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Tag Archive: Food Safety


Updated excerpt from Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom 

Available Here

Brandon Turbeville
Activist Post

In my last article, “Codex Alimentarius and GM Food Guidelines Pt.4,” I discussed a tangible, real-world example of the results of using “substantial equivalence” or “substantial similarity” when assessing the dangers of Genetically Modified (GM) food and/or approving that food for the market.

Returning to the defining Codex document in relation to GM food, “Food Derived From Modern Biotechnology,” it should be noted that the risks associated with GMOs are dealt with in a rather curious manner. Indeed, the monitoring and management of risks from GM food after their approval is mentioned rather blandly in the introductory section of the Guidelines. It says,

Post market-monitoring may be undertaken for the purpose of:

A.) Verifying conclusions about the absence or the possible occurrence, impact and significance of potential consumer health effects; and

B.) Monitoring changes in nutrient intake levels, associated with the introduction of foods likely to alter nutritional status significantly, to determine their human health impact. [1]

It should be noted that these are issues which should be resolved in a scientific setting prior to market. Yet Codex is obviously content to allow the public to act as lab rats in the real world rather than force these side effects to be addressed in an actual lab. Absolute disregard for the global population is evident here.

As will be discussed in future articles, when one understands the ultimate purpose of Codex Alimentarius, it becomes clear as to why policies like this emanate from the organization. Such is also the case when Codex mentions the management of risks finding their way into the market and the need for post-market tracing for the purpose of recall.[2] It is important to note that tracing food materials is a difficult task, especially if those products have already found their way into the environment and have begun to reproduce.
Regardless, the second chapter of Codex’s “Foods Derived From Modern Biotechnology” makes what should be considered a revelatory admission. It says,

The Codex principles of risk analysis, particularly those for risk assessment, are primarily intended to apply to discrete chemical entities, such as food additives and pesticide residues, or a specific chemical or microbial contaminant that have identifiable hazards and risks; they are not intended to apply to whole foods as such.[3]

Essentially, this is an admission that risk assessment methodology is absolutely incapable and inappropriate when dealing with the safety of a whole food. As Codex makes clear, the principles for risk assessment were never intended to address anything other than chemicals and additives.

However, one should remember that risk assessment is indeed the method used to determine the safety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals by Codex Alimentarius in order to label them unsafe at unreasonably low levels.

But Codex continues with even further admission that the testing methods used are not nearly as intense as one might think. The document reads,

Traditionally, new varieties of food plants have not been systematically subjected to extensive chemical, toxicological or nutritional evaluation prior to marketing, with the exception of foods for specific groups, such as infants, where the food may constitute a substantial portion of the diet. Thus, new varieties of corn, soybean, potatoes and other common food plants are evaluated by breeders for agronomic and phenotypic characteristics, but generally, foods derived from such new plant varieties are not subjected to the rigorous and extensive food safety testing procedures, including studies in animals, that are typical of chemicals, such as food additives or pesticide residues, that may be present in food.[4]

Simply put, Codex is admitting, albeit cleverly, that the testing method for whole foods is inadequate, and that the testing itself is not nearly as extensive as it would be for evaluating a known toxin like a chemical, pesticide, or apparently, vitamins and minerals.

As related to Codex’s position on vitamins and minerals, Codex considers genetically modified foods that have been engineered to produce a deadly chemical or pesticide to be a whole food, but vitamin C is considered a toxin.

Yet Codex does not stop here with the prefacing of their intended deceit and the admission of flawed and manipulated science. It says,

Animal studies cannot be readily applied to testing the risks associated with whole foods, which are complex mixtures of compounds, often characterized by a wide variation in composition and nutritional value. Owing to their bulk and effect on satiety, they can usually only be fed to animals at low multiples of the amounts that might be present in the human diet. In addition, a key factor to consider in conducting animal studies on foods is the nutritional value and balance of the diets used; this is in order to avoid the induction of adverse effects that are not related directly to the material itself. Detecting any potential adverse effects and relating these conclusively to an individual characteristic of the food can, therefore, be extremely difficult. If the characterization of the food indicates that the available data are insufficient for a thorough safety assessment, properly designed animal studies could be requested on the whole foods. Another consideration in deciding the need for animal studies is whether it is appropriate to subject experimental animals to such a study if it is unlikely to give rise to meaningful information.[5]

But there are several problems with this statement.

First, let it be made clear that this writer does not support the use of animals for laboratory testing for any reason.

However, this issue is not the focus of this article and it will be repeatedly referred to in its proper context in terms of scientific debate.

That being said, what Codex has admitted to in this statement, albeit subtly, is that test subjects will actually be fed significantly less of the GM food in question than exists in the standard human diet. Nowhere does Codex mention that the amount fed to the test subjects can be adjusted per capita, but simply that the amount fed to them will be “at low multiples of the amounts that might be present in the human diet.”[6]

Furthermore, Codex attempts to convince the reader that because of differences in nutritional values and diet balance in the animals being tested it is extremely difficult to determine if there are any adverse effects resulting from the material being tested or another material/condition. Hence, Codex would have the reader believe that this problem could not be solved by the addition of a control group.

In the end, the overall conclusion of Codex is that testing GM foods is largely unproductive and that, for the most part, it should only be conducted in very special circumstances. Mere post-market tracking is looked upon as the most favorable route. This, however, leaves the consumer as the test subject, and corrective action can only be taken after it is too late for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of people.

Codex furthers this claim with an admission of its acceptance of “substantial equivalence” as a testing standard. Because of the problems associated with using risk assessment to address dangers in whole foods (but evidently not nutrients and vitamins), Codex claims it must rely on substantial equivalence to address intended and unintended changes in the food. Hence, Codex officially accepts the concept. [7]

 

Read  Full Article Here

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US Department of Agriculture pushes for weaker rules on poultry industry

By James Brewer

The rules will also turn over quality control monitoring currently done by USDA inspectors to employees of the poultry companies, at a cost of 1,000 jobs of federal inspectors. The USDA announced the plan last January with the intention of finalizing it by the end of the year, after a pilot program involving 20 plants.

Currently, line speeds are limited to 35 chickens per minute. The new rules will allow speeds of up to 175 birds per minute—almost 3 per second. The opportunity for workers to visually inspect the carcasses is effectively eliminated. USDA inspection, which now is maintained at three inspectors per production line, is cut to a single inspector at the end.

The measures will save the federal government $90 million over the next three years, and even more significantly, will cut up to $500 million per year in production costs for the industry. Industry advocates call the new rules a long-awaited “modernization” of the poultry-inspection system.

Elisabeth Hagen, the USDA undersecretary for food safety, explains, “There’s a role for visual inspection, but in this day and age it can’t be the only way that we define inspection for food safety. We’re not doing the right thing by the consumer if we do that.” USDA officials claim that reducing the number of inspectors will somehow allow those left to use more-scientific methods to screen the chickens.

Federal poultry inspectors insist that at the speed the new rules will allow the lines to go, bruises, blisters, tumors, puss, broken bones, and other indications of a bird that is unfit to market will not be seen. Contaminants that can be seen on inspection of the entrails won’t be caught.

Stan Painter, chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, told McClatchy News, “The rule continuously talks about how much money per pound the plants are going to save by going into this process. Why the hell is an agency concerned about the money that the plant’s going to save? I realize that’s a stakeholder, but our focus should be food safety.”

The planned USDA program goes by the designation of HIMP, for “HACCP-Based Inspection Models Project.” HACCP stands for hazard analysis and critical control points, a preventive approach to food safety developed in the 1960s under the auspices of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to regulate the production of foods for space flights. The concept behind HACCP is to monitor potential hazards that can lead to the production of unsafe foods during the process rather than simply relying on a final inspection to detect it.

“The modernization plan will protect public health, improve the efficiency of poultry inspections in the US, and reduce spending,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated earlier this year. “The new inspection system will reduce the risk of foodborne illness by focusing [USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service] inspection activities on those tasks that advance our core mission of food safety.”

There is an Orwellian ring to the packaging of the HIMP program by USDA officials. The claim that the inspection system is being improved by slashing the number of federal inspectors and speeding up the lines is ludicrous. The statements of industry spokesmen are even more preposterous.

National Chicken Council spokesman Tom Super told the press, “Look at the data. This is not something that USDA cooked up overnight. This has been in a pilot program for 13 years.” He touted the food-safety and worker-safety records of the 20 broiler-chicken “trial plants” to test the proposal since 1999.

 

Read Full Article Here

Sustainability

Survival  :  Food Storage – Supplies

Published on Sep 18, 2012 by

On July 6th we dipped the eggs that we bought at the store in mineral oil and sat them in the carton on the counter at the Tent. It was now September 9th and time to crack a couple open and see what we ended up with after two months with no refrigeration. Here are the results.

Non Refridgerated Egg Storage. A Tent Experiment.

Published on Jul 8, 2012 by

Mineral Oil Egg Storage. At the tent, when up there we have a generator that runs the fridge, but its set up to be totally off grid, with gas lights or candles, wood heat and living off the land. With no refrigeration there are things I can not have. We have learned to dehydrate to have food in the winter months and to can butter so we need no refrigeration. In this experiment we are coating eggs in mineral oil to preserve them. They are sitting on the counter up there right now. Will it work?

Nuclear Power Truths

Food Safety : Radiation / Contamination

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market

Fukushima Diary

Posted by Mochizuki

Two of the most basic ingredients, barley and wheat are highly contaminated and distributed to everyday supermarkets.

Though Japanese barley and wheat don’t have price competitive power, we need to check the exporting volume of Japanese contaminated products and to where. On this article, I will only report the contamination situation of them.

In July of 2011, Ibaraki prefecture measured high level of cesium from their barley.[Link 1 2] However because the safety limit of food was 500 Bq/Kg at that time, they were let to the market.

(Ibaraki prefecture is the third largest producing area of barley in Japan.(7.9%, 2005) )

Highest readings.

Sample 1

Sample taken : 6/20 ~ 7/4/2011

Measurement data : 7/8/2011

Location : Hitachinaka city

Cesium : 460 Bq/Kg

Sample 2

Sample taken : 6/20 ~ 7/4/2011

Measurement data : 7/8/2011

Location : Hitachinaka city

Cesium : 340 Bq/Kg

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are flowing to the market

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are flowing to the market 2

Barley can be used for barley tea of this year. On 8/12/2012, a media writer, Chidai measured 19.89 Bq/Kg from tea bags of barley tea. [Link]

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 3

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 4

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 5

(More articles about Chibai’s radiation measurement..3128 Bq/kg of cesium from Ibaraki mushroom

2567 Bq/kg from soil in Kashiwa )

On 7/11/2012, he also measured 16.65 Bq/Kg of cesium from Japanese wheat. [Link] Contaminated ingredients are already processed for variety of food.

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 6

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 7

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 8

Highly contaminated barley and wheat are coming to the market 9

<Settlement report 8/11/2012>

I’m taking up this space to report how much donation I received yesterday.

I’m sorry for the belated report.

I booked a flight ticket yesterday but soon after I submit my credit card information, I was transfered to their starting page and no confirmation code was received. thought that was the first fishing fraud I’ve encountered in my life.

I managed to call them to check and so far, they are an ok airline company and safe.. hope so.

Today I’m going to catch up with news. Sorry for inconvenience.

Settlement report 8/11/2012

Settlement report 8/11/2012 2

Food Safety

Authorities Unable to Find Source of Neff’s Picnic E. coli 0157:H7 Outbreak

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Dayton & Montgomery County public health authorities have been unable to find the cause of the E. coli 0157:H7 outbreak that sickened 79 people and killed one person. Two people contracted secondary cases of the infection from person-to-person contact. The outbreak was linked to the Neff’s Lawn Care customer appreciation picnic that took place in Germantown, Ohio on July 3, 2012.

Of those sickened in the outbreak, twenty people tested positive for the outbreak strain of the bacteria and 14 people were hospitalized. Three of those hospitalized developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, and one 73-year-old man died. The investigation covered where the foods at the picnic came from, how the food was stored, handled, and maintained before and at the event, and an environmental assessment of the site.

Authorities also interviewed 117 people who attended the picnic, and conducted an epidemiological analysis of that data. In addition, the Ohio Department of health, the Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the USDA were involved in the investigation.

The outbreak investigation began on July 9, but by that time there were no foods left for authorities to examine. The food at the picnic was provided by the host, Neff’s Lawn Care, and by attendees who brought their own food. The food served at the picnic included two hogs that were roasted off-site and delivered to the picnic, along with hamburgers and hot dogs. None of the meat items, which are typically the source of E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria, were conclusively linked to the outbreak.

Authorities also took water samples of the wells at the picnic site, and environmental samples at the farm where the hogs were produced and slaughtered. Because there was no inventory of carried-in foods, most of the food items were not analyzed. The picnic was not a licensed event so it was unregulated, so PHDMC couldn’t verify cooking, cooling, holding, or reheating temperatures or food handling practices.

The report ends with these words: “This outbreak illustrates the importance of proper food handling as CDC estimates that about 48 million people (1 in 6 Americans) get sick, 128,000 are hospitalized, and 3,000 die each year from foodborne illness.

Authorities Offer Advice on Cantaloupe During Salmonella Outbreak

Food Poisoning Bulletin

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other agencies, including some university extension services, are issuing guides for consumers about cantaloupe and the recent Salmonella outbreak. The outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium announced this past week has many consumers uneasy about buying and eating melons. Because the government has not said which facilities bought the cantaloupe for resale, the CDC is telling consumers to check with their retailer if the cantaloupe came from Chamberlain Farms Produce, Inc. Supermarkets must tell you the origin of a product if you ask. Fred Pritzker, national food safety attorney, says, “I wonder when we are going to see a retail distribution list for this Salmonella outbreak?”

While stickers to identify the source are often added to produce, they sometimes won’t stick to the webbed surface of cantaloupe. That’s why it’s important to always ask about the source. And when in doubt, throw it out.

University of Iowa Extension has a fact sheet about the safe purchase and handling of fresh cantaloupe. And Purdue Extension has created a guide to help consumers stay healthy when eating cantaloupes and other produce. If the cantaloupe you are purchasing is not part of the recall, it is safe to eat as long as it is properly stored and prepared.

When you purchase cantaloupe, look for fruit with a complete rind that does not have cracks, breaks, bruises, soft spots, or mold. Always refrigerate cantaloupes to help slow the growth of bacteria. In fact, advice on keeping melons in the fridge is similar to advice for perishable foods; don’t leave sliced or cut melons out of refrigeration for more than two hours.

You should always scrub cantaloupes under running water with a brush before eating. Dry the melon before cutting it. Wash the knife after every cut from the rind into the flesh. And make sure you disinfect surfaces and utensils that come into contact with the cantaloupe rind.

But be aware that thorough cleaning will not remove all of the bacteria that may be present on the fruit. And in this particular outbreak, the FDA stated, “If consumers believe they have cantaloupe from this farm, they should not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe.”

Get a free Salmonella case review here.

If you or anyone you know is experiencing the symptoms of Salmonella, which include diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting, see your health care provider immediately. If you have eaten cantaloupe recently, make sure you tell the doctor about it. Long-term consequences of a Salmonella infection can be severe, including Reiter’s syndrome, which causes reactive arthritis, and bloodstream infections.

Food Safety Advocates to USDA: Require Labeling for Tenderized Meat

Consumers should know this meat requires a higher cooking temp, group says

Food Safety News

A group of food safety advocates is calling on the Obama Administration to make good on its proposal to require labeling for mechanically tenderized meat.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday, the Safe Food Coalition called on the agency to require that mechanically tenderized meat bear a label that includes instructions on how to safely cook this meat.
mechanical-tenderizer.jpgIn the past, USDA has differentiated mechanically tenderized steaks–which have been probed with a series of small metal blades or needles–from “intact” steaks, which it says need only be cooked to 145 degrees F because bacteria does not penetrate into the middle of intact cuts. Mechanically tenderized cuts, however, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 160 degrees F, like ground beef, to allow for the fact that bacteria may have penetrated further into the meat.
In January of 1999, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service listed mechanically tenderized meat as a non-intact meat in its policy on beef products at risk of contamination with E. coli O157:H7.
“Pathogens may be introduced below the surface of these products as a result of the processes by which they are made,” said the agency.
According to research from Kansas State University, approximately 3 to 4 percent of E. coli bacteria can be carried from the surface of contaminated meat to the inside of the beef product.
However, the agency does not currently require a label on tenderized steaks indicating that they should be cooked to a higher temperature.
“Without a label to identify mechanically treated meat products, along with information to help mitigate the risk, the unsuspecting purchasers of these products – whether they are restaurant cooks or consumers – will have no idea that the product that they have selected needs additional protective handling and preparation,” says the Safe Food Coalition letter, signed by member groups.
In March of this year, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) submitted a rule to the federal Office of Management and Budget suggesting that “raw, needle or blade, mechanically tenderized, meat and poultry products be labeled to indicate that they are ‘mechanically tenderized.’ It goes on to propose that tenderized meat labels “include cooking instructions that have been validated to ensure adequate pathogen destruction.”
Mechanically tenderized beef products were implicated in at least 6 E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks between 2003 and 2009. The latest – in December of 2009 – sickened at least 21 people in 16 states.
The American Meat Institute says that tenderization is not necessarily what led to contamination in these outbreaks, and that evidence shows mechanically tenderized steaks are no riskier than intact ones.
In February of 2010, AMI said it had reviewed outbreaks linked to tenderized meat and determined that all meat implicated in these outbreaks had been further altered beyond tenderization.
“From this review AMI has determined that all of the recalls due to outbreaks were related to the consumption of marinated or enhanced steak products,” said AMI Vice President of Food Safety and Inspection Services Scott Goltry.
“Because blade-tenderized steaks have been found to be comparable in safety, we don’t believe that special labeling declaring the mechanical tenderization process will provide meaningful or actionable information to consumers,” said the American Meat Institute in 2009 in response to calls for mandatory labeling of tenderized steaks.
Dr. Richard Raymond, who was Undersecretary for Food Safety at USDA from 2005-2008, says the idea of requiring a label on mechanically tenderized meat came up in internal meetings at FSIS while he was in office, but that he decided against it given the small number of illnesses that had been linked to these meats at the time and the potential damage it could do to the industry.
“I felt the risk was not significant enough to require a labeling process,” Raymond told Food Safety News.
“In theory, it is absolutely possible that you can drive bacteria into the inner part of the steak. In actuality, there haven’t been that many illnesses linked to blade-tenderized steaks,” says Raymond.
“If you choose to put it on the label people are going to say, ‘Well what does that mean?’ You have to have an explanation if you say it’s been mechanically tenderized,” he says. “A lot of people wouldn’t buy a steak that had that label on it because they’re not going to cook them well-done. It’s like putting the radura symbol on meat that’s been irradiated. It’s scary. It will make people think the product is less reliable.”
Current Undersecretary for Food Safety Dr. Elizabeth Hagen pushed for acceptance of the proposal to label mechanically tenderized meats in front of the House Appropriations committee in March.
“We do believe (mechanically tenderized meats) should be labeled. This is important information for consumers to have.”
The rule is still under review at OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

Study Measures Campylobacter Contamination in Skinless, Boneless Retail Broiler Meat

Food Safety  News

A study published August 24 in BMC Microbiology by Aretha Williams and Omar A Oyarzabal reported on the prevalence of Campylobacter species in skinless, boneless retail broiler meat.

The study was conducted in Alabama between 2005 and 2011, and resulted in the findings that Campylobacter bacteria could be found in 41 percent of retail broiler meat samples on a yearly basis, with no statistical difference in the presence of bacteria from year to year during the study’s time-frame.  No statistical significance was found between the prevalence of Campylobacter jejuni from season to season, but a statistical significance was found in the prevalence of Campylobacter coli found in skinless, boneless retail broiler meat seasonally.

The study shows that the prevalence of Campylobacter coli varied by brand, plant, season, state, store and year, while the prevalence of Campylobacter jejuni varied by brand, product, state and store. Tenderloins had a lower prevalence of Campylobacter species than breasts and thighs.

The authors concluded that while the prevalence of Campylobacter bacteria did not change during the seven years of study, it did change when analyzed by brand, product and state and that additional assessment should be conducted to determine the recurrence of specific strains of Campylobacter bacteria in poultry, to help predict the risk associated with each strain.

Salmonella Outbreak In Canada Linked To Mexican Mangoes

Food Poisoning Bulletin

A Salmonella outbreak linked to mangoes produced in Mexico has sickened at least 22 people in Canada, according to the public health agency of Canada. The mangoes were produced by the Daniella company of Mexico and distributed July 12-August 14 by importer North American Produce Sales, Vancouver, BC.

So far, 17 people in British Columbia and 5 people in Alberta have been sickened by the outbreak strain Salmonella Braenderup. North American Produce Sales has issued a recall of the mangoes which were distributed to British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon. The recall is being monitored by Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

 Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause serious sometimes fatal illness if in ingested. Symptoms of an infection usually develop within six to 72 hours after exposure and last up to seven days. They include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. If the diarrhea is so severe that dehydration occurs, hospitalization wis required.  Cases where the infection moves from the gastro-intestinal tract to the the bloodstream can be fatal if not treated with antibiotics. Those most at risk are young children, seniors and people who have compromised immune systems.

