FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

04/15. Chief Science Officer - San Antonio, TX
04/15. Food Safety Compliance Specialist – Arvin, CA
04/15. Food Safety Team Leader – Renton, WA
04/13. Reg Food Safety & Compl - Englewood Cliffs, NJ
04/13. Food Safety Coordinator – Rogers, AR
04/13. Food Safety Team Leader – Renton, WA
04/11. Food Safety Administrator – Lorton, VA
04/11. Food Safety QA Spec – Rancho Dominguez, CA
04/11. QA Tech Lead (or Trainee) – Woodland, CA

04/18 2016 ISSUE:700

Genetically Modified Food Safety Testing Market 2016-2020
Source : https://globenewswire.com/news-release/2016/04/18/829615/0/en/Genetically-Modified-Food-Safety-Testing-Market-2016-2020.html?parent=829629
By globenewswire.com (Apr 18, 2016)
Research and Markets has announced the addition of the "Genetically Modified Food Safety Testing Market by Trait (Stacked, Herbicide Tolerance, Insect Resistance), Technology (Polymerase Chain Reaction, Immunoassay), Crop & Processed Food Tested & by Region - Global Trend & Forecast to 2020" report to their offering.
 The market for GM food safety testing has grown exponentially in the last few years. The market size is projected to reach USD 1.9 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of around 7.9% from 2015 to 2020.
Both, developed and developing countries have been targeted for this industry as the consumers' concerns towards GMOs have been revolutionizing GMO testing technology. Ensuring sufficient nutrition, evolution in farming technology, labeling mandates in several countries, diverse GM processed food production, and high investments in biotech R&D have been driving the market for GM food testing for safety.
The GM food safety testing market, on the basis of trait, is segmented into stacked, herbicide tolerance, and insect resistance. The stacked traits testing market was the largest in 2014, and is projected to be the fastest-growing in GM testing for crops and foods due to the increase in R&D innovations and multiplicity of different traits in one crop or food. Also, the expenses and the procedure associated with testing stacked traits are higher.
The GM food safety testing market, on the basis of technology, is segmented into Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and immunoassay technologies. The GM food testing for safety through PCR technology is largest and is projected to grow at the highest rate from 2015 to 2020. The GM food safety testing market is segmented into crop and processed food tested, where the testing market for crops is the largest. The crop segment is further subsegmented into corn, soy, rapeseed/canola, and potato, for which the testing for corn and soy is the largest and the fastest-growing, as these are largely traded crops. The processed food tested segment contains bakery & confectionery, meat & meat products, breakfast cereals & snacks, food additives, and others, of which breakfast cereals & snacks is the fastest-growing market for GM food safety testing.
The GM food safety market was dominated by the European region in 2014. Stringent regulatory affairs for GMO testing and consumers' opposition towards the GM foods have been driving the market in European countries such as Germany, the U.K., Spain, and France among others. North America is projected to be the fastest-growing region for GM food safety testing, as it is the largest GM crops producing country and there is also a need to comply with the GMO labeling regulations from importing countries.
The active U.S. players in this market are Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (U.S.) Silliker, Inc. (U.S.), Romer Labs Division Holding GmbH (Austria), EMSL Analytical Inc. (U.S.), Genetic ID NA, Inc. (U.S.), and OMIC USA Inc. (U.S.)
Lack of proper implementation of regulations, lack of technical know-how among farmers, ban on production of GM crops, and unaffordability of tests by food manufacturers & channel members are the major restraints and challenges in the GM food testing market for safety.
One of the leading players, Intertek Group Plc (U.K.), adopted acquisitions as its key strategy, and it also focuses on expansions to extend its capabilities in the GMO food safety testing market. The company has been continuously improving its products and services through new and advanced technologies to create new opportunities in food industries.
In 2014, the company acquired ScanBi Diagnostics, and in 2011 it acquired Labs & Testing S.A. (L&T) in Chile. Due to these acquisitions, it broadened its technical facilities and expanded its global presence in the GM food safety testing market. Eurofins Scientific SE (Luxembourg) acquired ViraCor-IBT Laboratories, Inc. (VIBT), which helped it to strengthen its GMO testing service line. The company launched a DNA chip technology which enabled simultaneous detection and identification of up to 21 genetically modified organisms in feed and food products, and also launched a technology to detect genetic discrimination between identical monozygotic twins.
 For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/research/nv9nxz/genetically

Norovirus Outbreak at University of Rochester
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/norovirus-outbreak-at-university-of-rochester/
By Linda Larsen (Apr 17, 2016)
The University of Rochester, New York, has released a statement stating that a norovirus-like outbreak at that campus has sickened at least 120 students. One student’s test has returned positive for the virus. Most of those sickened live on River Campus, and others attend the Eastman School of Music.
No students have been admitted to the hospital in this outbreak, although some have been treated in emergency departments. The Health Services director, Dr. Ralph Manchester, stated that the number of new cases per day is staring to decline. The outbreak was first recognized by the college on April 11, 2016. On April 15, 2016, there were 21 cases reported. Some students are still ill, while others have recovered.
Symptoms include a sudden onset of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. This illness increases during colder months, when most people stay indoors. It is easily spread in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and cruise ships.
Students are being asked to sanitize their living spaces and belongings. The college has distributed hydrogen peroxide wipes. In addition, University Facilities and ServePro staff are working to disinfect areas throughout River Campus and the Eastman School of Music.
Wipes are being placed in the lobbies, lounges, and kitchens of residential floors. Vomit bags are also available at the Health offices. Commonly touched surfaces, such as doorknobs, railings, tabletops, and keyboards are being disinfected.
University officials are asking that if anyone sees an area that needs cleaning they call the University Facilities Customer Service line at 273-4567 24 hours a day. In addition, students are asked to wash clothing or bedding that has been exposed to the virus with a hot water wash and high temperature drying cycle. Norovirus can live for weeks on solid surfaces.
The best way to prevent the spread of this virus is to wash hands frequently using soap and water. Hand sanitizers are not as effective against norovirus. Do not share food or beverages with anyone. Assume that all vomit contains norovirus. If anyone is sick with these symptoms, they should wait 48 hours after the symptoms have ended before going out in public.

