistro Box to include more “Enjoy By” dates of 9/28/12 and 9/30/12 – 10/6/12. This is in response to the expansion of Justin’s Nut Butter recall of its 0.5 ounce single-serve Honey Peanut Butter squeeze packs. Those packs were made with products from Sunland, Inc. that have been recalled for possible Salmonella contamination. The original recall covered products with “Enjoy By” dates of 9/02/12 to 9/27/12.

The recalled product was distributed to Starbucks retail stores in Washington and Oregon from 9/29/2012 to 10/5/2012. Affected products have been removed from the stores. The Bistro Box is in a clear plastic container, with a white code date stick on the bottom stating “Enjoy By” followed by the date. The recalled single-serve peanut butter pouches are inside the box and are labeled and sealed.

If you have this product, do not eat it; return to the store for a refund. For questions, call the company at 206-623-8194 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm PT.

 

 

2.5 Million Pounds of Recalled Canadian Beef Entered U.S.

By Helena Bottemiller  

Food Safety News

Approximately 2.5 million pounds of beef now-recalled over E. coli O157:H7 concerns was imported into the U.S. from XL Foods, Inc. in Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The new U.S. estimate, which is significantly higher than FSIS’s initial report, was released by the agency Sunday right as Canadian health officials announced more E. coli O157:H7 illnesses and expanded their beef recall for the sixteenth time. The recall of more than 1,800 different products is the largest in Canadian history, impacting dozens of retailers.

U.S. health authorities have not announced any American illnesses, but in Canada there are 10 confirmed E. coli cases linked to the contaminated beef.

After conducting a check on the U.S. side of the recall, FSIS determined that there were approximately 1.1 million pounds of beef trim and 1.4 million pounds of primal and sub-primal cuts used to produce steaks, roasts, mechanically tenderized steaks and roasts, and ground beef.

For the most up-to-date list of recalled products from U.S. retailers — which include Safeway, Sam’s Club, Walmart, Albertson’s, Fred Meyer, Kroger, and others — check eFoodAlert. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has posted a list of recalled products as well.

XL Foods, Inc., one of the largest beef processors in Canada, remains closed as the company re-tools its safety protocols.

Over the weekend the company said it deeply regretted the illnesses linked to beef products.

“Our thoughts are with the affected people at this time. We are fully committed and working diligently with the CFIA to build on many of our industry-leading practices and intensify and enhance food safety systems to exceed existing high standards and regain the trust of Canadian consumers.”

The lengthy timeline of the recall has led many to question whether health officials, on both sides of the border, acted swiftly to protect public health.

FSIS said it started halting product at the border after finding E. coli O157:H7 in a routine microbiological sample pulled on Aug. 30. U.S. officials confirmed the positive E. coli O157:H7 test late Sept. 3 and notified the Canadian Food Inspection Agency of the issue Sept. 4. The positive test sparked intensive follow up testing by FSIS officials. On the same day, according to a timeline released by CFIA, the Canadians found their own positive test during a routine test of beef trim, but the agency did not order a recall because it determined the product in question did not reach consumers.

Three more E. coli O157:H7 positives were reported back to CFIA between Sept. 4 and Sept. 12., which indicates the slaughter plant likely lost control of its process to prevent contamination for some time, known in the industry as a “high event period.”

The CFIA issued its first recall on Sept. 16 and since then the agency has expanded the recall on almost a daily basis.

In the U.S., FSIS issued a public health alert on Sept. 20, but the agency is not issuing a recall “because the goal of such an action is to have the establishment most directly associated with producing adulterated product remove the product from commerce.” In this case, that establishment is XL Foods in Canada so, FSIS says, it’s CFIA’s responsibility to oversee the effectiveness of the recall in Canada, while FSIS monitors the recall stateside.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness. Recalled products should be discarded. In general, ground beef products should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees to kill bacteria. Those concerned about a serious foodborne illness should contact his or their health care provider.

 

 

Popcorn Recalled Over Possible Listeria Contamination

 

By News Desk  

Food Safety News

Indiana-based Dale and Thomas Popcorn is recalling certain ready-to-eat bags of popcorn due to possible contamination of Listeria monocytogenes, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services.

No illnesses have been connected to the recall.

The company has posted a product recall list on its website. Affected products were packaged in red bags bearing the logo “Popcorn Indiana” and distributed to various retailers on or after August 8.

Any affected product will have an expiration date between February 4, 2013 and March 12, 2013.

 

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

 

 

FSIS: Canadian Beef Recalled for E. coli Was Used for U.S. Raw Ground Beef

groundbeefy_iphone.jpgThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food  Safety and Inspection Service is alerting the public that whole muscle cuts related to a large, ongoing Canadian E. coli O157:H7 beef recall were used to produce raw ground beef products.

The agency said it made the discovery while conducting standard recall effectiveness checks of all U.S. establishments that received the recalled beef from XL Foods, Inc. (also known as Canadian Establishment 38).

“FSIS has reason to believe, based on information provided by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), that beef from cattle slaughtered during the period associated with the recall was produced under insanitary conditions that resulted in a high event period (a period when the trim from carcasses exhibited an unusually high frequency of positive findings for the possible presence of E. coli O157:H7),” said the agency, in a release sent out early Wednesday morning. “Therefore, all products that are non-intact, such as trim and ground beef subject to the recall, as well as all cuts of beef that will be processed into non-intact product, are considered adulterated.”

FSIS has still not posted a recall on its website, but has instead chosen to use public health alerts to warn the public, a decision that has frustrated some consumer advocates.

Here’s the basic timeline of the recall, according to FSIS:

“FSIS testing of raw boneless beef trim product from Canadian Establishment 038, XL Foods, Inc., confirmed positive for E. coli O157:H7 on September 3, 2012. After alerting the CFIA of the positive results, the agencies launched an investigation including additional testing, and CFIA announced a recall by XL Foods, Inc. of a variety of ground beef products on Sept. 16. FSIS also issued a Public Health Alert (PHA) on September 20, 2012, provided updated information on September 21, 2012, conducted effectiveness checks this week, and notified the public once more through today’s PHA.  The CFIA has expanded the scope of the recall to now include the production dates of Aug. 24, Aug. 27, Aug. 28 and Aug. 29, 2012 and FSIS has determined that a slaughter date of August 23, 2012 is common to all four production dates.”

And an explanation of why there has been no recall:

“FSIS issues Public Health Alerts to make the public aware of a public health hazard. FSIS is not announcing a recall at this time because the goal of such an action is to have the establishment most directly associated with producing adulterated product remove the product from commerce.   In this case, the establishment was XL Foods, Inc., a Canadian firm, and that recall has been initiated in Canada.  CFIA is overseeing the effectiveness of the recall in Canada and FSIS is overseeing the effectiveness in the United States. FSIS continues to verify U.S. establishments’ use of primal and non-primal cuts associated with the XL Foods recall and will take appropriate action if prohibited activity is found.”

Retail locations:

“While the investigation continues, FSIS will provide information as it becomes available. The products subject to the Canadian recall were distributed to U.S. establishments in the following states: California, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.”  FSIS will continue to update the retail distribution list posted on FSIS’ website here.

E. coli O157:H7 is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration, and in the most severe cases, kidney failure. The very young, seniors and persons with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to foodborne illness.”

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Recalls

 

 

Sunland’s Expanded Recall List Includes About 100 Products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says its inspectors are continuing their investigation at the Sunland Inc. production facility in Portales, NM.
That facility, with the capacity to produce six tons of peanut butter per hour, is associated with the current multistate outbreak of Salmonella Bredeney.
Sunland expanded its recall to include about 100 brands, including peanut butter and other products made with nuts and seeds.  Sunland announced and expanded its recall on Sept. 24 after meetings with personnel from both FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
A complete Sunland recall list is available here, including the brand it makes for Trader Joe’s that was originally recalled Sept. 22.
The rare serotype of Salmonella has been found in 30 people across 19 states.  Salmonella Bredeney is a serious threat to children, the elderly and those with serious infections.  Four of the confirmed cases are known to have required hospitalization.   No deaths have been reported.

Costco Strip Loin Steaks From XL Foods Added To Recall

Kirkland brand Strip Loin Grilling Steaks sold at Costco in Edmonton, Alberta — which apparently originated at the city’s XL Foods Inc. — were recalled Wednesday after the beef products were specifically linked to four E. coli cases.

stripsteak_320x175.jpg

The beef steak recall was limited to the Costco located at 13650 50 Street in Edmonton.  The steaks were sold between Sept 4 and Sept. 7, 2012. The four E. coli illnesses traced back to the Strip Loins sold at that location were by the Alberta Health Services.
For the past ten days, ground beef from Edmonton’s XL Foods has been recalled in ever larger amounts in both the U.S. and Canada. These events are now followed by the highly unusual report of steaks contaminated with E. coli.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has been struggling to grasp what is going on at XL Foods since Sept. 3, when an E. coli test conducted by the U.S. came back positive.
One focus of the Costco investigation is the meat tenderizing process, which might have driven the pathogen further into the meat.
“It turns out some time late in August, there was an unusually high number of animals or an unusually high number of E. coli in animals, that went into the plant that were decontaminated in usual process, but it didn’t knock it down enough,” said Dr. Richard Arsenault, director of meat programs for CFIA. “It’s not about more products coming out of the facility after the initial recall, it’s about discovering more product in the distribution chain that’s already been sent to retail that was made on original day we were looking at.”
XL Foods Inc, the largest Canadian owned and operated beef processor, issued its own statement after the Costco recall outlining some of the ways it is addressing CFIA inspection findings and promising to cooperate with all the investigating agencies.
XL did say there is yet no definitive link between its products and the ill Canadians.
All beef steaks including the Strip Loin Grilling Steak prepared and sold in variable weight packages from Costco Wholesale store #156, located at 13650, 50th street, Edmonton, Alberta are affected by the CFIA alert.
These steaks were sold during the period September 4 through 7, 2012 and bear one of the following Packed On dates:
12 / SE / 04
12 / SE / 05
12 / SE / 06
12 / SE / 07
Food contaminated with the dangerous and often deadly E. coli O157:H7 may not look or smell spoiled, according to CFIA.

 

 

Forever Cheese Expands Recall of Frescolina Ricotta Salata for Listeria

Forever Cheese Inc. is expanding their recall of Marte brand Ricotta Salata Frescolina cheese for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recall now includes all of the Ricotta Salata which was imported from Italy. All lots and all production codes are recalled.

The cheese was sold to distributors for retailers, supermarkets, wholesale distributors, and restaurants in AL, CA, CO, CT, D.C., FL, GA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MN, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, TX, UT, VA, WA between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012. The following lot/production codes can be found on the original wheel of cheese: T5086/440220, T5520/440315, T6048/440417, T6528/440519, T7012/440703, T7452/440601, T7939/440822, T8419/441003, T8899/441020, T9425/441202, T9962/441227, U1392/450126.

An outbreak of 15 Listeria illnesses in 12 states has been linked to this cheese.  Pritzker Olsen has been contacted by victims in this outbreak and has filed the first lawsuit in response to the illnesses. Fred Pritzker, prominent food poisoning attorney, said, “there are most likely more victims in this outbreak, since the cheese was cut and repackaged, contaminating other soft cheeses.”

Get food poisoning help here

If you or anyone you know has suffered the symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning, including a flu like fever and muscle aches, upset stomach, diarrhea, stiff neck, headache, or confusion, see your doctor as soon as possible.

The problem with this recall and the outbreak it is linked to is that the cheese was most likely recut and repackaged at several facilities. If you have purchased any ricotta salata or soft cheese in the past year, check with your retailer to see if it was part of this recalled cheese. For questions, call Forever Cheese at 888-930-8693 between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm and mention “Recall”.

 

 

 

Gretchen’s Shoebox Express Recalls Almond Butter Products for Possible Salmonella

Gretchen’s Shoebox Express in Washington state is recalling almond butter products for possible Salmonella contamination. The products were made with recalled Sunland Inc. ingredients and were sold in Washington state.

The recalled products are Evolution Fresh Cinnamon Apple & Almond Butter Sandwich in 5.75 ounce size, with UPC number 762111926371, code date range ”Enjoy By 7/26/12 – 9/25/12″. The other recalled product is Evolution Fresh Almond Butter in 2 ounce size, with UPC number 762111-26838, and code date range “Enjoy By 8/07/12 – 10/07/12″. The products were sold to two Evolution Fresh stores in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington from 7/24/12 – 9/23/12.

The sandwich is wrapped in clear cellophane with prominent label identification. The Almond Butter is packaged in a clear plastic oval-shaped container with label identification. The company has ceased production and distribution of these items.

There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products. If you have purchased them, return to the place of purchase for a refund. For questions, call 206-623-8194 Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm PT.

 

 

 

 

Whole Foods Recalls Peanut Butter Cookies for Possible Salmonella

As part of the Sunland Inc. peanut butter and peanut products recall, Whole Foods is recalling peanut butter cookies for possible Salmonella contamination. Peanut butter was used as an ingredient in the cookies. Sunland products are linked to a Salmonella Bredeney outbreak that has sickened at least 30 people in 19 states.

The recalled products are sold in the self-serve pastry case and in packages in store shelves. The cookies in the pastry case are 3 ounce Peanut Butter Cookie and 3 ounce Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk with PLU number 47963. The packaged cookies are Mini Peanut Butter Cookie 12 pk sold in small, brown bags with a cellophane window on the front, an oval Whole Foods Market sticker that says, “mini peanut butter cookies” with PLU number 22096100000. The recall includes all of these cookies sold before September 29, 2012, sold in Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

If you have purchased these cookies, discard them or bring the receipt to the place of purchase for a full refund. For questions, call 512-542-0060 Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm CT.

 

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Articles of Interest

 

 

 

County in Florida Panhandle Sees Spike in Shigella Cases

Health officials in Okaloosa County, Florida have noticed an unusual trend this year. Instead of the average three Shigella infections the county sees each year, a full 73 cases have been reported since the beginning of 2012.

The Okaloosa County Health Department issued its initial warning to the public in early August, at which time an alarming 49 Shigella infections had been reported since the beginning of the year.
That number has risen significantly over the past two months.
“We’ve had a total of 73 reported shigella cases this year, through today, but we were not able to determine a source of the outbreak,” a spokesperson for OCDH told Food Safety News Wednesday.

ShigellaHelp.jpg

The health department is asking residents to help prevent the spread of infection and to report any illnesses.
The agency has posted a notification on its website urging people to see a healthcare provider if they experience symptoms of shigellosis which include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, or vomiting.
Illness generally begins within one to three days of infection. Most people recover completely within four to seven days.
OCHD is also providing advice to prevent the spread of infection.
“People with diarrhea should stay home from work or school for at least one full calendar day after symptoms stop,” says the agency. “People who have diarrhea should not prepare food or drinks for others.”
Other recommendations from the health department include:
–  Clean hands often.  Wash kitchen utensils, plates, cutting boards, and counter surfaces during and after food preparation
– Cook meat and eggs thoroughly.
– Wash raw fruits and vegetables.
– Chill (refrigerate) promptly.
– Separate;  don’t cross-contaminate foods
– Drink only from safe water supplies.  Boil water, if in doubt.
Image from Okaloosa County Health Department

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

 

 

 

Three Outbreaks Linked to Cantaloupe in Last 19 Months

As we wait for more information about the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown in Indiana, let’s look back at the outbreaks caused by this fruit in the 19 months. In 2011 and 2012, there have been three outbreaks of foodborne illness linked to cantaloupe.

This fruit is more likely to be contaminated because the thick webbed skin provides lots of places for bacteria to hide, and because the fruit lies directly on the ground while it is growing. Animals, contaminated irrigation water, improper handling, and unsanitary conditions on the farm and in packing sheds can contaminate the fruit. In fact, according to the FDA, from 1996 to 2008, there were 10 nationwide outbreaks linked to melons that caused 507 illnesses and two deaths.

In the spring of 2011, 20 people were infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Panama. Three people were hospitalized; no deaths were reported. The patients lived in Arizona (1), California (2), Colorado (1), Maryland (1), Montana (1), Nevada (1), Oregon (6), Pennsylvania (1), Utah (1) and Washington (5). Product traceback information found that the cantaloupes came from a single farm in Guatemala.

In the summer of 2011, 146 people were sickened by the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes after eating cantaloupes grown and processed at Jensen Farms in Colorado. At least 30 people died in this outbreak, and one woman suffered a miscarriage. The case patients lived in these states: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), California (4), Colorado (40), Idaho (2), Illinois (4), Indiana (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (11), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (7), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), Nevada (1), New Mexico (15), New York (2), North Dakota (2), Oklahoma (12), Oregon (1), Pennsylvania (1), South Dakota (1), Texas (18), Utah (1), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (4).  The people who died lived in these states: Colorado (8), Indiana (1), Kansas (3), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), New York (2), Oklahoma (1), Texas (2), and Wyoming (1).

Even though Jensen Farms passed the audit conducted by a third-party auditor, the facility had ”several major deficiencies”. The melons were not pre-cooled, the water used to wash the melons was not chlorinated, and processing equipment was designed to wash potatoes, which are cooked before eating. Anyone who intends to assert a claim against Jensen farms must file by September 14, 2012, according to the United States Bankruptcy Court.

Get food poisoning help here.

The current outbreak is caused by Salmonella Typhimurium, and is linked to cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana. The CDC has formally announced the outbreak, which has sickened at least 141 people in 20 states. At least 31 people are hospitalized; 2 people in Kentucky have died.

The government has not yet named the farm that grew and processed and melons, and has not named grocery stores and other facilities which have sold the fruit. The case patients live in these states: Alabama (7), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Iowa (7), Kentucky (50), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Missouri (9), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (2).

Fred Pritzker, national food safety attorney, has called on the FDA to issue mandatory industry guidelines for melon growers and to enforce them with audits.  ”How many more people have to get sick and die before this hazard is addressed?” he asks. “We need more than non-binding safety recommendations for cantaloupe growing, handling, processing, and distribution.” We’ll keep you informed as more information becomes available.

 

 

 

E. coli in Pickled Cabbage Kills 7 in Japan

Six elderly women and a 4-year-old girl were killed earlier this month when a cabbage they consumed was contaminated with E. coli O157:H7. More than 100 were sickened in the Hokkaido area outbreak.
The Japan Times said it was the worst food poisoning outbreak to be experienced on island nation in a decade.
The women who died were residents of nursing homes in Sapporo and Ebetsu that served the bad cabbages. The girl died Aug 11, also in Sapporo. All who were sickened and died apparently ate a lightly pickled Chinese cabbage produced by a local company.
One of the elderly women ate the pickled product at her nursing home on Aug. 1 and died Aug. 18 from multiple organ failure after nine days in the hospital.
The young girl from Sapporo died five days after developing E. coli symptoms. Her family bought the pickled cabbage at a local supermarket.
Health officials told the newspaper they do not know how the bacteria got mixed with the pickled cabbage.
In 2002, Japan saw the deaths of nine people with E. coli infections from eating marinade chicken at a hospital and its nursing home annex at Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.

USDA: No Evidence Downer Cows Entered Food Supply

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is continuing to investigate Central Valley Meat in Hanford, California after undercover video showed culled dairy cows being abused at the plant, but the agency said late Tuesday that there is no evidence that sick or lame cows were slaughtered for human consumption.

Late last week, animal rights group Compassion Over Killing gave USDA an extended version of a video they say was shot by one of their investigators who worked at the plant. After reviewing the footage, USDA determined that, while there is evidence of “egregious” humane handling violations, there is no evidence that lame animals were entering the food supply.

So-called “downer” cattle, those unable to stand or walk, are not legally allowed to be slaughtered for human consumption, in part because of the risk of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection service said it was conducting a “thorough investigation that encompasses food safety and will respond appropriately to its results.”

In April, the USDA confirmed that a downer dairy cow sent to a rendering plant, not a slaughter facility, tested positive for BSE. Downer cattle can be rendered into pet food or poultry feed, but are not allowed to be used in ruminant feed or human food to reduce the risk of BSE transmission.

“Our top priority is to ensure the safety of the food Americans feed their families,” said Al Almanza, Administrator of FSIS. “We have reviewed the video and determined that, while some of the footage provided shows unacceptable treatment of cattle, it does not show anything that would compromise food safety. Therefore, we have not substantiated a food safety violation at this time. We are aggressively continuing to investigate the allegations.”

As recently as 2009, Central Valley Meat was one of the top three suppliers of ground beef to the National School Lunch Program, but USDA did not respond to questions Tuesday about whether Central Valley Meat is still supplying the National School Lunch Program or about how much meat the company may be selling to federal nutrition programs annually.

ABC News reported that the company currently holds a $3.8 million, two-month contract with the government.

Shortly after learning about the video, popular fast food chain In-N-Out Burger announced they had severed ties with Central Valley Meat, which had previously been supplying between 20 and 30 percent of the chain’s beef.

The graphic excerpt of the undercover video posted online, which was reviewed by Food Safety News, shows cows before slaughter covered in dirt and feces, some of them writhing on the ground and bleeding on themselves after being bolted repeatedly, but not rendered senseless. Several cows are shown projectile vomiting, presumably from stress, while being hit repeatedly with the bolt gun.

One cow is shown being suffocated by a worker who stands on the animal’s snout. Some cows seem to survive the bolt gun and get sent down the assembly line still thrashing as they are strung upside down before being bled out. Another clip shows cows being sprayed with hot water and electrically prodded to move them.

Generally speaking, public health veterinarians are charged with observing all animals headed to slaughter — both in motion and at rest — to declare them fit for human consumption. But, as former undersecretary for food safety Richard Raymond explained to Food Safety News, “That does not mean they are out in the pens 24/7.”

While many have questioned whether the FSIS inspectors on site were doing their jobs appropriately, Raymond said it’s likely that the inspectors and the public health veterinarian on hand were doing their jobs, but perhaps were not monitoring the pens where the alleged abuse took place.

