FoodHACCP Newsletter



Food Safety Job Openings

05/20. QA Shelf Life Technologist – Salinas, CA
05/20. QA Food Tech, Food Safety - Pocatello, ID
05/20. Quality & Food Safety Technologist – IL
05/18. Quality Manager – Watertown, WI
05/18. Food Safety Specialist - Alexandria, VA
05/18. Food Safety Specialist – Beltsville, MD
05/17. Sanitation Team Leader - Portland, OR
05/16. Regional Dir Qual & Compliance - Irving, TX
05/16. Qual/Compliance Superv – Grand Rapids, MI
05/16. Quality & Food Safety Administrator - New York, NY

05/23 2016 ISSUE:705

Food safety experts urge backyard cooks to take precautions
Source : http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/22/food-safety-experts-urge-backyard-cooks-to-take-pr/
By Associated Press (May 22, 2016)
Memorial Day weekend marks the start of grilling season for many people, so food safety experts are encouraging backyard cooks to take proper precautions.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and ConAgra Foods recommend taking a few simple steps to help ensure food safety.
The academy’s Torey Armul says it’s important to wash hands before cooking, and keep raw meats and poultry separate from ready-to-eat foods.
It’s also important to bring a food thermometer to a cookout to ensure that everything has been cooked enough to kill harmful bacteria. That’s usually 165 degrees.
And perishable food and leftovers should be kept colder than 40 degrees.
Perishable food that sits out for over two hours at room temperature or over one hour above 90 degrees should be thrown out.

Watch the Internet for Salmonella Tainted Garden of Life RAW Meal
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/watch-the-internet-for-salmonella-tainted-garden-of-life-raw-meal/#.V0JYOk7yWUl
By Drew Falkenstein (May 21, 2016)
According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Salmonella has been confirmed in one person in Wisconsin likely associated with recalled Garden of Life RAW Meal. DATCP is collaborating with Wisconsin Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the latest illness, including tracing the source of the contaminated product. The product, an organic shake and meal replacement, was recalled earlier this year by the company, but consumers have acquired recalled product from internet retailers such as eBay and Amazon. Contaminated product may still be for sale from eBay, Amazon and other internet retailers.
Earlier, the CDC had announced the outbreak over after a total of 33 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow were reported from 23 states. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden of Life, LLC were the likely source of this outbreak.
On January 29, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC voluntarily recalled a limited quantity of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Virchow. The recalled products were available for purchase nationwide in many retail stores and online.
The Utah Public Health Laboratory and Oklahoma Public Health Laboratory isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow from open containers of Garden of Life RAW Meal collected from ill people’s homes in Utah and Oklahoma.  Both products that were tested were from lots covered under the recalls announced by Garden of Life, LLC.
FDA sampling confirmed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow in Organic Moringa Leaf powder used in RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal Replacement products. On February 12, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC issued an expanded recall of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai to include additional lots that contained the contaminated Organic Moringa Leaf powder.

Garden of Life RAW Meal Salmonella Outbreak Not Quite Over
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/05/garden-of-life-raw-meal-salmonella-outbreak-not-quite-over/#.V0JYYU7yWUl
By News Desk (May 21, 2016)
According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Salmonella has been confirmed in one person in Wisconsin likely associated with recalled Garden of Life RAW Meal. DATCP is collaborating with Wisconsin Department of Health and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to investigate the latest illness, including tracing the source of the contaminated product. The product, an organic shake and meal replacement, was recalled earlier this year by the company, but consumers have acquired recalled product from internet retailers such as eBay and Amazon. Contaminated product may still be for sale from eBay, Amazon and other internet retailers.
Earlier, the CDC had announced the outbreak over after a total of 33 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow were reported from 23 states. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence indicated that RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products made by Garden of Life, LLC were the likely source of this outbreak.
On January 29, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC voluntarily recalled a limited quantity of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai because they had the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella Virchow. The recalled products were available for purchase nationwide in many retail stores and online.
The Utah Public Health Laboratory and Oklahoma Public Health Laboratory isolated the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow from open containers of Garden of Life RAW Meal collected from ill people’s homes in Utah and Oklahoma.  Both products that were tested were from lots covered under the recalls announced by Garden of Life, LLC.
FDA sampling confirmed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Virchow in Organic Moringa Leaf powder used in RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal Replacement products. On February 12, 2016, Garden of Life, LLC issued an expanded recall of its RAW Meal Organic Shake & Meal products available in chocolate, original, vanilla, and vanilla chai to include additional lots that contained the contaminated Organic Moringa Leaf powder.
Salmonella is a life-threatening infection caused by eating food contaminated with the Salmonella bacteria. It is particularly dangerous to children younger than 5 years, adults over the age of 65, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons with Salmonella often experience diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever between 12 and 72 hours after infection. Anyone who believes they may have become ill with Salmonella should contact their health care provider immediately.