CDC: We Need Bacterial Cultures to Catch Foodborne Outbreaks
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/cdc-we-need-bacterial-cultures-to-catch-foodborne-outbreaks/#.VxWPgE7yWUk
By Andy Weisbecker (Apr 17, 2016)
Changes in the tests that diagnose foodborne illness are helping identify infections faster but could soon pose challenges to finding outbreaks and monitoring progress toward preventing foodborne disease, according to a report published today in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Week Report.
Culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs) help doctors diagnose infections quickly because they provide results in hours instead of the days needed for traditional culture methods, which require growing bacteria to determine the cause of illness. But without a bacterial culture, public health officials cannot get the detailed information about the bacteria needed to help find outbreaks, check for antibiotic resistance, and track foodborne disease trends.
In 2015, the percentage of foodborne infections diagnosed only by CIDT was about double compared with the percentage in 2012-2014.
“Foodborne infections continue to be an important public health problem in the United States,” said Robert Tauxe, M.D., M.P.H, director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “We are working with partners to make sure we still get important information about harmful bacteria despite the increasing use of diagnostic tests that don’t require a culture.”
The increased use of CIDT could affect public health officials’ ability to monitor trends and detect outbreaks. In the short term, clinical laboratories should work with their public health laboratories to make sure a culture is done whenever a CIDT indicates that someone with diarrheal illness has a bacterial infection. For a long-term solution, CDC is working with partners to develop advanced testing methods that, without culture, will give health care providers information to diagnose illness and also give the detailed information that public health officials need to detect and investigate outbreaks.
Limited progress in reducing foodborne illness
The report included the most recent data from CDC’s Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network, or FoodNet. It summarizes preliminary 2015 data on nine germs spread commonly through food. Overall, progress in reducing rates of foodborne illnesses has been limited since 2012, according to the report. The most frequent causes of infection in 2015 were Salmonella and Campylobacter, which is consistent with previous years.
Other key findings from the FoodNet report include:
•The incidence of Salmonella Typhimurium infection, often linked to poultry and beef, decreased 15 percent from 2012-2014 levels. •This decline may be due in part to tighter regulatory standards and vaccination of chicken flocks against Salmonella.
•The incidence of some infections increased: •Reported Cryptosporidium infections increased 57 percent since 2012-2014, likely due to increased testing for this pathogen.
•Reported non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) infections increased 40 percent since 2012-2014. Quicker and easier testing likely accounted for some or all of this increase.
FoodNet has been monitoring illness trends since 1996. FoodNet provides a foundation for food safety policy and prevention efforts because surveillance data can tell us where prevention efforts are needed to reduce foodborne illnesses.
CDC is working with federal, state, and local partners, and the food industry to improve food safety. New regulations and continuing industry efforts are focusing on challenging areas. USDA has made improvements in its poultry inspection and testing models and has tightened standards for both Salmonellaand Campylobacter in poultry.
“In 2013, we launched a series of targeted efforts to address Salmonella in meat and poultry products, known as the Salmonella Action Plan, and recent data show that since then the incidence of Salmonella Typhimurium infection has dropped by 15 percent,” said USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety, Al Almanza. “However our work is not done. The newly published performance standards for poultry parts will lead to further Salmonellareductions and fewer foodborne illnesses.”
In 2015, FDA published new rules to improve the safety of the food supply including produce, processed foods, and imported foods.
Dr. Kathleen Gensheimer, MD, MPH, director of the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation team and Chief Medical Officer, Foods and Veterinary Medicine Program, said, “We want to respond quickly to foodborne illness, but our true goal is to move forward with preventive measures that will be implemented from farm to table. In addition to collaboration with other government agencies at the local, state and federal level, the rules we are implementing under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act will help the food industry minimize the risk of contamination to our food supply.”


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Hepatitis outbreak linked to frozen organic fruit sold at Costco
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/hepatitis-outbreak-linked-to-frozen-organic-fruit-sold-at-costco/#.VxWSfE7yWUl
By Coral Beach (Apr 16, 2016)
Canadian officials have linked an ongoing Hepatitis A outbreak to a frozen organic fruit blend of berries and cherries sold exclusively at Costco stores.
Nature’s Touch is recalling its “Organic Berry Cherry Blend” because of the outbreak. Canadian health officials are particularly concerned that consumers may have the product, which has a “Best Before” date of March 15, 2018, in their homes.
As of noon today Costco did not have the recall listed on its website. It is not known if the recalled Nature’s Touch frozen organic fruit was distributed in the United States.
“Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased. Food contaminated with Hepatitis A virus may not look or smell spoiled,” according to a recall notice posted by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
“This recall was triggered by findings of the CFIA during the investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak.”

The recalled product can be identified by the following label information:
•Nature’s Touch brand Organic Berry Cherry Blend
•1.5 kg (3.3 lb)
•Best Before dates up to and including 2018 MR 15
•UPC 8 73668 00179 1
Costco stores in Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador received the recalled frozen fruit. Distribution dates were not provided in the recall notice.
As of Friday, the Public Health Agency of Canada reported 12 people as confirmed with Hepatitis A. Three people have required hospitalization. There are nine cases in Ontario, two in Quebec and one in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Individuals became sick in February and March of this year. Some of the individuals who became ill have reported eating the recalled product,” the public health agency reported Friday when it warned consumers to not eat the recalled Nature’s Touch frozen organic fruit.
“If you are unsure whether a frozen fruit product you have in your home is part of the food recall warning, do not consume it. Secure the product in a plastic bag, throw it out and wash your hands with warm soapy water.”
Onset of symptoms usually begins 15 to 50 days after exposure to Hepatitis A, according to the recall and public health warning. Hepatitis A can cause inflammation of the liver in some cases.
 “Hepatitis A can range in severity from a mild illness lasting a few weeks to a severe illness lasting several months. You can get the Hepatitis A virus by eating contaminated food or water or through contact with an infected person’s stool,” the public health agency reported.
“If you suspect you have been exposed to the recalled product, or have symptoms consistent for Hepatitis A, see your health care provider immediately. Vaccination can prevent the onset of symptoms if given within two weeks of exposure.”
Some people infected with Hepatitis A do not develop symptoms, but they can spread the infection to others.
Symptoms include:
•fever;
•loss of appetite;
•stomach cramps;
•jaundice — yellowing of the skin and eyes;
•dark urine; and
•fatigue.
The illness usually lasts one to two weeks. Although severe cases can last several months, most people recover without treatment.

New Food Poisoning Tests Fast But Lack Detail Needed to Track Outbreaks
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/new-food-poisoning-tests-fast-but-lack-detail-needed-to-track-outbreaks/
By Carla Gillespie (Apr 15, 2016)
New food poisoning tests give faster results than old ones but don’t provide the level of detail necessary to track outbreaks, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency is advising health labs to  do the old tests whenever the a new one indicates a foodborne bacterial infection. Over the long-term,  the CDC is working with partners to develop better testing methods that can provide results that are fast and detailed.
The new tests, called culture-independent diagnostic tests (CIDTs), can provide results in hours instead of the days needed for traditional culture tests which grow bacteria from stool samples to determine the cause of illness. The culture tests provide detailed information about the specific strain of bacteria. This information is key to solving outbreaks.
When patients with matching strains of a bacteria start pooping up, health officials can look at food histories and common exposures to narrow down the likely source.  Without the specific strain information, people know they have a Salmonella/E. coli/Listeria infection but there is no way thread to connect them to the food that made them sick.
In 2015, the percentage of foodborne infections diagnosed only by CIDT was about double compared with the percentage in 2012-2014, according to the CDC.  “Foodborne infections continue to be an important public health problem in the United States,” said Robert Tauxe, director of CDC’s Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases. “We are working with partners to make sure we still get important information about harmful bacteria despite the increasing use of diagnostic tests that don’t require a culture.”