Some companies, including Cargill, are now employing around-the-clock video monitoring to ensure that there is no mistreatment of animals, especially after the 2008 scandal involving Hallmark/Westland, which was also a major supplier of the National School Lunch Program. Undercover footage shot by the Humane Society of the United States showed non-ambulatory cows being grossly mistreated, sparking outrage among consumers and animal welfare advocates. The footage prompted the largest ever meat recall in history — 143 million pounds of ground beef — after most of it was eaten.

“It’s unfortunate when something like this happens,” said Raymond, who was undersecretary during the Hallmark/Westland incident. “You would think that this particular segment of the industry would have learned their lesson from Hallmark/Westland, but they apparently haven’t. It’s bad for industry, it’s bad for agriculture, and I don’t feel bad for Central Valley Meat. I didn’t feel bad for Hallmark/Westland. It’s their responsibility to ensure these violations do not happen.”

Like Hallmark/Westland, Central Valley Meat primarily slaughters dairy cows that are no longer productive. According to Raymond, these cows have a tendency to go down because they are 10 to 12 years old, quite old compared to the 30 month old steers raised for beef production.

“They’re not in the best of the health.. and sometimes they have some mastitis,” said Raymond.

Central Valley Meat Co. responded Monday by saying that it was cooperating fully with the USDA investigation.

“At Central Valley Meat Co., ensuring that the livestock we process are treated humanely is critically important,” said Brian Coelho, president of the company, in a statement. “Our company seeks not just to meet federal humane handling regulations, but to exceed them.”

Coelho said he was “extremely disturbed” to be told by USDA of the allegations, but could not comment directly on what was in the video because it had not yet been shared with his company.

James Andrews contributed reporting to this piece.

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Recalls

 

 

 

California Recalls 7th Heaven Gourmet Spreads

The California Department of Public Health is warning the public to not eat some 7th Heaven Gourmet spreads because they may have been improperly produced. That means that, as canned products, they may be susceptible to Clostridium botulinum bacteria. No illnesses are linked to these products at this time.

7th Heaven Gourmet of Hesperia, California is recalling Pate Meditteraneo and Eggplant & Shitake Tapenade. The products were packaged in 7 ounce glass jars with screw-on metal lids. There are no production or date codes.

The spreads were sold between September 2011 and July 2012 at these Farmer’s Markets: Victorville Farmers Market (Victor Valley College) at 18422 Bear Valley Road in Victorville, California. Victoria Garden Farmers Market, 12505 North Mainstreet in Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Palm Springs Village Fest, North Palm Canyon between Amato and Ramon in Palm Springs, CA. And The Inland Certified Farmers Market at 5261 Arlington Avenue in Riverside, California.

If you have purchased these products, discard them in the trash. Since botulism toxin is colorless, tasteless, and odorless, you can’t tell if an item contains the toxin. And further cooking is not going to inactive any toxin present.

The symptoms of botulism poisoning include double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and sore throat. Symmetrical progressive descending paralysis may follow. Additional symptoms include slurred speech, difficulty swallowing, and paralysis of respiratory muscles. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider immediately. For questions, call 916-440-7259.

 

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Articles of Interest

 

 

Lack of Food Safety Education for Elder Caregivers

A new study has found that older adults, along with their caregivers and health care providers, are not receiving food safety education needed to protect this vulnerable group. The elderly are part of the high risk group of people who are at most risk of developing complications after a food borne illness.

Scientists at Tennessee State University and RTI International held focus groups to study this issue. They contacted 55 people who work with the elderly, such as nurses, home health care providers, doctors, and relatives, and discovered that most do not have thorough knowledge of food safety rules. Adults over the age of 60 are more likely to suffer severe complications from foodborne illness, which can lead to hospitalization and death.

In the 2011 Listeria outbreak linked to Jensen Farms cantaloupe, most of the ill persons were over the age of 60. The median age in that outbreak was 77. And the outbreak of E. coli 0157:H7 at the Neff’s Lawn Care picnic in Ohio this summer killed a 73-year-old man.

According to the FDA, as we age, our immune systems slow down and reduce the body’s ability to fight infection. This is especially true for anyone over the age of 75. In addition, many elderly people have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, cancer, or heart disease, which can further weaken the immune system.

The study found that health care providers do not have the “training, knowledge, and willingness to provide food safety information to older adults.”  For instance, the caregivers did not know that in order to prevent Listeria infections in the elderly, deli meats should be reheated to 165 degrees F, and that deli salads and other ready-to-eat processed foods such as soft cheeses and smoked seafood should be avoided. Caregivers who were relatives of the elderly patients were most likely to be well informed in matters of food safety.

Unfortunately, professional health care providers stated they do not talk to their elderly patients about food safety because there isn’t enough time during medical appointments. They were willing to provide brochures and other educational materials.  The FDA has specific food safety information for the elderly that is available at the FDA site.

 

 

 

CA Right to Know Responds to No on 37

A few days ago we told you about the “No on 37″ response to California ballot initiative Prop 37. Proposition 37 will make it illegal to sell foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered ingredients (GE) unless the label lists those foods on the package.

No on 37 said that “Proposition 37 would ban the sale of tens of thousands of … grocery products.” Stacy Malkan of CARighttoKnow.org told Food Poisoning Bulletin, ”Prop 37 does not ‘ban the sale’ of food unless it is specifically repackaged. It requires companies to add a few words to their labels. How is this going to increase the cost of food by billions of dollars? Remember, these are the same companies that told us DDT and Agent Orange were safe. Personally I don’t trust them to have our best interests at heart and I would rather make my own choices about what I eat and feed my family.”

It is true that there have been no long-term studies of the potential risks of genetically modified food. The food is changed because its DNA has been altered with the addition of genes from plants, animals, viruses, and bacteria. For instance, GMO corn produces its own pesticides. The corn is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency as an insecticide, but it is sold for human consumption unlabeled.

At the same time, Plant Incorporated Protectants, as plants that produce their own pesticides are called, are “tested against human safety standards for toxicity, allergenicity, and skin and eye irritation, as well as long-term effects including cancer, birth defects, and reproductive and neurological system disorders,” according to the EPA. Scientists evaluate the exposure to pestsicides from food, drinking water, and direct exposure to determine the likelihood that the pesticides in that food would produce a health risk.

The EPA states that “based on our reviews of the scientific studies … EPA determined that these genetically engineered PIP products … would not pose unreasonable risk to human health and the environment during their time-limited registration.” But as we told you in May, Dr. Ted Labuza, food science professor at the University of Minnesota, says “if people are concerned about something it’s logical to label it. The principle of informed consent applies here. People have the right to avoid something if they don’t want to eat it.” And the American Medical Association, while it would not endorse labeling, has recommended that the FDA test GMO foods to ensure the health of the public.

 

 

 

More Salmonella Cases Linked to Chicks and Ducklings

SnugglingDucklingsMain.jpgThe number of people sickened by Salmonella traced to chicks and ducklings from an Ohio mail order hatchery has risen from 123 to 163, according to a report released Monday by the U.S.  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The illnesses – linked to contact with live baby poultry sold by Mt. Hatchery of Cincinnati, OH – began in March of this year. Three strains of Salmonella – Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Lille and Salmonella Newport – have been associated with animals from the hatchery.

The 20 new cases reported since CDC’s last update on July 12 occurred in 10 states, including Illinois (2), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (2), New York (5), North Carolina (1), Ohio (2), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (1), Vermont (1) and West Virginia (3).
Case totals in the 26 states affected by the outbreak are as follows:
Alabama (4), Arizona (1), Delaware (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (3), Indiana (3), Kansas (1), Kentucky (5), Louisiana (1), Maine (4), Maryland (3), Massachusetts (3), Michigan (2), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), New York (21), North Carolina (15), Ohio (39), Pennsylvania (13), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (2), Tennessee (11), Texas (2), Vermont (2), Virginia (9), and West Virginia (10).

Of the 163 people sickened in these outbreaks, 33 percent have been hospitalized. Two outbreak victims – one in Maryland and one in New York – have died, but it is unclear whether their deaths were a result of Salmonella infection or due to other causes.
Over one third (34 percent) of those sickened are children aged 10 or younger.
Mt. Healthy Hatchery is the same company that was linked to illnesses from Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg in 2011. Those joint outbreaks sickened at least 96 people.
Veterinarians from the Ohio Department of Health visited the hatchery in May of 2012 and made recommendations for safety improvement.
The 3 outbreaks currently linked to the hatchery were still causing illnesses as of July 31, 2012. Illnesses that began after July 21, 2012 may not have been counted yet due to the time delay between an illnesses’ onset and the time it is reported, notes CDC.
The agency offers the following recommendations to consumers to help avoid Salmonella infection when handling live baby poultry:
– Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
– If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
– Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.
– Do not let children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
– Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
– Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection can appear anywhere from 6 hours to several days after exposure, and include fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, headache and body aches.
If you think you may have contracted a Salmonella infection, contact your healthcare provider.

European Review of Aspartame Put Off Until 2013

Next month’s promised release of a new “full re-evaluation” of the sweetener aspartame is not going to happen until at least May 2013.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) asked for the extra time, and the European Commission (EC) — the governing body for the 27-country European Union (EU) — granted its request.
EFSA originally planned to do a re-evaluation of aspartame in time for a 2020 release date. The EC asked that the work be advanced by eight years and released in September 2012.
In a statement on the requested delay, EFSA said the additional time will allow for scientific experts to consider new data and compete a comprehensive risk assessment in addition to allowing time for a draft version to be circulated for comments before the new re-evaluation becomes final.

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Aspartame is an artificial sweetener that’s been involved in one of the longest running food safety controversies in history.
The low-calorie sweetener is a popular table top sugar substitute and is used in beverages, desserts, dairy products, chewing gums, energy control and weight control products.
EFSA last certified the safety of aspartame in 2009 in Regulation EU 257/2010.
Since agreeing to move up its scheduled 2020 review, EFSA has issued a public call for scientific data as part of its “thorough literature review, ” and is now doing so again.
EFSA’s Panel on Food Additives and Nutrient Sources Added to Food (ANS) is well into  the risk assessment.
In the course of its scientific deliberations, the Panel has found that there was too little data available on 5-benzyl-3,6-dioxo-2-piperazine acetic acid (DKP) and other potential degradation products that can be formed from aspartame in food and beverages when stored under certain conditions.
For that reason, EFSA is launching an additional call for data on DKP and other degradation products of aspartame.
In the United States, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved aspartame in 1974 and then rescinded its approval until 1981. More than 100 other national regulatory agencies followed FDA’s approval, permitting aspartame for human use country by country. The first approvals for European countries also came in the 1980s.
Yet controversy has dogged the product for the past 40 years. Unless the date is moved again, the review EFSA comes out with in 2013 will be its fifth. All previous works have attested to the aspartame’s safety.
The aspartame product known as NutraSweet was ready to go in 1965.  But it would be a long haul for Searle, the pharmaceutical company that did the research and development on aspartame before its own name disappeared through mergers and acquisitions.
Aspartame conspiracies would drag Searle through grand juries and 60 Minutes with most making never proven claims about the sweetener causing cancer.

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Food Safety

GMO Labeling Opponents Contributed $10 Million to Oppose Prop 37

Food Poisoning Bulletin

According to a press release from RighttoKnow.org, campaign finance reports show that pesticide and processed foods companies contributed almost $10 million to oppose Proposition 37. That ballot measure would require labeling of genetically engineered (GE) or genetically modified (GMO) foods. Stacy Malkan, Media Director for California Right to Know said in a statement, “They will not prevail. This is America. We have the right to know what’s in the food we eat and feed our children.”

For instance, Dupont Pioneer has contributed $2.4 million. Bayer CropScience has contributed $1 million, and BASF Plant Science gave almost $1 million to defeat Prop 37. Other large contributors include PepsiCo Inc., Nestle USA, Inc., General Mills, Inc., Conagara Foods, Syngenta Corporation, Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc., Hormel Foods, Kellogg Company and Campbell Soup Company. The president of the Grocery Manufacturers Association recently said that defeating Prop 37 is the highest priority for that group this election year.

Dr. Marcia Ishii-Eiteman, from Pesticide Action Network, said that “rather than reducing the need for hazardous pesticides, herbicide-resistant seeds have driven a massive increase in herbicide use that has been linked to significant environmental and public health concerns.” A 2009 report showed that farmers used 318 million more pounds of pesticides in the first 13 years of commercial GE crop production, from 1996 to 2008.

Most other countries in the world, including the European Union, Japan, Australia, and China, already requires the labeling of GMO foods. Prop 37 will appear on this November’s California ballot. It would require food processors to label about 80% of all non-organic processed food sold in grocery stores. Food processors would most likely change labels nationwide, since it would cost more to have a separate set of labels for products sold in California.

Canada Will Move to New Single Food Safety Inspection System

Food Poisoning Bulletin

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has released a draft about improving their food inspection model. The single system model would replace the eight different inspection systems currently in place. Now, the inspection models covers dairy, eggs, meat, processed foods, imported and manufactured food, fish and seafood, and fresh fruits and vegetables separately.

Each facility will be issued a single license. Additional licenses will not be required for additional activities or products. The facilities will provide information about their business, such as management’s commitment to meeting regulations, preventative control plans, that key personnel have completed food handling training, and which products will be produced under different processes.

This information will help the CFIA develop a profile of the companies, how they conduct business, and a base of knowledge about the different food sectors. Inherent risk will then be determined, which will set the level of oversight and conditions of licensing.

Agriculture Gerry Ritz said in a statement, “we have a world class food safety system in Canada but we want it to be the best. A single inspection approach will make an even stronger system that will benefit all Canadians.”

The CFIA is seeking comments from consumers and those in industry until October 31, 2012. These are the aspects of the new model under consideration: a single licensing and registration requirement; more consistent oversight and inspection; a scaled approach that adapts to the size and complexity of the business; and distribution of more information to consumers about compliance and enforcement. To comment, visit the Consultation site of the CFIA.

Canada’s conservative government is cutting the budget for the CFIA by $56 million over the next three years. Spending on food safety alone is being cut by $21 million. One hundred inspectors will be laid off, and almost half of the agency’s veterinarians will be “affected” by the budget cuts. The CFIA is going to stop checking nutrition labels for accuracy, and some inspection actions, such as part of the meat inspection process, will be moved to the oversight of provinces.

The Agriculture Union PSAC has started a campaign called Food Safety First to publicize these changes. They want the Canadian government to hire additional inspectors, declare a moratorium on industry self-policing, and remove obstacles preventing inspectors from taking immediate action when serious health problems arise.

One Bad Jar Blamed for Scottish Botulism Outbreak

Food Safety News
The incident management team has released the final report on last November’s botulism outbreak involving three siblings.
It began when a 5-year-old boy and then his 7-year-old sister were admitted to the hospital November 8 and 9, respectively, with symptoms that included double vision, sore mouth and lower limb weakness. In a matter of hours, botulism went from being a “possible though unlikely diagnosis” to “sufficiently strong to warrant obtaining trivalent botulinum antitoxin which was administrated to both children, after which the condition stabilized.”

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Health Protection Scotland issued a public alert about the botulism threat on November 11 to European Union counties via the established Early Warning and Response System. (EWRS).
Two days later, the investigation team determined that a jar of commercially available korma sauce was the vehicle of intoxication. The United Kingdom’s Food Safety Agency (FSA) took immediate action to remove the affected batch from the supply chain and retail market.
The product FSA recalled was Loyd Grossman Korma Sauce, produced by a branch of the London-based Premier Foods Group Ltd.
“FSA also alerted the public to the potential risks from consumption of sauce from jars of korma sauce from the same batch,” the final report says. The Health Protection Service alerted clinicians in Scotland about the incident and provided warning information early signs and symptoms of botulism.
The outbreak wasn’t over yet, though. A third member of the same family, a 3 1/2-year-old year old girl experienced swallowing problems and was diagnosed with suspected botulism.
All three children recovered from their illnesses.
The final report found no evidence that the korma sauce in the family’s home was contaminated nor did it find any faults in the manufacturer’s production facility or supply chain that could explain the contamination.
“No evidence suggested that any jar, other than the one purchased by the affected family, had been contaminated, ” the report concluded.  The incident was formally closed on Dec. 6, 2011.
An Outbreak of Food-borne Botulism in Scotland, November 2011,” published in August, 2012 by Health Protection Scotland and National Health Services Scotland is now available.

Test Confirms Hepatitis A Infection in Idaho Restaurant Employee

Local health department issues health advisory to patrons

Food Safety News

HepatitisAMain.jpgLab tests have confirmed that an employee of Tom’s Gyro in Pocatello, Idaho has been infected with Hepatitis A,  meaning that restaurant patrons may have been exposed to the virus.

“While the risk to public health is low, the possibility exists that Tom’s Gyro patrons could have been exposed to Hepatitis A,” warned the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department, which is conducting an investigation into the incident.

SIPHD issued a public health notice Wednesday advising patrons who ate at the restaurant between August 2nd and August 14th to receive a Hepatitis A Vaccine or immune globulin (IG) immediately to prevent the onset of illness. Those who ate at the restaurant between July 15 and August 1 may also have been exposed to the virus, but a preventative measure would not prevent illness at this point.
Hepatitis A, which infects the blood and causes damage to the liver, is detected through a blood test. This case of Hepatitis A was confirmed through testing.
The employee is thought to have practiced good hand hygiene while serving customers, but may still have contaminated food or drinks at the restaurant, according to SIPHD.
“The risk of exposure is considered small, but not zero.”
SIPHD says this seems to be an isolated case, and not part of a larger outbreak.
Patrons who ate at the restaurant between August 2 and August 14 may still prevent illness if they were exposed to the virus, and should receive either the Hepatits A vaccine or Immune Globulin (IG). These are available through most healthcare providers, and will also be offered by the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department.
The Hepatitis A vaccine is recommended for people between the ages of 12 months and 40 years old who are not pregnant, immune-compromised or have chronic liver disease.
Immune globulin (IG) is recommended for those who are over 40 years old, pregnant, immune-compromised, have chronic liver disease or for infants under 12 months.
At this time, illness onset cannot be prevented among patrons exposed to the virus before August 2.
SIPHD is asking anyone who consumed food or drink at Tom’s Gyro between July 15 and August 2 to see a healthcare provider if they have experienced symptoms of Hepatitis A infection, which include fever, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, jaundice, tiredness, nausea or dark urine.
For more information, contact the Southeastern Idaho Public Health Department at 208-234-5888.

Ottawa May Mandate Food Safety Training for Employees at Restaurants with Bad Record

Food Safety News

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Food service establishments in Ottawa, Ontario that repeatedly fail health inspections will be required to enroll employees in mandatory food safety training if a proposal set to be discussed next week becomes law.
The proposal – submitted to the Ottawa Board of Health by public health officials – would make food handler training mandatory for employees of restaurants that rack up more than 4 critical infractions in a one-year period.
The health department of the eastern Canadian city does not currently mandate food handler certification for restaurant employees.
“Mandatory training for all food handlers has been found to have limited benefits; a targeted food handler training approach would enable (Ottawa Public Health) to focus efforts on food premises operators with a history of non-compliance, while still offering the training to all those wishing to be certified,” states the proposal, according to the Ottawa Citizen.
In addition, because food service workers move from one establishment to another, tracking those who are certified is an unwieldy task, it says.
Health officials conducted 13,837 inspections in the city in 2011, an increase from its 13,710 inspections in 2010.
Last year, 55 provincial offense notices were issued to 39 premises, a jump from the 20 notices issued to 13 facilities the preceding year, reports the Citizen.
The Board of Health will discuss the proposal Monday.

NC State Fair Takes Measures to Prevent Another E. coli Outbreak

Food Safety News
Last year’s E. coli O157:H7 outbreak attributed to the Kelley Livestock Building at the North Carolina State Fair has brought changes in pedestrian and animal traffic patterns, now designed to minimize health risks at the fair.
The big Raleigh event, next scheduled for Oct.11 to 21, 2012, was responsible for its third E. coli O157:H7 outbreak last year.

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In 2004, the NC fair’s petting zoo left 108 fairgoers infected with E. coli O157:H7. In 2006, the NC fair’s pita stand was found responsible for infecting three people with the bacteria. And last year, the livestock building was blamed for infecting at least 27 fairgoers with O157.
For 2012, the NC State Fair has spent $206,000 on improvements designed to reduce the likelihood that a fairgoer will come into contact with disease-causing pathogens.
More than one million visitors attend the annual NC State Fair.
After last year’s outbreak, a newly appointed State Fair Study Commission took up the issue with the goal of keeping people and competition livestock separated as much as practical without keeping people totally away from the animals.
An NC public health investigation last year found that fairgoer illnesses stemmed from exposure to sheep, goats and pigs competing in the fair’s livestock shows and being kept in the Kelley building.
NC State Agricultural Commissioner Steve Troxler set up the study to review the repeated problem of fairgoers being infected with E. coli.
The solutions the study group came up with involve changing the traffic patterns in buildings where livestock are housed or shown, the Kelley Building, Jim Graham Building, and the Expo Center.
The recommendations included changing the location of animals within buildings and how animals and people enter and exit buildings.
In addition, food vendors are being relocated from the area between the Graham Building and Expo Center. Instructional signs at animal exhibits will be larger, and hand-washing stations will have nighttime lighting and more signs to increase visibility.
“The changes put forth by the Study Commission are a practical and effective way to further reduce the potential for disease transmission – both animal-to-human and human-to-animal,” Troxler said. “They build upon protective measures already in place, and they reduce risks while maintaining the fair’s agricultural heritage.”
Lindsay Tallent, mother of then 2-year old Hunter Tallent who spent 16 days in the hospital with kidney failure after being infected with E. coli at last year’s NC State Fair, said its sad that families must be kept further away from the animals, but in the long run it is better to “keep away any spread of diseases and keep families away from what we’ve had to deal with.”
State Fair revenues are being used to pay for the changes.
 “While there is no way to completely eliminate the potential for exposure, the measures being implemented will minimize the risk,” said Dr. Megan Davies, state epidemiologist with the N.C. Division of Public Health. “We also want to encourage the public to do their part as well by following traffic patterns at the fair and using common sense measures to keep themselves and their families healthy.”
Wake County Community Health Director Sue Lynn Ledford, a member of the study commission, said State Fair visitors can help themselves stay healthy by:
– Leaving strollers outside buildings containing animals.
– Following instructions on signs indicating animals that should not be touched.
– Using the hand-washing stations located throughout the fairgrounds.
– Helping children wash their hands well at the appropriate times.
“While hand sanitizers and hand wipes are easy to use, washing hands for 20 seconds with soap and water and drying them with clean paper towels is the best way to prevent the spread of germs that cause illness,” Ledford said. “Washing hands before you eat, every time you eat, greatly reduces the spread of disease. This is particularly important after visiting animal exhibits or being in direct contact with animals.”
The 15-member State Fair Study Commission consisted of public health professionals, veterinarians, livestock exhibitors, State Fair staff and representatives of N.C. Cooperative Extension and the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
David Smith, chief deputy commissioner of the department, chaired the group.