 

 

 

 

 


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Wonderful Pistachio Salmonella Outbreak Ends With 11 Sick
Source : http://www.naver.com/
By Carla Gillespie (May 20, 2016)
The Salmonella outbreak linked to Wonderful pistachios has ended after sickening 11 people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The pistachios were recalled on March 9, consumers who have purchased them should not eat them as Salmonella can cause serious illness.
Food Poisoning Bulletin alerted the agency to some discrepancies in a report earlier today and the agency is working to correct the information, so some specific information about the outbreak is not yet available.
We do know that state and federal health officials used DNA “fingerprinting” to identify 11 case patients. And that three cases reported from Alabama and Arizona initially included in the outbreak were ruled out,  while new ones, caused by a second strain of Salmonella, were added.
The map and graphic below were provided by the CDC to Food Poisoning Bulletin tonight. They reflect accurate information and differ from graphics that accompany the agency’s report online.
The two outbreak strains are Salmonella Montevideo and Salmonella Senftenberg. Cases were reported in Connecticut (1), Georgia(1), Maryland (1), Michigan (2), Minnesota (1), North Dakota (1) New York (1) Virginia (1) Washington (2). The most recent illness was reported March 25, 2016.
A lawsuit stemming was filed on behalf of a Minnesota man who developed a Salmonella infection after eating Wonderful brand pistachios.
According to the complaint, the man ate Wonderful pistachios in February and then became ill with symptoms of a Salmonella infection including stomach cramps and diarrhea. He saw a doctor and was diagnosed with a Salmonella Montevideo infection through tests on a stool sample.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection, which usually set in between six and 72 hours after exposure and last about a week, include nausea, fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea that can be bloody. Those at elevated risk of infection are children, seniors and people with compromised immune systems.
The recalled nuts, sold nationwide and in Canada under the brand names Wonderful, Paramount Farms, and Trader Joe’s, were packaged in bags and boxes. They include Roasted No Salt Inshell Pistachios, Roasted Salted Inshell Pistachios, Roasted Salted Shelled Pistachios, Roasted Sweet Chili Pistachios, Roasted Salt and Pepper Inshell Pistachios 50% Less Salt Dry Roasted & Salted Inshell Pistachios, Dry Roasted & Unsalted Inshell Pistachios; and Dry Roasted & Salted Inshell Pistachios. Click the recall link above for detailed product information.
Nuts are a fairly common source of Salmonella outbreaks. In December 2015, a Salmonella outbreak was linked to raw sprouted nut spreads. In 2014, nut butters  made by nSpired Natural Foods were linked to a five-state Salmonella Braenderup outbreak that sickened 6 people. The recalled products were sold under the brand names Trader Joe’s, Kroger, MaraNatha, Arrowhead Mills, and Whole Foods. Cases were reported from Connecticut (1), Iowa (1), New Mexico (1), Tennessee (1), and Texas (2).
In 2012, a Salmonella outbreak  linked to tainted peanut butter produced by Sunland Inc., then the nation’s largest producer of organic peanut butter, sickened 42 people. Those products were sold under the brand names Target’s Archer Farms, Earth Balance, Safeway’s Open Nature, fresh & easy, heinen’s, Joseph’s, Natural Value, Dogsbutter, Earth Balance, Late July, Joseph’s, Naturally More, Open Nature, Peanut Power, Serious Food Silly Prices, Newman’s Own, Harry & David, Trader Joe’s, Sunland, and Snaclite. And in 2008 and 2009, peanut butter produced Peanut Corporation of America sickened m0re than 700 people, 116 were hospitalized. Seven people died.