Small plus local doesn’t equal a free pass on food safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/small-plus-local-doesnt-equal-a-free-pass-on-food-safety/#.VxQ0pE7yWUl
By Cookson Beecher (Apr 15, 2016)
There’s a revolution going on in a grocery store near you. Fueled by consumer demand, it has been dubbed the “fresh revolution” by industry heavyweights such as the United Fresh Produce Association. It’s all about fresh produce — fruits and vegetables that nutritionists are praising as “healthy foods” and that shoppers are increasingly seeking out.
“The exploding world of fresh foods at retail,” is the way United Fresh describes it in a news release about its annual conference and trade show set for June 20-22 in Chicago.
That’s good news for many small- and medium-sized farms simply because of their proximity to stores and restaurants in their areas. They can offer fresher produce to those businesses because it doesn’t have to be transported long distances. Generally, the closer the source, the fresher the food.
But there’s more to it than food miles. Retailers want food not only to be of the highest quality, but also to be free of foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Listeria and Salmonella. They can’t risk their reputation by buying produce from a farm, regardless of size, just because it’s close by.
The numbers serve as a wake-up call. More than 70 percent of U.S. consumers are concerned about food safety, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation’s 2014 Food and Health Survey. And 40 percent switched their choices of food based on food safety issues.
Numbers also show the depth of the challenge for produce growers and shippers. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that produce is the leading cause of food-related illnesses and attributes 46 percent of food contamination problems in the U.S. to produce.
Clearly, small- and medium-scale farmers who want to achieve wholesale success have their work cut out for them.
A variety of sources of information and training geared specifically to small- and mid-sized farms is available. That availability is expected to increase now that the Food and Drug Administration has published final rules for produce and other foods, as mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act.
One recent example of the training sessions designed for smaller operations was “Wholesale Success: Post Harvest Handling & Food Safety,” presented by organic farmer and food safety trainer Atina Diffley and FamilyFarmed. The event earlier this month at the research center at Washington State University in Mount Vernon was one of a series of workshops scheduled in 29 cities.
A grant from the U.S.Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency is helping to pay for the workshops.
Down to earth … literally
As a Midwest farmer, Diffley knows her way around the agricultural block, including planting, harvesting, packing and selling from her personal experiences in Minnesota. Her goal is to share what she has learned about food safety with small- and mid-sized farmers in a practical way that’s relevant to their own farms. An important part of the equation is profitability, she said.
“You’re competing with the bigger farms,” she told the farmers attending her workshop. “You’ve got to come up with a way to stay in business.”
In describing the training she provides, Diffley said how farmers handle their products affects the food’s safety and therefore their relationships with buyers, who increasingly expect farmers to be proactive.
Pointing to the pride in ownership that farmers have in the food they produce, Diffley said that farmers need to keep in mind “it isn’t only our food,” but that they’re food handlers growing someone else’s food.
 “No matter what size the farm or its financial position, food safety must be attended to,” Diffley said.
The good news is that having a “food safety mindset” doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hire extra staff or buy expensive state-of-the-art equipment. Keep it, “scale appropriate” and “cost-effective” was Diffley’s first-hand advice.
Make a habit of record-keeping
Food safety shouldn’t be thought of as a separate job, said Diffley, but something to be integrated into the farm’s day-to-day activities. For example, no need to keep separate duplicate records for food safety; they can be part of a farm’s overall records.
A practical application of that concept would be to use a crop progress check as an opportunity to document food safety efforts. During a trip to a field to check on how soon and how large harvest will be, a farmer can add food safety items to the field checklist, such as checking for animal activity among the produce and documenting action taken.
Should there be a signs such as animal droppings or bird nests, the farmer can pull out some red flags and pop them in the soil 5 feet in every direction from the activity. That lets field pickers know not to harvest produce that may have been contaminated.
Another strategy Diffley recommends combines work organization, staff communication and accountability, and record keeping. White boards, for example, can be used in work areas to communicate with employees and track daily activities. As workers complete tasks, they add information. The main categories can be marked on the boards with permanent marker, whereas the daily information in the columns can be entered with an erasable marker.
At the end of the day when the columns have been filled in, the farmer or farm manager can take digital photos of the white boards and download them into dated files that can be referred to in case there’s a problem with food safety. A swipe of the eraser, and the boards and their headers are ready for the next day.
And, yes, record keeping is essential. In fact, Diffley refers to record keeping as the most profitable activity on a farm. And for good reason. Many good reasons, actually.
To begin with, many of the records farmers keep help them make good decisions about all sorts of activities on the farm, during the current season and future seasons. And when it comes to food safety, those records will provide valuable information in the event a farm’s food is linked to a foodborne illness.
In short, says Diffley, “record keeping must be a habit.” But, she stressed, it doesn’t have to be a headache.
Keep it practical
Diffley provided workshop attendees with straightforward templates to use when designing their own Harvest, Postharvest, Transportation and Equipment, and Sanitation Action Plan.
Complete with columns, the templates’ headers use easy-to-understand phrases instead of government jargon to document food safety activities such as:
•“What policies are being followed to reduce risk”
•“How this is done”
•“Who’s required to do this”
•“When is it done”
•“When training is done”
•“Who, When and What records are kept for these actions”
The templates are based on good agricultural practices (GAPs) and the Food Safety Modernization Act’s Produce Rule. They can be downloaded to help growers develop a food safety system and implementation action plan.
“There are no rules requiring specific formats for food safety plans,” Diffley said. “The important thing is that plans are relevant to your farm and that they are implemented. Use a system that works for you.”
Diffley said the templates can be used to create final Food Safety Action Plans or to as pre-work for the FamilyFarmed food safety question tree.
The On-Farm Food Safety Plan Tool, developed by FamilyFarmed.org, is a free, web-based resource for developing a farm’s Food Safety Plan. Such plans must be specific to each individual farm. This tool takes farmers through a series of questions, collects information and generates a customized on-farm Food Safety Plan based on user input.
The tool is designed for use by small- to mid-scale growers, is available in Spanish and English, and includes a full set of record keeping tools to document food safety programs. There is also a sample plan to review for ideas.
As for legal challenges pertaining to food safety, Diffley shared this warning:
“If your actions aren’t documented there’s no way to verify that you’ve done them. And if you have a product liability policy and you can’t prove you weren’t negligent, the insurance company might not be able to insure your product. Also, food-safety auditors require record keeping that documents you’ve done what your plan says you will do.”
Another thing for farmers to keep in mind is that one of the tools of the Food Safety Modernization Act is expanded access to farmers’ records.
Washing produce: Keep it safe
Diffley dove into the issue of water use on farms, starting with the quality of the water that should be used to clean veggies and fruits, as required by the Food Safety Modernization Act. Pure and simple, it needs to be very clean. “Potable” is the word for it.
More specifically, water used for cleaning produce must have no detectable generic E. coli per 100 mL sample. In addition to direct contact with produce that is covered under the Food Safety Modernization Act, which for the most part is produce that will be eaten raw, the rule also applies to water coming into contact with surfaces after harvest, water used to make ice, and water used for hand washing after harvest. Untreated surface water may not be used for any of these purposes.
Production systems that keep the crop as clean as possible during growing and harvesting are part of a strategic system, Diffley said.
“Research shows that once pathogens are on produce it can be impossible to wash them off,” she said. “The best practice is to prevent contamination.”
“Keep it clean in the fields,” she said, pointing to an example of growing a living mulch of millet between rows of strawberries to reduce the berries’ exposure to the soil.
For some crops such as tomatoes, trellising to keep them off the soil and harvesting them when they’re dry can be effective and can help farmers minimize the need to wash them.
“You need to manage cut produce surfaces contacting soil and water on your farm,” she said. “Farmers are so comfortable with soil — it can be a new concept to think of the soil the food grows in as a potential source of contamination.
“It helps to remember that while produce is being grown there are not generally cut cells. Then at harvest, that changes and it becomes easier for pathogen microbes to enter or adhere to the produce.”
Diffley said farming operations of all sizes are moving away from using dunk tanks.
“Wash systems need to be evaluated for food safety,” she said. “Dunk tanks can be one of the most risky practices on farms.”
For farmers currently using dunk tanks, she suggested they think through the “why” of the dunk-tank process.
“People used dunk tanks to clean, cool, and/or crisp fresh produce,” she said. “Systems to accomplish these goals without dunking can be (used).”
Especially risky are produce crops that are “very dirty” such as root crops. They shouldn’t be washed in dunk tanks, simply because there’s too much dirt on them. “It’s too high risk,” she said.
There are other options, for example a spray-washing table or a rotating barrel-washer.
Diffley recognizes that some growers still use dunk tanks. “Before putting food in a dunk tank, get the majority of the soil off,” she said, pointing out that any dirt or unwanted matter on the produce can transfer into the water and cross contaminate with pathogens. “Most of the cleaning should be done before the crop is put into the dunk tank.”
She also said that while research on triple washing cut greens has shown it does a good job of cleaning them, it should not be interpreted to mean that pathogens can be washed off of the greens. Immersing greens in water can be a high-risk activity. If one leaf is contaminated, the water can carry pathogens to other leaves, or be imbibed internally.
And she reminded the farmers that anyone washing the produce should be wearing clean clothing, or if they’re coming in from the field, aprons over their work clothes. And they must have washed their hands with clean water.
While it’s important to use a water sanitizer, Diffley told the group that it’s also important to keep in mind that “you’re treating the water not the food.”
When talking about sanitizers, she said that hydrogen peroxide based formulations have some benefits that chlorine doesn’t. For example, it leaves no taste residue, there’s no need to test the pH of the water, it can be effective longer than chlorine, and can be less affected by organic matter.  Also, they may provide the benefit of managing decay organisms. Some formulations such as Sandiate 5.0 and StorOx 2.0 are approved by the National Organic Program.
Farmers using chlorine, which Diffley said is harder on equipment than hydrogen peroxide based products, can find helpful information on the University of California-Davis food safety website.
As for water temperature management, Diffley has links on her website to crop specific research and guidelines for water use with cantaloupes, tomatoes and mangoes.
Cooling produce: Keep it safe
“Immediately removing field heat is key to maximizing shelf life,” Diffley said. “Farmers need to cool produce to ideal storage temperature.”
The need to quickly cool produce to storage temperatures can be reduced by harvesting in early morning to minimize field heat. Produce can be cooled in forced air coolers or by using portable cold vehicles in the field. If produce is cooled quickly, moisture levels can be managed at the production stage and maintained after harvest by slowing respiration with quick cooling and with humidity management.
Simply placing produce into a cold storage room is generally too slow for high-respiration crops with field heat in them, which is why many farms use forced-air systems for quick cooling.
“In a forced air system you’re pulling out the heat, rather than blowing cold air in,” Diffley said.
Before forced-air technology, many wholesale requirements called for packing certain crops in ice, which caused food safety issues. However, ice can be useful to small farms that often lack refrigerated delivery vehicles or sell in settings without electrified cold displays, such as farmers markets.
“Ice can make a really big difference in keeping produce fresh,” she said. “Ice machines are expensive new, but can often be found used at bargain prices.”
Water used to make ice must be potable, and the machine and scoop needs to be washed and sanitized.
“You want to be sure you address food safety right from the start,” she said, pointing out that you don’t want to stack iced produce where it can drip down on other produce.
Storage and transportation
If you don’t have a refrigerated delivery vehicle, at a minimum, insulate your vehicle, advised Diffley. If produce is cooled before loading and covered with clean and sanitary insulating material, vehicles are insulated, and delivery times are scheduled during the cool of the day, delivery can be made without produce warming up excessively.
Whatever system is used, said Diffley, temperatures readings should be documented for different parts of coolers and vehicles. Automatic digital data recorders are available for about $30.
How to prevent back flow
Diffley emphasized the importance of preventing contaminated water from back flowing into wells from dunk tanks or chemical tanks.
 “Hose ends should not be inserted into the water in dunk tanks or chemical spray tanks,” she said. “Garden hoses can harbor and breed bacteria. Every single faucet should have a back-flow preventer.”
She urges farmers putting in new systems to install back-flow preventers in line between hydrants and wells.
Co-management of food safety and conservation practices
Diffley said food safety requirements and conservation practices are not mutually exclusive. She pointed out that the Produce Rule does not require farms to exclude wildlife from outdoor growing areas, to destroy wildlife habitat, or to clear borders around growing or drainage areas.
Even so, because wild life could create food safety risks, measures should be taken to minimize wildlife incursions into growing fields. However, removing conservation habitat can be not only environmentally damaging, it can increase food safety risks.
“There can be many food safety benefits to co-management,” she said.
UC-Davis researchers, for example, found that wetlands or several meters of grass can filter up to 99 percent of E coli during rain events. Other research includes a study pointing to the importance of biological diversity — a reduction in rodent species diversity may cause increased pathogen prevalence in the individuals that remain, and biodiversity loss frequently increases disease transmission.
Diffley said farmers should map the sources of potential contamination and then identify how pathogens can be moved on to produce, such as in water or with wind, or on equipment or people. She also discussed the impact of sunlight and UV light on microbe survival and reproduction.
Using Wild Farm Alliance materials can help farmers co-manage to minimize the chance that their produce could get contaminated while protecting natural resources and habitats.
Farmers’ comments
Susan Schuh, co-owner with her husband Steve of Schuh Farms, a 300-acre farm near Mount Vernon, WA, said she attended Diffley’s training session because the safety of her produce has always been important to her.
“We don’t want to get people sick,” she said. “We know we have to be careful about it. I’m here so I can learn more about it and write a food safety plan.”
Although the farm uses city water, which is potable, she said she was surprised to learn that washing produce can pose a problem.
Rob Smith, operations director of Viva Farms near Burlington, WA, said that food safety is an important part of doing business as a farm.
“It’s gone from the realm that a farm probably should do a food safety plan to that a farm definitely needs to,” he said. “That’s a big shift.”
Matthew Aamot, who currently works with Growing Washington, a farming operation that will be doing some wholesaling, is also starting his own farm, Kickerville Community Farm, in northwest Washington.
“Food safety is truly more important than it ever has been,” he said.
“You don’t want to comply with the law at the last minute. What we do now is important so that we’re ready. Ships don’t turn on a dime.”