McDonald’s Issues Statement on Apple Recall

 By   Food Poisoning Bulletin

Missa Bay, LLC recalled almost 300,000 cases and almost 300,000 individually distributed units of fruit, vegetable, and sandwich products this week for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. One of their customers is McDonalds.

That company just issued a statement saying they have stopped serving all existing apple products from Ready Pac’s Missa Bay facility and removed them entirely from the restaurant and distribution centers. The recalled foods have use-by dates of July 8, 2012 through August 20, 2012.

McDonalds spokesperson Danya Proud said that this action is taken “in an abundance of caution”. There have not been reports of illness associated with the recalled products. For questions, you can call McDonalds at 1-800-244-6227. Burger King is another customer of Ready Pac and their fresh apple slices were also part of the recall; they have not issued a statement yet.

The recalled apple slices with expiration dates on or before August 19, 2012 were sold in these states: Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Diced apples for Fruit and Maple Oatmeal with expiration dates on or before August 19, 2012 were sold in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Snack Size Fruit and Walnut Salad with expiration dates on or before August 20, 2012 were sold in restaurants in these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Listeria monocytogenes can cause fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. The symptoms can take as long as 70 days to appear after exposure. Anyone who ate contaminated product in August may not become ill under October, so it can be difficult to connect the illness with the contaminated food. If you purchased and ate these products, record it, along with the use-by date and product codes if possible. Contact REady Pac at 800-800-7822 for a refund.

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Recalls

Vaqueria Tres Monjitas Recalls Pineapple and Guava Beverage for Undeclared Milk

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Vaquería Tres Monjitas is recalling pineapple-guava juice beverage (guava-piña) in all of the package sizes available for undeclared milk. The juice may contain sodium caseinate, a milk derivative, that is not declared on the label. Anyone with a sensitivity or allergy to milk may suffer a severe allergic reaction if they consume this product. No illnesses have been reported to date.

Sodium caseinate is a type of protein found in milk. It is usually used as a food additive. The FDA does not consider it to be a dairy product, even though it contains the proteins that cause allergic reactions to milk.

The juice is available in plastic containers in these sizes: 8 ounce, 14 ounce, 32 ounce, 64 ounce, and 128 ounce. When the labels have been corrected, the product will be available again. For questions, or to return the product for a refund, call the company at 787-474-1817 or 787-474-1818.

Apples Recalled for Potential Listeria Contamination

Food Safety News

AppleSlicesMain.jpgA New Jersey-based company is recalling 293,488 cases and 296,224 individual units of fruit, vegetable and sandwich products because they contain apples that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Missa Bay, LLC, a subsidiary of Ready Pac Foods,Missa Bay, LLC, Inc. of Swedesboro, NJ initiated a voluntary recall of the products Friday after Listeria monocytogenes was found on equipment used by the company to process its apple products, which are sold at McDonalds, Burger King and a variety of retail locations around the country.
Apples subject to the recall are diced or sliced and have a use-by date of July 8 through August 20, 2012.
The affected products were distributed to the District of Columbia and 36 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
No illnesses have been reported in connection to the recalled product to date.
Recalled Products
Items subject to recall include:
– BK Fresh Apple Slices, 2oz, “Burger King” label with use-by date of August 13 or before
– Snack Pac Apples & Caramel, 4oz, “Hannaford” label with use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 4126817191
– Snack Pac Apples, Granola & Yogurt, 4.3oz, “Hannaford” label with use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 4126817195
– Apple Slices, 1.2oz, “McDonalds” label; (ONLY in the following states: CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ , NY, PA, RI , VT). Product is marked with a use-by date of August 19 or before
– Diced Apples for Fruit & Maple Oatmeal, 0.92oz, “McDonalds” label; (ONLY in the following states: CT, MA, ME, NH, NJ , NY, PA, RI , VT). Product is marked with a use-by date of August 19 or before
– Fruit & Walnut Snack, 5.75oz, “McDonalds” label with a use-by date of August 20 or before
– Apple Blue Pecan bistro, 4.75oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 12 or before
and UPC 7774529497
– Fruit Frenzy, 32oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 7774523086
– Fruit Tray Bien, 32oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 7774521606
– Ready Snax Apples, Cheese with Caramel Dip, 4oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 7774523896
– Ready Snax Apples, Celery, Raisins with Peanut Butter, 4oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 7774523897
– Ready Snax Apples, Granola & Yogurt, 4.3oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 7774523089
– Super Fruit Blend, 6oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 17 or before and UPC 7774523076
– Super Fruit Medley, 10.5oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 16 or before and UPC 7774523746
– Sweet Sunshine Platter, 37oz, “Ready Pac” label with a use-by date of August 16 or before and UPC 7774524204
– Apple, Blue Cheese & Pecan Complete Salad Kit, 8.75oz, “Safeway Farms” label with a use-by date of  August 18 or before and UPC 2113033680
– Apple Caramel Dipper, 6.7oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 16 or before and UPC 2619100394
– Apple Peanut Butter Dipper, 6.5oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 15 or before and UPC 2619100268
– Apple Slices, 3.5oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 16 or before and UPC 2619102232
– Baby Carrots, 3oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 16 or before and UPC 2619102517
– Chicken Salad Snack, 6.7oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 12 or before and UPC 2619102760
– Chicken Salad Sandwich, 7.8oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 10 or before and UPC 2619105670
– Fruit & Cheese, 6oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 11 or before and UPC 2619102567
– Protein Power Pack, 7.8oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 11 or before and UPC 2619102565
– Red Grapes, 3oz, “Wawa” Label with a use-by date of August 13 or before and UPC 2619102518
– Turkey & Cheese Sandwich, 7.7oz, “Wawa” label with a use-by date of August 10 or before and UPC 2619105622
– Apples, Celery, Raisins & Peanut Butter, 4oz, “Wegmans” label with a use-by date of August 18 and UPC 7789026744
– Apples, Cheese & Caramel Dip, 4oz, “Wegmans” label with a use-by date of August 15 or before and UPC 7789026743
– Apples, Granola & Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt, 4.3oz, “Wegmans” label with a use-by date of August 18 or before and UPC 7789026737
Advice to Consumers
 
Consumers who purchased any of the recalled products should record the use-by date and/or UPC code number, immediately dispose of the product, and contact Ready Pac Consumer Affairs at (800) 800-7822 Monday through Friday between 8 am and 5 pm Pacific Time to obtain a full refund.

Cilantro Latest in Series of MDP-Prompted Recalls

Produce testing program still slated to be cut at year’s end

Food Safety News

CilantroBunchMain.jpg

Testing conducted by the government’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) has prompted a recall of cilantro for potential Salmonella contamination, marking the second time this week and the third time this month that the produce testing program – scheduled to be terminated at the end of the year – has sparked a recall.
Because of MDP’s discovery, Fresco Green Farms of Winchester, California is recalling 1,643 cases of Cilantro harvested from July 18th 2012 to July 27th 2012.
Earlier this week, grape tomatoes produced by Iowa-based Menno Beachy were recalled after testing by the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, one of the 11 state agencies that participate in MDP, revealed Salmonella in a sample of the product, prompting a recall Wednesday.
A day later, the Department issued another advisory about possible Salmonella contamination, this time in cilantro from Fresco Green Farms that was sold to grocery stores in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan. The stores have been asked to remove the cilantro, which was distributed between July 26 and August 6, 2012, from shelves, and consumers are advised to throw away any cilantro purchased at locations where the affected cilantro was sold. A list of these retailers is available on MDA’s website.
The grape tomato and cilantro samples that tested positive for Salmonella were both taken on July 30, but the tomato recall was issued earlier because the presence of the bacteria on the cilantro took longer to confirm, says Carrie Rigdon, Rapid Response Team Planner for Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Dairy and Food Inspection Division.
“Laboratory results are still pending on the serotype for the cilantro,” said Ridgdon in an e-mailed statement to Food Safety News.
The tomato and cilantro market withdrawals come on the heels of another MDP-prompted recall of almost 200,000 cantaloupes at the beginning of August, initiated after the New York State Department of Agriculture’s MDP program found Listeria monocytogenes on the melons.
The Microbiological Data Program, a small program housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, was originally started in 2001 as a way to keep tabs on contamination rates of fresh produce, but has expanded its role to include recall tip-offs.
The small program – which costs USDA $4.5 million a year – was scheduled to be shut down in July after being excluded from this year’s budget plan, but was put on life support after its impending shutdown was widely publicized by the media. It is now set to be canceled at the end of 2012.
A copy of the recall can be found here.
For more coverage of MDP and the controversy over its funding, see:
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published August 10 and was updated August 13 to include the name of the company who initiated the recall.

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Articles of Interest

Pew Gives Consumer Reports $2 million for Food Safety Testing

Food Safety News

chickeny_iphone.jpgConsumer Reports, the popular monthly product testing magazine, was awarded a $2 million grant by the Pew Charitable Trusts to study food safety, the New York Times reported Monday.

According to the Times, the organization has already received a one million dollar installment. The magazine’s scientific staff will begin their first round of testing of meat, poultry, and other foods this fall.

“We’ll be focusing mostly on pathogens, heavy metals and carcinogens in food,” Jennifer Shecter, a senior policy analyst at Consumer Reports told NYT, which added that the magazine would also be “studying levels of antibiotics and their role in producing resistance to drugs.”

As the NYT reports, lab testing is expensive and Consumer Reports “was limited by its budget. The Pew grant will alleviate that burden.”

Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, recently released a report, “Meat Without Drugs,” and launched a campaign to pressure retailers to sell meat from animals raised without antibiotics.

NYT to White House: Move Forward on Food Safety Rules

‘Such delays call into question the Obama administration’s commitment to reforms’

Food Safety News

The New York Times over the weekend called on the White House’s Office of Management and Budget to release food safety rules that the agency has been reviewing for 8 months — adding to a growing chorus of consumer advocates, industry groups, and lawmakers asking for the rules to move forward.

obamaFSMA_iphone.jpgNineteen months after President Obama signed the landmark Food Safety Modernization Act into law, the critical elements of the law are not in place, but stuck in regulatory limbo.

“If you think the food supply has become markedly safer since then, think again,” wrote the Times.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration sent drafts rules for preventive controls, produce safety, feed controls, and foreign supplier verification in December 2011. Major regulations to head to OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), where they undergo a cost-benefit analysis, but the office has only 90 days to weigh the costs and benefits of the rule — though it can be expanded to 120 days with an extension.

“While coordinating suggestions from various agencies can take time, a delay of eight months and counting lends credence to the suspicions of consumer advocates who think election-year politics are at play, with Democrats trying to avoid Republican charges that rules kill jobs,” added the editorial. “The budget office denies this, and can point to many rules that have been approved, including a crucial one reducing mercury emissions from power plants. But several important rules, like those on food safety, remain in limbo.

The Times notes that there are many significant rules languishing at OMB, including clean water regulations, labor protections for home care aides, and creditor regulations aimed at protecting veterans, the poor, disabled from bank garnishments — “Such delays call into question the Obama administration’s commitment to reforms that are needed to make government work better and more effectively.”

Obama’s head of OIRA, otherwise known as the regulatory czar, Cass Sunstein recently resigned from the administration to return to Harvard, leaving many questions about what impact his departure might have on the major rules under review.

In an article over the weekend, the Denver Post also highlighted the longtime delay for food safety rules, noting that it has been about a year since the tragic Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes claimed more lives than any other outbreak in nearly a century.

“The law was too recent to prevent last summer’s deadly listeria outbreak (and local growers have since implemented their own safety provisions), but more than 18 months later, it should be a vital safeguard against further illnesses,” wrote Lisa Wirthman for the Post. “Unfortunately, that’s not the case.”

FDA Issues Annual Food Safety Report to Congress

Food Safety News

OrangeProcessingMain.jpgThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s annual report to Congress, released this week, offers an overview of what the agency has been up to over the past year.

In FDA’s latest report, which is required by the 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act, one thing is immediately clear: FDA has an enormous food safety mandate. The agency regulates $417 billion worth of domestic food and $49 billion worth of imported food. In all, the agency oversees more than 421,121 registered domestic and foreign food facilities.

It’s been about a year and a half since President Obama signed FSMA into law. Though FDA is waiting on drafts of key food safety rules to be released by the White House Office of Management and Budget — where they have now been under review for eight months — the agency has moved forward in a number of other key areas.

In fiscal year 2011, FDA said it used around $190 million for FSMA implementation, $131 million of which was used to inspect domestic food facilities and $33 million for foreign facilities. The agency also gave $25 million to states for food inspections. In its report, FDA noted that the numbers do not include the cost of inspections at the U.S. border, nor did it include the cost of lab analyses or criminal investigations.

Out of 167,033 registered domestic facilities, FDA and states under contract inspected 19,073. Out of 254,088 registered foreign facilities, FDA and states under contract inspected 995. Of the 22,325 domestic food companies FDA has deemed “high-risk,” the agency inspected 11,007, or nearly half of them.

Exactly how much does it cost for FDA to inspect a food maker? For a “high-risk” facility, the average cost is $21,000. For a “non-high-risk” facility, the average is $14,200. Foreign high-risk food facilities cost taxpayers around $24,800 per inspection.

FDA said it is still working on its framework for establishing which food facilities fall into different risk categories.

When it comes to food imported into the United States, through multiple ports of entry, FDA still inspects a small percentage. The agency said it physically examined around 2.3 percent, or 243,400 import lines out of 10,439,236. Field exams cost around $170 each, but if samples are analyzed they cost around $2,800 each.

The agency has also “devoted significant time and resources” to building a more integrated national food safety system. FDA said in the last year they established several working groups to help state, local and tribal stakeholders work to help with the integration. Part of the plan is to integrate response efforts between multiple levels of jurisdiction so that the public health response is “coordinated, faster, and more effective.”

One of the key priorities is creating uniform national standards for program standards, facility inspections, lab testing and outbreak response. In its report, FDA said that achieving more uniformity would “enable greater ability to utilize analyses and observations across jurisdictions to protect public health.”

Sandy Eskin, the director of the Pew Charitable Trusts Food Safety Campaign, said that while the annual report offers a “useful snapshot” of how FDA is implementing FSMA, she remains concerned about “the type of oversight FDA will be giving state contractors as well as the substantial costs associated with traditional ‘pre-FSMA’ inspections.”

“Of course,” she added, “FSMA’s vision for inspection and food import safety will be incomplete as long as the proposed rules regarding the prevention-based requirements for facilities and importers remain bottled up at OMB.”

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

Montana Says Listeria Outbreak Victim’s Death Was Due to His Infection

CantaloupeSliceRemovedMain.jpgThe unofficial death count of last year’s Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes rose from 32 to 33 Wednesday as the Montana Department of Health confirmed that the death of an outbreak victim there was a result of his Listeria infection.

The victim, a 75-year-old Bozeman, Montana man who died in January, was only recently recognized as a victim of the outbreak. Food Safety News reported about the possible link. The connection was first made when PulseNet discovered that a clinical sample of Listeria from the man’s stool was indistinguishable from a rare genetic fingerprint of Listeria found on a cantaloupe from an outbreak victim’s home. PulseNet compares pathogen samples across the U.S. using a DNA mapping technique called pulsed field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE.

Earlier this month, CDC added the Montana man to the outbreak victims count, bringing the total to 147, but has not yet included him in the death count. One other case in Montana has been linked to the outbreak.

“We finished the investigation July 18 and the CDC is adding him to the death toll,” Job Ebelt, a spokesman for the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services told The Packer. However, CDC told Food Safety News that it has not yet officially counted the man’s death as one of those that resulted from outbreak, and is currently only counting him as a victim.

“We’re saying at least 30 deaths and one miscarriage,” confirmed Lola Russel, a spokeswoman for the CDC. “The death count is something that’s based on us reviewing death certificates, and that’s a process. Just because a state counts it does not mean we’re increasing that number right then,” she said.

Sprouts Remain An Unsolved Pathogen Problem

Outbreaks linked to sprouted seeds continue to crop up

PROVIDENCE — For all its efforts in the last 15 years or so, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t really moved the meter that much when it comes to improving the safety of raw and lightly cooked sprouts that Americans increasingly like to eat.
Sprouts were given special attention Wednesday at the International Association for Food Protection (IAFP) meeting this week in Rhode Island.

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From 1990 until midway through 2011, there were at least 46 major outbreaks involving sprouts, said FDA’s Tong-Jen (T-J) Fu. The problem is that the conditions seeds need to grow sprouts are also ideal for growing pathogens.
Many of those outbreaks have occurred since 1999, the year FDA issued its non-binding “guidance” document to help sprout growers.  “Implementation has been an issue,” explains Fu.
Fixing the problem that good sprouting conditions are also good for growing pathogens isn’t easy.
“Whatever is good for growing the seeds is good for microbial growth,” says Mansour Samadpour, who runs a commercial food lab in Lake Forest Park, WA.
Fu says Salmonella growth is the most common contaminant for sprouts, but E. coli O157:H7 and Listeria are also known to taint sprouting seeds. In the sprouting process, seeds are often found to be the exact cause of outbreaks.
Fu also notes that people often take the seeds home for “home sprouting,” which she says could add to the risks.
On multiple occasions since 1999, FDA has also issued public warnings about sprouts, starting out with a notice warning about alfalfa sprouts. It was then amended to include a public health warning about all sprouts.
FDA’s Michelle Smith said the agency was originally concerned about raw sprouts, but has since changed that part of the warning to include “raw and lightly cooked” sprouts.

USDA Looking at Antibiotics Claims on Meat Labels

Amid growing consumer awareness about antibiotics used to raise food animals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is taking a look at some of the claims made on meat packages, including “antibiotic free.”

ABXLABELS.jpgIn a letter responding to concerns raised by Consumers Union, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said FSIS has developed updated guidance material on labels that it will send to meat companies and the agency plans to investigate unapproved label claims.

“Under FSIS guidelines, when producers/companies request to make the marketing claim “raised without antibiotics” on their labels, we inform them that this means “no antibiotics in their feed water or injection including no ionophores” during the animal’s life,” said Vilsack.

CU sent a letter to USDA in June asking that the department look into three unapproved label claims that the group found on meat packages: antibiotic free, no antibiotic growth promotants, and no antibiotic residues. In a recent shopping survey, CU found more than 20 different antibiotic-related claims on meat packages (see the group’s list to the left).

CU points out that these claims may confuse or mislead consumers.

Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Raw Tuna Grows to 425

spicy-tuna-sushi-406.jpgSalmonella from a recalled raw tuna product served in sushi and known as Nakaochi scrape has now sickened at least 425 individuals in 28 states and the District of Columbia. Of those ill, 55 have been hospitalized.

In its final outbreak update, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the outbreak appears to be over, though additional cases may surface in the next several months if unaware food establishments continue serving the product, which is sold frozen and has a long shelf-life.
The victims of the tuna scrape outbreak were infected with one of two Salmonella strains. In total, 410 fell ill with Salmonella Bareilly, while Salmonella Nchanga sickened 15.
The recalled Nakaochi scrape was produced by Moon Marine USA Corporation. Retailers carrying the product are asked not to serve it.
The outbreak’s epidemiological curve, featured below, shows that a significant number of victims acquired their infections after the April 13 tuna scrape recall, suggesting food establishments continued to serve it for some time.
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Case Count Rises in Upstate New York Shigella Outbreak

ShigellaMain.jpgThe number of individuals sickened in a Shigella outbreak in Upstate New York has risen from 45 – at last report – to 69, while the source of the bacteria remains unclear.

The outbreak is affecting residents of Onondaga County, located in the central northern New York. The county’s health department announced the increase in cases Friday. Health officials there are still not sure what is causing the outbreak.
Shigella infection, or shigellosis is characterized by fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea that can be painful and contain blood or mucous. Symptoms usually appear 1 to 3 days after exposure and resolve in about a week.
If you think you may have contracted shigellosis, contact your healthcare provider.
For more information on this outbreak, see Food Safety News’ previous reports:

Paralytic Shellfish Poison Closes Recreational Harvest In Puget Sound

The Washington State Department of Health (WDH) has closed recreational shellfish harvesting in six counties near Puget Sound after dangerous levels of the biotoxin Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) were discovered. Commercially harvested shellfish are not included in the closure and should be safe to eat, according to public health authorities.

The six counties affected by the recreational shellfish harvest closure are in the central and southern areas of the sound. They are: Jefferson, Island, Snohomish, Kitsap, King and Pierce counties. Warning signs have been posted at beaches in these areas.

Shellfish included in the closure are: clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, geoduck, and other mollusks. Crab is not included in the closure, but “crab butter,” the yellow goo that clings to the inside of the shell is.

 

 

Cases of Salmonella Montevideo from Live Poultry Rise to 76

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has counted an additional 10 cases of Salmonella Montevideo linked to live poultry since last month, bringing the new case count to 76 people across 22 states. Of those ill, 17 have been hospitalized.