The recalled were sold whole by a variety of retailers and had stickers bearing PLU# 4959. Consumers who have purchased these mangoes should not eat them. This outbreak does not include any cases patients from the U.S. The Public Health Agency of Canada says it will update the number of illnesses weekly during the course of the investigation.

California Investigating 73 Illnesses Linked to Salmonella Mangoes

Food Safety News

mangoesB_iphone.jpgCalifornia health officials are investigating 73 illnesses potentially linked to Salmonella-contaminated mangoes, the California Department of Public Health said Monday.

The news comes two days after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced a recall of mangoes imported from Mexico after several illnesses were linked to consuming the fruit.

Both California and Canada are investigating the same strain: Salmonella Braenderup.

“Preliminary data indicate that mango consumption is associated with an increase in the number of Salmonella Braenderup cases in California,” said CDPH spokesman Matt Conens. “As of today, there are 73 cases with this outbreak strain that have been confirmed.”

Of the patients who have been interviewed, 67 percent reported eating mangoes, according to Conens, but state officials said they have not yet identified specific mango brand or source yet.

The state agency said it is coordinating investigation with other states, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as Canadian health officials.

Over the weekend, Canada recalled Daniella brand mangoes that were sold in Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon between July 12 and August 14. The fruit, which were sold individually, may bear a sticker reading PLU# 4959.

5 of 7 E. coli Cases in Western New York Linked; Source a Mystery

Water is a suspect for five E. coli O157:H7 cases in Livingston County, New York that are related, but tests so far have turned out to be negative.
That leaves health officials in western New York State with a bit of a mystery.
As first reported on Aug. 20, 7 people in Livingston County were stricken with E. coli infections; 4 required hospitalization.  The onset of confirmed illnesses was recorded between Aug. 6 and 24 with those infected being from age 22 to 67.

Ecoliarrows_320x175.jpg

Health officials were able to identify a common outbreak strain for 5 of the 7 cases. Water in the geographic area where victims live has tested negative for E. coli contamination. While all 7 cases are geographically clustered, health officials said they do not all share the same source of public water. That includes the 5 cases linked with the common strain.
Livingston County Public Health Director Joan Ellison says the investigation is only at its halfway point and the possibility of water being a common source has not yet been ruled out.
Ellison Monday renewed a public health warning for Livingston County. The alert reminds the public that severe and persistent diarrhea, some bloody, are among the classic symptoms for E. coli infection.
The warning also makes it clear that while E. coli is a pathogen that is is harbored in the intestines of animals and normally transmitted through feces, it can also be spread by other means including by washing fruits and vegetables.

Cantaloupe Food Safety Solutions Leave Consumers Praying

Market food safety at retail

Food Safety News

Opinion
Tim Chamberlain seems like a nice enough guy. According to the Indianapolis Star he started growing cantaloupe and watermelon on an acre of land and now, 30 years later, he and his wife, Mia, have built Chamberlain Farms into a midsized melon-growing operation, with 500 acres and about 20 employees.

CantaloupeHalfMoonMain.jpg

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this week that the Chamberlains’ southwestern Indiana farm “may be one source of contamination” in the salmonella outbreak that has killed two people in Kentucky and sickened 178 people in 21 states.
The story says it’s difficult for the 48-year-old father of four to imagine that his farm could have been a source of such tragedy. He doesn’t believe his farm was the source of contamination, though he emphasized that he is not disputing anything public health authorities have said.
Dan Egel, a Purdue Extension specialist in Vincennes, Ind., said Chamberlain
has worked closely with the Extension Service over the years on disease and pest control though not specifically on food safety.
And that could be the biggest clue until the U.S. Food and Drug Administration releases its inevitable report documenting faith-based food safety.
(Updated: Dan Egel writes, “The reason that Tim Chamberlain and I never spoke about food safety is because food safety is not my specialty. I know for certain that Tim interacted with other Purdue University specialists that are experts on food safety.”)
The effect on others is staggering: Vernon Stuckwish of Stuckwish Family Farms in Jackson County said that initial stigma has “already pretty much destroyed our market.”
Like any other major outbreak, there’s lots of commentary about how the outbreak confirms preexisting notions: that more needs to be done, that federal regulations would have made a difference, that there should be more testing. After 20 years of watching and participating in this food safety stuff, the lack of imagination and creativity is staggering.
Victims and consumers remain the stray sheep in the food safety marketplace.
As pointed out by News-Sentinel.com, knowing the name of Tim Chamberlain’s farm does nothing to help consumers. All the talk of traceability is a joke and consumers have no microbial food safety choice at retail.
Hucksters who promote produce on trust alone are no better than snake-oil salesthingies:
Kelly’s Fruit Market in Madison County is taking extra steps to make sure its customers are safe. “We have the finest produce in Madison County,” explains Kelly Ratliff, owner of Kelly’s Fruit Market. “We know exactly where all of our produce is coming from and we always make sure it’s the highest quality … with most of our produce that we have and that we sell I can tell you every single growers name, who grows it where it’s grown and a little bit about their family.”
But can you tell me their water quality testing results? What soil amendments are used? The verification of employee handwashing and sanitation?
Cantaloupe growers in other parts of the country are frustrated. Probably not as much as the families of the dead and sickened, but frustrated.
Trevor Suslow, research extension specialist at the Department of Plant Sciences at the University of California-Davis, said he thought more could have been done to educate growers across the country about safe harvesting, handling and distribution in the wake of last year’s deadly listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.
“I think there was a missed opportunity,” Suslow said Aug. 23. “I wish we could have done a better job of getting existing information to county extension agents and others who were already engaged with the smaller growers.”
But what about missed opportunities over the past decade? As noted in The Packer, the 10-year anniversary of the Food and Drug Administration’s import alert on Mexican cantaloupe is near, enacted after outbreaks three years in a row (and two deaths) traced to those melons. In doing so, the FDA basically killed Mexican cantaloupes to the U.S. for a few years, giving rise to offshore melon deals in Central and South America.

cantaloupe_salmonella(27).jpg

The clampdown on Mexican growers forced U.S. import partners to work on food safety protocols for fields and packinghouses in Guerrero, the origin of the banned cantaloupes. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Mexican counterpart, SAGARPA, had to sign off on each facility before it was allowed to ship to the U.S. again.
The U.S. farms central to cantaloupe outbreaks and recalls probably wouldn’t have passed similar scrutiny.
With 10 years of guidelines, endless outbreaks, the lack of solutions remains stunning.
The Packer is finally catching on to the notion of marketing food safety at retail, which we’ve been advocating since the 2006 E. coli-in-spinach outbreak.
“The unwritten rule in the produce industry is that a company should not market its product as safer than a competitor’s.
 
“The thinking is that once consumers get in their heads that a fruit or vegetable is more safe, that means another is less safe, and then maybe they’ll avoid the commodity or category altogether.
 
“But what if your company or growing region has a strong food safety record, drafted best practices documents, followed and documented them, and then suffers for the second year in a row as a different region’s product kills consumers?”
Someone could at least try marketing microbial food safety at retail. Nothing else seems to be working. And maybe Tim Chamberlain would be more accountable.
food_safe_culture_market(2)(2).jpg
This article was originally published August 25, 2012 on Barfblog. The bottom two images are courtesy of Dr. Douglas Powell. 
 

Yes on Prop 37 Addresses Myths and Facts

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Stacy Malkan of California Right to Know 2012 recently sent us a fact sheet to address some of the questions about Proposition 37. That ballot initiative would require food companies to label foods that contain genetically modified organisms (GMO) or genetically engineered foods (GE).

While No on 37 has stated that the American Medical Association has said GE foods are safe, they do not mention that both the AMA and the World Health Organization has said mandatory safety studies on these foods should be required. The U.S. government does not require any safety studies for GE foods, and no long-term human health studies have ever been conducted on these products.

According to WHO, there are three main issues with GE foods: “tendencies to provoke allergic reaction (allergenicity), gene transfer, and outcrossing.” In fact, WHO is concerned about the possibility of the transfer of antibiotic resistance genes from GMO foods to humans. And WHO does say that GMO foods have passed “risk assessments”, and are “not likely to present risks for human health.” The WHO statement mentions that “post market monitoring” should be used to evaluate the safety of GE foods.

One of the No on 37 claims is that Prop 37 will raise the cost of groceries by hundreds of dollars a year. A study done on the economic impact of Prop 37 at Emory University School of Law concluded that “Consumers will likely see no increases in prices as a result of the relabeling required.” As to whether Prop 37 will generate lots of “frivolous” lawsuits, James C. Cooper at George Mason University of Law compared the costs of California Prop 65, which forced companies to provide warnings to consumers if their products exposed them to chemicals that may harm them, to Prop 37. He found that Proposition 37 will be unlikely to result in frivolous lawsuits.

Canadian, U.S. Recalls of Daniella Mangoes for Salmonella Expand; Outbreak Grows

Food Poisoning Bulletin

The Canadian and U.S. recalls of Daniella mangoes imported from Mexico have expanded. The mangeos were sold as individual fruit or as part of a multi-pack. The sticker on the fruit recalled in Canada has the PLU number 4959 or 4051. The mangoes were sold at various stores between July 12, 2012 and August 28, 2012. They may have been distributed nationally. The importer, Mex Y Can Trading Inc. is voluntarily recalling the mangoes from the marketplace.

Consumers are advised to contact their retailers to find out if they have the affected mangoes. Stores are supposed to know where their produce came from and they should tell you when you ask. There have been 22 people in Canada sickened by Salmonella Branderup, the outbreak strain found on the mangoes. The case count by province is Alberta (5) and British Columbia (17).

Salmonella infection symptoms include high fever, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Anyone who has eaten mangoes in the past week and is suffering these symptoms should see a healthcare provider immediately. For questions, call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.

In the United States, the CDC has released a statement by email. In it, they say that 101 cases with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Branderup have been reported to PulseNet since July 1, 2012. Not all states have reported yet, so the number of cases per state are as follows: California (75), New York (3), Oregon (1), Washington (6), and Texas (2). About two-thirds of the California victims reported eating mangoes the week before they became ill.

Get Salmonella help here.

The California Department of Health is leading the investigation, with the CDC assisting. The PFGE pattern of the outbreak strain matches the pattern of the bacteria found on mangoes recalled in Canada. The email states, “preliminary information indicates that mangoes are also a likely source for the illnesses in the United States.”

In the U.S., stores that have recalled Mexican mangoes include: Copps, Costco, Giant Food, Mariano’s, Martin’s Food Market, Metro Market, Pick ‘n Save, Rainbow, Stop & Shop, and TOP Food and Drug. The PLU numbers of the recalled mangoes include 4959, 4051, 4321, 4311, 4961, and 4584, and 3114. Not all stores have recalled all of the PLU numbered mangoes

FDA Tests Confirm Cantaloupe From Indiana Farm Is An Outbreak Source

Food Poisoning Bulletin

Lab tests on samples of cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, Indiana confirm that the melons are a source of a deadly Salmonella outbreak that has killed two people and sickened 176 others in 21 states, according to the latest information from the U.S. Food and Dug Administration (FDA). The DNA fingerprint of the Salmonella Typhimurium found in the cantaloupe samples is a genetic match to the one found in victims of the outbreak, results of the lab test show. The FDA’s sampling and testing of the cantaloupe were conducted in cooperation with the Indiana State Department of Health, the agency said.

Confirmation that the cantaloupe is a source of the outbreak comes one week after the farm in southwestern Indiana announced a recall of melons which have sickened a total of 178 people. By state, the tally of confirmed cases is as follows: Alabama (13), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (3), Illinois (21), Indiana (18), Iowa (7), Kentucky (56), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (6), Minnesota (4), Mississippi (5), Missouri (12), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (3), Ohio (4), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (2), and Wisconsin (4). Sixty two people have been hospitalized, the two people who died were from Kentucky.

Get your free consultation with an attorney here.

Prior to the recall, Chamberlain Farms had withdrawn cantaloupe from the market and stopped distribution for the rest of the growing season based on preliminary information from the FDA. The formal recall was announced to speed removal of the product from the market and raise public awareness, the agency said. A retail distribution list has not been released. However, Kroger, Marsh, Meijer, Schnucks and Walmart have all removed cantaloupe from their store shelves.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include nausea, abdominal cramps, fever and diarrhea which usually set in six to 72 hours after exposure and last up to seven days. Health officials recommend that anyone who develops these symptoms should see a health care provider.

Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 Changes School Lunch Meals

Food Poisoning Bulletin

School Lunch TraySchool starts again next week for many kids; lots of kids are already in school! While a new school year always brings changes, this year the school lunch is changing. In January 2012, one year after the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010 was signed into law, the USDA issued their final, updated standards for school meals.

The main purpose of the Act is to improve the nutrition of foods served at school to help kids achieve better nutrition and to reduce the skyrocketing childhood obesity rate. The core Child Nutrition Programs at the USDA, including the National School Lunch program, School Breakfast program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, WIC, and the Summer Food Service Programs, were reauthorized by the Act.

The Act includes the first major changes to these programs in more than 15 years. More than 32 million students each a lunch at school, and more than 12 million eat breakfast at school every day. The standards in the Act were built on recommendations from the Institute of Medicine.

Now, fruits and vegetables will be offered to kids every day of the week. Whole grain foods will be offered more often, and only fat-free or low-fat milk will be available. Proper portion size will be adhered to, and the program increases the focus on reducing saturated fat, trans fat, added sugars, and sodium.

These changes will be phased in over the next three years so it will be easier for schools to comply with the new law. To help pay for these changes, the USDA has implemented the “6-cent rule”, that gives schools an additional 6 cents for every lunch served that meets the new standards. That is the first increase above the rate of inflation in more than 30 years.

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Recalls

True Nutrition Recalls Whey Protein Products for Undeclared Milk

Food Poisoning Bulletin

True Nutrition is recalling some of its whey protein products because labels do not declare milk as the source of the whey. Milk is one of the major food allergens. Anyone who is allergic to milk and consumes these products may have a severe or life-threatening reaction. You can see all of the product labels at the FDA site.

The products are: Whey Protein Concentrate in 1 pound packages, with Batch/lot number 0120712, and expiration date of 05/2015. Whey Protein Isolate Cold-Filtration in 1 pound packages, with Batch/lot number 0030812 and expiration date 07/2015. Whey Protein Isolate MicroFiltrated in 1 pound packages, with Batch/lot number 0040812 and expiration date 07/2015. Whey Protein Isolate Cross-Flow Microfiltration in 1 pound packages with Batch/lot number 0730712 and expiration date 07/2015. And Hydrolyzed Whey Protein High Grade in 1 pound packages with Batch/lot number 0680512 and expiration date 05/2015.

Most people allergic to milk know that whey protein is derived from milk, but the company is recalling the products. The Whey Protein Isolate, Whey Protein Concentrate, and Hydrolyzed Whey Protein were distributed through the website True Nutrition. For questions, call Carl Manes at 760-433-5376 Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm PT.

Expired Bagged Salad Recalled by Fresh Express

Food Safety News

Fresh Express, Inc. announced Sunday that the company was recalling a limited quantity of expired 10 oz. Hearts of Romaine salad with the expired Use-by Date of August 23, 2012 as a precaution due to a positive test for Listeria monocytogenes.  Product codes associated with the recall begin with “G2222”.

According to a company press release, Fresh Express customer service representatives are contacting retailers to confirm the product was removed from their inventories and store shelves.

Thumbnail image for choppedromainelettuce-406.jpgWhile it is unlikely that consumers would have the expired Hearts of Romaine salads in their refrigerators, Fresh Express encourages anyone who finds the products to discard the salad.  The recall was issued after a sample of a package of 10 oz. Hearts of Romaine salad tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes during U.S. Food and Drug Administration random sampling.

Fresh Express stated that the UPC Code of 71279 26102, located on the back of the package below the barcode, would help identify recalled product, which was distributed in limited quantities to the following states:  AL, AR, FL, GA, IL, IN, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA, WV.

Sausage in Canada Recalled for Possible Listeria

Food Poisoning Bulletin

The CFIA and Odra Deli and Wholesale Meat Ltd. are recalling Krakowska Sausage because it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product.

The sausage was sliced and sold to customers in different weight packages from the deli counter at the Odra Deli and Wholesale Meat Ltd. in Mississauga, Ontario from August 9 to August 20, 2012. For questions, call Mike at Odra Deli and Wholesale Meat Ltd. at 416-888-5577, or the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.

Listeria bacteria do not make foods look, smell, or taste spoiled. The bacteria may cause an illness with symptoms of high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Pregnant women may suffer miscarriage or stillbirth from these infections. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems can have serious complications from listeriosis.

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Articles of Interest

Wenonah Hauter Rips FDA’s Probe Of Contaminated Dog Treats From China

Food Poisoning Bullletin

Food and Water Watch’s Wenonah Hauter says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has failed to protect dogs from serious illness caused by contaminated jerky treats from China. In a scathing statement released Friday, Hauter, the organization’s executive director,  blasted the FDA’s handling of a five-year probe of  illnesses and deaths linked to chicken jerky dog treats from China.

Since 2007, thousands of dogs have become sick or died after eating jerky treats made in China. This week, the FDA released heavily redacted reports of  April inspections of Chinese manufacturing facilities and revealed  that China refused to let inspectors collect samples for independent analysis.”The FDA waited until it received 2,000 reports of illnesses and deaths in U.S. dogs before launching its investigation. Although the China investigation took place in April, it took the FDA four months to admit that they were denied permission from collecting samples from the Chinese facilities. As the FDA dragged its feet, the suspect treats remained on store shelves and put thousands of dogs at risk,” Hauter said in a statement.

“What’s more disgraceful than the FDA’s dawdling is the fact that it has full authority under Section 306 of the Food Safety Modernization Act to refuse shipments of these treats from China now. Enough is enough. It’s time for the FDA to issue an import alert on all pet food manufactured in China before more animals and the humans that love them suffer needlessly,” she said.

Although numerous tests have been performed on the treats over the last five years, the FDA has been unable to discover what about them makes dogs so sick.  Private diagnostic labs have now been recruited to solve the mystery, In the meantime, consumers should not buy dog or pet food treats made in China.

Salmonella Cantaloupe Lawsuits against Walmart and Chamberlain Farms Filed on Behalf of Children

Cantaloupe Recall OutbreakOne lawsuit has been filed against Walmart and Chamberlain Farms, of Owensville, Indiana, on behalf of two children, siblings, who were diagnosed with Salmonella Typhimurium after eating cantaloupe purchased at a Michigan Walmart store. Another lawsuit has has been filed against Chamberlain Farms on behalf of another child from Michigan. According to the lawsuits, the children are part of a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections that have been linked to cantaloupe grown by Chamberlain Farms and distributed to retailers, including Walmart, in several states.

Kentucky has been hardest hit, with over 50 confirmed cases of illness and two deaths. To date, the CDC has reported illnesses in the following states: Alabama (13), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (3), Illinois (21), Indiana (18), Iowa (7), Kentucky (56), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (6), Minnesota (4), Mississippi (5), Missouri (12), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (3), Ohio (4), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (2), and Wisconsin (4).

These lawsuits represent the first of many that attorneys anticipate will be filed on behalf of the more than 170 victims of the cantaloupe Salmonella outbreak. “Victims of this outbreak and their families should be compensated for medical expenses, lost income, physical pain, emotional distress and other damages,” said attorney Fred Pritzker, national Salmonella lawyer and food safety advocate. “Businesses responsible for growing and selling contaminated food need to be held accountable, and these lawsuits accomplish that.”

According to Pritzker, who represents Salmonella food poisoning victims throughout the United States, these kinds of cases generally make claims under three theories of liability: strict liability, negligence and breach of contract. “Food sold for human consumption should be always be free of dangerous pathogens like Salmonella,” said Pritzker.

Valley Meats Disputes State Fine For Improper Cow Disposal

Food Safety News

New Mexico’s Valley Meat Co. is appealing a state fine of $86,400 for improper disposal of composted cattle remains.
Valley Meat gained notoriety earlier this year when it applied to USDA for equine inspection services to open a horse slaughter facility for export at its closed beef plant near Roswell, NM.

arkansasfairhorse_320x175.jpg

The New Mexico Environment Department issued a compliance order Aug 2, citing Valley Meat for failure to register as a compositing facility for property located near the slaughterhouse, and for failing to properly dispose of solid waste.
Valley Meat received the order and notice about the fine by e-mail on Aug. 14. Company attorney A. Blair Dunn said Valley Meat would file an appeal and request a hearing by state officials.
New Mexico’s order came after a 2 year stand off over Valley Meat’s failure to move a 400 ton pile of composted cattle remains because a local landfill could not receive the waste due to state restrictions.
As for registering the site, Dunn says the state lost two previous applications and then took the position that the third one was not filed in a timely manner.
After President Obama and Congress last year lifted a 5 year ban on horse slaughter inspection, Valley Meats filed an application that is still pending for equine inspection services at the closed facility it had once used for beef.
Horse slaughter opponents sought to discredit Valley Meats in its application for equine inspections by using the two-year-old problem with the pile of dead cows at the Roswell plant.
An inspector for USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service had first questioned the 15-foot pile of rotting cow flesh in January 2010.
Valley may resume beef operations while it waits for action on its request for equine inspection services.