Causes of the Rapid Growth of the Food Testing Industry
Source : http://tvcast.naver.com/v/890566/list/76971
By Patrick Kennedy (May 20, 2016)
The food testing industry has experienced significant growth in recent years, and experts forecast this trend will continue in robust fashion for the foreseeable future. According to marketing research published by various firms, the industry will continue to grow by at least 7 percent annually for the next 4 years. Some of that growth is driven by North American government spending to reduce the impact of foodborne pathogens. Growth is also expected to be substantial in developing regions such as Central and South America, Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.
Among these, the Asia-Pacific market is expected to experience the greatest growth, driven by rising prosperity—and incomes—growing populations and increased demands for safer, better-scrutinized foods. China, in particular, is expected to experience large increases in demand for food testing. Pathogen-induced foodborne illness has affected numerous developed and under-developed countries, and there is rising pressure to reassure the public that the foods reaching consumers’ tables are safe to consume and are free of contaminants.
Detection Methods Old and New
Methods of food quality assurance range from simple visual inspections and chemical analyses to microbial assays and culturing techniques. The latter are older, significantly more time-consuming methods. As multi-step processes, with prolonged incubation periods, they amplify opportunities for human error. These methodologies may soon be supplanted by speedy assays capable of detecting pathogens quickly and definitively, so that public health officials can intervene swiftly when necessary.
Examples of more sophisticated, far more rapid (yet also more expensive) testing methods include the polymerase chain reaction and immunoassay-based techniques. These assays can be performed in a matter of hours, helping to identify potential pathogens in the food chain in a timely manner.
Rapid-analysis technologies continue to improve. For example, a recently described refinement to venerable immunoassay technology excels at detecting mycotoxins in maize samples. Chinese researchers have announced the development of a multi-wavelength fluorescence polarization immunoassay for the multiplexed detection of mycotoxins. Investigators report successful identification of naturally contaminated maize samples within 30 minutes, including sample preparation.
In another example, scientists at the State University of New York at Binghamton recently published research detailing the development of an autonomous microbial cell culture and classification system for the rapid detection of food pathogens. The system is reportedly capable of correctly identifying various strains of pathogenic Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus epidermidis in samples—in less time than the industry standard of 24 hours.
Other examples of new and emerging food safety technologies include biosensors, such as the “bioelectric tongue.” As noted in a recent scientific journal article, “Bioelectronic tongues provide superior performance by combining the capabilities of electronic tongues to derive meaning from complex or imprecise data, and the high selectivity and specificity of biosensors.” This technology is expected to enhance food safety testing by facilitating rapid testing combined with high sensitivity and appropriate selectivity. Bioelectric tongues are promoted as especially promising tools for screening analysis.
Other Contaminants
Meat and poultry products have traditionally been responsible for taking the lion’s share of testing dollars, mainly because these foods are among the most likely to become contaminated with disease-causing pathogens and contaminants. Meat, poultry and dairy products are most often contaminated with Salmonella and E. coli. Campylobacter occasionally contaminates poultry, dairy products and water sources, while Listeria is occasionally implicated in the contamination of various types of foods.
Of course, not all sources of contamination are directly related to food handling, processing and consumption. Some contaminants, such as heavy metals, enter the food chain possibly through the use of contaminated water or soil sources during food production. Arsenic in rice is one example. Research shows that rice grown in the Mississippi Delta, for instance, is frequently contaminated with arsenic in excess of levels deemed safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Presumably related to long-term use of arsenical pesticides in the region, arsenic in the soil substrate and/or groundwater is especially prone to uptake by certain rice cultivars.
Inorganic arsenic is carcinogenic and neurotoxic, and is associated with a range of adverse effects in organs ranging from the liver and lungs to the skin. Other examples include mercury compounds in cold-water fish species, and lead in drinking water, as evidenced by the recent crisis in Flint, MI.
Indeed, the crisis in Michigan has sparked an outcry nationally, and focused attention anew on the issues surrounding food and water safety. Pundits are now warning of a looming crisis that could affect millions of Americans due to aging infrastructure and long-term neglect. It seems likely that the need for reliable food and water testing will only grow in the foreseeable future as consumers grow more aware of—and alarmed by—emerging crises such as the one still unfolding in Flint.
Patrick Kennedy is an information service manager for Mérieux NutriSciences. He has over 15 years of food industry experience and has written extensively covering a wide range of food safety and regulatory subjects.