The live birds originated at Estes Hatchery, a mail-order hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.

The number ill by state is as follows:
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Restaurant in E. coli Outbreak Gets Cover from OC Health

A locally owned single location restaurant in California’s Orange County is getting some valuable service from its local health department — keeping its name from being associated with an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak.
That secret involves romaine lettuce the unnamed restaurant served last April giving E. coli O157:H7 to nine of its customers, and causing the restaurant to voluntarily close for the investigation. The restaurant management was so cooperative that four months later, the Orange County (OC) Health Care Agency is still keeping the name of the restaurant a secret.
Deanne Thompson, public information officer for the OC Health Care Agency, says naming the restaurant now (it was not named then either) would “not serve a useful purpose.”
OC apparently wanted to keep the whole event secret, and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) went along.
At the time, OC Health put out nary a word about the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak and in a county where restaurant closures are an obsession; there was not a word about this one.   Thompson says it was not listed because the closure was voluntary.
OC Health — with more than 11,000 restaurants, food trucks and other food establishments under its regulation — currently lists 88 closures by its inspectors in the last 60 days.

Norovirus Outbreak Linked to Michigan Mexican Restaurant

At least 200 sickened

TummyAcheMain.jpgAt least 200 people fell ill last week with Norovirus infections connected to a Mexican restaurant in Michigan’s Ottowa County.

The Ottowa County Health Department began investigating the outbreak on Thursday of last week and by this week had linked the illnesses to Margarita’s Restaurant of Holland, MI, which was shut down after it was determined to be the outbreak source.
It is not clear whether victims included both customers and employees or only customers.
Norovirus is transmitted through the fecal-oral route. Food handlers who contract Norovirus should stay home from work 48-72 hours after symptoms end to prevent the spread of infection, says the Ottowa County Health Department.

Canada’s Raw Milk Laws Put to Test By Ontario Court of Appeal

Provincial public health and milk marketing regulations that have prevented the sale or distribution of raw milk in Canada for the past 80 years are about to be challenged in the Ontario Court of Appeal.
The often precedent-setting Ontario Court of Appeal, where same-sex marriage in Canada first got its stamp of approval, is second only to the Supreme Court of Canada. And the high federal court reviews only about 3 percent of Ontario Court of Appeal decisions.

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Conflicting and some say confused lower court cases over the fate of raw milk dairy farmer Michael Schmidt, who was first acquitted in 2010 and then convicted in 2011 for distributing raw milk through a cow-share successful appeal request. (Unlike the U.S., the prosecution in Canada can appeal when they lose).
Schmidt, who was sentenced on similar charges in 1994 when he was fined $3,500 and placed on probation for two years, was operating a cow share scheme for 150 families, who had paid $300 each for shares of 26 dairy cows.

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Recalls / Allergen Alerts

Cheeses, Dips and Spreads Recalled for Potential Listeria Contamination

A Colorado-based company is recalling a limited number of tapanades, cheeses and salsas because they may contain onions that were recalled last week due to potential contamination with Listeria.

Sartori Inspirations LLC issued the voluntary recall Thursday after Gills Onions of Oxnard, California recalled some of its diced yellow onions on July 18 because a sample had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Sartori makes some of its products with these onions.
Those products – sold at some Whole Foods Market stores – include tapanades, smoked gouda, pimento cheese, spinach feta dip and a variety of salsas packaged in both 7 oz. clear plastic and 5 lb. white plastic tubs. The following is a list of the specific products subject to recall. Code information can be found on the side of each container.
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Undeclared Allergen in Chicken and Yam Pies Prompts Recall

Opinion

YamandChickenPies.jpgA California-based company is recalling approximately 79 pounds of chicken and yam pie products because they may have been made with a curry paste that contains shrimp, but shrimp  – a known allergen – is not listed as an ingredient.

Piccadilly Fine Foods of Santa Clara, CA issued a voluntary recall of the products Thursday after a label inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) revealed that the recipe for the pies had been temporarily changed, but that the ingredient change was not reflected on packaging.
Products subject to this recall include:

Chopped Onions with Possible Listeria Contamination Trigger More Recalls

choppedonions-406.jpgChopped yellow and white onions distributed by Gills Onions has triggered more recalls, as more food makers announced they were using the onions, which were first recalled on July 18 for possible Listeria contamination.

No illnesses have yet been reported in relation to these recalls.
1. Garden Fresh Foods, Inc. is recalling various ready-to-eat salads, slaw, salsa, bean and dip products under various brands and code dates. Products were distributed in AZ, CA, FL, IA, IL, IN, MA, MI, MN, MO, PA, TX, and WI.
2. Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC recalled its Calico Bean Salad sold in stores between July 18 and 26.
3. Spartan Stores, Inc. recalled its Three Bean Salad and 10 oz. Broccoli Stir Fry sold between July 13 and 26.
4. Publix Super Markets issued a recall of custom-made sub sandwiches that may have contained chopped onions connected to the recall, sold from July 7 through 26.

Stop & Shop Recalls Calico Bean Salad for Listeria

Northeast grocery chain Stop & Shop Supermarket Company LLC announced Friday that it removed Calico Bean Salad made by Costa Fruit & Produce from their stores due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The salad was sold in stores’ salad bar, but the company said no illnesses have been reported.

The company is asking that customers who purchased the product between July 18, 2012 and July 26, 2012 discard any unused portions and bring their purchase receipt to Stop & Shop for a full refund.

BBQ Chicken Salad Recalled for Potential Listeria Contamination

A California company is recalling approximately 5,610 pounds of its barbecue chicken salad because the product contains diced onions that were recalled for potential Listeria contamination last week.

Huxtable’s Kitchen of Vernon, CA issued a voluntary recall of the BBQ chicken salads Friday after another company – Gill’s Onions – announced last week that a sample of its diced onions had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes. Huxtable’s, which uses onions processed by Gill’s in its barbecue chicken salad, was notified of the potential contamination by a supplier and alerted USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the problem.
The Huxtable’s products subject to recall are sold in 14.5 ounce trays and labeled as “TRADER JOE’S BBQ CHICKEN SALAD” Friday.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Potential Listeria Contamination Prompts Recall of Sausage Products

SausagesinPanMain.jpgA Mississippi firm is recalling approximately 314 pounds of sausage products because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Enslin & Son Packing Company of Hattiesburg, MS, issued a voluntary recall of it’s “Cedar Grove Red Hots” Friday after the company received test results showing that the product had tested positive for Listeria. Product had already been shipped to retail establishments in Meridian and Philadelphia, MS when the company acquired the test results.

Read Full Article here

 

 

 

 

LSG Sky Chefs Latest to Recall Product With Onions Over Listeria Concerns

ChipotleChickWrapMain.jpgLSG Sky Chefs is recalling certain chicken wraps because they are made with diced onions that were recalled by another company last week after a sample of the onions tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

Orlando, Florida-based LSG issued a is voluntarily recalling about 735 pounds of ready-to-eat chipotle chicken wraps Friday after being notified of the onion recall issued by Gill’s Onions last week. LSG uses onions processed by Gill’s in the pico de gallo contained in its wraps.
This is the third recall of product made with Gill’s Onions since the initial recall was announced. Food Safety News reported on the other two in these notices:

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Burch Farms Cantaloupe Recalled for Possible Listeria Contamination

cantaloupedangling-406.jpgNorth Carolina’s Burch Farms and Hannaford Supermarkets on Saturday initiated a recall of 580 crates of whole Athena cantaloupes sent to New York due to possible contamination of Listeria monocytogenes.

The cantaloupes were shipped July 15. No illnesses have been linked to this outbreak.

The cantaloupes sport a red label that reads ‘Burch Farms’ and ‘Cantaloupe PLU 4319.’ Health officials are urging those who purchased the cantaloupes to dispose of them.

Last August, Listeria-contaminated Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in Colorado caused one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history, sickening at least 147 and killing 33. Jensen Farms filed for bankruptcy in May.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Tyson Chunk Chicken Recalled for Undeclared Allergen

Tony Downs Foods Company of Minnesota is recalling 70,500 pounds of premium chunk chicken for mislabeling and an undeclared allergen. The products may actually contain “Beef with Gravy” that contains wheat, one of the major food allergens, that is not declared on the label.

The product is 12.5-ounce cans of “Tyson Premium Chunk Chicken.” The code date of “8965 248A 12139″ and “Best by May 18, 2015″ are ink-jetted on the bottom of each recalled can. Each label has the number “P-65″ inside the USDA mark of inspection. Correctly labeled cans are ink-jetted with the code “1392TDM4600″ and “P65″ beneath a “Use by May 18 2015″ date and are not part of this recall.

The chicken was produced on May 18, 2012 and distributed to retail establishments nationwide. There have been no reports of adverse reactions associated with the consumption of this product. If you have questions, call the Tyson Consumer Hotline at 866-328-3156.

 

 

San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company Recalls Products

July 29, 2012 By

The San Francisco Herb and Natural Food Company is recalling 16 products for potential contamination of filth. There was a mouse infestation at the company’s Fremont warehouse. The products were sold mostly over the internet in the U.S. No illnesses have been reported in connection with the consumption of these products. For questions, call Dr. Fahimeh Niroomand at 510-770-1215 extension 115.

Each package weighs one pound. The Lot numbers are on a small, white rectangular sticker on the bottom half of the back of the package. The products recalled include:

Read Full Article Here

Colombian Style Cheese Recalled for Potential Staph Contamination

Same cheese recalled one week earlier for improper pasteurization

QuesitoMain.jpgA New York-based company is recalling a Colombian-style cheese product because it may be contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. The recall comes a week after the New York State Department of Agriculture (NYSDA) warned consumers not to eat this same cheese because it had not been properly pasteurized.

Tita Corp. of Glendale, NY issued a voluntary recall of its “Queso Colombiano, Colombian Style Cheese” Saturday after samples of the product were found to contain “high levels of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria,” according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The samples that tested positive for Staph bacteria were taken by an NYSDA Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services inspector on July 25, 2012, just 8 days after the Division had found that milk used to make this cheese had been improperly pasteurized, meaning that it’s possible for pathogens to survive in the product.

Read Full Article here

 

 

Publix Recalls Sub Sandwiches Made with Gills Onions

Publix Super Markets is recalling custom sub sandwiches made with recalled Gills Onions. The onions were recalled on July 19, 2012 for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recall includes any custom made sub sandwiches with sliced onions sold at the Publix Deli department from July 7, 2012 through July 26, 2012.

The onions were shipped to stores in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Publix stores in Florida are not included in this recall. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the sliced onions.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Spartan Stores Recall Products Containing Gills Onions

In the ninth derivative recall so far, Spartan Stores is recalling two products that contain Gills Onions. The onions, which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, were recalled on July 19, 2012.

The recalled products include Three Bean Salad sold at the deli, and 10-ounce Broccoli Stir Fry sold in the product department. There has been no “confirmation” of illnesses associated with the consumption of these products reported to Spartan Stores. If anyone has eaten these products and gotten sick, they should contact their healthcare provider.

Those products should be discarded or returned to the place of purchase for a full refund or replacement. If you have questions, you can contact Spartan Stores’ Consumer Affairs at 1-800-451-8500. You can also contact Gills Onions Customer Service at 1-888-220-0436.

Smoked Salmon Recalled for Botulism Potential

VaccumSmokedSalmonMain.jpgAn Alaskan company is recalling its smoked salmon products because they are labeled with improper instructions that could, if followed, lead to the product’s contamination with Clostridium botulinum bacteria.

Interior Alaska Fish Processors Inc., based in Fairbanks, AK, issued a voluntary recall of its “Santa’s Smokehouse” brand hot-smoked vacuum packed salmon products Tuesday because they bear a label indicating that they can be kept under refrigeration, when in fact they cannot, according to 2KTUU.com.
This misleading label implies that consumers may keep the fish in conditions that could in actuality allow for the growth of Clostridium botulinum, which produces botulinum toxins that attack the human nervous system, leading to paralysis.

Ken’s Foods Recalls Dressings and Sauces for Possible Listeria

Ken’s Foods Inc. is recalling some food service dressings and sauces that contain onions that are part of the Gills Onions recall. The onions may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Fresh Point processes the onions for Ken’s Foods; their supplier is Gills Onions.

The products recalled include these products. Ken’s Tartar Sauce in 4/1 gallon containers, with number KE0666 and MFG number 09/JUL/12. Ken’s Tartar Sauce in 100/1.5-ounce cups, with number KE0666A5 and EXP: 011313. Dickey’s BBQ Bean in 10/48-ounce pouches, with number DI2063 and USE BY date of 11MAR13. Golden Corral Tartar in 4/1 gallon containers, with number GD2517 and MFG: 17/JUL/12. Lee’s Cole Slaw in 14/40 ounce pouches, with number FQ2103 and MFG: 23JUL12. Fatz Tartar Sauce, in 4/1 gallon containers, with number FD0666 and MFG: 23/JUL/12.

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Articles of Interest

‘Current Controversies’ in Food Safety Produces Lively Debate

Truth be told, the lecture format of most of the symposia at the International Association for Food Protection annual meeting can get a little sleepy.
The meeting, which ended Wednesday, is not known for sharp sticks in the eye or put down quips. The one exception was the “current controversies” section that used a sort of modified college debate format to go through three food safety issues quickly with no apologies for any hard feelings.
There was one caveat. Not only were the views expressed by the debaters not necessarily representative of their organizations, they were not necessarily their own. Like good college debaters everywhere, they might have just ended up with that side or the argument.
The debaters, however, tried their best, since they wanted to sway the audience, which was polled electronically before and after both sides had their say and took questions.
The first topic was whether the pasteurization of all ground beef and ground poultry should be mandated. Speaking in favor was Kroger Company’s W. Payton Pruett; opposed was the American Meat Institute Foundation’s Betsy Booren.
Before the debate began, the audience split 71.4 opposed to the proposal, 28.6 in favor.

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Pruett started by saying that Kroger stores have been on the receiving end of about half of all the 68 recent recalls of ground meat products, and the time has come to just accept that sampling and testing cannot substitute for good kill step.
Just as we reached a point where it was appropriate for milk, juice, and eggs to go through pasteurization, Pruett said that time has now arrived for ground meat. He said pasteurization would cut down on recalls and reduce illnesses.
Booren said the $4.8 billion local food movement, small and very small meat businesses and anyone who values choice in a country with an abundance of food would be ill served by a pasteurization mandate.
In rebuttal, Pruett said his company’s stores have already removed choice from their customers by not selling raw milk.”What we sell in our stores is pasteurized milk,” he said.  “We’ve taken away that customer choice. This is a case of where we have to take control.”

That left an opening for Booren to question whether Pruett’s company is motivated by its concern for public health or its fear of possibilities litigation over the sale of raw milk with its potential for contamination.
In raising her concerns about how pasteurization might change the taste and texture of ground meat products, Booren brought up some of the early tests on radiated meat coming out with a “wet dog” smell.
In the end, the House remained unmoved with only about 2 percent moving to the pro-pasteurization side.
In just over 15 minutes, it was all over and two more debaters had stepped up to argue about whether Clostridium difficile colitis is a foodborne illness. C. diff is a species of gram-positive bacteria, most associated with diarrheal disease picked up in hospital settings.
Going at it over this one was Glenn Songer from Iowa State University at Ames and Brandi Limbago from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

CDC Releases Annual Foodborne Illness Data for 2011

E. coli O157 falling; Salmonella, Listeria and others remain steady

applesconveyorbelt-406.jpgThe number of Americans falling ill from foodborne pathogens remained steady or marginally worsened in the latter half of the 2000s, and 2011 turned out to show little difference, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which released its annual report of foodborne illness data for 2011 on Friday evening.

While the data showed a promising five-year decline of E. coli O157:H7 and Shigella infections since 2007, infection rates stagnated or slightly grew for a number of other notable bacteria, including Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria.

As a whole, the data have some food safety advocates reemphasizing the importance of implementing measures of the Food Safety Modernization Act, signed into law by President Obama in January 2011 and designed to shift the focus of U.S. food safety from a reactive system to something more preventative. Many of the act’s central rules have blown past implementation deadlines, including new food import standards and domestic preventative control requirements.

According to the data, Salmonella, Campylobacter and Listeria continue to infect numbers well beyond goals set by the U.S. government for 2010:

For every 100,000 people, 16.5 fell ill with Salmonella in 2011 and 17.5 the year before, despite a goal to reduce that number to 6.8 by then. Similarly, Campylobacter infected 14.3 in 2011 (surpassing the 12.3-person goal), and 0.28 were sickened by Listeria (just above the 2010 goal of 0.24).

At the same time, however, E. coli O157 rates fell to 0.98, just below its goal of 1.0. That’s down from 1.20 in 2007, 1.69 in 2002 and 2.62 in 1996, the year the CDC first began compiling yearly reports on these pathogens.

USDA Supports Meatless-less Mondays

Agency backpedals on support following pressure from industry

by Gretchen Goetz | Jul 30, 2012

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For a brief period last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture got behind the international “Meatless Monday” campaign by calling on its employees to choose vegetarian options on Mondays.
“While a vegetarian diet could have a beneficial impact on a person’s health and the environment, many people are not ready to make that commitment. Because Meatless Monday involves only one day a week, it is a small change that could produce big results,” read the USDA’s internal newsletter “Greening Headquarters Update,” dated Monday, June 23.
The piece — which pointed out that animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and uses up large amounts of resources — was revoked Wednesday after the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) roundly condemned the agency’s anti-meat stance, calling it an “animal rights extremist campaign to ultimately end meat consumption.”
“This is truly an awakening statement by USDA, which strongly indicates that USDA does not understand the efforts being made in rural America to produce food and fiber for a growing global population in a very sustainable way,” said NCBA President J.D. Alexander in a statement Wednesday. “USDA was created to provide a platform to promote and sustain rural America in order to feed the world. This move by USDA should be condemned by anyone who believes agriculture is fundamental to sustaining life on this planet.”
Lawmakers from beef-producing states also criticized the agency’s Meatless Monday endorsement.
“I will eat more meat on Monday to compensate for stupid USDA recommendation abt [sic] a meatless Monday,” tweeted Senator Chuck Grassley Grassley (R-IA) Wednesday.
Grassley’s sentiments were echoed by representative Steve King (R), also of Iowa.
“USDA HQ meatless Mondays!!! At the Dept. Of Agriculture? Heresy! I’m not grazing there. I will have double rib-eye Mondays instead,” he tweeted.
By Wednesday afternoon, USDA’s press center had tweeted the following statement:
“USDA does not endorse Meatless Monday. Statement on USDA site posted w/o proper clearance. It has been removed.”
The announcement was greeted with approval by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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“USDA did right by scrapping this statement and acknowledging the important role of America’s farm and ranch families in providing food for the world,” said NCBA in a statement later that day.
“USDA denouncing support of the Meatless Monday campaign is an important step in correcting misinformation about the safety and sustainability of U.S. beef production.”

Rawesome Foods Founder Arrested

dairycowcages-406.jpgIn the latest news in the ongoing raw-milk legal saga, 65-year-old James Stewart, founder of Rawesome Foods in Los Angeles County, California, was strong-armed on July 26 by a trio of tough-looking men in street clothes driving unmarked luxury cars who handcuffed him and then slammed him against the back of a car, pressing his face up against the window.

Rawesome Foods is a members-only co-op that specializes in unprocessed foods, including raw milk.

“Why are you treating me so horribly,” the visibly shaken Stewart asked, as someone videotaped what the trio repeatedly referred to as ‘an arrest.’

As he was led to the back seat of the car, Stewart, his voice breaking with emotion, told the person videotaping the scene, “They’re arresting me.”

From there, he was taken to the Ventura County Jail, where a court officer described him as a “flight risk” and refused to grant bail.

Turns out that the three men were members of a bond bailsman retrieval team, which in California have certain police powers, among them the ability to arrest people who have jumped bail. And it turns out that Stewart had, in fact, jumped bail, having failed to show up for two court appearances.

In one of cases, he was out on a $30,000 bail in Los Angeles County on charges of illegally selling raw milk. In the other, he was out of a $100,000 bail in Ventura County on charges of  illegally raising funds for Sharon Palmer’s Healthy Family Farms, according to an article in The Complete Patient.

Palmer supplies Rawesome Foods with raw goat milk and other dairy products from what is known as a ‘herdshare.’ Under a herdshare arrangement, the members don’t consider themselves as buying the milk since they own the animals. Palmer has no license to sell raw milk in California, a state which does allow retail sales of raw milk but which also has very strict laws governing raw-milk production and sales.

Adding another dimension to this drama, raw-milk dairy farmer Mark McAfee, owner of Organic Pastures, the largest raw-milk producer in the nation, was the person who put up $100,000 in personal collateral for the bond in Venice County. In doing so, he put his house on the line, knowing that if Stewart failed to make the necessary court appearances, he could lose his home.

In an interview with Food Safety News after Stewart’s July 26 arrest, McAfee said that he had contacted the bond company because Stewart had told him he wasn’t going to attend the hearings.

“He refused to do that,” McAfee said. “He said he’d go into hiding.”

Stewart told Natural News that McAfee was there at the arrest and watched him being taken away by the bail-bond trio.

McAfee confirmed that, saying that he was the one who found Stewart.

“I was the one who hired the bail agents to arrest James,” he said.

According to the Complete Patient article, the bail bond agents and McAfee tried to convince Stewart both the day before the arrest and the day of the arrest to turn himself in. But their pleas were in vain.

“I didn’t want to lose my house,” McAfee said, in explaining why he had contacted and worked with the bail bondsmen.

McAfee said Stewart had fired the highly qualified lawyer working on the case and opted instead to work with what McAfee described as a “non-lawyer type” from Las Vegas. He had apparently bought into the notion of the ‘sovereign man,’ which urges people to claim their ‘Common Law Inherent Rights’ and defend themselves against “all levels of abuse from Government and Statutes.”