I am going to be posting this one in its  entirety along  with  comments from readers.  The  purpose  for my posting  it is that there  is  so much that  is said  and presented  from  so many  different  facets and mindsets  that  I think it  presents a  varied  look into this  very  hotly  debated  subject.  Animals  rights, humane  treatment,  failure  of  the  meat  industry  to be held responsible  for its many inhumane  practices in  their  goal to increase their  bottom line  at  any  cost, Government  responsibility,  food borne illness and the  correlation between  animal treatment  and  the safety of our  food  supply

If  you wish  to respond  directly to the comments  included here  , please do so by  visiting the  site via  the link in the title of the  article.  As these  comments  were  placed   there  rather than  here   I  feel it  would be  counter  productive   for replies to be  placed  here  on this  blog  rather than where  they belong,  on the original  article.  Thank you

Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?

Food Safety News
Opinion

On August 19, 2012, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered its inspection staff at Central Valley Meat (CVM) to go home. Because the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) of 1906 requires inspection by USDA to be continuous during slaughter of cattle, this USDA action essentially shuttered the plant for the time being.

beefcattle-usda406x250.jpgThis action at CVM has been well documented at Food Safety News and many other electronic Ag and Meat journals. The reporting has been fair and complete, but the discussions that have followed have been, at times, so inaccurate and unfair that I have felt the need to respond in some detail.

I was at the USDA on February 1, 2008, when a similar action was taken at Hallmark/Westland meats. There are similarities and there are differences, but the role of the USDA was the same at both plants.

First, the similarities:

Undercover agents working at slaughter plants as undercover agents for the Humane Society of the United States (Hallmark/Westland) and Compassion Over Killing (CVM)  used hidden cameras to film egregious inhumane handling of cows.

Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes.

Both plants slaughtered a very large number of old, culled dairy cows and sold beef to the National School Lunch Program (NSLP).

If you want to get the public’s attention using video, you want to go to a facility that slaughters old dairy cows and then sells the meat to the NSLP. As opposed to 20-30 month old steers that have been content to eat grain in a feedlot, these cows are often 10-12 years of age, and are often not in good enough shape to handle a ride of even a few miles in hot weather.

They sometimes are sick, they always are old, and they often lay down to rest and refuse to get up. And here lies the opportunity for video if the plant is not impeccable in its handling of these non-ambulatory or “downer” animals.

But on with the similarities:

Each plant had an inspection work force felt to be adequate to assure our meat was safe. That work force would include on-line inspectors whose only opportunity to observe inhumane handling would be coming to and going from work plus break time, time which is officially their own, not the plant’s or the USDA’s.

There might be one or two off-line inspectors with multiple responsibilities.

There would also be a Public Health Veterinarian on duty. S/He is responsible in most plants to observe animals in motion and at rest to screen for Central Nervous System disorders such as BSE and other chronic disease manifestations.

But this individual is also usually responsible for carcass by carcass inspection after the hide has been pulled off. At Hallmark, this individual was condemning about 20 carcasses per day to protect you and me.

You see, contrary to so many discussants’ uninformed opinions, this person cannot be in two places at once.

I compare the PHV to a State Trooper.

It is my job to obey the speed limit, it is the trooper’s job to be a presence at times that encourages me to not speed, not knowing when he will pop up.

It is the plant’s job to obey the Humane handling Act, and it is the PHV’s job to occasionally stroll through the pens to confirm the Act is being complied with.

If the discussants calling for USDA employee’s heads, and even the Secretary’s job, want 24/7 FSIS coverage, then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up.

There was one major difference, so far, between CVM and Hallmark.

In 2008, if a cow had passed antemortem inspection by the PHV, in motion and at rest, then decided to lie down and not get up, the plant could ask the PHV to come out to the pen and examine the animal.

If a cause for the non-ambulatory condition could be determined, such as a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, the animal could be euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box.

In the Hallmark incident, there was irrefutable evidence that non-ambulatory cattle entered the food supply without follow up inspection by the PHV. Investigations confirmed this had been going on for over one year. Not often, but on occasion.

This fact makes the meat “unfit” for consumption because rules were not followed and proper inspection not completed.

We were criticized, but why have rules like the “downer rule” if they are not a part of protection of the food supply?

The HSUS won on this count, because the USDA responded the next year by completely banning all downers and non-ambulatory cattle from getting into the food chain. Throwing away perfectly good meat is a waste, and drives up the cost of our beef.

One slaughter plant out of 800 tried to cheat the system, and an entire industry was taken to task.

The difference, so far, at CVM, is that although the video is despicable, there is no evidence these mistreated animals ever got into the facility and the food chain.

It is being said by bashers of the federal government that the USDA overreacted at CVM. There is a law, passed by Congress and signed by the President of the United States that says inhumane handling will not be tolerated and FSIS is to suspend inspection when it is seen.

USDA/FSIS was simply following the law. You don’t like it, change the law but do not drag these federal employees over the coals for doing what they had to do.

If any reader is interested, the transcript of my testimony in front of the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, regarding Hallmark/Westland and the Q and A that followed can be seen online.

In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:

1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.

2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.

3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.

4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and

5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.

Editor’s Note:  –Dr. Raymond Responds To Some of the Comments Below–
 
Wowser, only a blog on raw milk could stir up more vitriol and I was only stating the facts behind USDA”s action.
Shelly,  if you go to the COK web sight, the second sentence you will read is this:
 “COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, both for humans and nonhumans.”
So please explain your first response by saying  I had lost all creditibility by calling a spade a spade?
And just so you know, the USDA will not be fining Central Valley because the law prohibits them from doing so. I know, because every year we went to the Appropriations  Committee with our budget and requested authority to fine plants for certain circumstances and every year we were denied. Again, just trying to point out the facts so people can make informed decisions and comments.
As for the comment that USDA is supposed to promote Ag, and therefore this action should get people fired? As I tried to explain, they just followed the law. And besides promoting Ag, they promote and protect animal, plant and human health, run the US Forest Service, direct food stamps and school lunches to name a few other items of business for the USDA.
Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.
I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores.
The animal rights activists are winning, and we are helping them with inhumane practices.
BTW, USDA shuttered 12 plants in 1997, the year before Hallmark, for inhumane handling observed by FSIS employees. They just didn’t send the videos to the Washington Post and NY Times.
                                                                                                      —
Image:  Watering cattle and providing shelter are two important ways to help keep them cooler and less stressed during heat waves. 

 
Photo by Keith Weller, USDA, ARS, Photo Library.
 

Discuss

Shelley
08/27/2012
4:42AM

“Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes. ”

You lost any credibility–any–with this paragraph.

Yes, many in the animal welfare movement would like to end all meat consumption, but others in the movement are doing nothing more than attempting to stop the most, as you say, egregious forms of cruelty when it comes to livestock practices.

Throwing away perfectly good meat? From cows too sick to even move? Are you serious?

No wonder we have the problems we have today, if your attitude reflects the USDA’s attitude at the time you were still employed by the government. Hopefully, times have changed with you gone.

The people doing most of the blaming of the USDA in this incident are people who are also doing everything in their power to misdirect attention from the entity truly responsible for the cruel practices outlined in the video: the company that owns and operates the plant.

The lack of training and capability demonstrated in the video should give any person concerned about food safety pause, because if this level of incompetency is matched throughout the plant, then we have to wonder how safe the meat truly is.

We are all aware that the USDA is underfunded. That doesn’t mean we have to just say, “Oh well, guess we can’t do anything”. What we can do is what the undercover investigators did do: expose the acts of cruelty, and take the investigative material to the USDA for prompt action. And the action was prompt.

If, as you imply, the videos are “staged” or not conclusive, the USDA would not have acted.

So perhaps in your reactive defense of the USDA, you might consider the fact that these investigators acted in concert with the USDA, not against it.

Ted
08/27/2012
5:14AM

No, not OK Doc. Not even close to OK.

You correctly point out inspectors are to be pulled when inhumane treatment is endemic at the plant in question. Obviously your intrepid inspectors did not see with their own eyes evidence sufficient to warrant their walking off the job.

No, instead some USDA PR toadie viewed biased unofficial video images from known hostile activists, then panicked and pulled inspection from the plant, effectively destroying it.

USDA rushed into the activists’ arms, eagerly playing the stooge to their underhanded agenda.

USDA missed the play. Completely. Then covered it’s own ass against the threat of nasty public relations flak from extremists in our midst.

Screw USDA if they aren’t there for agriculture. Close the department to reduce the national debt…or rename it the United States Department of Anti-agriculture. Goddam scab bureaucrats being jerked around by the hair.

Jon
08/27/2012
6:55AM

Seems former USDAer and now Meatingplace advocate “Doc Meat” has a bone to pick with food safety scrutiny:
“The HSUS won on this count, because the USDA responded the next year by completely banning all downers and non-ambulatory cattle from getting into the food chain. Throwing away perfectly good meat is a waste, and drives up the cost of our beef.

Given a choice many consumers might not appreciate the “perfectly good meat” of “spent” dairy cows. Inbred factory dairy cows that are confined on concrete for their entire lives, drug injected, milked 3 times a day, fed farm waste products including chicken manure/bedding fed cow parts doesn’t produce a high quality or safe meat to begin with. And Doc — and Ted — feel prohibiting downers is a waste?

gmh
08/27/2012
7:44AM

Hmmm…seems to be a strange sort of consensus forming — USDA has not only dropped the ball, it has kicked it out of bounds to penalize the home team.

From meatless Mondays to kneejerk plant closings, USDA seems to be hacking away at the very agriculture they are funded to promote. Time to stop defending USDA and begin defunding USDA. Do a complete spring housecleaning — from top to bottom sweep skulking antifarm advocates on the USDA dole back out into the nonprofit sector where they belong.

Vilsack should step down. USDA programs hurtful to agriculture should be dismantled — the entire USDA can go if need be. Election year and a farm bill on the horizon — no better time than the present to set sinister out-of-whack things aright. Call and email your congressmen, insist our corrupted USDA be cleaned up or shut down. Espionage and sabotage at USDA threaten food security and so national security.

Finally, a cause everyone can agree upon!

Janet Weeks V
08/27/2012
8:04AM

No words, just utter disbelief. USDA decides: it’s cruelty as usual for California slaughterhouse, in spite of USDA policy. Humane Methods of Slaughter Act? Bah humbug! At least now consumers KNOW FOR SURE that their hamburger and dairy come from sick, lame cows who can barely walk to the kill floor and are beaten, prodded with electric prods, sprayed with scalding water, and tortured before and while they are killed. Will USDA or plant managers monitor the animal cruelty at this facility or install video surveillance? Highly unlikely. It’s cruelty as usual in spite of American values and morality. The only way to stop this insanity is to quit buying the product. No meat. No dairy. No eggs.

Go Vegan and nobody gets hurt.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZRS-kzgoRq0

appalled
08/27/2012
8:16AM

Let’s correct your “trooper” analogy Doc. Here’s what just happened:

Imagine for the moment I don’t care for you or the way you live so I stalk you everywhere you go, waiting for an opportunity to jam you up good. I spot a trooper who’s distracted and recognize my chance.

I run up to the trooper screaming and crying and flailing my arms and tell him I saw you roll through a stop sign and show him where I’ve published on the internet some video of some car rolling through some stop sign. I threaten to raise holy Hell with the trooper and his supervisor and his supervisor’s supervisor, and so on. That trooper thinks he isn’t paid enough, certainly not enough to protect you (and himself) from my hysteria. Not to worry; there is an expedient solution, however.

And I am gratified when the trooper immediately hunts you down and suspends your drivers license, impounds your car and prevents you showing up at your work so you get fired. I am so delighted I practically wet myself.

Consider it a weaselly form of vigilante citizen’s arrest if it makes you feel any better.

Shelley
08/27/2012
8:52AM

The plant re-opened today, after the USDA reviewed its plan for correction.

So much for destroying the plant.

I would hope that the agency at least imposes some stiff fines.

Shelley
08/27/2012
8:58AM

Perhaps better than a fine is the fact that so many companies will no longer do business with Central Valley Meat. And it can’t supply meat to the school lunch program until it proves it has mended its ways.

In the end, the videos did do what they hoped to accomplish: eliminate egregious acts of inhumane cruelty.

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2012/08/central-valley-slaughterhouse-reopens.html

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
08/27/2012
9:57AM

OPINION REBUTTAL Terry

Greetings,

Well Dr. Raymond, since you called me out, I must respond Sir. Yes, our children health and safety mean more to me than taxes.
Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;

“then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up.”
Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;

In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:

1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.

2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.

3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.

4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and

5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.

Image: Watering cattle and providing shelter are two important ways to help keep them cooler and less stressed during heat waves. Photo by Keith Weller, USDA, ARS, Photo Library.

© Food Safety News

Hello Dr. Raymond Sir,

Indeed I would like to comment on some of your fallacies Dr. Raymond.

Dr. Ramond stated in 1. that ;

1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.

Sir, as late as 2007, one decade post partial and voluntary mad cow feed ban, 10,000,000. pounds of banned prohibited blood laced meat and bone meal mad cow feed went out into commerce, to be fed out. 2006 was a banner year as well for suspect banned mad cow protein in commerce. “The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.” that you state Sir, was merely ink on paper for the past decade. You can see for yourself here, I have listed some, but not all here ;

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Final Feed Investigation Summary – California BSE Case – July 2012

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/final-feed-investigation-summary.html

even more disturbing now ;

Sunday, August 26, 2012
Detection of PrPSc in peripheral tissues of clinically affected cattle after oral challenge with BSE
http://vir.sgmjournals.org/content/early/2012/08/16/vir.0.044578-0.abstract
more here ;

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/detection-of-prpsc-in-peripheral.html
Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;

2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.

Dr. Raymond Sir, another ink on paper only phenomenon. please see the many breaches on specified risk materials here ;

a few examples, one very recently, and the following link will list more SRM breaches ;

2011

Ohio Department of Agriculture and Ohio Department of Health

Governor

John R. Kasich

Lieutenant Governor

Mary Taylor

ODA Director

James Zehringer

ODH Director

Theodore E. Wymyslo, M.D.

DT: July 14, 2011

TO: Health Commissioners, Directors of Environmental Health and Interested Parties

RE: Recall Announcement (ODA/ODH) 2011-076

Valley Farm Meats (DBA Strasburg Provision, Inc) Issues Precautionary Recall for Beef Products Due to Possible Contamination with Prohibited Materials

[STRASBURG, Ohio] – Valley Farm Meats (DBA Strasburg Provision, Inc) of Strasburg, OH announces a voluntary recall of an unknown amount of beef products that may contain the spinal cord and vertebral column, which are considered specified risk materials (SRMs). SRMs must be removed from cattle over 30 months of age in accordance with federal and state regulations. SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, federal and state regulations prohibit SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.

http://www.agri.ohio.gov/public_docs/recalls/2011/Recall_FS_76-2011.pdf

North Dakota Firm Recalls Whole Beef Head Products That Contain Prohibited Materials

Recall Release CLASS II RECALL FSIS-RC-023-2010 HEALTH RISK: LOW

Congressional and Public Affairs (202) 720-9113 Catherine Cochran

WASHINGTON, April 5, 2010 – North American Bison Co-Op, a New Rockford, N.D., establishment is recalling approximately 25,000 pounds of whole beef heads containing tongues that may not have had the tonsils completely removed, which is not compliant with regulations that require the removal of tonsils from cattle of all ages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced today.

Tonsils are considered a specified risk material (SRM) and must be removed from cattle of all ages in accordance with FSIS regulations. SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, FSIS prohibits SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_023_2010_Release/index.asp

Missouri Firm Recalls Cattle Heads That Contain Prohibited Materials

Recall Release CLASS II RECALL FSIS-RC-021-2008 HEALTH RISK: LOW

Congressional and Public Affairs (202) 720-9113 Amanda Eamich

WASHINGTON, June 26, 2008 – Paradise Locker Meats, a Trimble, Mo., establishment, is voluntarily recalling approximately 120 pounds of fresh cattle heads with tonsils not completely removed, which is not compliant with regulations that require the removal of tonsils from cattle of all ages, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced today.

Tonsils are considered a specified risk material (SRM) and must be removed from cattle of all ages in accordance with FSIS regulations. SRMs are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with BSE, as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues. Therefore, FSIS prohibits SRMs from use as human food to minimize potential human exposure to the BSE agent.

http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Recall_021_2008_Release/index.asp

see many more SRM breaches here ;

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Final Feed Investigation Summary – California BSE Case – July 2012

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/final-feed-investigation-summary.html

again, even more disturbing now ;

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Detection of PrPSc in peripheral tissues of clinically affected cattle after oral challenge with BSE

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/detection-of-prpsc-in-peripheral.html

Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;

3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.

Sir, you stated yourself that Public Health Veterinarian ;
> But this individual is also usually responsible for carcass by carcass inspection after the hide has been pulled off. At Hallmark, this individual was condemning about 20 carcasses per day to protect you and me.
> You see, contrary to so many discussants’ uninformed opinions, this person cannot be in two places at once.
> It is the plant’s job to obey the Humane handling Act, and it is the PHV’s job to occasionally stroll through the pens to confirm the Act is being complied with.
> If the discussants calling for USDA employee’s heads, and even the Secretary’s job, want 24/7 FSIS coverage, then go get the funding for it and watch our taxes go up.

Sir, after the Hallmark debacle, and the fact that deadstock downer cows did make it to the NSLP, and the fact of the National recall there from, I find it disturbing still that there is NO recall of the meat, if any left, from the Central Valley Meat company from last year. You Sir, nor anyone else, can guarantee now that these type practices have not occurred last year, the year before, and or the year before that at Central Valley Meat Co., and I think our children, and the fact that ;
> > > Ackerman says downed cattle are 50 times more likely to have mad cow disease (also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or BSE) than ambulatory cattle that are suspected of having BSE. Of the 20 confirmed cases of mad cow disease in North America since 1993, at least 16 have involved downer cattle, he said. < < <
I think our childrens safety from the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy TSE prion mad cow type disease, is much more important.

don’t forget the children…

PLEASE be aware, for 4 years, the USDA fed our children all across the Nation (including TEXAS) dead stock downer cows, the most high risk cattle for BSE aka mad cow disease and other dangerous pathogens. who will watch our children for CJD for the next 5+ decades ???

WAS your child exposed to mad cow disease via the NSLP ???

HALLMARK DEBACLE HERE WITH DOWNERS AND OUR CHILDREN VIA THE USDA AND THE NSLP.

SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM FROM DOWNER CATTLE UPDATE

http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2009/05/who-will-watch-children.html

http://downercattle.blogspot.com/
DID YOUR CHILD CONSUME SOME OF THESE DEAD STOCK DOWNER COWS, THE MOST HIGH RISK FOR MAD COW DISEASE ???
this recall was not for the welfare of the animals. …tss
you can check and see here ;
http://www.fns.usda.gov/fns/safety/pdf/Hallmark-Westland_byState.pdf

Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and

Sir, this the be now, if your not caught at it. that’s why some want the undercover videos banned. Also, I still think that prisoners are humans, and they are being fed pet food in some instances. could this happen with the NSLP ??? let’s hope not, but in the past, during the infamous enhanced BSE surveillance program, there was gentleman supplying the USDA, with PERFECTLY HEALTHY CATTLE BRAINS FOR TESTING, brains that he knew were free from mad cow disease. your system is far from perfect, in fact, it’s an imperfect system. it has been shown to have flaws, major flaws time and time again by the GAO and OIG, and others. these are the facts.
see Texas prisoners being fed pet food here;

http://www.justice.gov/usao/txe/News/2012/edtx-john-soules-foods-081712.html

Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.
I kindly disagree Sir, and so does the OIE. That’s why the USA is still classified as BSE GBR risk factor of 3. there are many flaws Sir, and because of the fact of still feeding cows to cows via banned suspect BSE feed as late as 2007, millions and millions of pounds, and the most recent atypical L-type BASE BSE in California in 2012, I think the USA BSE GBR risk factor should be raised to BSE GBR 4.

NOW, what about that mad cow BSE surveillance and testing program ???

PAUL BROWN COMMENT TO ME ON THIS ISSUE

Tuesday, September 12, 2006 11:10 AM

“Actually, Terry, I have been critical of the USDA handling of the mad cow issue for some years, and with Linda Detwiler and others sent lengthy detailed critiques and recommendations to both the USDA and the Canadian Food Agency.”

OR, what the Honorable Phyllis Fong of the OIG found ;

Audit Report

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program – Phase II

and

Food Safety and Inspection Service

Controls Over BSE Sampling, Specified Risk Materials, and Advanced Meat Recovery Products – Phase III

Report No. 50601-10-KC January 2006

Finding 2 Inherent Challenges in Identifying and Testing High-Risk Cattle Still Remain

http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/50601-10-KC.pdf

“”These 9,200 cases were different because brain tissue samples were preserved with formalin, which makes them suitable for only one type of test–immunohistochemistry, or IHC.”

THIS WAS DONE FOR A REASON!

THE IHC test has been proven to be the LEAST LIKELY to detect BSE/TSE in the bovine, and these were probably from the most high risk cattle pool, the ones the USDA et al, SHOULD have been testing. …TSS

USDA 2003

We have to be careful that we don’t get so set in the way we do things that we forget to look for different emerging variations of disease. We’ve gotten away from collecting the whole brain in our systems. We’re using the brain stem and we’re looking in only one area. In Norway, they were doing a project and looking at cases of Scrapie, and they found this where they did not find lesions or PRP in the area of the obex. They found it in the cerebellum and the cerebrum. It’s a good lesson for us. Ames had to go back and change the procedure for looking at Scrapie samples. In the USDA, we had routinely looked at all the sections of the brain, and then we got away from it. They’ve recently gone back. Dr. Keller: Tissues are routinely tested, based on which tissue provides an ‘official’ test result as recognized by APHIS.

