Tag Archive: Food Safety Attorney Bill Marler to Present Webinar


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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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.

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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.

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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:

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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).

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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:

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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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Food Safety

FSIS Set to Implement Non-O157 E. coli Policy Next Week

New document responds to concerns and outlines expectations

Just days before the agency is set to begin testing raw beef trimmings for more strains of disease-causing E. coli, the Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a detailed response to comments it has received about the new policy.

The new document, published in the Federal Register on Tuesday, confirms that despite industry calls for delay, FSIS will begin testing trimmings for six additional Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) next week on June 4. As of that date, any raw, non-intact beef products or components contaminated with STECs O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145, will be legally considered adulterated — just as the agency has long treated E. coli O157:H7.

ecolipetri_iphone.jpgThe agency also said that it will issue a Federal Register notice to implement routine verification testing for the six STECs in additional raw beef products, including ground beef.

The policy rollout has not come without challenges. When FSIS first announced its intent to consider more non-O157 STEC adulterants, it said the verification and testing program would begin on March 5, 2012. But the agency eventually pushed back the implementation date to June 4, 2012 to “allow establishments time to implement appropriate changes in their food safety systems, including changes in process control procedures.”

In its response to comments, FSIS said that it disagreed with several of the reasons cited by those seeking a delay, including requests to conduct a baseline study before moving forward with the policy.

“FSIS has concluded that a baseline is neither necessary nor warranted before implementation of the FSIS verification sampling and testing program,” said the agency in the document. “These organisms are present in beef products in the United States; the evidence for this is presented in the risk profile. FSIS considers the data on non-O157 STECs obtained by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) at a limited number of slaughter establishments to be evidence that the pathogens should be considered adulterants and are capable of causing illness.”

Read Full Article here

Food Safety Incidents Rise For Second Year in United Kingdom

For a second consecutive year, the number of incidents involving food safety in the United Kingdom increased in 2011, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) reports.
Tim J. Smith, the agency’s executive director, says there is no single reason for the increasing number of incidents.  “Instead, we believe a combination of factors, including better reporting and monitoring, are behind the upward trend,” Smith says.
Most food safety incidents are reported to FSA by border inspection posts, local health authorities and fire services.
In FSA’s annual incidents report for 2011, published this week, the agency says the total number of incidents increased to 1,714, up from 1, 508 in 2010, and 1,208 in 2009.  Incidents include reports of contaminated or illegal food entering the food chain with some potential harm to the public.

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Smith says case studies in the report point to increases in incidents involving allergens and pesticides, and to more foodborne illness outbreaks originating abroad, including sources in India, China, and Bangladesh.  The report says these “high level” instances required international responses.
The UK continued to experience an increase in the number of reports of microbiological contamination–a trend that began in 2006.  In 2011, there were 281 such incidents, up from 271 in 2010, and 147 going back to 2006.

FDA Says Just Don’t Call It “Corn Sugar”

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) cannot be called “corn sugar,” the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined.
A citizen’s petition filed with FDA by the Washington D.C. Corn Refiners Association (CRA) on Sept. 14, 2010 and supplemented on July 29, 2011 requested the name change.
But in a letter Wednesday, FDA’s Michael M. Landa, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, turned down the name change request and rejected all three arguments made by the corn processors in their petition.
Specifically, Landa said calling HFCS “sugar” when the product is syrup would not be an accurate way to identify or describe the basic nature of the food or its characterizing properties.
The denial letter went to Ms. Audrae Erickson, CRA president, who was told that the petition “does not provide sufficient grounds for the agency to authorize ‘corn sugar’ as an alternate common or usual name for HFCS.”
Since filing the petition for the name change, CRA embarked on a national campaign to introduce the “corn sugar” name. That quickly brought on litigation by the Sugar Association, representing traditional sugar growers. That lawsuit is pending in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

FDA Warning Letters For 5/30/12

These FDA warning letters for the week of May 30, 2012 list food facilities with food safety violations that are of interest to consumers. These letters are sent after a facility is inspected, to give the owners guidance and time to fix violations.

1. Seco Spice Ltd. of Berino, New Mexico

2. Sushi Boy, Inc. of Gardena, California

3. The Nut Factory, Inc. of Greenacres, Washington

4. Smith Family Frosted Foods, LLC of Tiffin, Ohio.

Read Full Article Here

Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Infections Linked to Chicks and Ducks

The CDC is reporting an outbreak of human Salmonella infections linked to live poultry. Outbreak strains of Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille have sickened 93 people in 23 states. Eighteen people have been hospitalized, and there has been one death that may be related to the outbreak and is under investigation. The outbreak began in February 2012.

Case counts are as follows:

  • Alabama (3)
  • Georgia (3)
  • Illinois (1)
  • Indiana (2)
  • Kentucky (4)
  • Louisiana (1)
  • Massachusetts (1)
  • Maryland (1)
  • Maine (2)
  • Michigan (1)
  • Nebraska (1)
  • New Jersey (1)
  • North Carolina (9)
  • New York (13)
  •  Ohio (26)
  • Pennsylvania (9)
  • Rhode Island (1)
  • South Carolina (1)
  • Tennessee (4)
  • Texas (1)
  • Virginia (6)
  • Vermont (1)
  • West Virginia (1)

Read Full Article Here

Consumer Groups Criticize Poultry Inspection Proposal

Three more leading consumer groups weighed in this week on the debate over a controversial plan to revamp poultry inspection by shifting greater responsibility to companies.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, and Consumers Union each sharply criticized the proposal in their comments filed before the Tuesday deadline, which had been pushed back a month in response to sharp criticism raised by the Government Accountability Project, Food & Water Watch, and poultry inspectors.