The truth about mayonnaise and food safety
Source : http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2016/04/14/truth-about-mayonnaise-and-food-safety/
By David Tamarkin (Apr 14, 2016)
Of all the anxieties surrounding taking work to lunch—and there are plenty, from what to carry said lunch in, to making sure said lunch isn't stolen—perhaps none is as nagging as the anxiety around mayonnaise.
In short, people seem convinced that, if left at room temperature for even a short period of time, the mayonnaise on their sandwich will sprout all sorts of bacterial growths—growths that will cause illness, financial ruin, and all sorts of other tragedies.
Like so much other drama, it's unnecessary.
A seminal study from 2000 took a look at the fragility of mayonnaise and set the record straight: "Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, E. coli, L. monocytogenes, Staphylococcus aureus, and Yersinia enterocolitica die when inoculated into mayonnaise and dressings."
To put it just as plainly, but in layman's terms, store-bought mayonnaise contains enough acid (from vinegar or lemon juice) to not only kill food-borne pathogens, but also to prevent them from forming.
What this means is that the angst around an egg salad sandwich—that is, the fear of letting the sandwich sit out for an hour or two at room temperature because the mayo might spoil—is actually backwards.
If anything, the mayonnaise is preventing microbial growth. The eggs (and turkey, and sliced ham) would be more dangerous without it.
Get the real deal with mayo direct from food safety experts.

Ireland Food-Safety Study Shows Low Risks from Contaminants
Source : http://www.naturalproductsinsider.com/blogs/insider-law/2016/04/ireland-food-safety-study-shows-low-risks-from-co.aspx
By Josh Long  (Apr 14, 2016)
The people of Ireland generally are not at risk of harm from certain contaminants found in foods, a study divulged last month.
The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) said it analyzed 147 foods and beverages that were representative of the normal diet and consumed by the population from 2012 through 2014. The agency discovered that the population’s exposure to a number of chemicals, such as aluminum and chromium, fell below the amounts that can be consumed without an appreciable risk to health.
“Overall, the results show that the Irish population is generally not at risk from the chemical contaminants analyzed in the diet," FSAI announced in a March 15 news release. “However, in line with international findings, potential concern is identified in relation to exposure to acrylamide (a chemical formed during the frying, roasting or baking of a variety of foods); aflatoxins (natural chemicals produced by certain fungi); and, to a lesser degree, lead."
“These findings are not specific to Ireland; rather, they are of concern worldwide," the agency added.
FSAI cited continuous efforts in Ireland and internationally to reduce exposure to chemical contaminants, including review of legislation and using best practices in agriculture and food manufacturing.
Chemicals analyzed in the Total Diet Study included contaminant metals: aluminium, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead, mercury and tin; essential nutrients: iodine and selenium; food additives: nitrates and nitrites; food contaminants: acrylamide, mycotoxins, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs); pesticide residues; and bisphenol A and phthalates, which FSAI said are present in some food contact materials.