Dr. Detwiler: That’s on the slaughter. But on the clinical cases, aren’t they still asking for the brain? But even on the slaughter, they’re looking only at the brainstem. We may be missing certain things if we confine ourselves to one area.

snip………….

Dr. Detwiler: It seems a good idea, but I’m not aware of it. Another important thing to get across to the public is that the negatives do not guarantee absence of infectivity. The animal could be early in the disease and the incubation period. Even sample collection is so important. If you’re not collecting the right area of the brain in sheep, or if collecting lymphoreticular tissue, and you don’t get a good biopsy, you could miss the area with the PRP in it and come up with a negative test. There’s a new, unusual form of Scrapie that’s been detected in Norway. We have to be careful that we don’t get so set in the way we do things that we forget to look for different emerging variations of disease. We’ve gotten away from collecting the whole brain in our systems. We’re using the brain stem and we’re looking in only one area. In Norway, they were doing a project and looking at cases of Scrapie, and they found this where they did not find lesions or PRP in the area of the obex. They found it in the cerebellum and the cerebrum. It’s a good lesson for us. Ames had to go back and change the procedure for looking at Scrapie samples. In the USDA, we had routinely looked at all the sections of the brain, and then we got away from it. They’ve recently gone back.

Dr. Keller: Tissues are routinely tested, based on which tissue provides an ‘official’ test result as recognized by APHIS .

Dr. Detwiler: That’s on the slaughter. But on the clinical cases, aren’t they still asking for the brain? But even on the slaughter, they’re looking only at the brainstem. We may be missing certain things if we confine ourselves to one area.

snip…

FULL TEXT;

Completely Edited Version PRION ROUNDTABLE

Accomplished this day, Wednesday, December 11, 2003, Denver, Colorado

2005

http://madcowtesting.blogspot.com/2009/02/report-on-testing-ruminants-for-tses-in.html

FINAL REPORT 2ND TEXAS MAD COW

http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/bse/downloads/bse_final_epi_report8-05.pdf

Subject: USDA OIG SEMIANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS FY 2007 1st Half (bogus BSE sampling FROM HEALTHY USDA CATTLE) Date: June 21, 2007 at 2:49 pm PST

Owner and Corporation Plead Guilty to Defrauding Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Surveillance Program

An Arizona meat processing company and its owner pled guilty in February 2007 to charges of theft of Government funds, mail fraud, and wire fraud. The owner and his company defrauded the BSE Surveillance Program when they falsified BSE Surveillance Data Collection Forms and then submitted payment requests to USDA for the services. In addition to the targeted sample population (those cattle that were more than 30 months old or had other risk factors for BSE), the owner submitted to USDA, or caused to be submitted, BSE obex (brain stem) samples from healthy USDA-inspected cattle. As a result, the owner fraudulently received approximately $390,000. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2007.

snip…

Topics that will be covered in ongoing or planned reviews under Goal 1 include:

soundness of BSE maintenance sampling (APHIS),

implementation of Performance-Based Inspection System enhancements for specified risk material (SRM) violations and improved inspection controls over SRMs (FSIS and APHIS),

snip…

The findings and recommendations from these efforts will be covered in future semiannual reports as the relevant audits and investigations are completed.

4 USDA OIG SEMIANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS FY 2007 1st Half

http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/sarc070619.pdf

-MORE Office of the United States Attorney District of Arizona FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For Information Contact Public Affairs February 16, 2007 WYN HORNBUCKLE Telephone: (602) 514-7625 Cell: (602) 525-2681

CORPORATION AND ITS PRESIDENT PLEAD GUILTY TO DEFRAUDING GOVERNMENT’S MAD COW DISEASE SURVEILLANCE PROGRAM

PHOENIX — Farm Fresh Meats, Inc. and Roland Emerson Farabee, 55, of Maricopa, Arizona, pleaded guilty to stealing $390,000 in government funds, mail fraud and wire fraud, in federal district court in Phoenix. U.S. Attorney Daniel Knauss stated, “The integrity of the system that tests for mad cow disease relies upon the honest cooperation of enterprises like Farm Fresh Meats. Without that honest cooperation, consumers both in the U.S. and internationally are at risk. We want to thank the USDA’s Office of Inspector General for their continuing efforts to safeguard the public health and enforce the law.” Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee were charged by Information with theft of government funds, mail fraud and wire fraud. According to the Information, on June 7, 2004, Farabee, on behalf of Farm Fresh Meats, signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (the “USDA Agreement”) to collect obex samples from cattle at high risk of mad cow disease (the “Targeted Cattle Population”). The Targeted Cattle Population consisted of the following cattle: cattle over thirty months of age; nonambulatory cattle; cattle exhibiting signs of central nervous system disorders; cattle exhibiting signs of mad cow disease; and dead cattle. Pursuant to the USDA Agreement, the USDA agreed to pay Farm Fresh Meats $150 per obex sample for collecting obex samples from cattle within the Targeted Cattle Population, and submitting the obex samples to a USDA laboratory for mad cow disease testing. Farm Fresh Meats further agreed to maintain in cold storage the sampled cattle carcasses and heads until the test results were received by Farm Fresh Meats.

Evidence uncovered during the government’s investigation established that Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee submitted samples from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population. Specifically, Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee submitted, or caused to be submitted, obex samples from healthy, USDA inspected cattle, in order to steal government moneys.

Evidence collected also demonstrated that Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee failed to maintain cattle carcasses and heads pending test results and falsified corporate books and records to conceal their malfeasance. Such actions, to the extent an obex sample tested positive (fortunately, none did), could have jeopardized the USDA’s ability to identify the diseased animal and pinpoint its place of origin. On Wednesday, February 14, 2007, Farm Fresh Meats and Farabee pleaded guilty to stealing government funds and using the mails and wires to effect the scheme. According to their guilty pleas:

(a) Farm Fresh Meats collected, and Farabee directed others to collect, obex samples from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population, which were not subject to payment by the USDA;

(b) Farm Fresh Meats 2 and Farabee caused to be submitted payment requests to the USDA knowing that the requests were based on obex samples that were not subject to payment under the USDA Agreement;

(c) Farm Fresh Meats completed and submitted, and Farabee directed others to complete and submit, BSE Surveillance Data Collection Forms to the USDA’s testing laboratory that were false and misleading;

(d) Farm Fresh Meats completed and submitted, and Farabee directed others to complete and submit, BSE Surveillance Submission Forms filed with the USDA that were false and misleading;

(e) Farm Fresh Meats falsified, and Farabee directed others to falsify, internal Farm Fresh Meats documents to conceal the fact that Farm Fresh Meats was seeking and obtaining payment from the USDA for obex samples obtained from cattle outside the Targeted Cattle Population; and

(f) Farm Fresh Meats failed to comply with, and Farabee directed others to fail to comply with, the USDA Agreement by discarding cattle carcasses and heads prior to receiving BSE test results. A conviction for theft of government funds carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. Mail fraud and wire fraud convictions carry a maximum penalty of 20 years imprisonment. Convictions for the above referenced violations also carry a maximum fine of $250,000 for individuals and $500,000 for organizations. In determining an actual sentence, Judge Earl H. Carroll will consult the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide appropriate sentencing ranges. The judge, however, is not bound by those guidelines in determining a sentence.

Sentencing is set before Judge Earl H. Carroll on May 14, 2007. The investigation in this case was conducted by Assistant Special Agent in Charge Alejandro Quintero, United States Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution is being handled by Robert Long, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix. CASE NUMBER: CR-07-00160-PHX-EHC RELEASE NUMBER: 2007-051(Farabee) # # #

http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/az/press_releases/2007/2007-051(Farabee).pdf

Section 2. Testing Protocols and Quality Assurance Controls

In November 2004, USDA announced that its rapid screening test, Bio-Rad Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA), produced an inconclusive BSE test result as part of its enhanced BSE surveillance program. The ELISA rapid screening test performed at a BSE contract laboratory produced three high positive reactive results.40 As required,41 the contract laboratory forwarded the inconclusive sample to the APHIS National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) for confirmatory testing. NVSL repeated the ELISA testing and again produced three high positive reactive results.42 In accordance with its established protocol, NVSL ran its confirmatory test, an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test, which was interpreted as negative for BSE. In addition, NVSL performed a histological43 examination of the tissue and did not detect lesions44 consistent with BSE.

Faced with conflicting results, NVSL scientists recommended additional testing to resolve the discrepancy but APHIS headquarters officials concluded no further testing was necessary because testing protocols were followed. In our discussions with APHIS officials, they justified their decision not to do additional testing because the IHC is internationally recognized as the “gold standard.” Also, they believed that conducting additional tests would undermine confidence in USDA’s established testing protocols.

http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/50601-10-KC.pdf

FDA STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE May 4, 2004 Media Inquiries: 301-827-6242 Consumer Inquiries: 888-INFO-FDA

Statement on Texas Cow With Central Nervous System Symptoms

On Friday, April 30th, the Food and Drug Administration learned that a cow with central nervous system symptoms had been killed and shipped to a processor for rendering into animal protein for use in animal feed.

FDA, which is responsible for the safety of animal feed, immediately began an investigation. On Friday and throughout the weekend, FDA investigators inspected the slaughterhouse, the rendering facility, the farm where the animal came from, and the processor that initially received the cow from the slaughterhouse.

FDA’s investigation showed that the animal in question had already been rendered into “meat and bone meal” (a type of protein animal feed). Over the weekend FDA was able to track down all the implicated material. That material is being held by the firm, which is cooperating fully with FDA.

Cattle with central nervous system symptoms are of particular interest because cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE, also known as “mad cow disease,” can exhibit such symptoms. In this case, there is no way now to test for BSE. But even if the cow had BSE, FDA’s animal feed rule would prohibit the feeding of its rendered protein to other ruminant animals (e.g., cows, goats, sheep, bison).

FDA is sending a letter to the firm summarizing its findings and informing the firm that FDA will not object to use of this material in swine feed only. If it is not used in swine feed, this material will be destroyed. Pigs have been shown not to be susceptible to BSE. If the firm agrees to use the material for swine feed only, FDA will track the material all the way through the supply chain from the processor to the farm to ensure that the feed is properly monitored and used only as feed for pigs.

To protect the U.S. against BSE, FDA works to keep certain mammalian protein out of animal feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. FDA established its animal feed rule in 1997 after the BSE epidemic in the U.K. showed that the disease spreads by feeding infected ruminant protein to cattle.

Under the current regulation, the material from this Texas cow is not allowed in feed for cattle or other ruminant animals. FDA’s action specifying that the material go only into swine feed means also that it will not be fed to poultry.

FDA is committed to protecting the U.S. from BSE and collaborates closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on all BSE issues. The animal feed rule provides crucial protection against the spread of BSE, but it is only one of several such firewalls. FDA will soon be improving the animal feed rule, to make this strong system even stronger.

#

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/2004/ucm108292.htm
SEE FULL TEXT OF ALL THIS HERE ;
http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/05/update-from-aphis-regarding-detection.html
Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
“In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. “

Dr. Raymond Sir, it is not vCJD we will find here from the atypical TSE growing in the many different species here in the USA and North America. Science that has been out for several years now shows that some cases of sporadic CJD can be linked to the atypical BSE. In fact Sir, atypical Scrapie shows many similarities with human TSE prion disease. please see ;

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Seven main threats for the future linked to prions

First threat

The TSE road map defining the evolution of European policy for protection against prion diseases is based on a certain numbers of hypotheses some of which may turn out to be erroneous. In particular, a form of BSE (called atypical Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), recently identified by systematic testing in aged cattle without clinical signs, may be the origin of classical BSE and thus potentially constitute a reservoir, which may be impossible to eradicate if a sporadic origin is confirmed. ***Also, a link is suspected between atypical BSE and some apparently sporadic cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. These atypical BSE cases constitute an unforeseen first threat that could sharply modify the European approach to prion diseases.

Second threat

snip…
http://www.neuroprion.org/en/np-neuroprion.html

EFSA Journal 2011 The European Response to BSE: A Success Story

This is an interesting editorial about the Mad Cow Disease debacle, and it’s ramifications that will continue to play out for decades to come ;

Monday, October 10, 2011

EFSA Journal 2011 The European Response to BSE: A Success Story

snip…

EFSA and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) recently delivered a scientific opinion on any possible epidemiological or molecular association between TSEs in animals and humans (EFSA Panel on Biological Hazards (BIOHAZ) and ECDC, 2011). This opinion confirmed Classical BSE prions as the only TSE agents demonstrated to be zoonotic so far but the possibility that a small proportion of human cases so far classified as “sporadic” CJD are of zoonotic origin could not be excluded. Moreover, transmission experiments to non-human primates suggest that some TSE agents in addition to Classical BSE prions in cattle (namely L-type Atypical BSE, Classical BSE in sheep, transmissible mink encephalopathy (TME) and chronic wasting disease (CWD) agents) might have zoonotic potential.

snip…
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/pub/e991.htm?emt=1
http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/e991.pdf

see follow-up here about North America BSE Mad Cow TSE prion risk factors, and the ever emerging strains of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathy in many species here in the USA, including humans ;

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2011/10/efsa-journal-2011-european-response-to.html

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Are USDA assurances on mad cow case ‘gross oversimplification’?

SNIP…

What irks many scientists is the USDA’s April 25 statement that the rare disease is “not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.”

The USDA’s conclusion is a “gross oversimplification,” said Dr. Paul Brown, one of the world’s experts on this type of disease who retired recently from the National Institutes of Health. “(The agency) has no foundation on which to base that statement.”

“We can’t say it’s not feed related,” agreed Dr. Linda Detwiler, an official with the USDA during the Clinton Administration now at Mississippi State.

In the May 1 email to me, USDA’s Cole backed off a bit. “No one knows the origins of atypical cases of BSE,” she said

The argument about feed is critical because if feed is the cause, not a spontaneous mutation, the California cow could be part of a larger outbreak.
SNIP…
http://bseusa.blogspot.com/2012/05/are-usda-assurances-on-mad-cow-case.html

Monday, August 6, 2012

TAFS BSE in USA August 6, 2012

BSE in USA

http://bseusa.blogspot.com/2012/08/tafs-bse-in-usa-august-6-2012.html

Monday, August 06, 2012

Atypical neuropathological sCJD-MM phenotype with abundant white matter Kuru-type plaques sparing the cerebellar cortex

http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/08/atypical-neuropathological-scjd-mm.html

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Behavioural and Psychiatric Features of the Human Prion Diseases: Experience in 368 Prospectively Studied Patients

http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/08/behavioural-and-psychiatric-features-of.html
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease Human TSE report update North America, Canada, Mexico, and USDA PRION UNIT as of May 18, 2012

type determination pending Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease (tdpCJD), is on the rise in Canada and the USA

http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/06/creutzfeldt-jakob-disease-human-tse.html

Friday, August 24, 2012

Iatrogenic prion diseases in humans: an update

http://transmissiblespongiformencephalopathy.blogspot.com/2012/08/iatrogenic-prion-diseases-in-humans.html

Monday, July 23, 2012

The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center July 2012

http://prionunitusaupdate2008.blogspot.com/2012/07/the-national-prion-disease-pathology.html

Monday, August 20, 2012

CASE REPORTS CREUTZFELDT-JAKOB DISEASE: AN UNDER-RECOGNIZED CAUSE OF DEMENTIA

http://creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.blogspot.com/2012/08/case-reports-creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.html
Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;
In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it.
Dr. Raymond Sir, I disagree with you, I think that you (USDA et al) could do much better.

I think our children and the consumer deserves better, and I don’t care how much taxes AND BSE TSE TESTING, it takes to make our food safe. …

layperson
I lost my mother to the Heidenhain Variant of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease confirmed on December 14, 1997.
my neighbor lost his mother exactly one year previously to the sporadic CJD strains confirmed, on December 14, 1996.

sporadic Creutzfeldt Jakob Disease is NOT a single strain, but multiple strains (with new type pending classifications CJD, of unknown origin, in young and old in the USA),
with route and source unknown to date.

just made a promise, all facts should be presented, not just the industry fed political science fed facts. …

kind regards,

terry

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
P.O. Box 42
Bacliff, Texas USA 77518
flounder9@verizon.net

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
08/27/2012
10:54AM

Monday, August 27, 2012
Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?
Opinion & Contributed Articles
by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion
Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
snip…

In closing, I expect Terry to add his two cents worth and I will point out that the risk of variant CJD from eating US beef is as close to zero as we can make it. There are many interlocking steps to keep us safe, including:

1. The ruminant to ruminant feed ban in effect for over a decade to protect our herd.

2. The removal of Specified Risk Materials in the slaughter facilities under the continuous and watchful eyes of FSIS Inspectors to protect human health.

3. The observation by the PHVs of animals in motion.

4. No downers or non-ambulatory cattle allowed in the food chain, and

5. The USDA’s ongoing surveillance of animals at high risk for BSE, assuring us that the exposure risk is almost nil.

http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did-its-job-ok/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=120827
OPINION REBUTTAL Terry
Greetings,

Well Dr. Raymond, since you called me out, I must respond Sir.
Yes, our children health and safety mean more to me than taxes.
Indeed I would like to comment on some of your fallacies Dr. Raymond.

Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008) stated ;

snip…

see Terry full text rebuttal on Dr. Raymond and the USDA BSE surveillance, SRM, and feed ban and all the fallacies there from ;

Monday, August 27, 2012

Central Valley Meat Company: USDA Did its Job, OK?

Opinion & Contributed Articles

by Dr. Richard Raymond | Aug 27, 2012 Opinion

Dr. Richard Raymond former Undersecretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture (2005-2008)
http://downercattle.blogspot.com/2012/08/central-valley-meat-company-usda-did.html

Jethro
08/27/2012
12:05PM

Clever distraction, Doc Raymond, baiting Terry to stop by and smother this thread with his voluminous BSE crap. I suppose you think that givesyou and your beloved USDA needed cover to slip out of the bright light of well deserved scrutiny?

Your cute political stunt only amplifies the stench of USDA’s latest evacuation of chickensh!t in the face of anti-farm terrorists. Your beloved extremists may have you by the jewels but they do not have the market cornered on outrage or tenacity. We shall see what we shall see regarding the value of USDA in upcoming policy and budgeting. It isn’t in the nature of farmers to keep a kicking cow or a biting dog. Besides, we are in desperate need of Federal cost cutting and USDA is an easy mark, ripe for plucking. We will be national heroes (except among bureaucratic hogs at the trough) when we nimbly trim most of USDA from the budget. One more obstacle to business and prosperity will be eliminated.

This isn’t over. It is just beginning Doc.

Jade
08/27/2012
12:06PM

Shelley,
You are correct in stating that most people in the animal welfare movement are doing nothing more than attempting to stop cruelty when it comes to livestock practices. However, the author was clearly talking about animal RIGHTS groups, which will go to extreme lengths to prove a point. Animal welfare organizations have a much different agenda than animal rights organizations. I have absolutely no respect for the HSUS or PETA, and if you saw earlier, the name of the animal rights group that released the video is Compassion Without Killing. I would have to say they are against animal consumption due to the “without killing” part of the name, but that is an assumption. In no way am I condoning what happend at the plant.. I think it is absolutely horrifying and the plant should suffer the consequences, and the employees commiting the crime should be terminated. However, I have no tolerance for animal rights groups that exist simply to ruin the reputation of and bring down animal processors/growers.

Terry S. Singeltary Sr.
08/27/2012
1:50PM

re-jethro

Jethro
08/27/2012
12:05PM

say there jethro,
Farmers are National Heros.

Farmers were that before the teaparty.

Farmers will be that, after the teaparty.

Finally, TSE prions know no borders, TSE prions know no age groups, TSE prions know no political party.
sadly, it is a political and industry fed disease $$$
and it is mutating, jethro’s post just proved it. …
with sad regards,
terry

Shelley
08/27/2012
2:00PM

Jethro, I haven’t read through all that Terry provided, but I respect people who take time to write a thorough reply.

Jade, I would call PETA an “animal rights” group, but HSUS is most definitely an animal welfare group. No animal rights group would have agreed to a hen colony system compromise with the egg industry, which HSUS did.

And frankly, does it matter?

The organization filmed obvious acts of inhumane treatment of cows, and then took the evidence to the USDA. The USDA then immediately acted.

In addition, the group published its undercover investigations, and companies who bought meat from Central Valley, stopped doing so.

In the end, does it matter how the group terms itself, because the end result is (we hope) significant improvements in handling of the cows at the plant.

Now, some people may view the video and decide not to eat beef. Or buy dairy products. Others, though, may continue, but look more closely at the suppliers at the products. At a minimum, we hope things improve at this plant. And that’s what matters.

Dr. Richard Raymond
08/27/2012
2:23PM

Wowser, only a blog on raw milk could stir up more vitriol and I was only stating the facts behind USDA”s action.

Shelly, if you go to the COK web sight, the second sentence you will read is this:

“COK focuses on cruelty to animals in agriculture and promotes vegetarian eating as a way to build a kinder world, both for humans and nonhumans.”