While each group acknowledged that modernizing the system is a commendable goal, all three expressed significant concerns about the plan to expand the HACCP Based Inspection Models Project (HIMP). The model reduces the number of inspectors from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on duty and largely turns over physical inspections to company employees, while allowing plants to significantly speed up their production lines.

FSIS says expanding HIMP would focus inspectors on food safety tasks rather than cosmetic surveillance, save taxpayers around $90 million over three years, and each year prevent 5,200 foodborne illnesses, mostly from Salmonella. The chicken and turkey industries strongly support the measure and USDA estimates it will save the industry $250 million annually. But consumer groups question whether HIMP would actually improve food safety.   RawChickenBody.jpg

“For years the poultry industry has operated under a system that allows for far greater levels of contamination than are acceptable to consumers,” read CSPI’s comments, submitted by staff attorney Sarah Klein. “FSIS should have reducing Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry as the central tenet behind its changes, and should apply systems that monitor and measure contamination rates.”

Read Full Article Here

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Recalls

Peach Granola Recalled for Undeclared Cashews

OSKRI Corp. of Wisconsin is recalling “Peach Granola” because it may contain undeclared cashews, a tree nut that is one of the major food allergens.

Product details:

  • Peach Granola
  • 3.53 ounce flexible plastic bag
  • UPC number 666016111743
  • Marked with this stamp:
    • P 3/3/12
    • EXP 9/9/13
    • LOT 75

    Read Full Article here

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Articles of Interest

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Most Common Cause of Pediatric Kidney Failure

According to a study published in the May issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases, hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) is the most common cause of acute kidney failure in children in the United States. FoodNet, the Foodborne Disease Active Surveillance network, was the source of the statistics. Surveillance is difficult because there is no single diagnostic test to diagnose HUS.

Get E. coli-HUS help here.

The study examined pediatric HUS cases from 2000 to 2007 and found that in 627 cases, more than 90% occurred after a diarrheal illness and most were caused by infections of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli 0157:H7 (STEC). An average of 78 cases were reported every year; most (66%) occurred in children less than than five years old; of those cases, 64% were in children less than two years old.

Read Full Article Here

Paper Chronicles 8-Year Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Chicks

Boots-on-the-ground epidemiology — including interviews, disease surveillance, and traceback — was key in helping health officials solve and control an 8-year salmonella outbreak, the longest in U.S. history, which was ultimately tied to mail order chicks.

Between 2004 and 2011, 316 reported illnesses from 43 states were linked to the same outbreak strain. A new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine chronicles just how investigators were able to crack the case. Researchers say it is likely that thousands of additional infections occurred in association with the outbreak, but were not reported.

In April 2005, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment identified three Salmonella serotype Montevideo isolates with the same genetic patterns. After interviewing the patients, local health officials learned that all three had been exposed to chicks or ducklings bought at feed stores the week before they got sick.

Officials then checked PulseNet, the national network for foodborne disease surveillance, and found that the same rare outbreak strain had been isolated from five other people in four states: Kansas, New York, Oklahoma, and Texas.

By March 2006, health officials had zeroed in on New Mexico agricultural feed stores that sold young poultry during 2005.

“New Mexico was chosen because it had a large number of cases as well as resources available to support investigation activities,” reported researchers in the NEJM paper. “Stores identified in an Internet search were randomly selected for an in-person or a telephone interview. The standardized questionnaire focused on the source of the live poultry, volume of live poultry sales, handling and hygienic conditions of poultry in the store, knowledge about the risk of transmission of Salmonella from poultry to humans, and education of customers about this risk.”

Using information from patients, investigators were able to trace young poultry back to where it had been purchased at the retail level, and back to mail-order hatcheries.  chickies_iphone.jpg

According to the paper, over the duration of the outbreak, cases peaked annually during the spring, but the greatest number of reported cases came in 2006. Those sickened ranged from age 1 to 86 years old with a median age of 4. Of those with information available, 143 (54 percent) were 5 years of age or younger and 149 patients (53 percent) were female.

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Cruelty Charges Brought Against California Auction Barn

The 73-year-old owner of Ontario Livestock Sales and 7 employees must appear in a California court July 20 to face a total of 21 misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty stemming from an undercover investigation by an animal protection group.
If convicted, Horacio Santorsola and his employees would each face up to one year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

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Mercy for Animals of Los Angeles produced hidden camera video footage that showed auction barn workers kicking and stomping animals, most often to get them to move.
Another Ontario Livestock employee working with Mercy for Animals was behind the camera.
Dr. Temple Grandin, a Colorado State University-based expert on animal welfare, viewed the undercover video and said the rough treatment and frequent kicking was not acceptable. She said if the auction were a federally inspected meat packing plant, its inspection would be suspended and the operation would be shut down.

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.

NYC Poised to Limit Size of Sugary Drinks

A small soda at McDonalds is about to become the largest option available in New York City if a proposal to limit sugary drink portion sizes is passed by the city’s health board.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, which has made public health a central part of its agenda, announced Thursday that it is seeking a 16 oz. cap on sugar-sweetened drinks served at delis, fast food and sit-down restaurants, movie theaters and sports venues.
This latest rule would follow past city regulations that have mandated calorie labeling on all chain restaurant menus and banned artificial trans fats from food establishments.

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According to the New York City Health Department, sugary drinks are a main contributor to the city’s obesity problem. Nearly 6 in 10 NYC residents are either overweight or obese. High sugary drink consumption is associated with weight gain, obesity and higher rates of diabetes in New York City, says a 2011 report by four district health offices.

FDA Appeals Mandate to Ban Three Animal Antibiotics

After a magistrate judge ruled that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration must act on its long-standing proposal to ban the use of three antibiotics in animal feed because they may contribute to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, FDA is appealing the decision.

In a notice dated May 21, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine Bernadette Dunham and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius together filed an appeal with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn the March decision.

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