Confusing Recalls of Pictsweet Frozen Veggies for Listeria
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/confusing-recalls-of-pictsweet-frozen-veggies-for-listeria/
By Linda Larsen (Apr 14, 2016)
Pictsweet frozen vegetables have been recalled for possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recall has not been posted on the FDA recall page, but different grocers have listed the recall on their web sites. Pictsweet also does not have any information on its web site. And, in a troubling development, many different grocery store chains have posted different UPC numbers and “best by” dates for the same recalled product. Some stores recall only one of the products; others recall two or more different products. Pictsweet has alerted these retailers about the recall.
Schnucks is the only chain that has stated that the recall was triggered for chopped onions from Oregon Potato Company (doing business as “Freeze Pack”) that may be contaminated with the pathogenic bacteria.,  Schucks was also the first chain to announce the recall, for “Steamables Spring Vegetables” and “Seasoning Blend.” Oregon Potato Company does not have any information about the recall on its web site either.
Please read this information carefully, because the UPC numbers, best by dates, and even recalled products are different store by store.
The Schnucks recall is for two products. Pictsweet Steamables Seasoned Summer Vegetables, sold in 10 ounce packages with the UPC 7056097826 and best by date of 03/19/2018 is recalled. Also recalled is Pictsweet Seasoning Blend in 12 ounce packages with the UPC number 7056096902 and best by date of 4/2/2018.
Giants and Martin’s website state that Pictsweet Steamables Seasoned Summer Vegetables in 10 ounce packages sold in their stores is recalled. That product has UPC number of 7056098001 and best by date of 03/28/16. They then state that “out of an abundance of caution” all product code dates are being recalled.
Wegmans has posted a recall as well. They are recalling the Pictsweet Seasoning Blend in 10 ounce packages, with UPC number 07056096902, but with lot code 0906BT and “best by” date of 3/30/2018. That chain is also recalling Pictsweet Chopped Onions in 10 ounce packages with UPC number 07056096609. The product codes and best by dates for the recalled onions are 0906BA best by 03/30/2018, 0826BB best by 03/22/2018, 0826BC best by 03/22/2018, and 0906BA best by 03/30/2018.
Tops Markets is recalling Pictsweet Steam Spring Vegetable in 10 ounce packages, with UPC number 7056097826, with code dates 3/18/18 and 3/30/18. That chain is also recalling Pictsweet Steamables Seasoned Summer Vegetables in 10 ounce packages, with UPC number 7056098001 and code date 3/28/18.
Stop & Shop is recalling Pictsweet Steamables Seasoned Summer Vegetables in 10 ounce packages. The UPC number for that product is 7056098001, and all date codes are recalled out of an abundance of caution, even though the only product affected has a best by date of 3/28/2016.
FoodLion has posted a recall notice stating that “these items are sold in Food Lion DC10 stores ONLY.” They are recalling Pictsweet Steamers Spring Vegetables in 10 ounce packages, with UPC number 07056097826. Also recalled is Pictsweet Steam’ables Seasoned Summer Vegetables in 10 ounce packages with UPC number 07056098001. No best by date is mentioned for either product.
If you purchased any of these recalled products, do not eat them. Even if you cook them, because these are microwave products, there could be cold spots in the products that contain live bacteria.Throw them away in a sealed container so other people and animals can’t either them either, or return them to the place of purchase for a full refund. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling these products.
Then clean out your refrigerator and/or freezer with a mild bleach solution to kill any remaining bacteria. Listeria monocytogenes can grow at refrigerator temperatures, and freezing will not kill it.
If you ate any of these recalled products, monitor yourself for the symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning for the next 70 days. Those symptoms include flu-like illness, with fever, muscle aches, headache, loss of balance, confusion, upset stomach, or diarrhea. Pregnant women may only have a mild illness, but listeriosis can cause miscarriage, premature labor, stillbirth, and infection in the newborn baby.

USDA worries about high number of imported seafood shipment rejections
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-policy-regulation/usda-worries-about-high-number-of-imported-seafood-shipment-rejections/#.VxQ1Xk7yWUl
By Patti Waller ( Apr 13, 2016)
A new USDA analysis of the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) import refusals report reveals that from 2005 to 2013 the FDA rejected nearly 18,000 imported seafood shipments because they were unfit for human consumption.
According to the FDA, these shipments were refused entry into the United States for containing unsafe levels of “filth,” veterinary drug residues and Salmonella, which is responsible for thousand hospitalizations per year and hundreds of deaths. “Filth” is a catchall term used to describe anything that shouldn’t be in food—like rat feces, parasites, illegal antibiotics and glass shards.
The USDA summarized their findings by saying: “The safety of imported seafood clearly continues to be of significant concern, based on the number of shipments refused by FDA.”
Currently, the majority of all food refusals are seafood products; while the FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of any food imported from foreign countries, they only have the manpower to inspect less than 1 per cent of the 1.2 billion pounds of shrimp entering into the country each year.
The American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA), a group representing the US Gulf and Southeast Atlantic Coast shrimp fishing industry, has expressed great concern over the findings.
ASPA President Dr. David Veal pointed out: “This issue goes beyond the FDA; I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect food suppliers to take some responsibility for the health and safety of their products. We hope shrimp exporters will take a more proactive role in assuring that suppliers adhere to laws designed to protect the people who buy their products.”
Shrimp is the most popular seafood in the United States, with the average person consuming more than four pounds of shrimp per year. Worryingly, 90 per cent, or 3.6 of those pounds, will be imports from countries like China, Indonesia and Thailand, who routinely distribute shrimp that the FDA ends up refusing.
According to the report, Indonesia and Thailand account for about a fifth of shrimp refusals, and they are also two of the largest exporters of shrimp to the United States.
Moreover, while the report contains information through 2013, in more recent years other countries like India have greatly increased the amount of shrimp they export; in 2015, 297 million pounds of Indian shrimp was turned away.
While information is unavailable on the total number of FDA seafood inspections performed yearly, it is safe to assume that with the extremely low rates of inspection, Americans are consuming imported shrimp that is fundamentally unfit for consumption.
Given the above, ASDA encourages Americans to purchase wild-caught domestic shrimp, which has demonstrably fewer bacterial and chemical contaminants, and is an important historic industry supporting millions of jobs in the country.

Feds say you’ll be fine as long as you rinse those strawberries
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/rinse-those-strawberries-under-cold-water-then-fight-about-pesticides/#.VxQ2vU7yWUl
By Dan Flynn (Apr 13, 2016)
Momma probably already told you to wash the strawberries. But did she say why?
It’s that time year when advice from an environmental group goes up against messages from fruit and vegetable growers who produce, with the help of some pesticides, $60 billion in crops annually.
U.S farmers grow more than 350 types of fruit, vegetable, tree nut, flower, nursery and other horticultural crops. From these, the Washington, D.C -based Environmental Working Group (EWG) with annual revenues north of $7 million, has for the past couple decades annually come out with its Dirty Dozen list to warn consumers about what produce has the most pesticide residue.
But with increasing effectiveness, the produce lobby has gotten out ahead the annual Dirty Dozen release to point consumers to the original source data for the list, which is USDA’s Pesticide Data Program. It annually assures the public that “residues do not pose a safety concern.”
Strawberries top this year’s Dirty Dozen list, having come into the EWG’s sights because of multiple pesticides used during growing and residues from as many as 17 different pesticides showing up after harvest.
Strawberries toppled apples from the No.1 dirty slot this year, a move say EWG’s critics to replace one fruit popular with children with another to renew waning press attention to the Dirty Dozen list.
How much is too much?
The differences between the EWG and the produce industry all come down to how pesticide data is interpreted.
For Sonya Lunder, a senior analyst for the environmental organization, it is “startling” to see the levels of “hazardous pesticides” on strawberries. She warns that even “small doses of toxic chemicals” can harm young children.
But the Alliance for Food and Farming (AFF), representing both organic and conventional growers, points to findings by the University of California’s Personal Chemical Exposure program that show a child could eat 1,508 serving of strawberries a day and still not have any effect from the pesticide levels, which are considered safe by the USDA.
The Dirty Dozen list has come in for its share of criticism for scaring people away from fruits and vegetables. AFF points to research showing that decreasing consumption of fruits and vegetables can damage health. Food and Chemical Toxicology, for example, found if half of all Americans increased the fruit and vegetable consumption by a single serving per day, 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented annually.
EWG agrees that eating fruits and vegetables is important to human health. It has, for some years, published its “Clean 15” recommendations in addition to its Dirty Dozen list. Avocados top the Clean 15 list this year.
Regulation abounds
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for regulating pesticide use on food and determining when it presents an unreasonable risk to human health. EPA sets maximum pesticide residue levels known as “tolerances.”
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also has a role in determining which pesticides, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides many be used on which fruit and vegetable crops.
Finally, USDA through the Pesticide Data Program annually tests about 11,000 fresh and processed products. It is that data sparks the disagreement between the produce industry and the Environmental Working Group.
Oh, as for what Momma told you, FDA agrees. To reduce or eliminate pesticide residues from fresh fruits and vegetables, wash with cold water and use a brush lightly when appropriate. For lettuce and cabbage, remove and toss outer leaves, also.