Scientists tell Congress genetically engineered food is safe
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/05/scientific-panel-decides-genetically-engineered-food-is-safe/#.V0JZi07yWUl
By News Desk (May 18, 2016)
The first genetically modified food to hit the market 22 years ago was a tomato that did not win any taste tests. But it did pass the food safety test, and genetically engineered food has ever since turned out to be as safe as any other.
Now in 400-page report released Tuesday, the prestigious National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine has found — based on 900 studies and reviews of the disease data out there — that there is no evidence of human health effects from the embrace of genetically modified crops.
While moving food safety of the genetically modified crops into the “settled science” category, the expert panel left plenty on the table to fight about. There’s disagreement about whether the herbicide glyphosate, often sold with genetically modified seeds, might cause cancer; about how genetically engineered (GE) fields might be impacting weed growth, pest growth and crop yields. The report also came down on the side of “transparency” over whether genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are associated with specific foods.
Since that first genetically engineered tomato showed up, acreage dedicated to so-called “biotech” crops reached 181.5 million hectares by 2014 before falling off by about 1 percent, with the current decline in commodity crops blamed. Developing countries — Central America, Asia and Africa — rely more on biotech crops than industrialized countries.
There are reportedly more than 85 genetically modified products in the pipeline, including water-efficient maize for Africa.
The National Academies study was reportedly conducted free of any biotech industry money and  all the scientists involved were put through a vetting process to be sure none of those writing the report could be charged with having financial conflicts of interests.
The scientists looked at whether the suppression of milkweed by herbicides is causing any harm to the monarch population and found not only that it is not, but that indeed the monarch population during the past two years has made a moderate rebound.  Milkweed is favored by the insect during its caterpillar state.
The National Academies are private, nonprofit organizations set up by Congress to provide advice on science, technology and medicine. The report identified environmental and economic benefits from genetic engineering to American agriculture.
It’s not known if the new findings will help the biotechnology industry get the U.S. Senate to establish a national labeling policy for genetically engineered food and ingredients before July 1. That’s when Vermont will begin imposing stiff fines on food companies that do not disclose on labels if genetically engineered food or ingredients are being used.
If required to make such a disclosure on the label, some advocates predict manufacturers will “reformulate” by using non-GE ingredients.
At about the same time the report was being released, Oregon overturned a voter-imposed ban on planting genetically engineered crops that voters in Josephine County approved. The ban was overturned by a local judge who said the ballot measure came too late to be effective as law.
The decision leaves only a ban on genetic crops in Jackson County, OR, as legally  effective because it was approved before state lawmakers pre-empted local governments on the issue. Two local sugar beet farmers sued Josephine County when they sought to plant 100 acres of biotech sugar beets on leased land.
The Josephine County Commission is reviewing appeal options. Both Jackson and Josephine counties are located in southwest Oregon and both are more known for their timber production than farming of any kind.