Canada Kicks Off Genome Mapping of Listeria

Canada is kicking off a $600,000 project to map the genome of Listeria bacteria so that more rapid tests can be developed.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), Genome Canada, and Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions are teaming up to help protect consumers from the serious foodborne illness.

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The 18-month research initiative is being funded with $250,000 each from Genome Canada and CFIA, and $100,000 from Alberta Innovates Bio Solutions.
Currently, it takes at least five days to confirm the presence of Listeria.  Genomic mapping could improve accuracy and cut the time it takes for both the government and industry to identify Listeria contamination.
In 2008, a Listeria outbreak caused by ready-to-eat meats produced by Maple Leaf Foods in Toronto killed 22 mostly elderly Canadians. The 40 percent fatality rate was among the highest ever experience in a foodborne illness outbreak anywhere in North America.

New Data on Antimicrobial Resistance a Mixed Bag

While some Salmonella and Campylobacter strains grew in resistance, others fell, finds NARMS

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The federal government has released its 2010 data on antibiotic resistance among Salmonella and Campylobacter in both food animals and humans. While some strains, such as Salmonella Heidelberg, became more resistant to certain drugs between 2009 and 2010, resistance among many serotypes has decreased or remained steady over the past few years.
The figures were published by the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), housed at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. The program, which tracks trends in resistance among foodborne bacteria, was launched in 1996 as a collaborative effort between FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The 2010 findings varied widely from strain to strain and drug to drug, but a few trends emerged.
Resistance in Salmonella
Between 2009 and 2010, multidrug resistance – resistant to three or more antibiotics – dropped or stayed the same among most non-Typhoidal Salmonella, which are the second most common source of foodborne illness and the leading cause of hospitalization among foodborne pathogens. Overall, multidrug resistance in human isolates was at an all-time low since 1996.
The strain most commonly resistant to three or more drugs was Typhimurium (a non-Typhoidal serotype, contrary to what its name suggests); 44 percent of these isolates were multidrug resistant.
The two strains that grew in resistance between 2009 and 2010 were Salmonella Heidelberg and Salmonella Serotype I 4,[5],12:i:- (some serotypes are not named). The latter serotype has been discovered more and more frequently in humans and meat over the past 10 years, according to Dr. Patrick McDermott, Director of NARMS.
Interestingly, the presence of Salmonella Dublin in food animals has steadily increased since 1997, and this strain accounts for 55 percent of multidrug resistant Salmonella found in cattle at slaughter, which rose 6 percent between 2007 and 2009. The presence of Heidelberg in meat animals rose between 2009 and 2010.
Scientists also found that resistance to ceftriaxone – an antibiotic used to treat human Salmonella infections – was higher in 2010 among Salmonella Heidelberg isolates from both humans and poultry than it had been in 2009, with the exception of isolates from retail chicken breasts.
Ceftriaxone is a member of the cephalosporin class of antimicrobials, which the FDA limited for use in food animals in April of this year in order to “preserve the effectiveness of cephalosporin drugs for treating disease in humans.”
The action prohibits the “extra-label” use of these drugs, meaning that they may not be used at improper dosages or to prevent disease, and only those cephalosporins that are not intended for human or companion animal use may be used in food animals.
“Serotype Heidelberg is an important poultry-associated serotype where ceftriaxone resistance has gone up,” explains McDermott. “FDA will continue to monitor resistance in this serotype following implementation of the extralabel use prohibition.”
According to the NARMS data, ceftriaxone resistance among human strains rose from 8 percent in 2008 to 21 percent in 2009 and again to 24 percent in 2010. Among isolates from chickens at slaughter, resistance to the drug increased from 8.5 percent in 2008 to 18 percent in 2009 and then again to 32 percent in 2010. Resistance in isolates from retail ground turkey and turkeys at slaughter increased from 3.5 percent and 13 percent, respectively, in 2008 to 10 and 33 percent in 2009, and then rose to 24 and 36 percent in 2010.
Among isolates from retail chicken breast, resistance rose from 17 percent in 2008 to 32 percent in 2009 before declining to 24 percent in 2010.
The highest prevalence of ceftriaxone resistance among these meats was found among Typhimurium strains, 81 percent of which were resistant to the drug. Indeed ceftriaxone-resistant Typhumurium has increased in overall prevalence when isolated from chicken breasts, rising from 44 percent in 2007 to 61 percent in 2010.
A similar rise in ceftriaxone resistance was observed in samples taken from animals at slaughter. Resistance in isolates from cattle and turkeys was at its highest since 1997.
In total, the number of samples tested for Salmonella in 2010 included 2,474 samples from humans, 400 from retail meats and 1,073 from healthy food animals at slaughter.

China Sneaks its Chicken in on Man’s Best Friend

Since 2005, pet food imports from China have increased five-fold

by Tony Corbo | Aug 01, 2012
Opinion

The Chinese chicken saga continues…

On July 18, I attended a meeting at the USDA to get an update on the status of poultry exports to the U.S. from the People’s Republic of China. When I returned from the meeting, I saw an email alert from the Food and Drug Administration entitled, “Questions and Answers Regarding Chicken Jerky Treats from China.” The press statement detailed FDA’s investigation into complaints from dog owners who claimed their pets got sick from eating chicken jerky dog treats imported from China. The Chinese will stop at nothing to force its dubious chicken into the U.S. market to unsuspecting consumers, I thought. What an ironic example of how screwed up our food safety system really is.

The USDA has a fairly elaborate process to approve imported meat and poultry products for human consumption. If there are no major issues with the exporting country’s food safety system, it takes about two years between the time a country applies to USDA and publication of the final regulations approving its application. Unfortunately, such a system is not in place for other imported foods that are regulated by the FDA, including pet food.

Food & Water Watch has led a campaign to prevent China to export their poultry products for human consumption since 2005 when the Bush Administration supported regulation to allow China to export processed poultry products to the United States. China first asked the USDA for approval to export its poultry products to the U.S. in 2003. Even though 2004 USDA audits turned up unsanitary conditions in several Chinese poultry plants they visited, and there had been several outbreaks of H5N1 bird flu in Chinese poultry flocks that killed thousands of animals and some humans, the Bush Administration proceeded to propose the new regulation in November 2005 anyway.

Furthermore, the slaughter facilities in China did not meet USDA inspection requirements. So, the proposed regulation restricted any poultry exported to the U.S. to products where the raw poultry came from “approved sources.” At the time, the only “approved sources” were the U.S. or Canada, which meant that North American poultry slaughterhouses could ship their raw carcasses to China to be cooked and the finished products could then be shipped back to the U.S. in order for U.S consumers to “enjoy” them. As ridiculous as that sounds, the Bush Administration approved that rule in April 2006 over the objections of most of the people who commented on the proposed rule, including Food & Water Watch. When the rule was published, USDA estimated that approximately 2.5 million pounds of this exported processed poultry from China would be consumed annually.

Since no U.S. or Canadian poultry processing company stepped forward to take advantage of such a wonderful opportunity, the Chinese stepped up pressure on USDA to permit it to ship processed poultry originating in China directly into the U.S. Then, Congress intervened. Led by Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), the Congress in 2008 and 2009 explicitly prohibited USDA from spending any money to implement or propose any regulations that would permit China to export processed poultry products to the U.S. In response, China filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO) arguing that the U.S. was treating its poultry products unfairly. Big U.S. agribusiness put pressure on the new Obama Administration in 2009 to have the congressional ban lifted because the Chinese had threatened retaliatory action on U.S. agricultural exports to China. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative began to lobby Congress to have the ban lifted. The 2010 spending bill for USDA lifted the ban and China eventually won its WTO case against the U.S.  Even though the Chinese prevailed, it meant that USDA had to restart its review process of the Chinese food safety system.

The Chinese have been less than cooperative in this new review by USDA. According to the verbal report I received from USDA officials on July 18, the Chinese government did not permit USDA inspectors back into their poultry processing facilities until December 2010. USDA inspectors, once again, found food safety deficiencies in those plants. The Chinese wrote to USDA in early 2012 that the deficiencies identified in 2010 audit had been corrected but have yet to schedule a time for USDA inspectors verify Chinese poultry facilities themselves. Why were the Chinese dragging their feet in completing the review process when they have made it such a big trade issue? The July 18 FDA alert on Chinese chicken jerky dog treats offered a major clue. I asked Food & Water Watch’s research department to dig into the volume of pet food imports from China and this is what the found:

Government Releases Food Safety Manual for Pregnant Women

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The two federal agencies in charge of food safety in the U.S. have jointly published a manual of advice for avoiding foodborne illness during pregnancy.
Pregnant women are at higher risk for severe illness from certain foodborne pathogens, including Listeria monocytogenes and Toxoplasma gondii, because hormonal changes render their immune systems more susceptible to infection. Listeria, Toxoplasma and other bugs can be dangerous or even fatal to both the mother and her unborn baby.
Food Safety for Pregnant Women” was released Wednesday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture along with updated versions of five pre-existing food safety booklets for other groups of people at risk for serious illness from food poisoning. These include guides for cancer patients, transplant recipients, people with HIV/AIDS, older adults and people with diabetes.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

Two Newborns Sickened with Salmonella at CA Hospital

SickBabyMain.jpgOver the past three weeks, two newborn girls have contracted Salmonella infections at a Central California hospital.

Authorities are investigating how the infants, treated at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto, were exposed to the bacteria.
“We don’t have an answer yet,” said Dr. John Walker of the Stanislaus County’s Public Health Services. “However, there has been intense investigation.”

More Victims in Live Poultry Salmonella Outbreak

DucklingsMain.jpgThree strains of Salmonella linked to baby chicks and ducklings have sickened 144 people in 26 states, up from the 123 people in 25 states reported in a June 11 outbreak update.

The three types of bacteria – Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Lille –  have been traced to baby poultry from the Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio, which sells chicks and ducklings through mail orders, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of people sickened in each state is as follows: Alabama (4), Arizona (1), Delaware (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (1), Indiana (3), Kansas (1), Kentucky (5), Louisiana (1), Maine (4), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (2), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), New York (16), North Carolina (14), Ohio (37), Pennsylvania (11), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (11), Texas (2), Vermont (1), Virginia (10) and West Virginia (7).

61 Now Ill in Ohio E. coli Outbreak at Picnic

At least 61 people are now ill with E. coli O157:H7 linked to a picnic held by Neff’s Lawn Care in Germantown, Ohio, according to the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department.

Of those sickened, 11 have been hospitalized and 11 have tested positive for the same strain of E. coli, said Bill Wharton, spokesman for the health department.
The cause of the outbreak remains unknown as health officials continue their investigation. Between 200 and 300 people attended the event, and the health department suspects more individuals may report illnesses.
Those who attended the event and fell ill are encouraged to contact the health department at 937-225-4460.

E. coli Cases in CA Now Linked to New Brunswick Outbreak

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Back in late April, at least 18 people fell ill with E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating at Jungle Jim’s restaurant in Miramichi, New Brunswick. Two months later, when Canadian health officials finally linked the illnesses to romaine lettuce served at the restaurant, they also announced that matching infections had cropped up in both California and Quebec.
But that was all the information they provided, and it prompted a number of questions about the California connection: Did Californians travel to New Brunswick and eat at Jungle Jim’s, or did the infections occur in California? Were they infected near late April? Did the E. coli strains match genetically? Did they eat romaine lettuce?
For more than a week, no one would say. But on Thursday, the California Department of Public Health provided Food Safety News with some answers.
The California infections occurred in California — none of the people sickened had been traveling to Canada. The state health department spokesman would not say how many Californians were involved in the outbreak.
However, their infections occurred in April, near the time of the New Brunswick outbreak. The official said the cases share “common food item consumption” and that the strains implicated in California and Canada were indistinguishable from one another when analyzed through pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).
In short, the evidence strongly suggests that Californians and Canadians were separately infected with the same strain of E. coli O157:H7 after contact with the same batch of romaine lettuce. The majority of romaine lettuce grown between April and October comes from California, and this lettuce may have come from packages that intermingled product from multiple farms.

Girl In Critical Condition with E. coli HUS Linked to Neff’s Lawn Care Picnic

Bill Wharton with the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department told Food Poisoning Bulletin that a 4-year-old girl is hospitalized in critical condition with hemolytic uremic syndrome, a complication of an E. coli 0157:H7 infection contracted at the Neff’s Lawn Care picnic in Germantown Ohio on July 3. Her condition was downgraded to critical on July 12, 2012.

So far, 62 people have been sickened in this outbreak and 13 people have been hospitalized. Public health officials have not determined the source of the bacteria. Mr. Wharton said, “there was very little, if any, food left over from the picnic.” And many people attending the picnic brought their own foods to the event, complicating matters further.

Get E. coli-HUS help here.

The health department is continuing to interview those who are ill and those who prepared the food consumed at the picnic. The investigators are also looking at food handling, storage practices, potential for cross-contamination, and food temperature controls.

Read Full Article Here

Rocky Ford Cantaloupes Are Back On Sale In Colorado

Rocky Ford cantaloupes were not exactly rolled out as planned on Friday, July 13 for their first sales following last year’s deadly Listeria outbreak.
Instead, the new Rocky Ford Growers Association (RFGA) opted to give away 450 pounds of the cantaloupe during the previous weekend at the popular Cherry Creek Arts Festival. People lined up ten deep to get their hands on the first Rocky Fords of the season.
Friday was the first day Rocky Ford cantaloupes were supposed to be available at some King Soopers stores, which make up about 35 percent of the grocery business in Colorado. Whole Foods, Wal-Mart and Safeway stores won’t get their first Rocky Ford cantaloupes until next Friday, July 20.

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June’s hot weather moved this season’s harvest forward by a couple of weeks and the crop is much smaller than a year ago because growers planted fewer acres with cantaloupe.
Growers say the hot days and cool nights experienced in the growing area along the Arkansas River produce a melon with the high sugar content that is favored by consumers.
Last year, Rocky Ford cantaloupes were pulled from the shelves on September 5 because the melons were linked to a 28-state Listeria outbreak that killed as many as 37 people and sickened at least 146.
It was the most deadly U.S. foodborne illness outbreak in a century.
The actual source of the outbreak proved to be Jensen Farms, a cantaloupe grower on the Colorado/Kansas border. While the company’s farm is located about 90 miles away from the historic Rocky Ford growing areas, Jensen still marketed its cantaloupes under the “Rocky Ford” label in 24 states.

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Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Minnesota Denny’s

SalmonellaBlueBugsMain.jpgThree people were hospitalized with Salmonella Montevideo infections after eating at Denny’s in Rochester, MN. One more case has not been confirmed but is thought to be part of the outbreak.

The three patrons became ill between July 2 and July 7 after eating at the same Rochester Denny’s between June 27 and July 5. Officials at Olmsted County Health Services are looking into how the bacteria might have entered the restaurant, and suspect that it was being carried by a customer or employee.
The restaurant has been fully cooperative throughout the investigation, taking all measures recommended by health officials. County and state health departments have discarded potentially contaminated foods, sanitized all food preparation surfaces, enforced glove use among all employees and excluded all ill or recently ill workers.

Oyster Bay Shellfish Harvest Suspended After 8 Fall Ill

Shellfish harvesting in areas in Oyster Bay, New York has been suspended after 8 people who ate shellfish from that area were sickened with Vibrio parahaemolyticus infections.

Approximately 1,980 acres on the north shore of Oyster Bay have been closed until environmental samples reveal that the danger of Vibrio contamination has passed, announced the New York Department of Environmental Conservation Friday.

The New York State Department of Health reported that 3 residents of Nassau County – where Oyster Bay is located – and 5 people from 3 other states became ill after eating raw or partially cooked shellfish from Oyster Bay Harbor.
Laboratory analysis has confirmed that the infections were caused by the Vibrio bacteria, a naturally-occuring organism that thrives in warm marine water environments.
Symptoms of Vibrio infection usually occur around 24 hours after ingesting the bacteria, and include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Symptoms usually resolve within a week. Illness may be more severe in those with compromised immune symptoms or preexisting chronic diseases.

Man’s Death May Be Linked to Last Year’s Listeria Outbreak

PulseNet’s genetic fingerprint may link Montana death to Listeria-tainted cantaloupe outbreak

twowholecantaloupe-406.jpgLast fall’s outbreak of Listeria traced to cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado grew into one of the deadliest in U.S. history, causing at least 146 illnesses and 32 deaths. But as with any outbreak, health officials can never say for certain that the contaminated product did not sicken, or even kill, more than those counted.

Now, just as Colorado cantaloupes return to store shelves for the new growing season, the foodborne pathogen tracking network known as PulseNet may have connected the cantaloupe outbreak to a listeriosis death in Montana.

The connection was made when PulseNet discovered that a clinical sample of Listeria from a 75-year-old Bozeman, Montana man who died in January was indistinguishable from a rare genetic fingerprint of Listeria found on a cantaloupe from an outbreak victim’s home. PulseNet compares pathogen samples across the U.S. using a DNA mapping technique called pulsed field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE.

Benjamin Silk, Ph.D., epidemiologist for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Food Safety News that the Bozeman victim was now considered part of the outbreak, bringing the official case count to 147 people in 28 states. The CDC has stopped short of attributing the man’s death to the outbreak until health officials in Montana complete an investigation into his infection and other health complications.
“The high number of deaths associated with this outbreak have caused them to be a focal point, but it’s hard to say whether an infection caused death when it happens weeks or months after infection, especially in elderly victims,” Silk said. “The medical risk factors that lead to susceptibility for Listeria infection can also independently be linked to risk of death.”
Either way, Silk said the CDC is certain that the man suffered a Listeria infection from eating Jensen Farms cantaloupes months prior to his death. One other case in Montana has been known since early in the outbreak investigation.

The Montana death had not been linked to the cantaloupe outbreak before now because the victim’s specific Listeria infection was not associated with PFGE pattern combinations from any other outbreak victims, food samples or samples found at Jensen Farms. Following months of investigation, health officials and the public were under the impression that Jensen Farms’ cantaloupes had transmitted four different PFGE combinations of Listeria to victims, and his combination was not one of those.

Wyoming To Loosen Raw Milk Rules, Just A Bit

Proposed changes to the Wyoming Food Safety Rules put the Cowboy State no closer to allowing commercial sales of raw milk, leaving advocates for retail sales disappointed.
Wyoming is one of 20 states that bans the commercial sale of raw milk. That position is not changing, according to the state’s Department of Agriculture. Current law even bans farm families from drinking their own raw milk, but it’s never been enforced that way.
So the proposed rule is being clarified to allow producers who are the sole owners of animals to serve raw milk in their home to family members, non-paying guests, and farm and ranch employees.

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That clarification is included in revisions to the Wyoming Food Safety Rules that the department proposed last May, which are subject to a public comment period and hearing.  At a forum in Casper last week, raw milk advocates showed up to push for retail sales of raw milk as permitted in California.
A veteran of the legislative tussles over raw milk sales, state Rep. Sue Wallis (R-Recluse) sought a more simple and specific change in the rule’s language. She proposed removing the word “sole” from the ownership requirement.
Wallis, first elected to the Wyoming House in 2006, is currently seeking election to her fourth term.
The Casper Star Tribune quoted Wallis as saying, “Because people want fresh milk today, the only way they can get it is to make a deal with somebody who has the capacity to keep a cow.”
Wallis participates in a cow share agreement with someone who cares for the animal and delivers milk to her family ranch on the Bitter Creek in Wyoming’s northern Campbell County.  The department promised to have her suggestion reviewed by the Wyoming attorney general.

Oregon Takes Off the Gloves

Last year, health officials in Oregon announced they would adopt the 2009 FDA Retail Food Code, which governs safety regulations about food workers. But last week, officials said that the Oregon Public Health Division Foodborne Illness Prevention Program will not adopt the “No Bare Hand Contact” section of the Code.

Requiring food workers to use gloves is controversial. In 1999, the FDA evaluated the risks of microbiological contamination of foods by food preparation workers in 81 foodborne illness outbreaks, and found that the majority of outbreaks were caused by transmission of the pathogen to the food by worker’s hands. In 66 of the outbreaks (82%), the food worker was the source of the infection. Seventy-five of the outbreaks involved food workers were infectious at the time of the outbreak.

In 14 out of 34 outbreaks where hand contact was the method of transmission, the implicated food worker was not wearing gloves. But the study found that when workers were wearing gloves, the gloves were used improperly. And that’s the issue that restaurateurs had with the new Oregon plan.
Read Full Article Here

USDA Releases First Results for Non-0157 STEC Tests in Beef Trim

On June 4, 2012, the USDA started required testing of beef trim for six non-0157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria, commonly known as STEC bacteria. Today they released the first report on this new testing system. Those six bacteria, which include E. coli 026, 045, 0103, 0111, 0121, and 0145, cause more than 100,000 illnesses in the United States every year.

Out of 110 analyses of raw ground beef in federal plants, three tested positive for the pathogens. Testing revealed the presence of E. coli 0145 in one sample, E. coli 0103 in 1 sample, and E. coli 045 in one sample. A follow-up RGBC positive test result was obtained for the E. coli 0103 bacteria. Testing also revealed the presence of E. coli 0157:H7 in four samples out of 115.

Read Full Article Here

USDA Decides to Spare Produce Testing Program This Year

lettucerow406.jpgAfter an uptick in press coverage on the impending shutdown of the Microbiological Data Program, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has decided to keep the produce testing program running, at least through the end of the year.

As Food Safety News reported last week, if the program were to shut down, as it was slated to at the end of this month, public testing for pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella on commodities like tomatoes, lettuce and cantaloupes would drop by 80 percent.

“While the Microbiological Data Program does not align with USDA’s core mission, the department will continue its work with state partners using existing agreements to conduct sampling and testing through this program through the end of the year,” a spokesman told Food Safety News late Monday night.

The Obama administration did not request funding for the little-known $4.5 million program in its fiscal year 2013 budget request, arguing that the food safety program did not belong under the Agricultural Marketing Service, where it is currently housed, and Congress has so far not included the program in appropriations bills. (AMS did not respond to a question late Monday about why the Pesticide Data Program, also a food safety program, was not being targeted for elimination in the budget).