So please explain your first response by saying I had lost all creditibility by calling a spade a spade?

And just so you know, the USDA will not be fining Central Valley because the law prohibits them from doing so. I know, because every year we went to the Approps committee with our budget and requested authority to fine plants for certain circumstances and every year we were denied. Again, just trying to point out the facts so people can make informed decisions and comments.

As for the comment that USDA is supposed to promote Ag, and therefore this action should get people fired? As I tried to explain, they just followed the law. And besides promoting ag, they promote and protect animal, plant and human health, run the US Forest Service, direct food stamps and school lunches to name a few other items of business for the USDA.

Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.

I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores.

The animal rights activists are winning, and we are helping them with inhumane practices.

BTW, USDA shuttered 12 plants in 1997, the year before Hallmark, for inhumane handling observed by FSIS employees. They just didn’t send the videos to the Washington Post and NY Times.

Shelley
08/27/2012
4:01PM

“Undercover agents working at slaughter plants as undercover agents for the Humane Society of the United States (Hallmark/Westland) and Compassion Over Killing (CVM) used hidden cameras to film egregious inhumane handling of cows.

Both animal rights groups have an agenda that includes preventing the killing of animals for human consumption. This agenda can be moved forward with disgustingly shocking videos, and by driving the cost of meat up by necessitating changes in the slaughter and fabricating processes.”

Both animal rights groups have an agenda?

You’re too quick to dismiss animal welfare activities, or to lump them all the same. This undermined your credibility.

As for the following statement:

‘Shelly, where do I “imply” the video was ‘staged”? I called is disgusting and despicable, but I meant the footage, not the technique.’

I looked through your post and I thought I remembered reading something about the video shown online was only a few minutes, and we don’t know what the other video had.

And there was another statement, about throwing away good meat, or something to that effect.

In fact, your post seems to be different.

Did you edit your writing after you published it? Not just added the response to us–but actually changed your original writing?

Jon
08/27/2012
4:46PM

That’s the Main problem with USDA isn’t it? The meat/produce/biotech/etc food industry insists USDA is there to promote their US Agribusiness — period. The foxes are very content to run the taxpayer-fed henhouse — through revolving doors and campaign contributions and other forms of legitimized corruption.

But USDA — Really — is a Gov’t (of the people, by the people, for the people) Regulatory Agency charged with — protecting the public.

What USDA needs is the power to create Agribusiness user fees and to heavily FINE these miscreant food corporations so that we the public aren’t subsidizing all these gluttonous foxes. Looks like there needs to be some house cleaning first…..

Cyndy
08/27/2012
6:44PM

“If a cause for the non-ambulatory condition could be determined, such as a fractured leg or ruptured tendon, the animal could be euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box.”

OK, I’m confused about the above statement. The animal is euthanized on the spot and then taken to the knock box? Does this mean that this animal is still slaughtered for its meat? With the euthanizing drugs in the meat? Please clarify. Thanks!

doc raymond
08/27/2012
7:11PM

Nice try, Shelly, but the post has not been altered or doctored up.

minkpuppy
08/28/2012
8:35AM

Shelley,

Perhaps you misread or misinterpreted some of the comments in the article? Please consider that rather than accusing Dr. Raymond of sneakily editing the article because he you called out. It costs you nothing to admit that maybe, just maybe, you were mistaken about what you thought you read this one time rather than becoming defensive and accusing the other person of lying. It doesn’t reflect well on you or your credibility when you do so.

The article is exactly the same as the one I read yesterday, before Dr. Raymond responded to comments. I had decided I was done commenting on this issue because of the nastiness that’s being spewed by certain posters but I cannot stand by and let your comment go. My experience with Dr. Raymond is that he’s a straight shooter, always has been. People don’t always like what he says but he says what needs to be said. He has nothing to gain by changing what he wrote and pretending he didn’t.

***For the record, before the haters jump on my butt, I hide my identity for a reason. I don’t feel like getting fired over stating my opinion on my own time if it disagrees with FSIS policy and practice. It’s easier to just use a nickname than to constantly state that I don’t represent FSIS on here. The people that need to know my identity already do and I correspond with them through emails regularly.***

This video may not have been staged but it was highly edited. Some elements were certainly embellished in the narration to make it appear that the cows were actually still alive when they were hoisted up on the chain when they were clearly dead due to the slack tongues and necks. The hot shots to the face, standing on the muzzle, forcing cows to stand and multiple shots to the head were not staged and needed to be dealt with.

I have no problem with whistleblowers calling attention to abuses as long as they stick to the actual abuses and don’t misrepresent normal death responses. Posting video of normal post-stun kicking and twitching dead cow with an obviously slack neck and tongue while claiming the cow is still alive is a blatant falsehood and does nothing to help people understand the actual kill process.

Death is never a pretty sight but as horrible as it is, let’s not confuse it with abusive treatment. It’s normal to be disturbed by it even when it’s done correctly. I worry about the people that aren’t bothered by it because they are the ones that end up abusing animals and people.

As far as the cows in the COK video are concerned, many of them could not walk due to udders horribly swollen with milk because they hadn’t been milked in at least 24 hours. High producing cows have to be milked at least 3x a day or they are miserable. It’s horribly inhumane to do that to a cow just because she’s going to the kill plant. The kill plant isn’t going to milk her and neither is the sale barn. The farmers should have the decency to euthanize the cow at the farm if she’s already suffering from illness or injury. Don’t compound it by making her carry around a huge, unmilked udder.

For a look at slaughter done properly, see http://www.animalhandling.org/ht/d/sp/i/80622/pid/80622. It accurately depicts the post-stunning reponse of the cows that is often portrayed as abuse by animal rights videos and explains how to determine if the cow is dead or not.

minkpuppy
08/28/2012
8:39AM

Cyndy,

The animals are not euthanized with drugs. They are euthanized with a hand-held captive bolt stunner applied to the skull. The bolt destroys the brain instantaneously. Drugs are never used to euthanize animals at slaughter plants.

Jade
08/28/2012
8:48AM

It does make a huge difference wether or not an organization deems itself animal rights or animal welfare. One is simply for the welfare of the animals, while animal rights groups believe animals have the right to live their lives without any human interference. Animal rights groups, HSUS included, want to abolish agriciulture. They go so far as to believe that we should not keep any domesticated animals because we are controlling them against their will, and god forbid we should do anything like ride a horse or keep chickens in the back yard for eggs, or keep a goat for milk. Again, I stress that what happened at this plant is unacceptable, but I swear these animal rights activists are going to be the demise of agriculture, even organic, natural, or sustainable agriculture.

Shelley
08/28/2012
10:55AM

I checked my feed reader, and I can’t tell if the writing is edited or not. But I could find sentences that led to what I think I may have been responding to. So apologies for questioning whether the text was edited or not.

I need to remember to copy text I’m replying to when I write a comment.

Anyway, to address your comment about staged video, you wrote the following

“They sometimes are sick, they always are old, and they often lay down to rest and refuse to get up. And here lies the opportunity for video if the plant is not impeccable in its handling of these non-ambulatory or “downer” animals.”

You imply that the undercover investigator is misrepresenting what’s happening in the plant–or that what is filmed is somehow not as bad as it seems. I don’t think anyone could misrepresent what was shown in the videos for Central Valley Meat.

I could have sworn there was something about unfairly closing plants, but that could have been comments to another of the writings on this event. Anyway, you also state, in your comment

“I have no problems with vegans, everyone should have a choice. What I have a problem with is when others try to impose their beliefs on me by driving up the cost of meat. Oh, and yes, perfectly good meat is destroyed because the Obama Administration banned all non-ambulatory cattle, not just old culled dairy cows. 20 month old, grain fed steers break legs and rupture tendons on ice and slippery surfaces. We use to be able to eat them, now they are taken to rendering and that, my friends, is a waste and drives up costs at the grocery stores..”

The concern about non-ambulatory cows is based on fears of Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, not based on humane handling concerns.

Though humane handling and food safety frequently go hand in hand, in this case, the ruling was based purely on food safety issues.

There’s a simple solution for milk farmers: don’t wait until cows are at death’s door to send off to slaughter. In addition, the farmers could rest the cow a few weeks, in which case it can handle the transport without collapse.

Regardless, if a cow is sick, it should not go into the food system.

Shelley
08/28/2012
11:53AM

MinkPuppy, I don’t need your lecture.

I could not find the text I thought I had responded to. It made it difficult to defend what I wrote in the first comment when I could’t find the text.

I asked if the text had been edited. It isn’t unusual for writers to edit their text, though usually they do note when the do.

Regardless, I apologized for traducing doc raymond’s honor.

Having said that, doc raymond is a big boy, I’m a big girl, we’ll work it out between us–as doc raymond demonstrated.

R.P.
08/28/2012
12:41PM

What a pathetic cluster.

Here we have smug bureaucrats and hysterical terrorists, timid patriots and belligerent scabs all stubbornly wrestling in their own ideological excrement. Meanwhile, a chickensh!t USDA serves the cause of extreme animal rights terrorists, capriciously shuttering a legitimate business AND directly curtailing their trade. Shades of more and more damage to be doled out to our food system, no doubt.

USDA has been infiltrated by anti-agriculture activist scabs. They corrupt our inspection service, our social services, our policy making.

Certainly there remain a few tried and true USDA employees but they are overwhelmed and can no longer craft intelligent rational policy. We cannot discern the good guys from the skulking activist scabs so we must purge all of them before it is too late for everyone.

There’s a new farm bill to be crafted. Let’s make it clear to congress our obsolete compromised USDA no longer supports the modern American agriculture that is so essential to our national security. Begin defunding USDA right away. Before the skunks decimate the henhouse irrevocably. Throw the creepy saboteurs out, all of them without exception, there is nothing to lose by it and everything to gain. It would be the first fiscally responsible move Congress has made in years.

Barbara Holman
08/29/2012
9:50AM

“If you want to get the public’s attention using video, you want to go to a facility that slaughters old dairy cows and then sells the meat to the NSLP. As opposed to 20-30 month old steers that have been content to eat grain in a feedlot, these cows are often 10-12 years of age, and are often not in good enough shape to handle a ride of even a few miles in hot weather.”

IOW, these animals have been so abused and mistreated that they must be further abused and mistreated.

Every time one of these undercover videos is made public, the so-called “food animal” industry tries to get us to believe that its an isolated incident. There is no reason to believe that’s the case. In fact, just the opposite is made clear every time we see this mind-numbing cruelty.

Don’t blame the messenger, as this op/ed does. Blame the industry for wanting bigger and bigger profits which is partially the reason for the cruelty – the workers cannot turn off the assembly line because it costs the company money.

This op/ed is very self-serving and defensive. He wants to believe the animals are treated well and its those bag ole animal rights people who are the real problem.

The real problem is that the consumer willingly believes these lies. They continue to buy and eat diseased “food” even though they know it will contribute to their own deaths from heart disease, cancer, diabetes, kidney disease and the list goes on and on.

Go ahead and eat chunks of charred corpse but don’t pretend you don’t the truth behind how it came to be on your plate.

Minkpuppy
08/29/2012
10:14AM

Shelley,

We all let our mouths and fingers get the better of us at times. It’s not easy to tell the context when you’re reading a post or email. I apologize if you took offense.

I’m getting more than a bit aggravated with this whole fiasco and will defend my colleagues tooth and nail without regrets or apologies. At first, I was outraged as everyone else but after gather the information and seeing the video, I realized I have no place bashing the inspectors at CVM. I’ve worked in the kill plants and I know what they have to deal with. I forgot where I came from and I apologize to the inspectors at CVM for jumping on the bandwagon and assuming they weren’t doing their jobs. Sometimes we get so accustomed to what we always see that we miss what we should be seeing.

I see this fiasco as more of a failing of the meat industry and FSIS management as a whole because they have not been letting everyone know what we do that is good and right. The AMI “glass walls” project is a step in the right direction but that video should have been out years ago.

Putting a face on the inspection force would also help tremendously. Instead we have to hide behind nicknames for fear of saying something that D.C. doesn’t like or hasn’t “authorized” which would result in a witch hunt for our jobs and livelihood. FSIS needs to get its head out of its butt and let inspectors talk about what we do and how we do it so people know that we are out there protecting them.

Shelley
08/29/2012
3:42PM

I understand, MinkPuppy. You and I agree more often than not.

I must confess I was feeling very irritated because I couldn’t find text I remembered. However, I should have assumed I had a brain fart, rather than the text was edited.

(It doesn’t help that, in another web site, in a thread related to the HSUS/Ringling Brothers RICO case, Center for Consumer Freedom people were marking every one of my comments as spam. Still, that was that site, this site is different.)

As for what you’re saying, I happen to believe the “boots on the ground” do a tough job with little thanks. I’ve seen this with the USDA APHIS AWA inspectors, where they’ve actually been threatened by backwoods red necks here in Missouri. I’m currently working on one story and my favorite little graphic for the story is a snapshot of an envelope with a threat on it–I just can’t tell if the threat is to the inspectors, the USDA, or the entire country.

(I love the FOIA–you get so much good material for stories.)

I see in these posts, here at FSN (and elsewhere), industry hacks who either blame the undercover agents (as Animal Rights Extremists/Terrorists), or who blame the (Big Government Evil) USDA–anything, other than the company who allowed such egregious inhumane handling to continue.

We’ll never do better as long as these games are played. We definitely won’t have good discussions while these games are played.

As I said, MinkPuppy, we agree more often than not.

Central Valley Meat Says It’s Reopened For Business

Food Poisoning Bulletin

One week after an undercover video prompted the  U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)  to suspend operations at  Central Valley Meat in Hanford, Calif., for what it described as “disturbing evidence of inhumane treatment of cattle”  the company says it is reopened for business.

“Sunday afternoon, the USDA informed us that it has accepted our action plan and we are free to reopen. With the announcement of that decision, Central Valley Meat will resume operations Monday morning and welcome our employees back to work,” the statement said. “We have worked closely with both inspectors and industry experts while developing our USDA-approved action plan. As a result, Central Valley Meat will provide better training for our workers, better monitoring of our facilities, and more frequent third-party audits of our operations. We believe these measures will establish a new industry standard for the handling of animals.”

Last week, after receiving the video, from Compassion Over Killing,  the USDA sent several teams of investigators to California  to gather information.  The inspectors found humane handling violations and suspended operations, but said that inspectors did not find any violations that posed a food safety concern such as downer cattle entering the food system.

The video prompted McDonalds, In-N-Out Burger, Costco and the USDA to announce that they would suspend purchases from the company. In response to the backlash, Central Valley Meat distributed to various media outlets a statement by renown professor of animal science, Temple Grandin, who reviewed  the video several times.

Grandin said some of the observations made by the narrator of the video are incorrect and that the cattle are stunned properly but that there was “overly aggressive and unacceptable use of electric prods with non-ambulatory cattle and in sensitive areas like the face. While there are times when prods are absolutely necessary, they must be used sparingly and never in the face or other sensitive areas. I would classify this as egregious animal abuse. This plant needs to rely less on prods and move to lower stress driving tools. Devices as simple as a stick with an inflated plastic bag on the end can be extremely effective in moving livestock. In general, cattle are handled much more easily by calm and patient handlers. The more agitated they become, the more difficult they become to move. I have advised the company about specific strategies for improving handling, like using a simple sheet of cardboard to move animals.”

Many of the animals slaughtered at Central Valley are “spent”  or, no longer productive, dairy cows, many of whom should have been euthanized on their farms, according to Grandin. “Some of the major issues in the video originate due to the poor condition of the animals arriving at the plant, many of which should have been euthanized on the farm. I urge the dairy industry to market their cows before they become weak and extremely debilitated.”

The USDA was unable to respond for requests for more information about this story by press time.

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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.]

Burch Farms Cantaloupe Recall Affects ‘Caribbean Gold,’ Not ‘Athena’

twocantaloupes-406.jpg

 

Burch Farms has corrected the variety of cantaloupe subject to its recent recall due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination: Instead of the ‘Athena’ variety identified in the original recall and its subsequent update, the variety actually under recall is named ‘Caribbean Gold.’

Athena cantaloupes are not subject to recall, the company said. The correction is not an expansion of the recall.

No illnesses have yet been reported.

The company has recalled 13,888 cases (9 cantaloupes per) and 581 crates (110 cantaloupes per) containing 188,902 melons in all.

Burch Farms expanded its recall from an original 580 cases after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection discovered “unsanitary conditions” at the company’s packing shed.

The original recall of 580 cases came on Saturday, July 28. With this correction issued sometime on Friday, August 3, consumers went six days with incorrect information about the variety of cantaloupe posing a Listeria risk.

“They don’t look anything alike and the whole Athena connection certainly delayed accurate consumer advisories,” said Trevor Suslow, Ph.D., extension research specialist for the UC Davis Center for Produce Safety.

In an email to Food Safety News, Suslow said that the Caribbean Gold variety’s long shelf-life could easily mean some cantaloupes are still sitting in home refrigerators.

The whole Caribbean Gold cantaloupes shipped between July 15th and July 27th to FL, GA, IL, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC and VA.

The cantaloupes are identified by a red label reading “Burch Farms” referencing PLU #4319. All cantaloupes involved in the recall were grown by Burch Farms, though some may be identified with a “Cottle Strawberry, Inc.” sticker referencing PLU #4319. Cottle Farms is not involved in this recall.

Customers are urged to discard any cantaloupes possibly connected to this recall.

Unlike Athena cantaloupes, which fall from the vine when ripe, Caribbean Golds must be cut during harvest.

Caribbean Golds appear more coarse and rounded:

caribbeancantaloupe.jpg

Athenas appear lighter and show prominent grooves:

athenacantaloupe.jpg

Faison, NC-based Burch Farms’ recall comes 11 months after Listeria-contaminated Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms in Holly, CO sickened at least 147 people and killed at least 33, becoming one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.

The cantaloupes’ possible Listeria contamination was discovered through routine testing by the Microbiological Data Program (MDP), a produce testing program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that accounts for approximately 80 percent of fruit and vegetable testing conducted in the U.S.

Slated to lose funding by the end of July, the $4.5 million/year program’s budget was temporarily extended through the end of the year in mid-July, likely due to heightened media attention following a report by Food Safety News reporter Helena Bottemiller.

Food Safety News will continue following this recall as the story develops.

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NRA Works on Food Safety Training in China

By News DeskNational Restaurant Association (NRA) representatives traveled to China last month to promote food safety, according a recent update by the association. A recent update by NRA said the trip was as an opportunity to “further discuss the importance of food… Read more >>

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Canada Tests Tea and Soft Drinks for Safety

By News DeskTwo studies released Friday by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) found that dried tea samples analyzed for pesticide residues, mercury and other metals, as well as soft drinks and corn syrup tested for mercury, were safe for consumption. Both studies… Read more >>

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?

Food Safety

 

 

E. coli Outbreak Sickens 10 in Germantown, Ohio

ecolifromusda-featured.jpgWhioTV has reported that at least 10 people have fallen ill with E. coli infections after eating at a picnic in Germantown, Ohio, according to the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department. Approximately six people have been hospitalized, a health department spokesman said.

The exact source of the bacteria is unknown, and information on the strain has not been published. Further inquiries to the health department have not been returned as of press time.

Those ill attended a company picnic featuring 200 to 300 people. More attendees could have fallen ill who have not yet sought medical attention or been counted, the health department said.

Sixty-One Now Sickened with E. coli 0157 in Neff’s Lawn Care Picnic Outbreak

According to Bill Wharton, spokesman for the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department in Ohio, 61 people have been sickened with E. coli 0157 after attending a picnic held by Neff’s Lawn Care in Germantown. Mr. Wharton said that 11 people have been hospitalized. Mr. Wharton said, “we aren’t releasing any information other than to say we’re investigating the outbreak.” The health department is interviewing picnic attendees and patients, looking at food sources, storage and handling practices, and cross-contamination potential.

Since 200 to 300 people attended the picnic, more cases may be reported. Doctors must report E. coli infections to public health officials. If you or anyone you know attended this picnic and have been sick, please call the Dayton & Montgomery County Health Department at 937-225-4460 to talk to a public health official.

Symptoms of E. coli infections include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea which is often bloody, a mild fever, and sometimes nausea and vomiting. E. coli 0157 infections cannot be treated with antibiotics, since that increases the risk that hemolytic uremic syndrome, a serious complication, may occur.

 

Federal Egg Safety Rule Goes into Full Effect

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The government’s Egg Safety Rule, a set of requirements designed to prevent Salmonella contamination at laying facilities, became fully fledged Monday when it went into effect for medium-sized operations after previously applying only to large producers.
Since July of 2010, companies with over 50,000 laying hens have been required to comply with these standards – set forth by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009 – but as of yesterday the rule now covers facilities with more than 3,000 and less than 50,000 hens.
These regulations do not apply to small producers – those with under 3,000 hens – or companies who sell directly to consumers. A separate guidance was issued for these facilities in 2010.
The rule requires all producers who don’t pasteurize in-shell egg products to test for Salmonella Enteriditis bacteria and to refrigerate eggs at 45 degrees F or less during storage and transportation, starting within 36 hours of when they are laid.
It also says that chicks and young hens may only be sourced from suppliers who monitor for Salmonella. Companies must implement biosecurity, rodent and pest control measures.
According to the rule, if Salmonella is found on eggs or in a laying facility, the eggs must be pasteurized or diverted for non-food use, and the facility must be sanitized.