Food safety initiative puts farmworkers front and center
Source : http://tvcast.naver.com/v/890566/list/76971
By Cookson Beecher (May 18, 2016)
When the topic is food safety, the first things that might come to mind for many are the farmers growing the food, the stores selling the food, and even the public health scientists who are testing the food to make sure it doesn’t contain any pathogens that could make us sick — or even kill us.
But what about the farmworkers harvesting and packing the food? What do they have to do with food safety, except, of course, that they should wash their hands before picking the food, whether it be first thing in the morning before they go into the fields or after using the bathroom facilities.
But, there’s more to it than that. Consider this: Farmworkers are often the first ones to see problems that could contaminate the crops. Problems such as deer droppings, livestock or dogs roaming the fields, unclean packing boxes or equipment, lack of the necessary hand-washing facilities, or even recent manure applications on nearby fields that could signal the possibility of pathogens from the manure drifting onto the crops.
In short, they’re the eyes and the ears for food safety out in the fields — an essential first link in the food safety chain that extends from the fields all the way to the stores or markets where we buy our food.
Important, yes. But how can the typical farming system go beyond training farmworkers about food safety to actually making it possible for them to alert managers or farmers about problems they might see out in the field.
That’s simple, some say. Just tell them to do it. But consider the situation from the perspective of farmworkers who are paid by how much they harvest. It’s all about speed. The faster they pick, the more they get paid.
Consider the workers who see some deer droppings in the immediate area where they are harvesting. That’s a food-safety alert of the first degree. In 2012, for example, lab tests confirmed that deer feces found in strawberry fields in Oregon were the source of E. coli 0157:H7 infections that killed one person and sickened at least 14 others. Deer droppings were also the likely source of the E. coli O157:H7 found in unpasteurized Odwalla apple juice in 1996, which sickened at least 65 people and killed one child.
Now let’s hear what a farmworker says would happen if he alerted a manager about a situation like this:
“If I see something wrong and speak up, the first thing they would do is fire me,” farmworker Ramon Torres told Food Safety News in an earlier interview. While this does not reflect what happens on all farms, it is true in too many cases.
Why would he be fired? Because it would slow things down while the problem was being addressed. Sometimes it might be as simple as quickly putting up a barrier around the area where the droppings are seen. But it could also involve scouting an entire field to see if the deer have left droppings anywhere else before the workers can go back to harvesting.
Delays like that can be costly to the farmer, as well as to the farmworkers. It’s not how agriculture works. Instead, it’s about getting the crop picked as fast as possible so it can be loaded onto trucks and taken to the warehouse, processing center, or the stores.
Because crops are perishable, they’re not like other products such as car parts or computers. They have to be picked when they’re ready or they’ll rot in the fields — a loss for the farmworkers, the farmers, the retailers and the consumers.
Yet Torres is also pulled by his concerns about food safety.
“Our job is not just about picking the food,” he said. “I have very important decisions to make — decisions that will determine the health of my family and the people who will eat the food.”
In the midst of this dilemma is how little the farmworker’s voice counts for anything. Again, this is not true in all cases, but certainly reported frequently.
“Respect would be a very good thing,” he said. “I’ve never experienced that.”
That’s why Torres is interested in the Equitable Food Initiative, which is based on the belief that farmworkers play a key role in food safety because they’re the first line of defense in the battle against foodborne illnesses.
What is the Equitable Food Initiative?
EFI, which has been incubating since 2009 and began certifying produce farms in 2014, puts the spotlight on bringing growers, farmworkers, farmworker organizations and retailers together to improve working conditions, food safety practices and pesticide management in the produce industry. As such, it provides training and EFI certification, which, in turn, promotes the interests of workers, growers, retailers, food-service companies and consumers. Some refer to it as a “win, win, win” solution.
At the heart of all of this is the belief that collaboration among all of the partners — from field to market — will result in increased assurances that produce is harvested as safely as possible in conditions that respect the dignity of the workers.
“Building a safer and more equitable food system,” is how EFI puts it.
Peter O’Driscoll, executive director of Equitable Food Initiative, said the industry needs to be paying attention to the connection between food safety and the wages and working conditions of farmworkers.
And he points to this comment from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: “… the farmworker is a key component in the food chain for ensuring the safety of covered produce.”
“Covered produce” is generally produce that will be eaten raw and is therefore covered by new produce regulations mandated by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
As for strategy, EFI goes onto the farms and helps create a core leadership team made up of workers from every level of employment on the farm, who often, under typical situations, are “at odds” with each other. In contrast, said O’Driscoll, the EFI-developed teams are about problem solving and conflict resolution.
“We want to shift the culture of the farm,” said O’Driscoll. “We want to see the industry reward prevention — not sacrifice it to speed.”
The underlying premise of EFI is that the leadership teams work to ensure that the farm stays in compliance with food safety regulations and best practices day in and day out —  not just in anticipation of inspection audits. Having farmworkers on these leadership teams recognizes that they’re important players, O’Driscoll said.