State officials who work in MDP labs, which pull produce samples in 11 states, had not been given formal notice about the future of the program as of last week, but some told Food Safety News they had been informed that regular MDP sampling would cease at the end of July. The FDA has not announced any plans to increase produce testing if MDP is cut.

Read Full Article Here

U.S. Third In Food Safety After Israel and France

Safety is almost an asterisk in the Global Food Security Index, recently released by DuPont and the Economist Intelligence Unit.
In an overall assessment of the affordability, availability and quality of food, the United States emerges as No. 1 overall, but America was bested by Israel and France in the “quality” category, where food safety was part of the score.
No surprises that the U.S., with the largest economy and most productive agricultural sector, is the most food secure country on the planet. Losing the Gold and Silver metals on quality and food safety to Israel and France is a little harder to explain.

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In the data set for food safety, the U.S. got 99.3 percent while Israel and France both earned a 100 percent score. The composite is supposed to measure “the enabling environment for food safety.”
The food safety composite was one of about 16 data sets used to create the Global Food Security Index, which covers 105 countries. The U.S., Denmark and Norway topped the overall rankings, in that order.
Commissioned by DuPont, a developer of genetically modified crops, and produced by the data-crunchers at the Economist Intelligence Unit, the new food security index offers a way to compare countries around the globe.
“We’ve always known that what get measured, gets done,” said Ellen Kullman, DuPont’s chairman and chief executive officer.
“As we talked to governments, NGOs, and farmer organizations around the world, we’ve come to realize that while we share a common goal of food security, we do not share a common language,” she said.  “To truly address the root cause of hunger, we must have a common path forward to tackle such pressing issues as food affordability, availability, quality and safety.

Mandatory Pig Traceability Coming Soon to Canada

Traceability is soon going to be a requirement for pigs raised for slaughter in Canada.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has written new regulations designed to require pork producers to identify all farmed pigs and farmed wild boars using approved methods and to record and report all movements of pigs from birth or import to slaughter or export.

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CFIA says new requirements “strengthening Canada’s livestock sector”  will protect Canada’s swine herd, and help reopen export markets in the event of an animal disease outbreak.
The Government of Canada said mandatory traceability for pigs is being required only after consultations with the swine industry, provinces and territories and other stakeholders.
Canada already has mandatory identification systems in place for cattle, bison, and sheep.

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Recalls

Whole Foods in Pittsburgh Recalls Jean Perrin Edel de Cleron Cheese

The Allegheny County Health Department and Whole Foods Market in Pittsburgh are recalling Jean Perrin Edel de Cleron cheese sold at the East Liberty Whole Foods store for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled cheese was packaged in clear plastic wrap with a Whole Foods Market scale label and a code beginning with 293351. The cheese was sold at the store between May 20, 2012 and July 3, 2012.

One person has become ill after eating this product. Anyone who has purchased this cheese should not eat it. Contact the Allegheny County Health Department at 412-687-ACHD if you still have this product in your home so it can be tested for the bacteria.

Read Full Article Here

Corn Chowder Recalled, May Contain Foreign Material

An Indiana firm is recalling 94,850 pounds of corn chowder soup varieties because they may contain foreign materials.

The company – Morgan Foods, Inc. of Austin, IN – issued a voluntary recall of 4 types of corn chowders after receiving complaints from two customers who said they found pieces of a marker pen in the product.
The soups were sold in 18.8 ounce cans, and include the following varieties:
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PMI Nutrition Expands Recall of Aquamax, Mazuri, and LabDiet Products

PMI Nutrition International is recalling AquaMax™ feed products for fish for the potential of elevated vitamin D levels. And the company is expanding its recall to include additional varieties of Mazuri® and LabDiet® feed products for the same problem.

You can see the extensive list of products, along with item number, full product description, package sizes, and lot codes at the FDA site. The products include food for guinea pigs, monkeys, rodents, frogs, leaf eaters, waterfowl, game birds, flamingos, cranes, wolves, moose, zebras, mice, parrots, insectivores, crocodiles, bears, turtles, and ornamental fish.  You can also see all of the product labels at the FDA site.

If you have purchased any of these products, return them to the place of purchase for a refund. For questions or more information, call Customer Service at 1-855-863-0421, extension 224, Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm EDT.

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Articles of Interest

200 Ill With Norovirus Infections After Swimming in WI Lake

LakeWazeeMain.jpgAt least 200 people contracted Norovirus infections after swimming in a Wisconsin lake on the Fourth of July. One child who also swam in the lake was hospitalized.

The Jackson County Health Department, along with the county’s Forestry and Parks division, began an investigation into the outbreak on Monday July 9 after being notified that many people who had been swimming in Lake Wazee the previous week were experiencing vomiting, diarrhea, headache, nausea, fever and body aches, all symptoms of a Norovirus infection.

Read Full Article Here

Food Quality: An Issue As Important As Safety

Opinion
Food safety is important, but it is not the only consideration when choosing foods.
For example, for people in the U.S., the aversion to dog meat and horse meat is more a cultural matter than a safety issue. For Jews and Muslims, the aversion to pork might have begun as a safety issue historically, but now it is more a religious and cultural matter. Some people shun genetically modified foods because they fear such foods would be unsafe to eat, and some shun them for other reasons, such as their environmental or economic impacts. Some people prefer eggs from free range chickens not because it makes a big difference in the quality of the eggs, but because of their concerns about animal cruelty. Foie gras was banned in California because of concerns about animal cruelty, not food safety. Pink slime may be viewed as disgusting even if it is safe to eat. Some people might wish to avoid certain foods because they are farmed or manufactured in ways that harm the environment. No one has argued that whale meat or turtle meat is unsafe. Shark fin soup is not unsafe. Products might be shunned because they are produced under onerous conditions for workers. Some people think particular foods should be controlled because they increase the likelihood of becoming overweight.
Snack manufacturers argue that there are no bad foods, only bad diets. What should regulatory agencies do about that, especially when many people do have bad diets?
A clear distinction should be drawn between unsafe products and unsafe practices. If infants are fed with tea or cola, perhaps along with breast milk or infant formula, they might not get sick immediately, but they may experience health consequences in the future. What about the case in which, to save money, one grandmother diluted the infant formula by half, because, she said, the baby wouldn’t know the difference? Here it is not the products but the practices that are unsafe. Where does one draw the line between safety concerns in the traditional sense, i.e. pathogen contamination, and other food-related concerns?
Agencies with responsibilities for food regulation should be explicit about what is within the scope of their work, and what is excluded. They should explain how they do their work, and be plain about its limitations. This is important because non-specialists don’t make sharp distinctions between questions such as “is it safe for you?” and “is it good for you?” Many people take approval of a product by an official-sounding agency as an endorsement of that product. The manufacturers take advantage of this. They know that if they claim something has been approved by an agency, many customers will think that means it is good for you, or has other virtues. On close examination we might see that approval is actually based on little more than the manufacturers submitting the proper forms, with the agency making no independent assessment of any kind.
If the national food regulatory agency’s mandate is to look only at safety in the narrow sense of worrying about immediate harm to users, which agencies would attend to other considerations that might be important?
To illustrate, there is good evidence that long chain fatty acids in the diets of pregnant women and infants affect the child’s development, not only physically but also intellectually. Ocean fish and beef from grass-fed cows have good fatty acids in them. However, some industrially produced meats – cultured fish fed mainly with grains and cows fed with grains rather than grass – are not as rich in these crucial fatty acids. How should factors that affect consumers’ long-term intellectual development be addressed? Which government food agencies should look after them?
If infant formula manufacturers make bogus claims that synthetic fatty acids added to infant formula make important contributions to infants’ development, who will call on them to account for these claims? If these are not safety issues, what should we name them?

Biotech Riders in Proposed Farm Bill Stir Controversy

It was a battle over agricultural biotechnology that didn’t happen — at least not in the House Agriculture Committee’s July 11 markup of its version of the proposed new Farm Bill.
After a long day of discussing, and then voting on, more than 100 proposed amendments, the wearied-looking legislators finished the markup without addressing some controversial biotech riders tucked into Title X: Horticulture.
But that doesn’t mean heated debate over these riders won’t flare up as the Farm Bill makes its hopeful way toward approval in September.
Critics of agricultural biotechnology say that genetically engineered crops can be harmful to human health and to the environment. They point to warnings from an array of scientists that the artificial insertion of genetic material into plants could cause significant problems such as an increase in the levels of known toxicants in food, the introduction of new toxicants or new allergies, and the reduction of the nutritional value of food.

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On the other side of the health divide, the American Medical Association’s House of Delegates recently reaffirmed its support of biotechnology in the production of safe, nutritious food. AMA also pointed to the continuing validity of federal regulation, saying that food produced through biotechnology poses no more risk than food produced in conventional ways.
In an effort to boost the public’s understanding of this new way of producing food, the International Food Information Council Foundation has released five videos featuring leading physicians in the fields of pediatrics, food allery and obstetrics who answer frequently asked questions about food biotechnology.
In 1992, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration established a policy declaring that there is no substantial or material difference between genetically engineered foods and foods that haven’t been genetically engineered.
Even so, many consumers are wary, if not downright opposed, to this new technology.
In a July 12 press release, the Center for Food Safety vowed to continue its strong opposition to the bill’s attachments, describing them as “irresponsible and unnecessary changes to USDA regulations” that would severely weaken the agency’s oversight of genetically engineered crops, and thus “fundamentally erode science-based review.”
Remaining optimistic, the Center expects the riders to be eliminated on the House floor when the full House considers the draft version of the Farm Bill, or when the House and Senate bills go to conference.
On the other side of the biotech fence, Karen Batra, spokesperson for Biotechnology Industry Organization, BIO, told Food Safety News that the organization doesn’t want to speculate on how Congress will vote on a final package, “but we are pleased with the bipartisan support shown in the committee for clarifying the US regulatory system for ag biotech.”
The fact that the provisions remain in the proposed bill is good news, she said, because they offer common-sense modifications that would benefit an approval system that has become “duplicative, unpredictable and costly.”
Summary of the Riders
According to the summary of the proposed bill, the biotechnology provisions in Title 10 reiterate that the USDA is authorized to regulate the introduction and cultivation of products of biotechnology if the products pose a plant pest risk.
When a petition for deregulation of a biotech variety is received, a comprehensive plant pest risk assessment is conducted. Once it is determined that the product poses no plant pest risk, the authority to regulate the product under the Plant Protection Act ceases and a final decision is made to deregulate the product.
Recent petitions for deregulation have taken several years, though the actual review takes only weeks, and USDA regulation provides for a maximum limit of 180 days.
The current framework of the Plant Protection Act, which is intended to ensure the safety of biotechnology crop reviews, has been impeded by numerous procedural lawsuits. Many of these lawsuits have been proven to include frivolous claims and have been based on extraneous statutes that conflict with USDA’s statutory mandate to regulate based on plant pest risk.
These challenges have strained the limited resources of the USDA, imposed millions of dollars in unnecessary costs on taxpayers and hundreds of millions of dollars in lost opportunity costs on our national economy, and endangered the United States’ leadership role in this new and beneficial field of science.
Agricultural biotechnology is an evolutionary technology with revolutionary potential to feed an ever-increasing world population, while enhancing environmental stewardship.
In conclusion, says the summary, the provisions “will ensure that the transparent, comprehensive and scientifically-based review of these products occurs in a timeframe that facilitates continued innovation and adaptation of new tools to meet the challenges of food security.”

House Farm Bill Future Uncertain

Legislation keeps catfish inspection, seeks recall insurance study

After the House Agriculture Committee completed markup and cleared its version of the farm bill late into the night on Wednesday, Speaker of the House John Boehner on Thursday told reporters that he has not made any decisions about the bill coming to the floor.

“I think Chairman [Frank Lucas (R-OK)] and the committee have done an awful lot of good work. No decisions about coming to the floor,” Boehner told reporters during a press conference. He also said he had some reservations about provisions in the bill, citing what he called “a Society-style dairy program” as an example.

The lack of a timeline is worrying for agricultural interests as current farm bill expires September 30 and there are only a handful of working days left before August recess. Politico reported late Thursday that the bill is one “republican leaders seem to want nothing to do with” and unlikely to see a floor vote — a decision that would infuriate both sides of the aisle and likely force Congress to vote on an extension of current policy.

The House version of the bill, which cleared the ag committee by a 35-11 vote, cuts $16.5 billion from food stamps, roughly $12 billion more the Senate version of the bill that cleared the upper chamber last month. While both bills eliminate direct payments — which have become increasingly controversial as both farm income and deficits soar — the House bill added a new price support system and new insurance for rice and peanut farmers who found the Senate’s safety net lacking.

Genome Sequencing of 100,000 Foodborne Pathogens Underway

New database will speed up outbreak investigations

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Over the past three years, scientists at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have conducted whole genome sequencing on over hundreds of foodborne pathogens to get a detailed map of their DNA. Now, with the help of university researchers and a private company, they’re expanding that figure to 100,000.
The initiative, aptly titled “The 100K Genome Project,” is a private-public collaboration between FDA, the University of California Davis and Agilent, a testing technology company.
By developing this new database, FDA hopes to help health officials cut down on the time it takes to identify the source of an outbreak.
Right now, investigators are able to identify clusters of illnesses by uploading pathogens isolated from different individuals to the government-maintained PulseNet database. But the information in PulseNet can only tell which cases are related. It does not provide the genetic details needed to figure out what food the bug is coming from.
For that, investigators must question victims to see whether they ate a common food in the days preceding their illnesses.
“Humans tend to move around a lot and they don’t have a good memory of what they ate, so getting good information from humans is really hard,” explains Steven Musser, Director of the Office of Regulatory Science at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition.
Musser, who is working on the genome sequencing project, says this new database will supplement PulseNet by providing high-resolution data, such as where an organism was found, whether it is resistant to any antibiotics and perhaps even the food on which it was found.
“In terms of resolution it would be sort of like looking at the stars with the Hubble space telescope versus looking at them with binoculars,” he explained in an interview with Food Safety News.
This new database will be comprised mostly of genetic information on pathogens isolated from food, he says, so if a human isolate is uploaded and matches a pathogen already in the database, investigators will know what region, or even business, the matching food sample came from.

Publisher’s Platform: President Obama, Tell Your Kids Not To Eat Their Fruits and Veggies After August 1st!

Food safety program started by Bush to be killed by Obama at end of July

Opinion
Sign Change.org Petition to Save the Program.President Obama, you probably do not remember my three daughters: Morgan, Olivia and Sydney, hanging out with Sasha and Malia and Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers backstage before one of the inaugural parties, but $50,000 out of my pocket does. As you might remember, I went all in for your 2008 campaign, and judging by the calls and emails that I get on a daily basis from your campaign, you want me to do it again.
Within a few months of taking office, you came face to face with what I have seen for decades – another multi-state foodborne illness outbreak. The now infamous Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella tragedy sickened several hundred throughout the United States and killed nine. I thought you got it when you were quoted as saying:
“That’s what Sasha eats for lunch probably three times a week. And you know, I don’t wanna have to worry about whether she’s gonna get sick as a consequence to having her lunch.”
True, that outbreak – and several others in proceeding years – prompted Congressional action on the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) – that you very, very quietly signed into law.  However, the law still remains unfunded and many of the food safety rules remain hidden away in the your White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

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And, now because of industry pressure, your administration wants to kill the $4.5M budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP).  Ironically, to this long-time democratic supporter, the program was launched under President Bush’s 2001 Food Safety Initiative, and until the end of July tested about 15,000 samples of fruits and vegetables each year, far more than any other federal or state program.
Here is how MDP works: Public health officials pull samples of tomatoes (cherry, round, roma), cantaloupe, lettuce (leaf, romaine, cut, and pre-washed), celery, parsley, cilantro, spinach (bunched and bagged and pre-washed), hot peppers, sprouts (alfalfa and clover), onions (bulb and green), and yes, even Sasha’s peanut butter, and test for pathogens that can kill your kids and mine.
The samples are collected from distribution centers in 11 states that represent about 50 percent of the United States population. Any isolated pathogens are sent for pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) testing and the resulting genetic pattern is uploaded to the Centers for Disease Control PulseNet database so that it can be matched against human isolates or outbreak patterns. MDP also tests all isolates for antimicrobial resistance and contributes data to the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring (NARMS) database.
From 2009 to 2012, MDP found Salmonella 100 times, E. coli O157:H7 twice and Listeria monocytogenes 8 times. Over the same time period, the program sparked 23 Salmonella recalls, two E. coli O157:H7 recalls and five Listeria recalls.  Of the pathogens the program identified during that time, 39 Salmonella isolates were matched to human illnesses – as were the two E. coli O157:H7 and all eight Listeria isolates.

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Food Safety

 

 

Shigella Outbreak in Onondaga County, New York

Dr. Cynthia Morrow, Commissioner of Health for Onondaga County in New York state, announced on June 22, 2012 that there are 15 lab confirmed and 10 probable cases of shigellosis in that county. More cases are expected as the investigation continues.

“Shigellosis is an infectious disease called by a group of bacteria called Shigella,” she explained. “It is associated with consuming water or products contaminated with fecal matter. The incubation period is 1 – 3 days. Many people who are infected with Shigella develop fever, painful bloody or mucous diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 – 7 days. The disease is often worse in children and medical treatment is sometimes necessary in severe cases.”

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Shigella Outbreak in Onondaga County, New York Grows

Kathy Mogel, Program Coordinator of the Onondaga County Health Department told Food Poisoning Bulletin that there are 20 confirmed cases of Shigella in that county. There are news reports that there are as many as 34 cases, but we’re reporting what the Health Department tells us.

Ms. Mogel said that the age range of patients is from 2 to 84, with about 50% of the cases occurring in children under the age of 10. The Department believes that person to person transmission, also called secondary transmission, is a “significant factor” in the outbreak.

The Health Department is investigating the original source but has not pinpointed one as of June 27, 2012.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

CA Writes Food Safety Standards for Cantaloupes

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California cantaloupes will soon come with the assurance that they meet strict food safety standards, thanks to a mandatory statewide program that includes both announced and unannounced inspections and certification under government oversight.
The plan is for the program to begin this season, which lasts into the fall, but approval of an audit checklist by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is still forthcoming. The goal is to get that done as quickly as possible.
A historic move, this is the state’s first mandatory food safety program implemented by a commodity board. In designing this program – which covers each step of the melon production process from the field to the produce department – the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board collaborated with Western Growers; Trevor Suslow, food safety research specialist at the University of California-Davis Extension; and food safety scientists at Intertox, a risk management firm. The goal was to come up with a program tailored to FDA-approved food safety guidelines for growing, shipping and packing conditions in California.
The board approved the guidelines earlier this month.
A heavy hitter, California provides 70 percent of the cantaloupes sold in this country. During the state’s 5-month season, the industry typically packs and ships around 30 million cartons of cantaloupes. A carton contains 12 to 18 cantaloupes.
These guideline may appear to be a bold, new move on the part of the industry, but Stephen Patricio, chairman and CEO of Westside Produce – a grower, packer and shipper of cantaloupe and honeydew melons – told Food Safety News that this heavy push for food safety is actually a continuation of “business as usual.”
“California’s shippers and handlers have been following food safety standards guidance for the past 20 years,” he said. “It’s part of our culture. We’re proud of our record.”
Patricio says he likes the new program because it has the benefit of setting California cantaloupes apart from cantaloupes from other states and countries.
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“We’ve been meeting these standards with no means to distinguish ourselves,” he said. “Now we have the authority to mandate. This will give us government validation for what we’re doing.”
Auditors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture will be working under USDA authority.
Patricio describes the new program as “the right thing to do.”
“We want to be here long-term and to continue providing safe and healthy food for customers, as well as for our families and workers.”
Pointing to the 100 percent thumbs-up of the program by those voting, Patricio described that as “absolutely unprecedented.
The vote also included a thumbs-up to raising assessments from 1.2 cents per carton to 2 cents per carton to help pay for the program.
UC food safety researcher Suslow told Food Safety News that it’s always “a step forward to demonstrate through independent, objective, and standardized audits that an industry sector has the highest level of compliance with a continually evolving framework for food safety — in this case 100 percent.”
He also said that the review process is still ongoing, which means that the specifics of the final marketing order standards are not yet established.
A marketing order is a concerned group of of agricultural professionals or growers who band together to support their commodity and partner with their state’s agriculture department to make sure everything is done correctly. As such, it is a quasi state authority.
Like Patricio, John Gilstrap of Monfort Management, who manages the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, told Food Safety News that the new program is great news for consumers.
“It will give them peace of mind about California cantaloupes,” he said. “They’ll know that they’ve been grown and handled under the safest conditions possible. It allows us to establish consumer confidence in a product. We hope it will set us apart, if and when a foodborne illness outbreak connected to cantaloupes grown somewhere else happens.”
Another plus, he said, is that “inspectors can shut a place down if they see health problems.”
He also described the program as the “gold standard” for other states, some of which are crafting similar programs.

CSPI Finds Varying Levels of Chemical 4-MI in Coke

Months after Coca-Cola reformulated its soda sold in California to reduce the level of chemical 4-methylimidazole (4-MI or 4-MEI) so that it would not need a carcinogen warning label, the company has not yet tweaked its formulation for other states and countries, new test results show.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest found that Coca-Cola sold abroad contains varying levels of the chemical, which is found in the caramel coloring used to make cola dark brown. The compound has shown to be carcinogenic in some animal studies and CSPI has petitioned the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban 4-MI from food products.

Coca-Cola from Brazil was found to contain 267 micrograms (mcg) of the carcinogen in a 12 ounce can. The same product from Kenya had 177 mcg per 12 ounces. Samples taken from Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico and the United Kingdom ranged from 144 mcg to 160 mcg per 12 ounces.

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Since the state of California recently added 4-MI to its list of carcinogens that must be labeled if found at a certain level, Coca-Cola modified its process to circumvent adding a warning label. The company said at the time that it would eventually expand the use of low 4-MI caramel coloring across the United States and worldwide.