Georgia Food Processors Get To Dance Around Law

Despite a tough new food safety law and more than a half million spent annually on inspections and lab work, Georgia is not achieving the food safety improvement at the state’s 740 food processing plants that its lawmakers seek.
Perhaps, some say, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black did not get the memo about how serious the Georgia Legislature is about not wanting a repeat of the poison peanut butter produced three years ago by a plant in Blakely, GA.
Black, a former president of the Georgia Agribusiness Council, was elected after the Peanut Corporation of America plant produced peanut butter and peanut paste contaminated with Salmonella, killing nine people and sickening hundreds of others nationwide.
Georgia lawmakers reacted to the outbreak by passing a law requiring the state’s food processors to conduct regular internal pathogen tests and report any positive results to the Department of Agriculture now led by Black.

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But in a performance audit released on June 29, the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts found that just seven positive results were reported during the first 30 months of the program.
As soon as the audit hit the street, Black said he was taking steps to revamp inspections and testing.
“To improve its overall effectiveness and efficiency,” the audit says, “the department should develop a risk-based inspection process.”

The inspection unit’s goal is to conduct a routine inspection of each processing facility every six months.

Study: Farmers Market Employees Rarely Wash Hands

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Employees serving ready-to-eat food at farmers markets may be putting consumers at risk by not washing their hands, according to a recent study from Purdue University.
Researchers observed 18 workers at different Indiana farmers markets and found that none used proper hand washing techniques when cooking or serving prepared foods to customers.
Out of the 900 transactions noted by researchers, 417 required hand washing according to state health code; however, only two attempts at hand washing were made. An “attempt” was defined as rinsing hands but not using soap or drying hands with a disposable towel, meaning that it did not constitute proper hand washing behavior.
“Compliance was practically non-existent,” note the study’s authors.
The study also found that the more tasks one employee had to perform, the more occasions arose where hand washing was needed (and missed). The authors suggest that if labor was divided among employees and each had a specific task, that risk would be minimized.
Adding employees will not help solve this problem, says the study, since those employees could still have different jobs to do.
Farmers markets are becoming an increasingly popular food source. In 1994 there were an estimated 1,755 farmers markets nationwide. By 2009 that number had grown to 5,274, and between 2009 and 2010 it increased by another 16 percent, putting the total at 6,132. The following year, over 1,000 more were established.

New Brunswick Affected By Another E. Coli Outbreak

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Health officials in the capital of the Canadian province of New Brunswick are trying to get ahead of an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 that has put two teenagers the hospital.
A total of four confirmed cases are being investigated in Fredericton. The source of the bacteria remains a mystery.
Victoria Boer, mother of one of the hospitalized teens, told CBC News that health officials are going through her daughter Micaella’s bank statements to figure out where she ate in the days before she fell ill with an E. coli infection.

Hazelnut Safety Improves in Wake of Outbreak and Recalls

Three years ago, hazelnuts started to build up a bad safety record. It began with a recall of 29,861 pounds of shelled nuts for potential Salmonella contamination at the end of 2009, followed by a smaller recall of 75 pounds in January of 2010. Later that year, an E. coli outbreak linked to in-shell filberts sickened 8 Midwesterners over the holiday season.
Before this time, no recorded outbreaks had been tied to U.S. hazelnuts.
This series of events forced domestic hazelnut producers – 99 percent of whom are situated in Oregon’s Willamette Valley – to re-examine growing and shelling processes with an eye to making a safer product.

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Since there are currently no industry-wide safety requirements for hazelnut production, individual producers wishing to improve product safety must make their own standards.
One company that has done this is Willamette Hazelnut Growers (formerly Willamette Filbert Growers), the company that recalled nearly 30,000 pounds of hazelnuts in the winter of 2009 after Salmonella was found on nuts processed by its shelling operation.
The recall was particularly large because the company shells not only its own hazelnuts but also those of other area growers who don’t have shelling equipment.
“The recall was a huge setback for the processing business,” explained Operations Manager Michael Severeid in an interview with Food Safety News. “We had to buy everything back at full price and pay our customers. We had to ship it back and pay for the labor of collecting all of the products. It was very expensive.”

Upstate New York Shigella Outbreak Expands to 45

Almost three weeks after health officials in Upstate New York announced they were investigating a Shigella outbreak affecting 25 people, the estimated victim count has grown to 45.

The outbreak is affecting residents of Onondaga County, which includes the city of Syracuse and is located in the northern central part of the state.
“There are currently 45 cases of Shigella,” reported the Onondaga County Health Department in a statement to Food Safety News. “This includes confirmed, probable, and what New York State Department of Health is considering suspect (cases). We continue to investigate each and every case for linkages but the source remains unknown.”
Shigella infection 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.
The Onondaga County Health Department is urging area residents to take the following precautions to avoid the spread of Shigella, which is transferred through food or water contaminated with fecal matter carrying the bacteria.

FDA Found Violations of Food Safety Rules on 40% of Egg Farms

Hard cooked eggsThe FDA has released a new report on egg farms it inspected in 2011. They found violations of egg safety rules used to prevent Salmonella contamination on 40% of the inspected farms, but only 3% of the issues were serious enough for the agency to take action.

Last year, the agency inspected 555 egg laying farms. On 14 of those farms, or 2.7%, inspectors found “egregious” problems that called for an official response, such as an FDA warning letter.  An additional 195 inspections, or 37.9%,  found “significant deficiencies” the agency thinks farmers should be able to correct by themselves.

The problems include the following: lack of a written Salmonella enteritidis prevention plan; failure to test for S. enteritidis during required time periods; failure to divert or test eggs after a positive environmental sample; failure to implement the S. enteritidis prevention plan, Failure to maintain required records; and failure to monitor conditions required for the plan implementation.

 

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Recalls

 

Frozen Desserts Recalled for Undeclared Milk

A California company is recalling various frozen dessert products because they contain a product derived from milk, a known allergen, but milk is not listed as an ingredient.

Arctic Zero, Inc. of Escondido, CA has issued a voluntary recall of 16 oz. pints and chocolate dipped dessert bars produced before February, 2012. The products were made with whey protein, which is made from milk, but milk was not declared as an ingredient on packaging.
Products subject to recall include the following.
Eight varieties sold in 16 oz. pints:
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Carl Rittberger Sr., Inc. Recalls 9,000 Pounds of Deli Items for Listeria Risk

bolognalist-iphone.jpgOhio-based Carl Rittberger Sr., Inc. has recalled roughly 9,000 pounds of fully-cooked deli items because of a possible contamination of Listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported.

The following products purchased by retailers between June 25 and July 6 have been recalled:
Spiced loaf, breakfast loaf, garlic bologna, German brand bologna, wieners, grillers, kielbasa, straight HB roll and natural casing wieners.
The bacteria was found during routine testing by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. The product that tested positive never left the plant.

Winn-Dixie Recalls Cheeseburger Skillet Dinner for Small Metal Fragments

Winn-Dixie is announcing a recall of their store brand Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet Dinners because the package may contain small metal fragments. The recalled Winn-Dixie Cheeseburger Macaroni Skillet Dinner product is in a 5.8 ounce package with a UPC number of 2114018080 and a sell-by date of May 14, 2013.  The recalled products were sold in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The product was shipped to stores on or after May 14, 2012. There have not been any reports received of any injuries associated with the consumption of this product.

 

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Cass-Clay Creamery Recalls Peppermint Bon Bon Ice Cream

Cass-Clay Creamery of North Dakota is recalling Hornbacher’s Peppermint Bon Bon ice cream for undeclared eggs, one of the major food allergens. The recalled Cass-Clay products include the following: Hornbacher’s Peppermint Bon Bon Light (Half gallon/1.89 liter), Schroeder Pepppermint Bon Bon (1.75 quart/1.65 liter) and SunnyBrook Peppermint Bon Bon Light (Half gallon/1.89 liter). The products were distributed in Iowa, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. All code dates are affected by the recall. No illnesses have been reported to date.

A flavoring containing egg yolks was used as an ingredient in the product. Return the products to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. For questions, call the Consumer Affairs line at 1-800-441-4269.

 

 

In Canada, Fresh Peas Recalled for Possible Listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is recalling fresh shelled peas from Thomas Bros. Farm Market because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The recalled fresh shelled peas were sold from Thomas Bros. Farm Market at 5856 Colonel Talbot Road in London Ontario on June 27, 2012. The packages do not have labels.

If you have purchased this product, do not eat it. If you have frozen the peas for later consumption, discard them. There have not been any reported illnesses associated with the consumption of this product. Food contaminated with dangerous bacteria may not look, taste, or smell spoiled. Listeria can cause listeriosis, which can cause symptoms of high fever, headache, neck stiffness, and nausea. Pregnant women may have very mild symptoms, but listeriosis can cause miscarriages and stillbirths. For questions, call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342, or Thomas Bros. Farm Market at 519-671-8831.

 

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Allergens

 

NIH Study Finds Children With Allergies Have Frequent Reactions

A new study conducted at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, part of the Consortium of Food Allergy Research at the National Institute of Health (NIH), has found that young children with milk or egg allergies have reactions more often than expected.

The research team followed 512 infants, ages 3 to 15 months, for three years. The children in the study had a previous allergic reaction to milk or eggs, or were thought to be allergic to those foods based on positive skin tests. At the beginning of the study, caregivers were given strategies for avoiding milk and egg products, and written emergency plans with epinephrine prescriptions.

The study found that almost 72% of the children in the study had an allergic reaction over the three year period. More than half of the children had more than one reaction. Startlingly, allergenic foods were given to the children on purpose.

Scientists aren’t sure why a parent or caregiver would give a child an allergenic food. It may be that they want to see if the child has outgrown the allergy. The study found that half of the accidental reactions were from food given to the child by parents, stressing the importance of making sure all caregivers, including siblings, babysitters, and teachers are aware of the allergies.

 

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Articles of Interest

 

 

Mad Cow Disease Spreads in Nervous System Before Detection

Cows in the FieldA new study in the American Journal of Pathology has shown that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as “mad cow” disease”, spreads in the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to the central nervous system (CNS) before it can be detected. Mad cow is a fatal disease in cattle that can be transmitted to humans who eat infected tissue. There isn’t much that scientists know about the spread of the BSE prion in its early incubation period. Other studies have reported that the autonomic nervous system was affected only after the central nervous system is infected.

The autonomic nervous system controls involuntary actions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, and the functions of major organs. It consists of the sympathetic ANS, the parasymphathetic ANS, and the enteric nervous system. The central nervous system is the part that controls your brain and makes up your consciousness; it consists of the brain and spinal cord. It usually takes five years from infection before the disease can be detected. But in the study, 56 calves were infected orally with BSE; samples were collected every four months for the next three and a half years. Scientists found the pathological prion (a misfolded protein that is not alive) in the gut and in the ANS but not in the CNS.

 

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USDA Budget Cut Could Slash 80 Percent of Produce Testing

The nation’s largest pathogen testing program may shut down this month

Public testing for pathogens like E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria on fresh produce will drop by more than 80 percent if a key U.S. Department of Agriculture testing program is eliminated, according to an analysis by Food Safety News.

The USDA’s Microbiological Data Program was zeroed out in the Obama administration’s 2013 budget request and Congress is not seeking funding for the $4.5 million program next year. It is rumored that MDP is set to close down at the end of this month, but the Agricultural Marketing Service, where MDP is housed, would not confirm the program’s status.

Elimination of the testing program has become a public health hot potato. Several media outlets, including the Chicago Tribune, the Associated Press, and the New York Times have weighed into the debate. The Times’ editorial board even called it “a tiny program that matters,” an unusually high profile appeal for an obscure program with a relatively small budget.

This “tiny” program was launched in 2001 simply to collect data about fresh produce contamination, but it now regularly sparks produce recalls when participating state labs find pathogens. Perhaps more importantly, the labs upload any positive test results to the Centers for Disease Control’s PulseNet, which helps public health officials link foodborne illness cases to food products. MDP is also the only federal program that tests for non-O157 E. coli strains like the one that caused the deadly, high profile sprout outbreak in Germany last year.

Both the Obama administration and the fresh produce industry have argued that AMS is the wrong agency to house the nation’s only robust microbiological surveillance program for produce because AMS is focused on marketing, not food safety. Some believe the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has jurisdiction over the safety of produce, would be better equipped to screen produce for harmful pathogens.

FDA gave Food Safety News an overview of its surveillance testing from 2009 to 2012. The agency pulls, on average, 80 percent fewer fresh produce samples for testing than MDP. It is not clear whether FDA plans to, or has the resources to ramp up testing to fill the void that would be left by eliminating MDP testing. FDA did not respond to questions about whether the agency would ramp up testing next year.

The data graphic below compares FDA and MDP produce testing. The FDA numbers include samples collected at ports where fresh produce is imported. As much as 50 to 60 percent of produce consumed in the United States is imported, depending on the season. The numbers below do not include testing FDA may do in the event of an outbreak, which can include product testing from outbreak victims or environmental testing from food facilities.

To view specific testing numbers, hold your cursor over the images. For 2012, the FDA testing numbers are through June 15 and the MDP numbers are projected through the end of July.

 

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International School for Food Protection: 21st Century’s Food Industry Classroom?

Opinion
The newly opened International School for Food Protection (ISFP) was developed to provide an environment different from traditional professional adult learning experiences.
A spokesman said, “The School management team recognizes that experienced food professionals are generally well-versed in their core scientific knowledge, academic education and work experiences. We want to build on their working food industry knowledge to strengthen the critical thinking, decision making and leadership skills that are essential to be an effective food industry professional.”
The ISFP uses Bloom’s taxonomy, a multi-tiered model of classifying thinking according to six cognitive levels of complexity, as the basis for its structured learning approach.
Throughout the years, these levels have often been depicted as a stairway climbing to a higher level of thought. The basic levels are knowledge, comprehension, and application. The highest levels are analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Bloom’s learning objectives are used to define how well a particular skill or competency is learned or mastered.
To meet the complex food safety challenges facing the food industry, the ISFP curriculum was developed to go well beyond current education and training standards. Introductory courses are designed to allow students to learn the complex interdependencies that characterize the global food supply environment.  That knowledge serves as a building block to move to more advanced levels of learning.
Successive courses introduce students to the higher order thinking skills: analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Upon completion of the courses, students should gain a mastery of critical thinking, decision-making and the essential skills necessary to be an effective leader in the globalized food protection environment.
The ISFP curriculum is influenced by science and technology to reflect the changes taking place in the food industry.  It encourages people to look at old problems in new ways in order to find unique solutions. Courses teach the newest science- and risk-based methods and implementing technologies to help food enterprises increase their competitive advantage across areas including food defense, food safety, asset management and protection, bio-safety, information technology, critical infrastructure protection, business intelligence, risk management and organizational transformation.

Jensen Farms Cantaloupe Listeria Cases Must Be Filed by September 14

Jensen Farms, the company that grew and shipped the cantaloupes that caused the large Listeria outbreak last summer has filed for bankruptcy. The United States Bankruptcy Court in Colorado has approved the motion, and a date has been set for filing of claims.

All people who assert a claim based on the outbreak of listeriosis must file it by 5:00 pm Eastern Time on or before September 14, 2012. It’s important that anyone who was affected by this outbreak file a claim to receive compensation for their injuries. The court is ordering that Jensen Farms make available $4 million in settlement money, from its insurance policy, insurers of the equipment the facility used, and from the third-party auditor who failed to discover contamination at the plant just before the outbreak occurred.

The company faces seven personal injury lawsuits and 12 wrongful death suits. That outbreak was one of the deadliest in U.S. history, killing at least 35 people and sicking 146 in 28 states before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) declared the outbreak over on December 8, 2011 and released its final report. The outbreak began on September 2, 2011, when the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment notified the CDC about seven patients who were sick with the same strain of Listeria bacteria.

 

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Individuals and Companies Should be Prosecuted for Foodborne Outbreaks

As one of the few food safety lawyers in America, I’m often asked whether I believe that America’s food supply is the safest in the world. The short answer is: “I have no idea” – and if you’re one of the thousands of Americans sickened each year by foodborne illness, it’s no comfort knowing that some countries have food less safe than the product that shut down your kidneys or killed your loved one.

The real questions about food safety have nothing to do with overweening national pride. In fact, there are only two questions that make any sense at all: “Can our food system be safer?” and “What steps have to be taken to make it so?”

Since no one honestly doubts that our food safety system can and should be better, let me focus on answering the second question (based on what I’ve learned litigating the failures of companies implicated in foodborne illness outbreaks). I will address these issues in the weeks to come but begin with a deficiency I find particularly galling – the failure to prosecute individuals and companies responsible for outbreaks.

If while driving a car, I go too fast, take my eyes off the road or drive while intoxicated, and someone ends up paralyzed or dead, I’m going to be prosecuted. And I should be. So why should a food producer that ignores accepted principles of food safety (or, worse, the company’s own food safety systems) not have to fear criminal prosecution when scores of Americans are sickened or killed by the company’s egregious conduct?

I can think of a number of recent outbreaks – the Peanut Corporation of America Salmonella outbreak, the Jensen Farms Rocky Ford cantaloupe Listeria outbreak and the Wright County egg Salmonella outbreak – that may have warranted criminal prosecution. Sadly, it appears that, short of declaring a company’s intent to sicken as many folks as possible, miscreant food producers have nothing to fear.

 

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California GMO Labeling Law Named Prop. 37

gmotomatoes-406.jpgCalifornia’s Office of the Secretary of State announced on Monday that the California Right to Know Genetically Engineered Food Act, also known as the GMO labeling initiative, will appear on voter ballots as Proposition 37 for the November 6 elections.

If passed, Prop. 37 would make California the first state in the U.S. to require labeling of most foods made with genetically modified organisms — those given specific changes to their DNA through genetic engineering techniques.

Polls conducted by various organizations in recent years have found that roughly 90 percent of Californians support labeling for genetically engineered (GE) foods. But regardless of the polls, leaders of California’s GE labeling movement are still preparing for a fight on the road to election day.

“We certainly have huge support, but we’re not taking anything for granted. There’s a big effort to fight it and we’re worried about the money that will be put toward that effort,” California Right to Know campaign spokeswoman Stacy Malkan told Food Safety News.

GE labeling is already law in nearly 50 countries, including China, Japan and each European state. Alaska requires labeling of GE fish and shellfish, making it the only U.S. state with any type of GE labeling law.

Earlier this year, three-quarters of U.S. Senators rejected a federal GE labeling bill. Nearly 20 states have had similar bills turned down in congress in the past year.
Most major food corporations oppose GE labeling, citing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s requirement that GE ingredients be labeled if they’re determined to exhibit a difference in nutritional value or level of safety.

 

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FDA Takes Action Against WI Livestock Dealer for Drug Residues

In response to a permanent injunction filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on behalf of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, a Wisconsin livestock company and its owner have entered into a consent decree of permanent injunction over alleged illegal drug residues in cows meant for human consumption.

According to the complaint filed, Dan Nolan Livestock LLC and its owner, Daniel W. Nolan of Bonduel, Wisc., did not maintain adequate animal treatment records concerning the drug treatment of food animals.

In a release on Tuesday, the FDA said its inspectors also found that the company and Nolan used “new animal drugs illegally, and did not adequately distinguish between medicated and non-medicated animals for sale for use as human food.”

U.S. District Judge William C. Griesbach of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin signed the consent decree on July 9, 2012.

“The FDA took the action because it is concerned about the sale of animals for human food that may contain levels of animal drugs and could have the potential for adverse effects on human health,” the agency said in a statement.

“Among other requirements, the company and Nolan must implement a system that identifies the source of each animal and whether the animal was medicated. The firm also must implement a drug inventory and accountability system and provide purchasers, receivers, and consignees with written statements describing how the animal was medicated, or stating that the animal was not medicated.”

“If the FDA finds that the defendants are not in compliance with the decree, the agency may require defendants to cease selling and delivering any food animals. Failure to obey the terms of the consent decree could also result in civil or criminal penalties.”

 

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Wisconsin Sizzlers Vindicated in State Supreme Court

After 12 long years, litigation stemming from one week in July 2000 when 150 customers of Sizzler Restaurants in Layton and Mayfair, Wisconsin were infected with E. coli O157:H7 and causing the death of three-year-old Brianna Kriefall is finally over.
Michael Martin, spokesman for Excel Corp, says the company is “relieved this litigation has concluded.” Excel was Sizzler’s meat supplier.

justicescales-iphone.jpgBut Sizzler’s lawyer, Fred L. Gordon, says it could have been over years ago if only

Excel would have stepped forward and accepted responsibility for the outbreak instead of digging in its corporate heels.
The irony is that Cargill-owned Excel could have saved millions by settling sooner, according to Gordon.
Gordon, the San Diego-based attorney for the two Sizzler franchises, has been representing restaurants implicated in outbreaks since the precedent-setting Jack-in-the-Box case.
After the 2000 Sizzler outbreak, plaintiffs’ lawyers filed lawsuits on behalf of the sickened customers, including a wrongful death suit on behalf of Brianna Kriefall. It would take until 2005 for all these cases to be settled, but Sizzler payed all plaintiffs’ medical bills over the year following the outbreak, which took a lot of pressure off of the victims.
In the wrongful death lawsuit, the Kriefall plaintiffs settled for $10.5 million, including $8.5 million from Excel and $2 million from Sizzler & E&B, Sizzler’s management company.
The other 138 plaintiffs were paid from a $3.5 million E&B insurance fund based on the severity of their injuries. Another $1 million went to the Kriefalls.
Money paid out to the victims, however, came ahead of the jury trial which assigned liability, so Excel wasn’t on or off the hook yet. Contaminated beef tips were only part of the story, as restaurant workers had allowed cross contamination with salad bar items including watermelon. Brianna Kriefall had eaten only watermelon.
It would be up to the jury to sort out how the businesses involved divided up the costs.