On a practical and financial level — and why O’Driscoll and other EFI supporters believe in the initiative’s successful future — is the goal to improve consumer satisfaction while also protecting growers and stores from lawsuits triggered by foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls.
“These lawsuits and recalls have a multi-million dollar impact on farms and stores,” said O’Driscoll.
Stu Dalheim of Calvert Investments agrees. He said top retailers acknowledge that food safety and social accountability are significant vulnerabilities in the produce sector. That’s why he believes companies that embrace the EFI standards will be better investments.
“Farmworkers have a great deal of experience and perspective that can contribute to food safety, if that experience is sought and emphasized,” he said. “EFI helps to bring that farmworker knowledge to the fore.”
For the farmworkers, there’s the prospect of better wages and compensation for the role they play in food-safety efforts on farms.
“The stores and growers realize that investment in the farmworkers translates into prevention, which benefits everyone,” said O’Driscoll.
Farms that meet EFI’s strict food safety requirements, which are benchmarked to the Food Safety Modernization Act, earn the right to place EFI’s labels on their produce.
The labels say it all: “Responsibly grown. Farmworker assured.”
Who is EFI?
EFI, is an independent non-profit, which receives funding support from The Atlantic Philanthropies, Broad Reach Fund, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Rosenberg Foundation, Cedar Tree Foundation, Oxfam America and The Walt Disney Co.
Board members, who were instrumental in the development of the EFI Standards, include representatives from Costco Wholesale Corp., Consumer Federation of America, United Farm Workers, Andrew and Williamson Fresh Produce International, Farmworker Justice, Oxfam America, and Bon Appetit Management Co.
UL Registrar LLC, a leading global safety science organization, is an official certification body for EFI and will be providing farm-based audits.
EFI has so far also certified four produce facilities in the United States, four in Mexico and one in Canada. It is working with other produce suppliers that seek to achieve certification later this year.
Andrew & Williamson’s Crisalida Berry Farm in Ventura County, CA, was the first in the nation to receive EFI certification. Others certified so far are: Houweling’s Tomatoes, Windset Farms, Keystone Fruit Marketing, Borton Fruit, Naturesweet Tomatoes and Alpine Fresh.
Retail collaborators are Costco Wholesale and Whole Foods Market.
In a 2013 news release about the formation of EFI, Costco official Arthur D. Jackson Jr., said “safe and wholesome produce begins with dedicated training of, respect for, and protection of farmworkers.”
In a March 17 news release this year, Whole Foods Markets official Robin Foster said the company was “thrilled” to add EFI to its list of recognized certifications under its “Responsibly Grown program.”
Without a doubt, having Costco and Whole Foods onboard are feathers in EFI’s cap, although both O’Driscoll and Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America, agree that it’s important to get more retailers onboard.
“We need more retailers so we can ensure consumers have a safe food supply,” said Rodriguez in a video made during U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez’s April 8 visit to Andrew and Williamson Farms to learn more about EFI.
“We realize that it’s not the workers by themselves but workers working jointly with other organizations, retailers, buyers and consumers to bring this together. Certainly, EFI has done that. Our hats are off to you.”
In the same video, Labor Secretary Perez said “What I see here is an initiative that understands that we should reject false choices. When you’re in business, it’s not a choice between your workers and your bottomline and your customers or supply chain. You can build shared prosperity by recognizing when we’re all in this together we can all do well together. …This (EFI) is the best example of this.
“This may seem outlier today, but this is going to be mainstream tomorrow. I have no doubt about it.”
Latest news
On May 2 EFI announced that Costco will be receiving fresh fruits and vegetables labeled “Responsibly Grown. Farmworker Assured” from Windset Farms’ operation in Delta, British Columbia.
Jeff Madu, director of sales at Windset, said the company is committed to providing consumers with the highest quality produce possible, which includes value and quality through the entire food system made up of workers, growers, retailers and consumers.
“Our certification with EFI makes sure that our workers are receiving fair wages, benefits and safe working conditions,” he said.
For EFI, certifying the Canadian facility posed a unique challenge because the company’s workers are a mixed group. Some speak Punjabi, others Spanish and others English.
O’Driscoll said EFI’s trainers collaborated with Windset to provide simultaneous tri-lingual interpretation.
Maki Mukai, Windset marketing assistant, said the workers at the Delta farm get paid British Columbia’s minimum wage of $10.45 per hour, which will be going up in September. In addition, they can earn performance bonuses.
All of the farming is done in high-tech greenhouses with biosecurity measures that ensure only the employees and approved tour groups can enter The farm furnishes the employees with uniforms, hair nets and gloves.
As for the farmworkers’ housing, which must pass provincial inspections, it includes laundry facilities and showers.
“All ideas of the farmworkers are considered,” Mukai said. “We get communication flows from workers about problems that managers might not notice. We think that having EFI certification is a good investment that will pay for itself.”
She also said that workers who are trained to be part of the leadership team “will likely rather stay with us.” That’s a distinct advantage because farms on or near the West Coast are experiencing labor shortages.
Meanwhile, Windset’s farm in California is working toward EFI certification.
Going back to farmworker Torres, he said “EFI would help us not to be afraid to speak up. It would be very good for us because it is something that would take away our fear.”
Respect is another plus in the equation.
“Finally, they would be listening to us — the people who are working in the field,” he said. “We would have a voice. Now we could be respected as people — people who pick food for all of you.”