CSPI found just 4 mcg per 12 ounces in soda from the redwood state, but found 144 mcg per 12 ounces in the same product purchased in the District of Columbia. The California law requires food companies to label their product if it would lead to consumers consuming 30 mcg or more each day.

Tempeh Salmonella Case Highlights Illnesses that Fall through the Cracks

tempeh-406.jpgStopping at a café during a trip to Asheville, North Carolina with family this past March, Mary Ann Hurtado decided to order a veggie sandwich while everyone else chose something with meat. It was a choice she regularly made — she’s not a vegetarian by any means, but she does love vegetables.

But less than a week after eating this particular dish, Hurtado found herself lying on a hospital bed back home in Jacksonville, Florida. She had been so sick she couldn’t walk across the room. Her physician decided to connect her to a potassium I.V. drip — the most painful I.V. she’d felt in her life.

A registered nurse, Hurtado spent two nights in the hospital — the same one where she works — before being released with 10 days’ worth of antibiotics. It wasn’t until a week after she was discharged that she finally learned why she got sick: She had contracted a Salmonella infection, but at the time it was impossible to say where it came from.

As it turned out, Hurtado’s sandwich contained unpasteurized tempeh — a soy-based food — from an Asheville-based producer called Smiling Hara. More than a month after she ate her sandwich, Smiling Hara tempeh was identified as the source of a Salmonella Paratyphi B outbreak that had sickened at least 89 people in 5 states. The company had already issued a voluntary recall days earlier, following suspicion its tempeh might have been the source.

“The chills were just so bad – just miserable,” Hurtado said, speaking of her illness a day prior to her emergency room visit. “I was shaking so hard in the bed that I had to move to the couch so I wouldn’t wake up my husband.”

But while Hurtado became so ill that she required hospitalization and I.V. treatment, she is not included among the 89 victim case count and likely never will be. That’s because of technicalities surrounding the identification of her infection.

The bacterial isolate that confirmed her Salmonella infection was never serotyped, meaning that the specific strain was never identified and Hurtado’s infection will never be genetically linked to the strain found in samples of Smiling Hara’s tempeh. In short, she’s in a sort of classification limbo, neither officially confirmed as part of the outbreak nor confirmed to be excluded from it — and she’s likely not alone.

29 out of 30

Considering the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 29 out of 30 Salmonella infections go unreported, Hurtado is potentially one of thousands of people sickened by the tempeh outbreak who will never be counted, either because of epidemiological technicalities or — more often — they just didn’t seek medical attention.

In Hurtado’s case, she fell through the cracks of the outbreak investigation because of where she was hospitalized. While many state health departments — including North Carolina’s — try to identify all cases of foodborne pathogen infections, some states’ do not.

Florida is one that does not typically serotype. Tests that identify bacterial strains cost additional money, which some states choose not to spend. A spokesman for the Florida Department of Health told Food Safety News that the state typically only serotypes isolates “on identified need for enhanced surveillance or suspected outbreak investigation.”

If Hurtado had been hospitalized in North Carolina, she’d likely have a confirmed serotype and been included in the official case count, according to Hurtado’s attorney Bill Marler. Marler’s law firm, Marler Clark, specializes in foodborne illness litigation and underwrites Food Safety News.

Hurtado recently filed the first lawsuit against Smiling Hara and Tempeh Online, the retailer that sold Smiling Hara the Salmonella-contaminated spore culture used to make their tempeh.

Currently, the only states considered to have cases in this outbreak are North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Michigan. New York was originally thought to have a case, but that individual was placed under the banner of North Carolina because they attend college in Asheville.

When Hurtado’s county health department learned of her Salmonella infection, they uploaded her information to a statewide infection database. From there, the Florida Department of Health likely included Hurtado’s basic information in a generalized weekly report to the CDC.

The CDC often coordinates information between states involved in multistate outbreaks, including the Smiling Hara outbreak. But without any serotype information, Hurtado’s infection would not stand out as having any connection to an outbreak. In effect, it looked exactly like the numerous other isolated infections the CDC sees on a weekly basis.

“At this point, it’s not likely [Hurtado] will be considered anything other than another Florida Salmonella case,” said Dr. William Keene, senior epidemiologist for Oregon Public Health. Keene was not involved in the Smiling Hara outbreak investigation, but is considered one of the eminent epidemiologists in public health.

“She’s got the exposure. She was in the right place when the outbreak happened, but without her isolate being compared to the outbreak strain, you can’t really know [she was infected in the outbreak] for sure,” Keene added.

Castle Farms Granted Temporary Permit To Sell Raw Milk

Castle Farms, the farm in Irving, New York that earlier this month was ordered to stop selling raw milk after random testing by the New York State Department of Agriculture  (NYDA) produced a positive result of  E.coli 0157:H7, has been granted a temporary permit to sell raw milk while it undergoes further testing, according to the NYDA.

The temporary permit was granted after a subsequent test for pathogens was negative according to and NYDA official. At least two more negative tests will be required before the permanent permit is reinstated, the official said. In New York, all farms that sell raw milk must be permitted and are inspected monthly.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Scotland Going Independent On Food Safety

It’s not really going down like the plot of “Braveheart,” but the coming 2014 on Scottish Independence is already having large ramifications on food safety regulation in the United Kingdom.
The Scottish Government is pulling out of the UK’s Food Standards Agency, opting instead to set up its own independent Scottish food standards body. The new Scottish agency will be responsible for food safety, food standards, nutrition, food labeling, and meat inspection.

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The independence move actually stems more from the 2010 decision by the UK Government to move food labeling and standards from FSA to UK’s Department of Health and Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and not necessarily in spirit of the planned 2014 Independence vote.
When that decision was announced, the Scottish Government asked Professor Jim Scudamore to conduct an independent review of its options including the stand-alone agency. The Scudamore panel took oral and written testimony from 40 stakeholders over several months, it published its report in April, calling for Scotland to go it alone.
“The changes in England removed significant capacity in the FSA’s nutrition and labeling functions for Scotland and needed to be addressed,” said Michael Matheson, Scotland’s health minister.
Matheson said the Scottish Government have accepted the Scudamore recommendations.” A new body will allow a Scottish approach to be taken to tackle poor diet and food-borne diseases and should support our food and drink industry in growing its strong, international reputation for safe, quality food.”

 

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Study: Salmonella’s pH Sensors Trigger Virulence

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Salmonella bacteria rely on internal pH sensors to initiate their virulent traits after sensing heightened acidity in their environment, according to a study conducted by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale Microbial Diversity Institute.
The findings, published in the June 14 issue of Nature, could someday lead to drugs that disrupt the bacteria’s ability to cause typhoid fever and foodborne illness in humans.
Here’s how the sensors work: When the bacterium senses a change into an acidic environment, it begins producing Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “energy currency” for all living cells. This boost of ATP production creates a protein that in turn activates a number of characteristics within the bacterium, including characteristics related to survival and virulence.

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Recalls

 

 

Salmonella Prompts Organic Sprouts Recall

After routine sampling turned up Salmonella, Mountain Sprouts is recalling organic sprouts under the following names: 4 ounce zesty greens, 5 ounce sprout salad, 4 ounce clover, 2 pound clover, 4 ounce alfalfa/broccoli, 4 ounce alfalfa sprouts, as well as 1 and 2 pound alfalfa sprouts.

According to a company press release, the sprouts were distributed through retail stores and wholesalers in California.

The products come in a 4 or 5 ounce clear, plastic, clamshell container and a 1 or 2 pound ziplock bag with a sell by date from 6/17/12 to 7/6/12.

 

Read Full Article Here

Banner Mountain Sprouts Voluntarily Recalls Organic Sprouts Because of Possible Health Risks
Photos

Recalled 1lb Alfalfa Sprouts

Recalled 1lb Clover Sprouts

Recalled 2lb Alfalfa Sprouts

Recalled 4oz Alfafla Sprouts

Recalled 4oz Alfalfa Broccoli Sprouts

Recalled 4oz Clover Sprouts

Recalled 4oz Zesty Greens

Recalled 5oz Sprout Salad

 

 

 

Possible Listeria-Contaminated Queso Fresco in New York City

quesowarning-featured.jpgNew Yorkers were warned Friday to avoid “Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese” products made by Mexicali Cheese Corp. in Woodhaven, New York due to a possible Listeria contamination.

The product is packaged in a “rigid” 14 oz. plastic tub that displays a plant number of 36-0128 and a code of 071512.
The product was packaged in containers bearing the following names: ‘Mexicali Queso Fresco Medicano,’ ‘Mexican Style Fresh Cheese’ and ‘Acatlan Queso Fresco, Fresh Cheese.’

Salmonella Risk Prompts Dietary Supplement Recall

cataplex.jpgStandard Process Inc. of Palmyra, Wisconsin is voluntarily recalling three dietary supplements due to potential Salmonella Contamination:

  • Cataplex ACP (Product numbers 0700 and 0750) Lot 114
  • Cataplex C (Product numbers 1650 and 1655) Lot 114
  • Pancreatophin PMG (Product number 6650) Lot 114

 

Read Full Article Here

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Food Warnings

 

 

Alakanater Brand Tahina May Contain Salmonella

In Canada, the CFIA and Phoenicia Group Inc. are recalling Tahina (sesame seed paste) because it may be contaminated with Salmonella.

Product details:

  • Alkanater brand Tahina
  • 454 gram containers
  • UPC number 6 92551 00002 0
  • Lot code TT3N-280312
  • Codes PRO: 28/03/2012 AND EXP: 28/03/2014
  • Distributed in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, and Quebec and may have been distributed nationally

No illnesses have been reported in association with the consumption of this product. For questions, call the Phoenicia Group Inc. at 514-389-6363 or the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Lettuce Caused New Brunswick E. coli Outbreak

romainelettuce2-406.jpgAn E. coli O157:H7 outbreak in New Brunswick, Canada that sickened at least 18 people in April has been linked to romaine lettuce, health officials announced Friday. Food Safety News covered this outbreak in May when it was linked to Jungle Jim’s Eatery, but the specific food responsible remained a mystery.

Ill persons ate at Jungle Jim’s Eatery in Miramichi between April 23 and 26. The lettuce was served in salads, wraps and hamburgers.

 

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

 

 

Can Animals Make Us Sick? Yes.

Animal Health was the topic of a June 22 event on Capitol Hill called “From Fido to Food Safety: Roles, Responsibilities and Realities Veterinarians Face in Protecting Public Health,” that was hosted by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Animal Health Institute.

During his keynote address, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford, stated that zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that are transmitted from animals to humans, have accounted for 75 percent of emerging infectious diseases among humans over the last three decades.

Zoonotic diseases include diseases that can be contracted from contact with live animals such as rabies or Lyme’s disease and from animals used as a food sources such as Salmonella and E.coli.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

107 Treated for Gastrointestinal Illness at Notre Dame Sports Camp

At least 107 people have been treated for gastrointestinal illness in an unidentified outbreak linked to a University of Notre Dame sports camp, the university reported Wednesday afternoon.

The number of those treated rose after the university first reported that youth sports camp participants had fallen ill just hours earlier.

“Some 80 youth sports camp participants at the University of Notre Dame were treated today on campus and at local hospitals for a gastrointestinal illness. All have been successfully treated for symptoms that are typical of the stomach flu and short-lived,” said the university in a statement issued around noon on Wednesday. “The cause of the illness is unknown, though it may be related to food or a virus and was not associated with any physical activity. The University is working with the St. Joseph County Health Department in an effort to determine the cause.”

 

Read Full Article here

 

 

FDA Clears Faster Blood Test for the Market

Listeria, MRSA, Streptococcus, and Enterococcus can all be identified much quicker by  the Verigene GP Blood  Culture Nuclear Acid Test (BC-GP), which got marketing approval from the U.S, Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The Verigene test is manufactured by Northbrook, IL-based Nanosphere.
FDA’s decision was based on the study of 1,642 patient blood samples obtained from incubated blood culture bottles that contained gram-positive bacteria.  The study included a comparison of BC-GP and traditional blood culture laboratory methods.

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The quicker Verigene test was consistent with traditional blood culture methods 93 percent of the time.

USDA Makes Progress on Alternatives To Antibiotics

USDA scientists at College Station, TX have discovered that providing sodium chlorate in the drinking water or feed of livestock will reduce the intestinal concentrations of bacteria harmful to humans.
The research is significant because it may lead to alternatives to antibiotics in animal agriculture now used to reduce or eliminate disease-causing pathogens.

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The findings by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Food and Feed Research Unit at College Station are being published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Animal Science.
The organic compounds could be used to check pathogen growth in pork and beef.
The researchers say sodium chlorate has been used in agricultural applications for over 100 years.
“To date, the body of literature suggests that chlorate salts are active against human pathogens such as Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7; that chlorate salts are very well tolerated by most species of animals; and that chlorate is metabolized in food and laboratory animals to a single, non-toxic metabolite,” the researchers wrote.  “Collectively, these results suggest that chlorate salts could be developed into a useful and safe feed or water additive for use in livestock.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

Food Related Amendments to the 2012 Farm Bill

June 11, 2012 By

The U.S. Senate voted last week to proceed with S. 3240, the Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act. Now Senators have submitted more than 80 amendments to the 2012 Farm Bill, as it is commonly known. Among those are amendments that would have an effect on food safety and nutrition.

These are the notable amendments:

  • Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) would like to encourage the purchase of pulse crop products for school meals. Pulses are legumes, such as chickpeas, lentils, and black-eyed peas.
  • The amendments by Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) include requiring more frequent dairy reporting and authorizing small operating loans for producers and farmers markets.
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) wants to strike the reduction in the food stamp program and increase funding for the fresh fruit and vegetable program.
  • Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) wants to replace the food stamp program with a block grant (and repeal the estate tax).
  • Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would like to increase criminal penalties for “knowing and intentional” violations to food that is misbranded or adulterated.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants to repeal the Lacey Act and allow trade in “illegally obtained wildlife, fish, and plants.” He also wants to allow interstate shipment of raw milk.
  • Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) wants to eliminate the farmers market and local food promotion program.

Read Full Article Here

123 Now Sickened in Baby Poultry Salmonella Outbreak

At least 123 people in 25 states have been infected with Salmonella linked to live chicks and ducklings purchased from Ohio-based mail-order hatchery, Mt. Healthy Hatchery, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
One person has died in New York, though it is unclear if the infection contributed to the death. At least 26 people have been hospitalized.
The number of ill by state are as follows:
Alabama (4 illnesses), Delaware (1), Georgia (5), Illinois (1), Indiana (3), Kansas (1), Kentucky (5), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1), Maine (3), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), New York (16), North Carolina (12), Ohio (30), Pennsylvania (10), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (8), Texas (2), Vermont (1), Virginia (6) and West Virginia (7).
The infections come from three different strains of Salmonella, each linked to the same hatchery: Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Lille.

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Read Full Article Here

Complacency, Not Fatigue, The Only Real Recall Danger

Americans handle a lot without fatigue ever becoming a issue. Consider just a few examples:
– We pick our way through an estimated 50,000 items each time we do the grocery shopping.
– We keep track of who’s who among the 150,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild.
– We know enough about the 13,458 pages of the federal tax code to get us by under penalty of law.
– We use our ears to decide what we like among 50 music albums released weekly–2,500 hundred a year and ten times as many singles.
But every so often, somebody suggests the existence of something called “recall fatigue,” the notion that Americans cannot sort out the recalls made by businesses regulated by the federal government, including by the food industry. The fear is that due to volume, consumers might miss an important recall notice or they might just ignore a notice they needed to follow.
The latest to report “Recall Fatigue Prompts Concern” is USA Today with a story that was widely published in local Gannet newspapers around the country.

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It quotes Mike Rozembajgier, vice president of recalls at Stericycle Expert Recall, as saying: “We’re experiencing recall fatigue in my mind at the consumer level and also perhaps at the business level, and we have to worry about that.”  It suggests government regulators share that concern.
The Indianapolis-based Stericycle has provided Food Safety News with data on food recalls for the last couple of quarters. We quote Rozembajgier last February as saying the fourth quarter spike in food recalls could be causing that “recall fatigue.”
But does “recall fatigue” exist?  If so, with who?
In 2011’s last three months, the 176 food recalls by 150 companies were enough to bring on that “recall fatigue.”  In the first quarter of 2012, however, the number of food recalls dropped by 19 percent, apparently curing the fatigue problem.
The broader recall fatigue problem we supposedly have now concerns all recalled products.  Last year, U.S, manufacturers recalled 2,365 products of all sorts from birth control pills to high chairs.

And while that might be a higher number than U.S. manufacturers and retailers might like, there is really no evidence that any regulator is losing any sleep over it

Read Full Article Here

GAO Blasts Moving Catfish from FDA to USDA Jurisdiction

Step would be costly, impractical, report says

by Helena Bottemiller | Jun 12, 2012

It is just not an efficient use of resources to move catfish inspection to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to a frank new report by the Government Accountability Office.

Seafood safety falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, but language in the the 2008 Farm Bill mandated that domestic catfish get special treatment and be inspected by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which currently oversees meat, poultry and processed egg products.

With food safety regulation already highly fragmented, disjointed, and overlapping, why would Congress add to the problem by singling out a certain sector? The idea was to give domestic catfish producers a leg up on foreign producers, who have been flooding the U.S. market with catfish, or catfish-like species (there is no settled definition of “catfish”).

In 2002, imported catfish made up around 2 percent of the U.S. market and by 2010 imports accounted for 23 percent of the market, according to GAO.

Senator Thad Cochran (R) of Mississippi — a major catfish-raising state — has been pressing USDA to put the inspection program in place for three years. At a recent Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget, Cochran brought the issue up with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

“The outcome of this inspection process remains important to the U.S. fish industry, particularly in the South where a substantial investment has been made to produce catfish,” said Cochran. “We authorized this program to assure Americans that imported fish is being held to the same standards as domestic catfish and to put our catfish industry on more equal footing with the global competition.”

But the GAO report questions whether the USDA inspection program would improve food safety, pointing out that federal regulators are using “outdated and limited” information in their risk assessment, upon which the inspection program would be based.

The GAO notes that, in the risk assessment, FSIS identified just one outbreak of Salmonella, but the incident “was not clearly linked to catfish.”

The outbreak cited also occurred in 1991, before the FDA’s 1997 Seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point regulations, which requires firms to identify where hazards might occur in their process and take steps to mitigate the risks.

According to GAO, no catfish-linked Salmonella outbreaks have happened since.

Read Full Article Here

Some UK Residents Risk Food Poisoning To Save Money, Study Says

It’s Food Safety Week in the U.K. and to kick things off, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has published the results of a study that  shows some people are taking big risks with the food they eat and prepare at home in an effort to save money.

Almost all of those surveyed, 97 percent, responded “yes” when asked if they believed their grocery bills had gone up significantly over the last three years. And about half, 47 percent, said they are trying to stretch their dollars, er, pounds, by making better use of leftovers. But some of them are taking things too far, and risking food poisoning with their frugality, according to the study.

For example, some of them are eating leftovers that should have been tossed and others are ignoring “use by” dates on food packaging. “Use by” dates are important because they are frequently used on chilled or ready-to-eat foods that can quickly become unsafe when their natural shelf-life is over, says the FSA.

Read Full Article Here

Grocery Manufacturers Association Adds Food Safety Staff

The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) announced Monday it has added two experts to its food safety staff: Melinda Hayman, Ph.D., as the group’s director of microbiology and William Koshute, M.S., as a chemistry scientist.

“GMA has a world-class food safety practice, and I am confident that both Melinda and William have the scientific expertise and experience to help make it even more robust and effective,” said Dr. Dunaif, the group’s vice president of Food Safety and Technical Services.  “Their appointments are part of GMA’s continued commitment to strengthen its scientific and technical capabilities in critically important areas of food safety.”

According to GMA’s announcement:

Read Full Article Here

FDA Improves Adulterated Foods Tracking System

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration took steps this month to improve its ability to track patterns in food adulteration with its Reportable Foods Registry.
The Reportable Foods Registry, or RFR, is an online portal where companies are required to report foods they have manufactured that may be dangerous to human or animal health. Public health officials may also report food adulteration there, but this reporting is optional.
FDA is updating the RFR questionnaire so that the agency can gather more detailed information about each case in the hopes of gaining better insight into how adulteration occurs.
The goal of the RFR, which was created in 2009, is to find trends in food adulteration to help FDA figure out the most effective ways to focus its limited inspection resources to prevent problems.

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The new data fields in RFR allow reporters to input the specific agent of contamination, i.e. “Salmonella,” or “peanut,” and, in the case of bacterial contamination, asks whether a bacterial isolate is available. It also requests more details about the product in question and asks reporters whether the product has been removed from the market.

“As [RFR] lives and it’s been utilized, we’ve learned a lot,” explains Kathy Gombas, Acting Director of the Office of Food Safety Communication and Emergency Response at FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).

Read Full Article Here

How California’s GM food referendum may change what America eats

The vast majority of Americans want genetically modified food labelled. If California passes November’s ballot, they could get it

A child eating Kelloggs cornflakes

In the US, an estimated 70% of items on supermarket shelves contain GM ingredients, commonly corn, soy and canola oil products. Photograph: David Sillitoe/Guardian

Last month, nearly 1m signatures were delivered to county registrars throughout California calling for a referendum on the labeling of genetically engineered foods. If the measure, “The Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act”, which will be on the ballot in November, passes, California will become the first state in the nation to require that GM foods be labeled as such on the package.

This is not the first time that the issue has come up in California. Several labeling laws have been drafted there, but none has made it out of legislative committee. Lawmakers in states like Vermont and Connecticut have also proposed labeling legislation, which has gone nowhere in the face of stiff industry opposition. And the US Congress has likewise seen sporadic, unsuccessful attempts to mandate GM food labeling since 1999.