Research Linking Chicken to Bladder Infections Gets National Attention

There is growing evidence that there may be a link between bacteria on meat and antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections in people — and that link is starting to get high profile media attention.

On Wednesday, ABC ran a segment featuring the latest research on both Good Morning America and World News with Diane Sawyer, programs with a combined daily viewership of more than 10 million. ABC called the research “compelling new evidence of a direct link between the pervasive, difficult-to-cure human disease and the antibiotic-fed chicken people buy at the grocery store.”

Canadian researchers recently published a study in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal that found genetic similarities between E. coli from animals sampled at slaughterhouses and the E. coli that causes UTIs and suggested that chickens were the most likely reservoir for the bacteria. Most recently, some of the same researchers published a study in the journal of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease that found retail poultry meat had the highest levels of drug-resistant E. coli.

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are the second most common type of infection in the body, accounting for 8.1 million visits to health care providers in the United States each year and around $1-2 billion per year in health care costs. Around 85 percent of these infections are caused by extraintestinal pathogenic Escherichia coli, or ExPEC, which doctors long assumed came from patient’s own intestines. New research, however, has been looking at outside sources as potentially part of the problem.

“What this new research shows is, we may in fact know where it’s coming from. It may be coming from antibiotics used in agriculture,” said Maryn McKenna, a reporter for the Food & Environment Reporting Network, which worked with ABC news on their investigation. McKenna, a leading infectious disease journalist and the author of Superbug: The Fatal Menace of MRSA, penned an in depth piece for The Atlantic that also ran on Wednesday.

“The researchers contend that poultry — especially chicken, the low-cost, low-fat protein that Americans eat more than any other meat — is the bridge that allows resistant bacteria to move to humans, taking up residence in the body and sparking infections when conditions are right,” wrote McKenna. “Touching raw meat that contains the resistant bacteria, or coming into environmental contact with it — say, by eating lettuce that was cross-contaminated — are easy ways to become infected.”

SNAP Will Replace Food Lost in Disasters

Many who rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) can be in real trouble when they lose food in a natural disaster. When the power goes out for more than four hours, perishable foods become unsafe to eat and must be tossed.

Food Poisoning Bulletin contacted the Food and Nutrition Service of the USDA and was told that anyone who lost food that was purchased with SNAP can request replacement coupons from their local human service office. Those requests are time-sensitive, so it’s important that recipients know about this program and act quickly. Foods that are eligible for SNAP benefits include breads, cereals, fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, dairy products, seeds for food and plants that produce food.

 

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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

FDA Inspection Likely to Further Implicate Diamond Pet Foods

Lawsuits filed against pet food manufacturer and Costco

dogpeeking-406.jpgThe results of a U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection into a Diamond Pet Foods production plant may benefit the trio of lawsuits filed against the Missouri pet food manufacturer tied to a Salmonella outbreak and recall earlier this year.

That inspection, conducted six days after the first of Diamond’s eight recalls, found numerous health violations, including failures to clean and maintain equipment and a lack of contaminant screenings on raw ingredients. The evidence does not bode well for Diamond as the company faces three separate lawsuits from human victims and pet owners in the U.S. and Canada, according Benjamin England, a 17-year FDA veteran and founder of FDAImports.com, a food industry consulting firm.

On his blog last week, England highlighted Diamond’s situation as a cautionary tale for other food manufacturers. If Diamond had operated in compliance with FDA rules, England said, they would appear much less culpable and could use the favorable inspection to bolster their legal cases and public image.

Instead, it’s being used against them. The lawsuits specifically cite the inspection report as evidence of Diamond’s negligence and breach of warranty.

“It looks to me as though there’s a relationship between the violations at the facility and the adverse situations the company is facing now,” England told Food Safety News. “You can’t predict when an outbreak or recall might happen, but you can eliminate a lot of risk through compliance.”

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, multiple brands of Diamond pet food have sickened at least 20 Americans and two Canadians with Salmonella Infantis since March. The agency says it’s impossible to determine the number of dogs sickened, as so few pets are ever tested for gastrointestinal bacteria.

Read Full Article Here

Wire Grill-Cleaning Brushes Can Pose Food Safety Hazard

6 injuries in past year

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Wire bristles from grill cleaning brushes are finding their way into people’s food — and down their throats, according to a new report.
Between August of 2011 and June of 2012, six people went to the hospital with internal injuries from wire bristles lodged in their necks or stomachs, according to this week’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All six of the victims reported eating grilled food before their injuries occurred. Three of them experienced immediate pain upon swallowing the adulterated food, and were later found to have a piece of wire lodged in their throats.
These three people included one woman age 46 and two men ages 50 and 64.
The other patients — three men ages 31, 35 and 50 — experienced abdominal pain shortly after eating.

Read Full Article Here

Campaign to Reduce Antibiotic Use in Animal Ag Comes Under Fire

In a letter to Congress this week, a coalition of agricultural groups sharply criticized a campaign launched this month to reduce the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals.
The letter, signed by 17 groups representing the interests of meat and poultry producers, veterinarians and feed suppliers, stressed the importance of antibiotics in animal production and said the campaign title – “Meat Without Drugs” – is misleading because antibiotics used to treat animals don’t end up in the final product.
“Our U.S. meat and poultry supply is ‘without drugs,’ say the authors. “Livestock and poultry are sometimes treated with antibiotics to prevent, control and treat diseases, but strict withdrawal periods must be followed to ensure that no residues are contained in the products we consume.”
Consumers Union began its campaign in June because it felt that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not taken strong enough steps to regulate agricultural antibiotic use, despite growing evidence that the widespread use of antibiotics on farms is contributing to drug resistance in pathogens that cause disease in humans.

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In April, the agency published a guidance on the “judicious use” of antibiotics in food-producing animals, which recommends that antibiotics be used only to prevent and treat disease among animals, but not for growth promotion. FDA has also issued draft guidance for drug companies suggesting that antibiotics used for growth promotion and to prevent disease require a prescription from a vet to administer.
Frustrated that FDA’s policies lack teeth, Consumers Union is calling on grocery stores to offer only antibiotic-free meat as a way to pressure farmers not to use antibiotics in livestock production.
But this week’s letter from industry and veterinarians says the Consumers Union campaign is misguided.
The authors take special issue with Consumers Union’s claim that animals on factory farms are raised in crowded and unsanitary conditions – thus the need for drugs to prevent the spread of disease.
“This often repeated assertion simply defies logic from an economic and good husbandry standpoint,” says the letter. “It can cost producers hundreds of thousands of dollars to erect indoor facilities – facilities designed by experts giving careful consideration to promote productivity by helping minimize economic losses caused by disease and the associated necessary treatment of sick animals.”
The letter also points out that while Consumers Union asserts that 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the U.S. are used to promote growth and prevent disease in factory farm animals, the widely cited 80 percent statistic actually refers to the proportion of antibiotics used in all food-producing animals for all uses, including treatment of sick animals.

Real Raw Milk Facts Makes Legislative Recommendations

With three years of experience in the information wars over raw milk under its belt, a largely academic group has decided to enter the legislative area with its own 12-page “Raw Milk Legislation Packet.”
Real Raw Milk Facts, a group that grew out of meetings sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the International Association for Food Protection, published the guide as part of their mission to counter the growing popularity of drinking unpasteurized, unprocessed milk by giving consumers information about the potential risks.The policy recommendations were drawn from the literature and information provided by the Real Raw Milk Facts website, which is run by a working group comprising scientists and public health advocates around the country.
The group founded the web-based clearinghouse for factual raw milk information. It is sponsored in part by the nationally-known food safety law firm of Marler Clark, which publishes Food Safety News.
Now the group of veterinarians and food experts is stepping into offering policy recommendations to state lawmakers.  It recommends that states:

Three Oregon Residents Contracted Botulism from Home Canned Foods

The Oregon State Public Health Laboratory this week confirmed that three residents contracted botulism from home canned foods at a private barbecue. Since botulism is not spread person to person, there is no risk to the general public. All three people had to be hospitalized.

Deschutes County Health Services, which conducted the investigation, is reminding consumers of the importance of following hygienic canning procedures to the letter. Your state extension service is an excellent source of information about this practice.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends the most current research-based metwhods for home food preservation. For instance, for low-acid foods such as green beans and meats, a pressure canner is needed. There are no safe boiling water canning options for vegetables, meats, seafoods, soups, and some food mixtures. That organization offers a free online course for consumers who want to can their own food.

Foods contaminated with botulinum toxin may not look, smell, or taste spoiled. To avoid botulism:

Read Full Article here

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Recalls

Aandante Dairy Cheeses Recalled

The California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) announced this week that cheeses made by the Andante Dairy of Petaluma, California were subject to a recall and quarantine order due to a lack of proper pasteurization.

In a press release, the agency stated that no illnesses had been associated with the cheese products and that Andante Dairy was cooperating with the recall.

The recalled cheeses were sold in sizes from five to eight ounces, with no code date or variety information on the packages. The cheeses were sold mainly to retail markets, restaurants and cheese shops in California, with very limited distribution in Chicago and New York.

Three varieties of Andante Dairy cheese exempt from the quarantine are Musette, Tomme Dolce, and Etude. Consumers are urged to discard any other varieties from this producer.

Store Brand Salad Mixes Recalled By BI-LO

The 206-store BI-LO supermarket chain, operating in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee, has recalled of two store brand products– Southern Home® Bacon Ranch Salad Mix and  Southern Home® Creamy Parmesan Salad Mix.
The salad mixes may contain small metal fragments.

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“We encourage consumers in possession of any of the recalled items to immediately discard the product or bring it back to their local BI-LO,” said Allen Reavis, BI-LO’s vice president of grocery. “As part of the company’s Satisfaction Guarantee, customers who have purchased the product may visit their neighborhood store to request a full refund.”

Buona Vita Recalls 300,000 Pounds of Meat Products for Listeria

New Jersey-based Buona Vita, Inc. is recalling approximately 324,770 pounds of various frozen, ready-to-eat meat and poultry products over concerns about Listeria monocytogenes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service announced late Friday.The problem was discovered through microbiological testing by FSIS and the Ohio Department of Agriculture. FSIS said there are no reports of illness linked to these products, but anyone concerned about foodborne illness should contact a healthcare provider.Here is a list of products affected by the recall:

The following items were produced on May 3, 2012 and can be identified by the case code “1242” – view labels here.

-10-lb. cases of Cupino “Fully Cooked Meatballs with Pork and Beef”
-10-lb. cases of Mama Isabella “1/2 oz. size Beef and Pork Meatballs”
-10-lb. cases of Mama Isabella “1 oz. size Beef and Pork Meatballs”
-10-lb. cases of Mama Isabella “2 oz. size Beef and Pork Meatballs”
-10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Sapore Italiano .75 oz Baked Meatballs with Beef and Pork”
-30-lb. or 10-lb cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Buon Gusto ½ oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef”

The following items were produced on May 4, 2012 and can be identified by the case code “1252” – view labels here.

-10-lb. cases of Vincent Giordano “4 oz. Cooked Italian Style Meatball”
-10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Filomena 3 oz. Baked Italian Style Meatballs”
-10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Sapore Italiano .75 oz Baked Meatballs with Beef and Pork”
-30-lb. or 10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Buon Gusto ½ oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef”
-10-lb. cases of Dirusso’s “Fully Cooked ½oz Meatballs”
-30-lb. or 10-lb. cases of Dirusso’s “1 oz Italian Style Meatballs Fully Cooked”
-10-lb. cases of Dirusso’s “Fully Cooked Mini Meatballs”

The following items were produced on May 7, 2012 and can be identified by the case code “1282” – view labels here.

-30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand “3 oz Cooked Dinner Loaf Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride “Cooked Dinner Loaf Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand “3oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Burger Pattie Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride “3 oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Burger Patty Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand “4 oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Burger Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand “4oz Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added”
-30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand “3oz Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added”
-30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride “Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added”

The following items were produced on May 8, 2012 and can be identified by the case code “1292” – view labels here.

-30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride “Cooked Chicken Salisbury Patty Beef Added”
-30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride “Cooked Dinner Loaf LS Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Argenta Pride “Cooked Breakfast Patty Made with Chicken and Beef”
-30-lb. cases of Silver Lake Brand “Cooked Breakfast Patty Made with Chicken and Beef”
-10-lb. cases of Whitsons Food Service “½ oz. Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef”
-10-lb. cases of M&R Frosted Food Co. “.5oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Meatballs”
-10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Buon Gusto ½ oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef”
-10-lb. cases of M&R Frosted Food Co. “1 oz Cooked Chicken and Beef Meatballs”
-10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Buon Gusto 1 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef”
-10-lb. cases of Buona Vita, Inc. “Buon Gusto 2 oz Baked Italian Style Meatballs Made with Chicken and Beef”

Romaine Lettuce Recalled in NV and CA for Salmonella

Pacific International Marketing is recalling 19 cases of bulk Romaine Lettuce sold at Vons and Pavilions stores in California and Nevada due to potential Salmonella contamination. The bulk Romaine Lettuce was sold in bulk produce bins from July 2, 2012 through July 4, 2012. The lettuce heads are banded with a red twist tie marked “Safeway.”The company is asking that consumers who may have purchased this product should discard it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. According to Pacific, no Illnesses have been reported to date. The recall was sparked by a positive Salmonella test taken at the field level.

Fresh Shelled Peas Recalled in Canada for Listeria

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency and Thomas Bros. Farm Market issued a public health warning, asking consumers to not eat a certain variety of fresh shelled peas because the product may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.The fresh shelled peas were sold from Thomas Bros. Farm Market located at 5856 Colonel Talbot Road, London, Ontario on June 27, 2012. The packages do not bear a label identifying the store name or other information.There have been no reports of illness, but consumers who have this fresh product in their homes or may have frozen it are advised not to consume it.

Arctic Zero Recalling Frozen Desserts for Undeclared Milk

Arctic Zero Inc of California is recalling frozen desserts in pints and chocolate dipped bars for relabeling. The products contain milk, which is not declared on the label. All products produced before February 2012 do not have the statement, “Contains whey protein, which is a derivative of dairy” on the label. You can see all of the product labels at the FDA site.

Product details of products sold in 16 ounce pints:

  • Chocolate (UPC:  8-52244-00300-8)
  • Vanilla Maple (UPC:  8-52244-00306-0)
  • Mint Chocolate Cookie (UPC:  8-52244-00304-6)
  • Cookies and Cream (UPC:  8-52244-00303-9)
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter (UPC:  8-52244-00301-5)
  • Coffee (UPC:  8-52244-00302-2)
  • Strawberry (UPC:  8-52244-00305-3)
  • Pumpkin Spice (UPC:  8-52244-00307-7)

Read Full Article Here

Expanded Recall of Mazuri Feed Products

The recall of Mazuri Feed Products, made by PMI Nutrition International, is expanding to include three additional varieties for elevated levels of vitamin D, which can be harmful. Symptoms of vitamin D overdose in animals include lack of appetite, weight loss, and possible joint stiffness. You can see photos of all of the products at the FDA site.

The first recall, issued July 5, 2012, included four products.

Product details:

  • Mazuri® Primate Maintenance Biscuit 25#
    • Item number 0040996
    • Lot number APR11123
    • Formula number 5MA2
  • Mazuri® Mouse Breeder 9F 50#
    • Item number 0006758
    • Lot number APR20122
    • Formula number 5M68
  • Mazuri® Primate Basix 25#
    • Item number 0062089
    • Lot number APR20123
    • Formula number 5NAA

Read Full Article Here

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Articles of Interest

Codex Adopts Ractopamine Limits for Beef and Pork

Contentious 69-67 vote on key trade issue pits United States against China and the EU

After years of scientific and political stalemate, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a UN food standards-setting body, narrowly voted to advance a residue limit for ractopamine hydrochloride, a controversial veterinary drug used in food animal production.

The 69-67 vote to adopt a Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) for the beta agonist — which is approved for boosting growth and increasing leanness in pigs, cattle and turkeys — is a big win for the United States’, Brazil’s and Canada’s trade interests.

Major meat exporting countries that use ractopamine have been pushing for a global standard for several years. A Codex MRL makes it easier for the U.S. and others to challenge countries like China, the European Union and Taiwan for having zero tolerance policies for ractopamine residues in meat products. With an MRL in place, the World Trade Organization is much more likely to rule against any country that has a more restrictive policy.

The Codex MRL is 10 parts per billion (ppb) for muscle cuts of beef and pork. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s limit is 30 ppb for beef and 50 ppb for pork.

Such a close and contentious vote is rare at Codex. The scientific commission adopts dozens of food safety standards each year by consensus, with well over one hundred countries participating.

Ractopamine MRLs have been stuck at Step 8, the final step before adoption, since 2008. Interests on all sides of the ractopamine issue have worried that the bitter fight over the drug could ultimately jeopardize the legitimacy of Codex.

“We are concerned that with this vote, Codex is becoming another politicized global body, rather than the science-based consensus body it has managed to be so far,” said Michael Hansen of Consumers International, which represents 220 consumer organizations in 110 countries. CI has observer status at Codex meetings, meaning they cannot vote but may have a representative present.

“In the past, Codex has avoided adopting standards where scientists disagree, or where the scientific data is lacking or insufficient,” added Hansen, in a CI statement. “We now see a situation where trade concerns are trumping science. This does not bode well for the credibility of Codex standards in the future.”

U.S. officials and agriculture interests take a different view. They praised the vote in favor of MRLs as evidence that the commission is still science-based and ultimately not swayed by politics.

Read Full Article Here

South Dakota Puts Restaurant Scores Online

Practicing a little food safety while traversing South Dakota to visit Mount Rushmore just got easier.  The state health department has now put restaurant scores online along with grades for lodging and campground establishments.
It means you can quickly check the scores for some of those famous South Dakota tourist attractions like Wall Drug (91), Rushmore Plaza (89), and the Corn Palace (91). Rushmore Plaza and the Corn Palace each had a critical violation in their last inspection.

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Those are a few examples of how South Dakota is stepping up its entire inspection and licensing system. The first to benefit are residents and visiting consumers who can now access the inspection scores for South Dakota’s nearly 6,000 food service, lodging and campground establishments on the new state website.
And by this time next year, the state South Dakota Department of Health’s upgrade project calls for posting the full inspection reports. For now, the new website has the score and number of critical violations for at least the past four inspections.
Inspections are public record under South Dakota state law, and were previously made available only upon request. Moving them to the web is part of the state’s transparency program for public records.
“We needed an electronic system that would let inspectors enter real-time inspection reports, vendors submit license applications and fees, and the public to more easily access health scores so creating it was no easy task,” said SD Secretary of Health Doneen Hollingsworth.
“This should be a vast improvement over the antiquated paper-based system we’ve been using and should streamline the process for vendors and inspectors alike,” she added.

California Foie Gras Ban Turns Into a New Fight

When meat is outlawed — in this case fatty livers of geese or ducks — only outlaws will eat meat.
Foodies are hoarding all the fatty geese or duck livers they can find, while new foie gras farmers may be setting up right across the border.
Chefs are flaunting the ban on the fatty livers by serving the very French dish known as foie gras.
And California’s restaurant industry is in federal court, asking to have the ban on serving the fatty livers struck down for a long list of reasons.

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All of this stems from a 2004 bird feeding law with a rather long trigger for a ban on serving foie gras, the French delicacy made from fatty livers of geese or ducks. The ban went into effect one week ago, on July 1, 2012.
The law bans the production and sale of both foie gras and its byproducts like down for jackets and comforters.The nearly eight year delay before it took effect was intended to give producers, using the gavage process involving the use of feeding tubes inserted in the throats of the poultry, time to get out of the business.
In the week since the ban went into effect, California restaurants could be subjected to fines up to $1,000 for serving foie gras. The limited supply of product remaining may be why none have apparently cited.
Former State Sen. John Burton, now chairman of the California Democratic Party, was the sponsor of the 2004 bill.  Burton told the Free Republic the law has “nothing to do with meat. It has to do with animal cruelty.”
While animal cruelty was the reason for the ban, questions have been raised about the food safety of foie gras. The argument–which is rejected by USDA–is that force-fed birds develop bacteria or toxins in their blood resulting in a disease that can prove fatal before slaughter. USDA, however, declined a request to put a notice on the label saying: “Foie gras products are derived from diseased birds.”

Spanish Farmers Paid a Price for Europe’s E. coli O104 Outbreak

The Murcia region in southeastern Spain, where the Segura River is found, is known as Europe’s orchid because of its abundant production of fruits, vegetables and flowers.
But Murcia is coming off a down year because of a variety of factors, not the least of which was the virulent E. coli outbreak last spring centered in northern Germany that resulted in some false alarms pointing fingers at produce that turned out not to be responsible for the outbreak, before European health officials finally settled on sprouts.
Before imported Egyptian-grown fenugreek seeds were found to be the source of the deadly 2011 E. coli O104:H4 outbreak, raw cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce were all suspected sources. These foods were either banned from countries outside Germany or slowed from crossing borders.