Practical solutions to food safety problems take center stage
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/practical-solutions-to-food-safety-problems-take-center-stage/#.VxQ28k7yWUl
By Coral Beach (Apr 13, 2016)
No matter how advanced mapping apps become, they can’t tell you where to go unless you know where you are to begin with, just as those in the food supply chain must assess their operations before they can plan a route to a new food safety environment.
That new environment, mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and described in new rules from the Food and Drug Administration, is one of prevention rather than penalization. It promises reduced risks to consumers and business, according to the moderators of the keynote presentation at the upcoming 18th annual Food Safety Summit Conference & Expo.
“The new rules require people to evaluate their systems and establish control measures,” said Faye Feldstein, consultant and former director of the Office of Food Defense, Communication and Emergency Response for the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN).
She said the switch to a preventive approach means government inspectors will no longer solely focus on what’s wrong at a food operation during the snapshot in time when they visit a facility.
“They have switched from a ‘gotcha’ mentality to a ‘we’re all in this together to get it right’ mentality,” Feldstein said. “The relationship between regulators and industry is morphing to more supportive than adversarial.”
Feldstein’s co-moderator for the keynote event, Craig Henry of Decernis LLC, agreed. He also said documentation will be a huge part of reaching compliance under the new rules.
“One of the key factors in the preventive controls rule is that the documentation now required is much more substantial than anything the food industry has had to face,” said Henry, who is vice president of global business development in the Americas for Decernis.
“Inspectors will likely spend 50 percent of their time on documentation showing that (a facility’s) plan has been implemented and is being carried out. That should mean fewer recalls and foodborne outbreaks.”
Henry and Feldstein will discuss the new normal with a panel of experts representing government, food manufacturing companies, grocery retailers and the restaurant industry during the keynote presentation May 11 at the Food Safety Summit in Chicago. Discounted early registration and hotel rates expire Friday.
With the largest food companies required to comply with some of the new rules by this fall, Henry said the FDA is expected to begin reporting findings early in 2017. Many of those food producers, handlers, shippers, wholesalers and retailers have already assessed their operations and implemented tougher food safety protocols in anticipation of the new regulations.
Feldstein said firms that are ahead of the curve will share their insights during the keynote presentation and through out the three-day summit.
“We will be discussing really tangible, specific information about approaches, tools, solutions that these companies have tried,” Feldstein said. “They will share success stories and ambiguities they discovered while reviewing their operations and developing plans.”
As with other sessions at this year’s summit, attendees can help determine the content of the keynote presentation by visiting the Food Safety Summit website and submitting questions for the panel of industry and government experts.
The scheduled panelists for the keynote presentation are:
•Glenda Lewis, FDA director of retail food protection staff at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition;
•Scott Brooks, DVM, formerly Kraft Foods senior vice president of quality, food safety, scientific and regulatory affairs;
•Kathy Gombas, FDA senior advisor at the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition;
•Joan Menke-Schaenzer, McDonald’s Corp. vice president of Safety & Compliance, Global Supply Chain & Sustainability;
•Jay T. Mayr, Reser’s Fine Foods vice president of food safety and quality;
•Gillian Kelleher, Wegmans Food Markets vice president of food safety and quality assurance.
Food Safety News subscribers who attend the summit can receive 15 percent off registration costs by using the discount code FSNReader16 when they sign up to attend.

Food Safety Talk 99: Are you familiar with the Haugh Unit?
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/04/food-safety-talk-99-are-you-familiar-with-the-haugh-unit/
By Ben (Apr 13, 2016)
Food Safety Talk, a bi-weekly podcast for food safety nerds, by food safety nerds. The podcast is hosted by Ben Chapman and barfblog contributor Don Schaffner, Extension Specialist in Food Science and Professor at Rutgers University.  Every two weeks or so, Ben and Don get together virtually and talk for about an hour.
They talk about what’s on their minds or in the news regarding food safety, and popular culture. They strive to be relevant, funny and informative — sometimes they succeed.
Episode 99 can be found here and on iTunes.
Don and Ben talk pickles, puppies, Lord Stanley and his cup, the Internet, eggs, coffee, deli slicers and cuisine from around the world. After Dark turns into taxes safety talk.
Below are some links to some of the things that they talked about:
?Tassimo
?AeroPress
?Wee-Bey Brice
?Silentó – Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)
?John J. Guzewich
?Frederick Stanley, 16th Earl of Derby
?Basset Hound
?Starbucks Tumblers, Travel Mugs
?Haugh unit
?Howell Living History Farm
?Jasper Guy Woodroof (1900-1998)
?BRC Food Safety Americas > Home
?Carol Wallace University of Central Lancashire
?Food Safety Management MSc | postgraduate degree course | University of Central Lancashire
?Massive open online course
?British Retail Consortium
?Global Food Safety Initiative
?Food safety inspections results: A comparison of ethnic-operated restaurants to non-ethnic-operated restaurants
?Health department inspection criteria more likely to be associated with outbreak restaurants in Minnesota
?Retail Deli Slicer Cleaning Frequency — Six Selected Sites, United States, 2012 | MMWR
?Listeria monocytogenes and Listeria spp. Contamination Patterns in Retail Delicatessen Establishments in Three U.S. States
?EHS-Net reports retail deli slicers cleaning and sanitizing not up to guidance | barfblog
?Conference for Food Protection
?Dishwasher Detergent Soak Cleans Dishes Overnight

Shigella Outbreak Sickens 167 in Dubuque County, Iowa
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/shigella-outbreak-sickens-167-in-dubuque-county-iowa/
By Linda Larsen (Apr 13, 2016)
A Shigella outbreak that has sickened at least 167 people in Dubuque County, Iowa. The outbreak began in October 2015, but officials have just released information about it. The Dubuque County Health Department, the Dubuque County Board of Health, and the Iowa Department of Public Health are all investigating the outbreak.
Shigellosis is the illness caused by this pathogenic bacteria. Symptoms include diarrhea that may be painful, bloody or full of mucous, fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. The bacteria is very contagious and is easy spread through food and drink, and person-to-person. The illness usually begins one to three days after exposure to the bacteria. Some people may have GI problems for several months after this illness. Shigellosis can develop into reactive arthritis, Reiter’s syndrome, or hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) in rare cases.
People usually recover from shigellosis within four to seven days. But if the illness is severe or the person develops dehydration because of copious diarrhea, they may need to be hospitalized. The very young, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems or chronic health problems are more likely to experience complications with this illness.
Public health officials have not said what has caused this outbreak. It could be anything from contaminated food or beverages, or a person with the illness who prepared or served food to the public. The bacteria is spread through the fecal-oral route. In the past, outbreaks have been caused by infected food workers, feces or sewage in farm fields, and flies. Contaminated swimming pools have also been the source of Shigella outbreaks.
To prevent further spread of this outbreak, always wash your hands with soap and warm water for no less than 15 seconds after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper, and after caring for someone who is sick, especially with a diarrheal illness. Wash your hands well before, during, and after preparing food and before preparing food for others. If you are sick with a diarrheal illness, stay home from school, work, child care, and especially if you work in a food preparation or serving field.
Any food handlers, health care workers, and people working in the child care industry who have been diagnosed with this illness should have two consecutive negative stool cultures before returning to work. Children who have had this illness should have one negative stool culture before returning to a child care facility or school. If you have questions about this outbreak or about the illness, call Dubuque County Infection Control Specialists at 563-556-6200 or the Iowa Department of Public Health at 515-242-5935.