What makes the referendum in California different is that, for the first time, voters and not politicians will be the ones to decide. And this has the food industry worried. Understandably so, since only one in four Americans is convinced that GMOs are “basically safe”, according to a survey conducted by the Mellman Group, and a big majority wants food containing GMOs to be labeled.

This is one of the few issues in America today that enjoys broad bipartisan support: 89% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats want genetically altered foods to be labeled, as they already are in 40 nations in Europe, in Brazil, and even in China. In 2007, then candidate Obama latched onto this popular issue saying that he would push for labeling – a promise the president has yet to keep.

In Europe, only 5% of food sold contains GMOs, a figure that continues to shrink. In the US, by contrast, an estimated 70% of the products on supermarket shelves include at least traces of genetically engineered crops – mostly, corn and soy byproducts and canola oil, which are ingredients in many of America’s processed foods.

Given their unpopularity with consumers, labeling “Frankenfoods” would undoubtedly hurt sales, possibly even forcing supermarkets to take them off their shelves. In one survey, just over half of those polled said they would not buy food that they knew to be genetically modified.

This makes the financial stakes for November’s referendum vote huge. California is not just America’s leading agricultural state, but the most populous state in the nation. If companies are made to change their labels in California, they may well do so all over the country, rather than maintain a costly two-tier packaging and distribution system.

Several hurdles will have to be overcome, however, before this happens. The ballot initiative will face fierce opposition from the food and biotech industries, which are expected to spend an estimated $60-100m on an advertising blitz to convince Californians that labeling is unnecessary, will hurt farmers, increase their food prices, and even contribute to world hunger.

One lobbyist the corporations have hired to make this case is Tom Hiltachk, the head of the Coalition Against the Costly Food Labeling Proposition (CACFLP), whose members include the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), Monsanto, BASF, Bayer, Dow and Syngenta, as well as several big food processors and supermarket chains. Hiltachk is no stranger to the shadowy world of industry front groups, according to Alexis Baden-Mayer, political director of the Organic Consumers Association. The food activist reported on Alternet that:

Read Full Article Here

Notre Dame research shows food-trade network vulnerable to fast spread of contaminants

by Staff Writers
Notre Dame IN (SPX)


By 2030, food demand is expected to increase by 50 percent. Global food transport has been increasing at an exponential rate since the 1960s – faster than food production itself.

University of Notre Dame network physicists Maria Ercsey-Ravasz and Zoltan Toroczkai of the Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications, in collaboration with food science experts, have recently published a rigorous analysis of the international food-trade network that shows the network’s vulnerability to the fast spread of contaminants as well as the correlation between known food poisoning outbreaks and the centrality of countries on the network.

Together with food science experts Jozsef Baranyi, from the Institute of Food Research in the U.K., and Zoltan Lakner, of Corvinus University in Budapest, Ercsey-Ravasz and Toroczkai recently published their results in the journal PLoS ONE.

As the world’s population climbs past 7 billion, the sustainable production and distribution of food is balanced against the need to ensure its chemical and microbiological safety. The new paper maps the international agro-food trade network (IFTN) – a highly complex and heterogeneous system formed around a core group of seven countries, each trading with more than 77 percent of the world’s nations.

Since any two countries in the IFTN have only two degrees of separation on the network, the IFTN is capable of spreading a foodborne contaminant very efficiently. It also tends to mask the contaminant’s origins once the system is compromised, since so many network paths run through the central nodes.

By 2030, food demand is expected to increase by 50 percent. Global food transport has been increasing at an exponential rate since the 1960s – faster than food production itself. As the system grows, so does pressure on regulation and surveillance organizations to track contaminants and prevent deadly outbreaks, such as the 2011 events in the U.S. (Listeria monocytogenes_) and Germany (_Escherichia coli).

While the paper does not predict an increase in food poisoning cases, it does predict significant delays with serious potential consequences in the identification of the outbreaks’ sources – calling for an interdisciplinary and incentivized approach to the understanding of the IFTN that will build on its identification of the network’s critical spots.

The paper, “Complexity of the International Agro-Food Trade Network and Its Impact on Food Safety,” was published in PLoS ONE as part of an international research collaboration between the aforementioned institutions. Ercsey-Ravasz is currently at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. Romania.

Related Links
University of Notre Dame
Farming Today – Suppliers and Technology

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Recalls

CA Recalls More Farmers Market Soups for Botulism Potential

The California Department of Health is warning consumers not to eat certain soups sold at  southern California farmers markets because they may have been produced in a way that makes them susceptible to Clostridium botulinum.

CDPH said Monday that canned soups manufactured by Malibu-based One Gun Ranch and Santa Barbara-based Organic Soup Kitchen had the potential to be contaminated with the bacteria, which produces harmful toxins that can be dangerous to human health.
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The soups from One Gun Ranch (left) that are subject to the warning include: Campfire Kitchen Cauliflower Soup, Heirloom Tomato Fennel Gaspacho Soup, Sequoia’s Skinny Spiced Coconut, Parsnip, and Tumeric Soup, Oassian’s Pumpkin Stew and Freddy’s Firegrilled Meatballs. The soups were sold only at the Pacific Palisades Farmers Market located at Swarthmore Avenue and Sunset Blvd. in Pacific Palisades, CA on May 13, 2012 and June 3, 2012. They were sold in 16 oz. glass jars with screw-on metal lids.
The soups from Organic Soup Kitchen (below) were sold at two farmers markets: the Calabasas Farmers Market, located at Calabasas Road and El Canon Avenue in Calabasas, CA 91302 (Saturdays) and the Studio City Farmers Market, located at Ventura Place between Laurel Canyon Boulevard and Radford Avenue, Studio City, CA 91604 (Sundays). The soups were sold between June 6,2011 and May 6, 2012 in one-quart jars with screw-on metal lids. The affected soups include the following flavors: Fire Roasted Yam, Curried Potato Leek, Curry Lentil Bisque, Tomato Bean and Wild Herb and Mediterranean Chipotle Chili.

Pork Dumplings Recalled for Undeclared MSG

A California-based company is recalling 55,757 pounds of pork dumpling products because they contain monosodium glutamate (MSG), but this ingredient is not listed on packaging.

CB Foods, Inc. of Monte, CA issued a voluntary recall of the pork dumplings after a food safety assessment by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service revealed that the chicken powder used in the product is made with MSG, but that only the powder and not the MSG were listed on its label.

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The products subject to recall include 12.5 pound cases or trays of “Pork Shaomi Dumpling” with a case code of 002. Each box is marked with establishment number “EST. 39932,” located inside the USDA mark of inspection.
The recalled products were produced from June of 2011 until June 5, 2012 and were distributed to hotels in California and Nevada.

Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Recalled for Missing Allergen Statement

Unilever of New Jersey is recalling pint containers of Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream because the packages are missing this allergen statement: “Allergy information: Fudge covered wafer pieces have been manufactured on shared equipment that processes peanuts and tree nuts.” Anyone with a severe allergy to peanuts or tree nuts (chestnuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pine nuts, and cashews) may have a life-threatening reaction if they eat this ice cream.

Read Full Article Here

E. Coli Found in Raw Milk from NY Dairy

A farm in upstate New York has been prohibited from selling its raw milk after a sample of the product tested positive for E. coli O157:H7.

New York State Agricultural Commissioner Darrel J. Aubertine warned consumers Tuesday not to consume unpasteurized milk from Castle Farms of Irving, NY – located in Chautauqua County – because the milk may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.
The bacteria was discovered in a sample of the farm’s raw milk taken by a health department inspector on June 4. On June 7, Castle Farms was notified that the sample had tested positive for E. coli and the owners voluntarily removed their raw milk from the market. On June 12, test results were confirmed. The company – which is licensed by the State as a raw milk vendor – is now temporarily banned from selling the product until further testing shows that its raw milk is free from pathogens.

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According to its website, Castle Farms sells milk from goats (cow’s milk does not appear to be an item they sell), so it is likely that the banned raw milk is goat milk.

Read Full Article Here

WA Creamery Recalls Cheese: Potential Listeria Contamination

A creamery in Northwest Washington is recalling 124 pounds of cheese because it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

Golden Glen Creamery of Bow, WA Tuesday issued a voluntary recall of its Red Pepper with Onion & Garlic Cheddar produced on August 30, 2011 because a sample of the product taken by the Washington State Department of Agriculture tested positive for Listeria.
In its recall notice, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted that other samples from the same batch have tested negative at an independent, state-approved laboratory to which the Creamery has submitted samples.

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The cheese subject to this recall was sold from March 1 through June 7 of 2012 at farmers markets in Skagit, Snohomish and King counties in Washington State, and at independent retailers in Washington State and Oregon. It was distributed in pre-cut, random weight packages ranging from 1/3 pound to 1/2 pound pieces. The labels read, in part: “Medium Cheddar – Red Pepper with Onion & Garlic,” “GOLDEN GLEN CREAMERY,” and “Natural handcrafted cheese produced by the Jensen Ladies.” The packages were marked with three-digit branch code 887.
The creamery is no longer distributing the batch in question.

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Articles of Interest

Food Safety Attorney Bill Marler to Present Webinar

Food safety attorney and Food Safety News publisher Bill Marler will present a webinar on the legal consequences of poor food safety practices on June 14.
In the webinar hosted by Food Seminars International, Marler will elaborate on his work in
foodborne illness litigation. The webinar will include discussion on the obstacles companies face in prioritizing food safety, the common methods used to prove a foodborne illness claim and the roles that epidemiology and public health play in food safety, among other topics.
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Marler has specialized in foodborne illness litigation cases since 1993, when he represented victims of the famous Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak. His law firm, Marler Clark, has secured more than $600 million for clients in cases against food companies that have caused death
and serious injury to customers.

E. coli Sculpture Headed to Oklahoma City

Spotted: E. coli bacterium in Oklahoma City.

Not to worry, this specimen is not alive. It’s a glass sculpture by artist Luke Jerram and it’s going on display this week at the Oklahoma City Art Museum as part of an exhibit called FUSION [A New Century of Glass].
The work, aptly named E. coli, is a clear glass figure, complete with flagellum – the tiny hairs on an E. coli cell – flowing from its sides and back.

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While E. coli bacteria are typically microscopic, measuring around 1 micrometer wide and anywhere from 2 – 6 micrometers long, this one is amplified to almost 4 1/2 feet long and 11/2 feet wide.

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

Maryland First State to Ban Arsenic in Poultry Feed

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley Tuesday signed a bill banning arsenic in poultry feed, making his state the first to have a law against the practice on the books.

chickens-ag-gag-iphone.jpgThe new law, which takes effect Jan 1, prohibits the use, sale, or distribution of commercial feed containing arsenic and specifically mentions two Pfizer drugs that contain arsenic: Roxarsone, which the company voluntarily withdrew from the market last year, and Histostat, which is still on the market.

The move follows a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) study released last summer that found increased levels of inorganic arsenic in the livers of chickens treated with the Roxarsone. The new data raised concerns of a “very low but completely avoidable exposure to a carcinogen,” said Michael Taylor, FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods, when FDA announced the company was withdrawing the drug in response to the study’s findings.

Read Full Article Here

 

 

Arsenic in your chicken: Guess who is defending its use?

By Craig Stellpflug,
(NaturalNews) Arsenic in our food supply hasMay 24 2012  a very rich ally and that ally is Pfizer. You see, arsenic is routinely fed to poultry because it increases the growth of the chicken and makes the flesh an appetizing shade of pink (a side effect of burst blood vessels). Of course arsenic could eventually kill the hapless chicken but usually not before the slaughterhouse gets them. All arsenic compounds have mutagenic potential and are known carcinogens. About 9 out of 10 broiler chickens in the United…

Charlotte, NC Restaurant to Offer Pasteurized Eggs

Toast of Dilworth, the popular North Carolina restaurant linked to a Salmonella outbreak this past spring that sickened 10 people, is switching to pasteurized eggs.

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The Charlotte restaurant has signed with the Davidson’s Safest Choice brand to provide the shell eggs.
Toast of Dilworth was sued in Mecklenburg Superior Court earlier this month by Charlotte resident Bryan McWherter, whose complaint alleges he suffered gastrointestinal injuries from a Salmonella infection caused by eggs he ate at the restaurant in April. Marler Clark, the food safety law firm that sponsors Food Safety News, represents McWherter.

Tainted Spinach Detected by Program Budget Cuts Will Ax

Microbiological Data Program scheduled to shut down in July

The discovery of Salmonella in bagged organic baby spinach that led to a nationwide recall Tuesday has been attributed to a small government testing program that, ironically, is set to be eliminated in the 2013 federal budget plan.

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The Microbiological Data Program, a network of 11 labs that screen fresh produce for pathogens, discovered the contamination during routine testing, according to a program employee. The program, also known as MDP, has been fighting to survive for years as the produce industry has lobbied to have it eliminated.
Now, after its $5 million in funding was cut out of the coming year’s budget, MDP, housed within the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, is scheduled to be shut down in July.
In its budget request for FY 2013, the Obama administration justified cutting MDP, calling it a “lower-priority program because it has a low impact and is not central to the core mission of AMS, which is to facilitate the competitive and efficient marketing of agricultural products.”

Curtailed Funds Continue to Hurt Local Public Health

Since 2008, local public health departments in the United States have lost nearly 40,000 employees, and the situation continues to deteriorate, according to the most recent survey, conducted in January and February, by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

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One health official told NACCHO that “fiscal year 2013 is shaping up to be the worst fiscal year for us … We may have to reduce or eliminate certain programs, should the financial situation worsen.”
Another official was even gloomier: “Next year will present a large challenge and even threatens our continuance. In 25 years I’ve not confronted this level of threat to our existence as a going entity. Our situation is dire.”

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Recalls

Taylor Farms Recalls Organic Baby Spinach for Salmonella Risk

Taylor Farms Retail of Salinas, CA is recalling Organic Baby Spinach that may be contaminated with Salmonella.

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A random test conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a finished package of spinach detected Salmonella, according to the recall alert.
The company says there have been no reported illnesses attributed to the recalled spinach.

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Allergen Alert

Allergen Alert: Lasagna With Soy

West Best Foods of Las Vegas, NV is recalling approximately 13,776 pounds of lasagna products because they contain soy, an allergen not declared on the label, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Tuesday.

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The problem was discovered during a routine food safety assessment and may have occurred as a result of an ingredient reformulation, according to the company’s recall alert.

Allergen Alert: Sorbet With Milk Protein

Harris Teeter is recalling HT Traders Sorbet in lemon, raspberry, mango, coconut and orange flavors due to possible undeclared milk protein.

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This recall affects the below products:

Allergen Alert: Barbecue Sauce With Anchovies

Honeyville Honey Farm of Durango, CO is recalling certain bottles of Honeyville Honey Barbecue Sauce because an ingredient, Worcestershire sauce, contains anchovies.

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An onsite FDA inspection this month revealed that the product’s labeling did not reveal the presence of anchovies.

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Articles of Interest

Nearly 1,000 dogs now sick from jerky treats, FDA reports say

Courtesy Robin Pierre

Bella, a 2-year-old pug, died last fall after her owner, Robin Pierre, said she ate Waggin’ Train chicken jerky treats.

By JoNel Aleccia

Nearly 1,000 dogs reportedly have been sickened by chicken jerky pet treats from China, according to a new tally of complaints from worried owners and veterinarians submitted to federal health officials.

The Food and Drug Administration has logged some 900 reports of illnesses and deaths since November, when it warned owners about continued problems with the products known variously as chicken jerky strips, treats and nuggets, a spokeswoman said.

Back then, the agency already had heard from 70 owners about problems ranging from vomiting and diarrhea to kidney failure and other serious ailments after animals reportedly consumed the treats.

Since then, complaints have mounted steadily, putting growing pressure on the FDA to solve the problem.

The agency sent inspectors earlier this year to Chinese plants that make the jerky treats, two Ohio lawmakers previously told msnbc.com.  No results of those inspections are yet available, FDA spokeswoman Tamara Ward said Monday.

Read Full Article Here

Judge Rules Some POM Wonderful Ads Are Deceptive

By

Administrative Law Judge D. Michael Chappell ruled on May 17, 2012 that some POM Wonderful ads are deceptive. The company’s ads claim that POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice and POMx supplements can “treat, prevent, or reduce the risk of heart disease, prostate cancer, and erectile dysfunction.”

The Judge issued an order that POM Wonderful LLC and its parent company, Roll International Corp., could not make any claims about health benefits of their products unless they possess “competent and reliable scientific evidence” that their claim is true. This is a lower standard than that required for pharmaceutical companies, which must prove efficacy of their products through clinical trials.

The ads in question appeared in The New York Times, Prevention, Parade, and Fitness, in addition to bus stops, billboard, and labels on POM products. The FTC Act states that an ad is deceptive if it is “likely to mislead consumers, acting reasonably under the circumstances, in a material respect.”

Read Full Article Here

Opinion & Contributed Articles

A Turning Point for E. Coli Testing?

A response to the OIG audit of FSIS inspections

Opinion
We just might be witnessing a watershed change in USDA attitudes regarding testing for E. coli O157:H7, corrective actions subsequent to adverse lab test results, and tracebacks to the true source of contamination.
Due diligence must be addressed these next 12 months to monitor USDA/FSIS’ willingness to implement meaningful reforms as suggested by the Office of the Inspector General (OIG).  Public revelation by OIG of faulty FSIS meat inspection policies should provide the required incentive to FSIS to not only author policies that better promote public health, but to also be more transparent.
The following comments will serve as my brief response to OIG’s audit report, and to FSIS’ response to OIG’s recommendations.
In the middle of page one, OIG states “….regardless of how stringently the industry tests for E.coli, there is always an inherent risk of its presence in slaughter plants” (emphasis added).

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In this Audit Report, OIG makes references to the fact that E. coli contamination emanates from hides and viscera.  OIG is thus refreshingly candid, acknowledging that E.coli originates on kill floors, not at downstream entities that do not have manure-covered hides or intestines on their premises.  If FSIS had made this common-sense admission years ago, and had focused its search for E. coli at the source, rather than the destination, the number of outbreaks would have been greatly diminished compared to what we continue to currently experience.

Read Full Article Here

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]

Food Safety

USDA Announces New Traceback Policy for Contaminated Beef

May 3, 2012 By

Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA’s Under Secretary for Food Safety, announced in a press conference on May 2, 2012 that the government is changing its traceback policy for contaminated beef that test positive for shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria (STEC).

“Our keys goals are to strengthen our ability to protect consumers and to bolster prevention-based public safeguards,” she said. “We are going to use traceback policies as a proactive measure, launching the investigations earlier to identify contaminated products before they reach consumers.”

Traceback is the path investigators follow to find out where the contaminated product came from, and to discover where bacteria were introduced into the product. The new policy will allow the USDA to begin traceback and investigations if “presumptive positive” test results occur.

There are three steps in the polymerase-based chain reaction (PCR) test used to test for bacteria in meat. First, a “potential positive” test gives investigators a signal that there may be bacteria present. The second test is called “presumptive positive”, and finally the “confirmed positive” test is conducted if the second test is positive. The whole process can take 24-48 hours.

Read Full Article Here

Raw Milk Still Suspect in 14 Missouri E. Coli Cases

Fourteen cases of E. coli O157:H7 infection, including at least two severe cases requiring hospitalization, have been confirmed in the central Missouri outbreak linked to unpasteurized milk. A raw milk dairy in Howard County has been implicated as the source of the illnesses.
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A 2-year-old from Boone County who was given raw milk developed symptoms of hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a complication of E. coli infection that leads to kidney failure. The child remained hospitalized Wednesday.

Buncombe County Salmonella Paratyphi B Outbreak Grows; Strain Less Severe

May 3, 2012 By

Salmonella

Salmonella

According to the Buncombe County Department of Health, there are now 40 cases of Salmonella ParatyphiB in that county. Test results have confirmed that particular bacteria is causing the outbreak. But further testing shows that this particular strain of bacteria causes an illness with “symptoms that are less severe, and which don’t require control measures that are quite as strict.”

Disease control nurses are contacting twelve of the positive cases, who have been restricted from work, telling them they may be able to return to work. In addition, because this strain is less severe, new cases in the outbreak won’t need a course of antibiotics unless they have other special health issues.

Read Full Article Here

N.C. State Epidemiologist: We Expect More Cases In Salmonella Outbreak

May 2, 2012 By

A routine inspection of an Asheville food manufacturer has advanced the investigation of a Salmonella outbreak in North Carolina that has sickened 38 people, but the state’s leading health official expects to see more cases before the outbreak reaches an end.

“We’re in the midst of the investigation and interviewing patients,” North Carolina State Epidemiologist Megan Davies, MD, told Food Poisoning Bulletin in an interview this week. “We’re expecting more cases to develop.”

 A break in the investigation came this week when, during  a routine inspection by the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, samples of soybean tempeh, produced by Smiling Hara of Asheville tested positive for Salmonella.

Read Full Article Here

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Recalls

Recall Expanded for Sprouts With Listeria Risk

Henry’s Farm Inc. of Woodford, VA has expanded the recall of its soybean sprouts to include natto soybean sprouts because they, too, may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

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The initial recall was announced on April 27, 2012.
Test sampling by the state of Virginia’s Food Safety and Security Program returned positive results for Listeria.
No illnesses have been reported.
The recall is for:

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Articles of Interest

Jerry Dell Farm, Source Of 2011 Outbreak, Ends Raw Milk Sales

May 3, 2012 By

Jerry Dell Farm, a New York dairy that was linked to a raw milk Campylobacter outbreak in October 2011, will no longer sell raw milk.

Owned by the Sherman family, the dairy, which has been certified organic since 2000, will continue to operate but has given up its raw milk license effective April 30. On its Facebook page, the dairy apologized for leaving raw milk customers without a source and thanked them for their loyalty. The dairy will continue to operate but the milk it produces will now be sold under an organic, pasteurized label.

Read Full Article Here

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[In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit, for research and/or educational purposes. This constitutes ‘FAIR USE’ of any such copyrighted material.]