Denmark Close to Conquering Salmonella

According to new statistics, in 2011 the number of Danes contracting Salmonella infections fell to the lowest level since the 1980s. That country has a strict policy called the Danish National Salmonella Control Program that reduces Salmonella bacteria in egg-laying hens and broilers.

That program works to minimize human exposure to Salmonella from live animals and meat products. It detects, prevents, and controls Salmonella in “primary production”, or on the farm, before there is any threat to human health.

These proactive measures, as opposed to the reactive measures of recalls and relying on proper handling by consumers, has reduced the incidence of Salmonella infections to just 1,166 in 2011. And almost half of those infections were contracted by Danes traveling to Egypt, Thailand, and Turkey.

Read Full Article Here

Toxoplasmosis Parasite May Raise Mother’s Suicide Risk

A study published in the July 2012 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry has found an association between Toxoplasma gondii infections and history of suicide attempts. The study followed 45,788 Danish women who had children between 1992 and 1995. The study lasted for more than ten years.

During that time period, only 78 women tried a violent suicide attempt. That makes infected women 81% more likely to attempt suicide than non-infected women. The risk increases with increasing IgG antibody levels to T. gondii. The study’s authors want to emphasize that the risk of very small, and this study doesn’t prove a link between T. gondii infections and suicide, but means that further studies should be conducted.

Another study found a significant relationship between T. gondii infections, along with other infectious agents, and suicidal self-directed violence in younger patients who had an increased risk of schizophrenia.

Toxoplasmosis gondii infections are typically contracted through coming into contact with infected cat litter, by eating infected raw or undercooked meat, and by drinking water contaminated with the oocysts.  In fact, a recent study found that organic meats may carry an increased risk of toxoplasmosis. The infection can be passed from a pregnant women to her fetus, which can lead to brain damage, retardation, and blindness in the baby.

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

 

 

 

Antibiotic-Free Meat Map Launched for Consumers

Coinciding with the new “Meat Without Drugs” campaign announced this week, tech start up Real Time Farms launched a crowd-sourced map to help consumers locate meat from animals raised without antibiotics.

realtimefarm_iphone.jpgThe FixAntibiotics Food Finder allows shoppers to look up retail locations, farmers markets, farms, and restaurants sourcing antibiotic-free meat using their zipcode or by zooming into a geographic area.

Real Time Farms also asks users to add to the database if they know of another location that is not listed on the map.

“This campaign, as with so many things, comes down to people voting with their wallets because government is seen as moving too slowly,” said Real Time Farms, in a blog post on Thursday.

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

Illness in Louisiana Brings E. coli O145 Outbreak Count to 15

One new illness in Louisiana has brought the case count to 15 in the ongoing E. coli O145 outbreak in the southern U.S. and California, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A 21-month-old girl died on May 31 after falling ill to the outbreak strain.

The source of the outbreak remains unknown as state and federal health officials continue to investigate the outbreak, but experts believe it originated in food. Four people have been hospitalized.
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Artificial and Natural Trans Fats: They Are Different

June 21, 2012 By

By now, almost everyone has heard about trans fats and how unhealthy they are. In fact, studies have shown that trans fat consumption causes at least 30,000 deaths in the United States every year. The government has not set an upper limit on trans fat consumption because there is no safe intake amount.

But there are two kinds of trans fat: natural and artificial. Natural trans fats occur naturally in dairy products and meat, made by a enzymatic process in the guts of ruminant animals. Artificial trans fats are man-made by bubbling hydrogen through polyunsaturated oils, making it a solid. And scientists think that natural trans fats are good for you.

 

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

E.coli In Aberdeen SD Drinking Water Prompts Boil Water Advisory

E.coli levels in the drinking water supply for the city of Aberdeen, SD have reached dangerous levels, prompting city officials to issue a boil water advisory.

Aberdeen residents should not drink tap water without boiling it first. Before it is safe to drink, the water needs to boil for a full minute. “Boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, and food preparation until further notice,” the advisory states.

Boiling kills E.coli and other dangerous bacteria that cause serious, sometimes life-threatening illness. Most at risk are small children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of an E.coli infection include abdominal cramps, diarrhea that is sometimes bloody, nausea and headaches. Residents who develop these symptoms should seek medical attention.
 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

 

 

Food Safety Scandals Fuel Urban Gardening in China

Food safety concerns and increasing incomes are sparking growth in urban gardening and farming among Chinese consumers, according to China Daily.

“More urban residents, many of whom are young people between the ages of 25 to 35 living in metropolises such as Beijing, are growing vegetables and herbs on their balconies or rented farmland in the suburbs, and turning to Taobao, a major online shopping service provider in China, to start their apartment gardens,” the paper reported Monday.

According to China Daily, online searches for the Tabao have jumped 280 percent in the past year — indicating that a growing number of people are looking to buy seeds and tools to start vegetable patches.

The paper features Xue Ling, 26, who says she has been planting vegetables on the small balcony of her apartment since 2010.

 

 

Read Full Article  Here

 

 

Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Live Poultry from Missouri Hatchery

At least 66 people have fallen ill in 20 states in a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to live poultry from a Missouri hatchery, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday. Sixteen people have been hospitalized while one infected person in Missouri has died, though Salmonella infection was not considered a contributing factor to the person’s death.

The number ill by state are as follows:
Alaska (1 illness), California (2), Colorado (1), Georgia (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (8), Iowa (2), Kansas (10), Kentucky (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (22), Nebraska (5), Nevada (1), New York (1), North Carolina (1), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (4), South Dakota (1), Vermont (1) and Wyoming (1).
Epidemiological and laboratory evidence have linked this outbreak to Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Missouri.
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India to Implement Standards for Street Food

For the first time, street food vendors in India will soon be required to meet a set of sanitation regulations, announced the government Tuesday.
Street food is a popular option in India because it’s convenient and cheaper than offerings at hotels and restaurants.  But at the majority of stands it’s also unsafe.
One study found that, out of 50 random samples of street food taken in 2010, 47 of them – approximately 90 percent  – were contaminated with foodborne pathogens. Cooked foods were no exception, suggesting mishandling after preparation.

Raw Scraped Tuna Salmonella Outbreak Grows Again; 390 Now Ill

According to the CDC, the Salmonella Bareilly and Salmonella Nchanga outbreak linked to raw scraped tuna has grown again. Now 390 people in 27 states and the District of Columbia have been sickened by the contaminated product; that’s an increase of 74 new cases from the last update in May. Kansas is now part of the outbreak. Forty-seven people have been hospitalized in this outbreak.

A raw tuna product called Nakaochi Scrape imported by Moon Marine USA Corporation was recalled as the source of this outbreak. Lab tests conducted by public health laboratories in Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin have isolated the outbreak strains of Salmonella from 95% of the samples taken from intact packages of that product. And in April 2012, the FDA inspected the Moon Fishery facility in India that supplied the raw tuna and found violations of their HACCP plan, which did not contain the necessary critical control points.

The numbers of new cases has declined since the peak in April 2012. The outbreak may continue for several months because some facilities may have the frozen product in their freezers and continue to serve it, since it has a long shelf-life. If you order any sushi product that contains raw ground or scraped tuna, ask the establishment if it is part of this recall.

Outbreak of Gastroenteritis at George Mason University

On June 21, 2012, according to the Fairfax County Health Department, 40 teens and young adults at the George Mason University Campus became ill with gastroenteritis. They are members of a summer camp group affiliated with the Congressional Awards Foundation. Twenty-one of the students were hospitalized.

The Health Department believes that viral gastroenteritis is the cause of these illnesses. The government is investigating whether or not food was the initial cause of the illness, but they  think the virus spread person-to-person.

George Mason University has cleaned the dorm rooms where the patients were staying and is working with state and local officials to investigate the outbreak.

 

 

Read Full Article Here

 

 

 

 

American Medical Association Calls for Testing of GMO Foods

At their annual convention in Chicago this month, the American Medical Association passed a resolution calling for mandatory testing of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) foods. The organization did not call for labeling of these altered foods, as many groups want, although 19 doctors did sign a statement calling for labeling.

That statement said:

“In the face of scientific uncertainty, labeling is a common risk management tool and one that could help track any potential adverse health effects. Our support of labeling also takes into consideration the fact that consumers want to know whether there are genetically engineered ingredients in their food, and they have a right to know. We stand with the 90% of Americans who want mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.”

Other organizations that have passed resolutions calling for labeling of GE foods include the American Nurses Association, the California Medical Association, and the British Medical Association. Groups that endorse the California Right to Know Ballot initiative include Physicians for Social Responsibility, the American Medical Students Association, and the American Public Health Association.

 

 

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Recalls

 

 

 

Ground Bacon Recalled: May Contain Cardboard and Plastic Pieces

A Los Angeles-based firm is recalling approximately 1,350 pounds of its ground smoked bacon because the food may contain pieces of cardboard and plastic.

The company – Square-H Brands, Inc. – issued a voluntary recall of the ground bacon product Thursday after the problem was discovered at a distribution facility in Hawaii. The product had been shipped there for further distribution, but inspectors from the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) discovered pieces of plastic and cardboard in the food.

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Officials speculate that the problem occurred while the product was being transferred from a cardboard and plastic holding container to the grinder.
The product subject to recall is called “Coarse Ground Smoked Bacon Ends and Pieces” and was distributed in 25 lb. cases. It was packaged April 25 before being distributed to the Hawaii facility for further distribution and use in other products.

Sprouts Recalled for Potential Salmonella Contamination

A Florida-based company is recalling 433 cases of alfalfa sprouts because they may be contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

Leasa Industries Co. of Miami, FL issued the voluntary recall Wednesday after testing by a buyer revealed the presence of Salmonella on the company’s Living Alfalfa Sprouts.
The product subject to recall is sold in 6 oz. plastic containers bearing the label “LEASA Living Alfalfa Sprouts.” Packaging bears a UPC code of 75465-55912, located on the side of the label that wraps around the container. It is also marked with an expiration date of 7/2/12, located on the side of the plastic container itself.

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The company’s alfalfa sprouts are sold to retailers and to food distributors, but the recall notice does not specify where the affected sprouts were distributed.
The company’s website says that “major clients include Publix Supermarkets, Winn-Dixie Stores, Wal-Mart Supercenters, Sedanos Supermarkets [and] Sysco Food Service,” although the recall notice did not say which if any of these companies may be carrying the recalled product.

Senate Passes Farm Bill

Legislation includes study on food recall insurance for farmers

In a rare show of bipartisanship, the Senate passed the farm bill on Thursday by a vote of 64 to 35. The bill, which sets the nation’s agriculture and nutrition policy for the next five years, would end direct payments for commodity crop farmers, but ramp up subsidized crop insurance to save nearly $24 billion over 10 years.

strawberry-field-iphone.jpgDuring three days of debate over dozens of amendments, the Senate touched on food safety a few times.

As Food Safety News reported Wednesday, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA) succeeded in repealing a 2008 farm bill provision that mandated a catfish inspection program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture — even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates seafood. Echoing concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office, Kerry and McCain argued that the program was duplicative, wasteful, and was not likely to yield a food safety benefit.

Due to opposition from livestock groups, the Senate did not consider a controversial proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) that would have mandated federal welfare standards for egg-laying hens.

“While I am disappointed that my amendment establishing a national standard for the humane treatment of egg-laying hens was not considered, I remain committed to this issue and will look for other opportunities to advance that legislation,” said the senator, after the farm bill passed Thursday.

But Feinstein did succeed on an amendment directing USDA to conduct a study on the feasibility of crop insurance to cover losses for producers affected by, but not responsible for, food safety recalls.

Carrot Juice Recalled for Botulism Risk

Los Angeles-based juice company Health Choice Island Blends, Inc. is recalling all sizes of its Liquid Gold Carrot Juice because they have the potential to be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum.

The juice was distributed in four container sizes – 128 oz., 64 oz., 32 oz. and 16 oz – in California and sold to wholesale produce companies.
The product comes in plastic see-through containers in gallon, half-gallon and quart sizes. It bears a white label with the name “Liquid Gold” and a picture of carrots and a glass of carrot juice, and UPC code 7 63213 00130.
No illnesses have been linked to the consumption of this product to date.
Anyone who purchased the affected product is urged to return it to the place of purchase or discard it.
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Eggs Recalled in Germany for Dioxin Contamination

June 21, 2012 By

More than 250,000 eggs are being recalled in the Lower Saxony area of Germany after testing found excessive levels of dioxin. Contaminated feed may be the source of the chemical.

Product details:

  • Manufacturer: 0-0356091-DE
  • Expiration date: 14/06/2012
  • Stamp number: 0-0356091-EN

 

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Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. Recalling Uneviscerated Fish

Euphoria Fancy Food Inc. of New York is recalling dried bream that was uneviscerated. Uneviscerated fish may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum spores, which can cause a serious and sometimes fatal foodborne illness.

Product details:

  • Dried bream
  • Un-coded, 7.5-ounce vacuum packed plastic bag
  • Sold nationwide
  • UPC number is 7 930042 250954
  • Product of Russia

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Dole Recalls Thousand Cases of Bagged Salads for Listeria

Due to possible Listeria risk, Dole Fresh Vegetables is voluntarily recalling 1,077 cases of bagged salads, most of which are likely not on shelves any longer.

The products being recalled are Kroger Fresh Selections Greener Supreme coded N158 211B 1613 KR04 with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC 11110 91039, Kroger Fresh Selections Leafy Romaine coded N158 111B KR11 with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC 11110 91046 and Wal Mart Marketside Leafy Romaine coded N158111B with Use-by date of June 19 and UPC code 81131 02781.

Dole Fresh Vegetables said it is coordinating closely with regulatory officials and that to date no illnesses have been reported in association with the recall.

The Product Code and Use-by date are in the upper right-hand corner of the package and the UPC code is on the back of the package, below the barcode. The salads were distributed in six U.S. states (Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia).

“This precautionary recall notification is being issued due to an isolated instance in which a sample of Marketside Leafy Romaine salad yielded a positive result for Listeria monocytogenes in a random sample test conducted by the State of North Carolina,” said Dole in a release.

The company said no other Wal Mart Marketside, or Kroger Fresh Selections salads are included in the recall.

 

 

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Articles of Interest

 

 

 

Microbe Found in Salt Could Lead to Salmonella Vaccine

The Baltimore Sun reported Thursday that a team of University of Maryland School of Medicine scientists have spent years researching and developing salt crystals harboring microbes that could act as carriers vaccines for pathogens such as Salmonella or typhoid.

The microbe, Halaorchaea, could be grown to combat a number of diseases around the world. The team leader, Shiladitya DasSarma, first targeted Salmonella after receiving a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to do so.

Organic Standards Protection Act Introduced in Congress

Bags of Produce Marked 100% OrganicRepresentatives Lois Capps (D-CA) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) have introduced the Organic Standards Protection Act to the U.S. House of Representatives to give the National Organics Program authority to make sure that foods labeled with the organic seal quality for that designation.

The Organic Trade Association and the National Organic Coalition support this bill.

The legislation would:

  • Grant the USDA the authority to stop the sales of products labeled “certified organic” when they are not organically produced or grown.
  • Streamline the recordkeeping requirements of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act. All organic producers and certifiers would be required to maintain records and sent them to the USDA.
  • A fine of up to $10,000 per incident would be levied for those who continue to label their products organic after the USDA has revoked their certification.

The USDA does not currently have investigative authority over the organic certification program. The National Organic Program cannot stop the marketing or labeling of organic products when they have been treated with pesticides or herbicides at this time. The bill would give the program embargo and stop sale authority.

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Former BPI Employee Plans to File Suit Over LFTB Backlash

“Pink Slime” heading back into the news.

A former Beef Products Inc employee plans to file a civil lawsuit in response to the national frenzy over lean finely textured beef (LFTB), now widely known to consumers as pink slime.

webst9197.pngSioux City, Iowa-based Rauttnee Publishing Company announced it will hold a press conference on Tuesday to detail the suit to be filed by former BPI Environmental Health and Safety Officer Bruce Smith.

The company will be handing out copies of the lawsuit as well as copies of Smith’s new book, titled “Pink Slime Ate My Job.” According to an online business profile, Rauttnee Publishing Company was launched by Smith in 2004.

Study: Norovirus Infection Rates Correlate with Google Search Trends for Symptoms

norovirusstomach2-406.jpgTrends in Google internet searches for norovirus symptoms strongly correlate with rates of norovirus infection, suggesting internet searches could serve as reliable surveillance tools for diseases prone to seasonal variations, according to a study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Google Labs in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

The study, published in the July 2012 edition of Clinical Infectious Diseases, tracked rises and falls in Google internet searches for certain keywords and phrases related to gastroenteritis, such as “diarrhea,” “vomiting,” and “stomach virus,” that could indicate a norovirus infection. Norovirus is the most common cause of gastroenteritis in the U.S., responsible for an estimated 21 million illnesses a year.

The researchers then compared the Google data to trends in lab-confirmed norovirus infections around the nation. If the searches matched up with the rates of confirmed cases, the researchers would uncover a new method of tracking the activity of norovirus, a pathogen with very scarce amounts of surveillance up until now.

The result? The searches and the known cases matched up almost perfectly.

“I think we were surprised at just how strong the correlation was,” said Benjamin Lopman, epidemiologist at the Division of Viral Diseases at the CDC and one of the study’s co-authors. “Even having to rely on general search terms, they still match up very well with the actual outcome.”

Red Meat Allergy Likely Caused by Tick Bites

A few years ago, doctors in the southern United States started noticing an odd phenomenon: people were becoming allergic to red meat, seemingly out of the blue. What in the environment was causing this response? The answer, surprisingly, turned out to be ticks.
The researchers who figured this out came upon the answer serendipitously. Thomas Platts-Mills and his colleagues had been studying a cancer drug called Erbitux that was causing severe allergic reactions in patients – but only in southern states. The team had concluded that these people were carrying an antibody that responded to sugars in the drug.
In their findings – published in 2008 – the researchers noted that the sugars in Erbitux, which is derived from mouse cells, are also present in beef, pork and cow mllk.

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So the following year when it came to light that otherwise healthy people were developing meat allergies – also in the South – the team began testing samples of their blood and found that they possessed the same Immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies as the cancer patients who had reacted to Erbitux.
Since people were reporting a 3-5 hour delay between ingesting meat and having a reaction, scientists guessed that the sugars triggering the response were stored in the fat of the animal, which takes longer to digest than protein or carbohydrates. That would explain why the reaction wasn’t immediate like most other food allergies.
But the big mystery remained: Where were these antibodies for alpha-gal (the sugars found in Erbitux and red meat) coming from?
“We thought initially that it was a parasite,” says Dr. Scott Commins, an assistant professor of medicine at UVA working on the project under Platts-Mills. “So we screened for all kinds of crazy parasites.”
Then, in August of 2009, the answer quite literally came to Platts-Mills when his own IgE to alpha-gal levels suddenly spiked days after he was bitten repeatedly by ticks while on a hike in the woods.
Out of curiosity, the researchers began asking patients if they had been bitten by ticks before their meat allergy developed.

House Budget For USDA Bans Spending on Horse Slaughter

A House committee vote may have closed the barn door before horse slaughter will ever be resumed in the United States.
The powerful Appropriations Committee has by voice vote agreed to again ban federal funding for USDA inspections of horse slaughter facilities. In a deal last year, President Obama and Congress agreed to lift that ban, an action that had led to proposals for horse slaughter facilities in Missouri and New Mexico.
The ban comes in the form of a successful amendment to the fiscal year 2013 Agricultural Appropriations Bill brought by Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA. The appropriations bill now goes to the floor for a vote by the full House.
“When more than 80 percent of the American population opposes this practice, it is high time that we put an end, once and for all, to industrial horse slaughter, Moran said. “Horses hold an important place in our nation’s history and culture, treasured by all for their beauty and majesty. “

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Moran says horses “deserve to be cared for, not killed for foreign consumption.”
The Northern Virginia Democrat argued that it made no sense to have cut USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service budget by $9 million, and then continue to require the food safety agency to add the inspection of horsemeat for foreign consumption to its duties.
Moran said to add inspections for horsemeat for export could only be achieved at the expense of inspections for poultry, pork and beef being consumed by U.S. citizens.
It was the removal of similar language advanced by Moran last year in a House-Senate conference committee that led to lifting of the ban. Theoretically, that could still happen this year.
The last three horse slaughter facilities in the U.S. closed more than five years ago after Congress initiated the original ban in 2006. Only USDA-inspected meat processed in the U.S. may be sold across state or national boundaries.
The two groups with horse slaughter business plans have each requested USDA inspection services.  Both groups want to slaughter horses for the human consumption export market, and neither can do business without USDA inspection services. The companies planning to implement horse slaughter are:
– Unified Equine Missouri, a company headed by Wyoming lawmaker Sue Wallis, which has plans to convert a closed beef-packing plant to accommodate horse slaughter in town of Rockville, MO.
-Valley Meat Co. in Roswell, NM – owned by Rick De Los Santos – also wants to convert its former beef facility into a horse packing plant.

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