County Health: The goal is to improve food safety
Source : http://www.tucsonlocalmedia.com/northwest_chatter/article_2f8f5a0a-00d6-11e6-b886-d32facb2f446.html
By Dr. Francisco Garcia (April 12, 2016)
Last month, local food retail establishments and community members joined together with the Pima County Health Department to elevate food-handling practices through the adoption of the 2013 US Food and Drug Administration Food Codes.   
This community is blessed to have a wide variety of delicious culinary options to satisfy any craving.  Be it while we are attending the Tucson Meet Yourself event, enjoying a sit-down meal or gabbing a quick bite in the middle of busy day, the last thing anyone should need to worry about is if the food is safe to eat.
In addition to adopting the new codes, the Board of Supervisors also approved the implementation of a health code fee schedule. The new schedule provides a structure for health inspection services provided by the Health Department’s Consumer Health and Food Safety program to move from being funded by taxpayer dollars to being paid by the businesses who utilize the services.  It also supports a paperless system that is more responsive to our food vendors and establishments and reduces waiting periods between inspections.
This new fee schedule will be implemented gradually over a five-year period allowing our food vendors and establishments time to plan for pending fee increases. In the first year, fixed and mobile food establishments will not have a fee impact. After the first year, annual permit fees will increase by 25 percent and each year the percentage will go up until the fee matches the total cost recovery fee for the permit type.
In an effort to continue promoting health in our county, beginning in 2018, food vendors and establishments can offset some of the fees by as much as 25 percent by adopting some healthy incentive practices in their menu and food preparation process. For example, our food vendors and establishments will receive a discount if they have written procedures in place that include staff training and daily monitoring of risk factors, or take steps to eliminate trans fats in their food. Additional incentives include displaying caloric count for items listed on the menu and participating in the food bank assistance program.
These changes were not implemented without input from the community and our food industry leaders who are in support of these adopted fee and code modifications. Health Department staff held open public meetings and posted information and updates to the county website to gather feedback and concerns presented by the community. The approach being implemented is a result of these collaborations and focused intent to elevate food handling practices as well as strengthen efforts to reduce the chance of becoming ill after dining out.
Food is a big thing here in Pima County. I have many memories of celebrating life special moments over a delicious meal at one of our many local establishments. Knowing that food vendors and establishments maintain a strong partnership with the Health Department reassures me of their commitment to not only provide a delicious meal but to also take steps that protect our health and wellbeing.

Drug maker says FDA’s wrong about 40-year-old pig antibiotic
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/04/125296/#.VxQ3nE7yWUl
By News Desk (Apr 12, 2016)
Phibro Animal Health Corp. will “vigorously defend” the pork antibiotic known as carbadox and sold under its Mecadox brand, which the U.S Food and Drug Administration now wants remove from the market after 40 years of use.
FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) began the process for removing carbadox from the market with the publication on April 8 of a Notice of Opportunity for a Hearing. The Teaneck, NJ-based drug company responded already, requesting the hearing.
Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner, said the decision to remove carbadox from the marketplace is intended to reduce life-long human carcinogenic risks associated with consuming carbadox residues over time in pork liver or other pork products.
Pork liver is used to make liverwurst, hot dogs, lunchmeats and certain types of sausages. Carbadox is used to treat swine dysentery and enteritis. There are other approved medications to treat those conditions in swine, according to FDA.
“The manufacturer of carbadox has failed to provide sufficient scientific data to demonstrate the safety of this drug given evidence that carbadox may result in carcinogenic residues,” Taylor said when FDA announced its intent to join other countries in banning carbadox.
However, Taylor said, FDA is not recommending people make any changes in their near-term food choices because of the agency’s actions regarding carbadox.
Phibro Animal Health officials say carbadox is “highly effective treatment for controlling bacterial diseases and swine dysentery.”  The antibiotic is not for human use and the Mecadox label requires a 42-day withdrawal period before pigs that have received the drug can be taken to market.
The company says hazardous residues of carbadox have not been detected in pork and the drug has a four-decade safety record. Further, the company charges FDA’s move to ban the substance came before studies the agency recently demanded could be completed.
“Phibro has complete confidence in the safety of Mecadox,” a company statement says. “We are disappointed that the FDA would take this action, when definitive studies are so close to being completed.”
In defense of the FDA acton, Taylor pointed to the international Codex Almentarius Commission, which in July 2014 found there is no safe level of carbadox residues.
While the process goes forward, Phibro is free to sell its Mercadox branded carbadox in the U.S.

Hawaii Food Safety Data Is Now Online
Source : http://www.civilbeat.com/2016/04/hawaii-food-safety-data-is-now-online/
By Anita Hofschneider (Apr 11, 2016)
You can now look up restaurant food safety inspection results through an online tool created by the state Department of Health.
“We’re taking transparency to an entirely new level,” said Peter Oshiro, manager of the state’s food safety inspection program, in a press release. “Information from the inspection reports empowers consumers and informs their choices.”
Oshiro hopes improved transparency will motivate restaurants to improve their ratings. Currently they receive green, yellow or red placards depending on their inspection results.
“This should be a great catalyst for the industry to improve their food safety practices and make internal quality control a priority before our inspections,” he said.
The department said nearly 7,000 inspection reports are in the database, or about 80 percent of all the inspections completed since July 2014. The rest should be uploaded this year.

USDA Proposed Rule To Increase Animal-Handling Requirements of Organic Standards
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/usda-proposed-rule-to-increase-animal-handling-requirements-of-organic-standards/
By qualityassurancemag.com (Apr 11, 2016)
USDA is proposing to strengthen the organic livestock and poultry production requirements to ensure organic standards meet consumer expectations and maintain the integrity of the organic seal, said USDA AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer. The changes in the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Proposed Rule are based on recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board and incorporate years of public comment and suggestions by stakeholders.
USDA is proposing to strengthen the organic livestock and poultry production requirements to ensure organic standards meet consumer expectations and maintain the integrity of the organic seal, said USDA AMS Administrator Elanor Starmer. The changes in the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Proposed Rule are based on recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board and incorporate years of public comment and suggestions by stakeholders.
Designed to provide clear guidance for organic producers and handlers to provide for their animal’s welfare, major provisions include:
•Clarification of how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter. 
•Specification of physical alterations that are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production. 
•Establishment of minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.  
With the total U.S. retail market for organic products growing by 12 percent from 2014 to 2015 and now valued at more than $39 billion, the proposals would add specificity to the animal production and handling aspects of organic production. USDA has strengthened programs that support organic operations over the past seven years, helping to make organic certification more accessible, attainable, and affordable through a "Sound and Sensible" initiative which includes streamlining the certification process, focusing on enforcement, and working with farmers and processors to correct small issues before they become larger ones.
The proposed rule will be published soon in the Federal Register and is available to view now at www.ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices. Once it is published, written comment can be made at www.regulations.gov, or submitted by mail using the process outlined in the proposed rule, to Paul Lewis, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC  20250-0268. 
The National Organic Program, part of the Agricultural Marketing Service, is responsible for ensuring the integrity of organic agricultural products in the United States and throughout the world. More information is available at www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

Small Suppliers: Risk or Opportunity?
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/small-suppliers-risk-or-opportunity-april-2016/
By Jorge Hernandez (Apr 8, 2016)
Having responsibility for food safety and/or quality assurance at any food company is a rough and complex job, full of pressures and risks. Risks that start with your suppliers. After all, it is challenging, and often impossible, to make safe, quality products unless you start with safe, quality ingredients. Therefore, your relationship and the programs you develop with your suppliers are critical elements to the job’s success.
But the suppliers’ relationship can be challenging, and often contentious, as food safety and quality programs can impact the way the suppliers manufacture, verify, store, rotate, deliver, test, or document their programs. In fact, when a supplier doesn’t have strong food safety and quality programs, it is not unusual for that to impact their business and price models — something not usually appreciated by your own organization.
None of these supplier relationships can be more difficult and contentious than those with “small suppliers.” By small suppliers, I’m not necessarily referring to size (although many meet the FDA definition for “small” or “very small business”), but to suppliers that, in general, have a lack of understanding and appreciation for food safety and quality assurance. It is a lapse usually compounded by a lack of technical sophistication and a belief that their food is very safe, and food safety and quality requirements just add unwanted and unnecessary “costs” to the business.

It doesn’t help that many of these suppliers have very limited regulatory oversight and, in fact, some are actually exempt from many food safety regulations. To complicate matters, a good number of operators of these businesses are passionate and emotional about their products and become offended at the mere suggestion that they might not be safe or have the quality they believe they do.
On the business side, over the past few years, customers have been flocking to the locally made, sustainable, healthy, simple, natural, organic, “on-trend” products made by many of these small suppliers. This has caught the eye of the food industry, and many of these small suppliers are becoming known as the “innovators” of the business and the “darlings” of marketers. So it is no surprise that the food safety and quality folks are often compelled to work with the small suppliers and approve them “at all costs.”
MANAGING SMALL SUPPLIERS. Therefore, knowing how to manage small suppliers to ensure they don’t present a food safety or quality risk is essential. In the past, when I worked for large companies with significant pull, I managed small and large suppliers the same way, by focusing on my food safety and quality goals, and remarking that meeting a large company’s requirements would make them a better, more profitable supplier (something I was able to validate). However, this approach had limited success as the small suppliers required, for the most part, large amounts of my resources and attention for long periods of time, and most continuously rated on the higher risk tier of my program.
The only difference in risk between large and small suppliers is the approach we take with them.
I recently joined Wholesome International, an up-and-coming restaurant company with a strong small-supplier base. So I had the opportunity to work with a few small suppliers who are key to our brand. Without the leverage of my previous company, I decided to take an approach that focused on the product and the business first (unique characteristics, and why it is key to the brand and our mutual success). This approach allowed me to connect with the operators on an “emotional” level before we even discussed any food safety or quality. Once the connection was established, I discussed recent foodborne outbreaks and used examples of similar products and brands with problems that were featured in the media.
The conversations were open and honest, and only then did I share my concerns of safety, quality, traceability, and regulatory compliance for their products, promising them that I wouldn’t ask them to do or change anything until I was able to understand their processes and procedures. To my surprise, all the operators responded well to this approach; they were not only welcoming of my input and requirements but they helped me create workable solutions to issues such as source and lot level traceability (something that had eluded me before).
At this point, it is too early to determine if my approach with small suppliers will make them accept and implement my requirements, if they will provide safer, quality product consistently, or if they’ll be in the lower-risk tier of my program. However, I’m not only encouraged by the conversations to date, but I believe I may be able to find a simpler, better, more cost-effective process in areas such as source verification and traceability.
In the end, nobody wants to make people sick, so food safety and quality are essential to everyone in the food business. So, in my opinion, the only difference in risk between large and small suppliers is the approach we take with them. Small suppliers are different than large suppliers, have a different perspective and approach to the food. However, if we are able to approach them in a way that we connect with them, we can all benefit from their innovative perspectives, not only in food business but in food safety and quality.
Jorge Hernandez is Chief Food Safety Officer, Wholesome International.

Consumers Broaden the Definition of Food Safety
Source : http://www.qualityassurancemag.com/article/consumers-broaden-the-definition-of-food-safety/
By Jennifer McEntire (Apr 8, 2016)
If you ask a food safety professional to define food safety, you’d get a pretty concrete answer, which would likely include the identification of hazards, instances where hazards become risks, and the mechanisms to control those risks so that public health is not compromised. But ask the average consumer, and you get a very different answer, based on research by Deloitte, which surveyed over 5,000 U.S. consumers for a report, “Capitalizing on the Shifting Consumer Food Value Equation,” developed in collaboration with the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and GMA (http://bit.ly/1Pt6jSC).
EVOLVING DRIVERS. What attracts a consumer to a product? Taste, price, and convenience, right? Historically, the answer would be yes, but there are increasingly more factors that come into play when consumers make purchasing decisions. These “evolving drivers,” as termed by Deloitte, are equally prevalent in all types of consumers, regardless of age, income level, or region of the country. Now more than ever, consumers are considering other factors when making food choices. That is: health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience (between the consumer and retailer or brand), and transparency (an overarching driver).
The combined preference of consumers for these evolving drivers is almost equal to that for the traditional key factors of taste, price, and convenience.
Food safety professionals should be excited to see safety on the list. However, the consumer’s view of safety may be different—and broader—than how we typically define it in the food industry. When considering the scope of “safety,” consumers’ perception includes absence of allergens; fewer ingredients; and detailed, accurate labeling.
Where are hazards like Salmonella? The report notes that consumers remain concerned with the short-term, and long-term, impacts of food on their health, but their examples of these are “toxin free,” and “carcinogens,” respectively. This reinforces that a consumer’s view of food safety is quite different from our own. The report goes on to say that consumers intimately tie safety to health and wellness and supports the idea that consumers take much more holistic view of safety and health than ever before.
TRANSPARENCY BUILDS TRUST. Although food safety staff often are involved in conversations around traceability, it appears that, to consumers, transparency encompasses a broad range of information, accessible in a variety of formats. Still, for the food safety professional struggling to attain buy-in on traceability initiatives, this report may provide external substantiation of consumer desires for more information about food, including where it comes from. And this cannot be provided without the back-end infrastructure that supports solid traceability data, supply-chain wide.
Transparency helps build consumer trust and confidence. So does a good food safety record. Despite the fact that when consumers contemplate our record of safety, they may be looking at more than outbreaks and recalls, we must remain vigilant when it comes to our core food safety goals. Given that the report singles out allergens as an issue of concern to consumers, let’s critically examine the systems and technologies available to ensure the right product gets into the right package, and that the label is accurate.
On the pathogen side, now that science and technology have evolved to the point of relating single cases of illness to an environmental sample from years ago, the likelihood of relating an illness to a product is greater than ever before. There are several implications of this: consumers may perceive there is more foodborne illness today than before (although we know it’s really an increase in detection). And, importantly, when it surfaces that some contamination issues may have been longstanding, this may reduce consumer trust in commercial food systems. Given the accessibility of information and the speed with which news travels, it is imperative that we ensure our systems and processes continue to deliver the highest level of safety – however that may be defined.
RETAILERS ARE ALSO RESPONSIBLE. Fortunately for manufacturers, you are not alone on the food-safety journey. An FMI survey referenced in the report shows that 42% of shoppers rely on retailers to assume a greater food safety responsibility, which is substantially higher than the 25% who made that assertion in 2009. Additionally, in a Deloitte survey, when consumers indicated that they patronized retailers due to the retailer’s reputation or values, the top attribute cited was the retailer’s commitment to food safety (69%) – with that broader definition of safety to include health and wellness features.
As food safety professionals, we need to remain vigilant in our efforts to limit and control contamination in the food production environment and ensure that consumers don’t fall ill due to the foods they eat. Increasingly, however, we also need to be aware that consumers take a much broader view of food safety. With the consumers’ consideration of long-term consequences of diet; ingredients used in food formulation; and labeling, multi- and cross-disciplinary conversations within food companies could aid in developing a holistic approach for responding to consumer expectations.
The Deloitte report, released in January, calls on companies to broaden their definition of “safety” to manage and satisfy an expanded set of consumer expectations. That could mean new ways of working across functions because, in many cases, company units that are responsible for safety do not focus on broader health and wellness issues, but concentrate instead on their traditional definitions of food safety.
The author is GMA vice president, science operations.

 

 

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