What is Listeria?
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/what-is-listeria/#.V0JatE7yWUl
By Denis Stearns (May 17, 2016)
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.
Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1000 cases result in death. Certain groups of individuals are at greater risk for listeriosis, including pregnant women (and their unborn children) and immunocompromised persons. Among infants, listeriosis occurs when the infection is transmitted from the mother, either through the placenta or during the birthing process. These host factors, along with the amount of bacteria ingested and the virulence of the strain, determine the risk of disease. Human cases of listeriosis are, for the most part, sporadic and treatable. Nonetheless, Listeria remains an important threat to public health, especially among those most susceptible to this disease.
Listeria is often isolated in cattle, sheep, and fowl, and is also found in dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
What are the Symptoms of Listeria Infection?
It is thought that ingestion of as few as 1,000 cells of Listeria bacteria can result in illness. After ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria, incubation periods (from time of exposure to onset of illness) are in the range of one to eight weeks, averaging about 31 days. Five days to three weeks after ingestion, Listeria has access to all body areas and may involve the central nervous system, heart, eyes, or other locations.
A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation (decreased consciousness) or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke. Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; about one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy. The incidence of listeriosis in the newborn is 8.6 cases per 100,000 live births. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) from listeriosis is 80%.
How to Diagnosis and Treat a Listeria Infection?
If you have symptoms of listeriosis, a health care provider can have a blood or spinal fluid test done to detect the infection. During pregnancy, a blood test is the most reliable way to find out if your symptoms are due to listeriosis. If you are in a high-risk group, have eaten the contaminated product, and within 2 months become ill with fever or signs of serious illness, you should contact your health care provider and inform him or her about this exposure. ??There are several antibiotics with which Listeria may be treated. When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus. Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.
How to Prevent a Listeria Infection?
General recommendations include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation's leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

What is Listeria?

Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/food-poisoning-information/what-is-listeria/#.V0JatE7yWUl
By Denis Stearns (May 17, 2016)
Listeria monocytogenes (Listeria) is a foodborne disease-causing bacteria; the disease is called listeriosis. Listeria can invade the body through a normal and intact gastrointestinal tract. Once in the body, Listeria can travel through the blood stream but the bacteria are often found inside cells. Listeria also produces toxins that damage cells. Listeria invades and grows best in the central nervous system among immune compromised persons, causing meningitis and/or encephalitis (brain infection). In pregnant women, the fetus can become infected, leading to spontaneous abortion, stillbirths, or sepsis (blood infection) in infancy.
Approximately 2,500 cases of listeriosis are estimated to occur in the U.S. each year. About 200 in every 1000 cases result in death. Certain groups of individuals are at greater risk for listeriosis, including pregnant women (and their unborn children) and immunocompromised persons. Among infants, listeriosis occurs when the infection is transmitted from the mother, either through the placenta or during the birthing process. These host factors, along with the amount of bacteria ingested and the virulence of the strain, determine the risk of disease. Human cases of listeriosis are, for the most part, sporadic and treatable. Nonetheless, Listeria remains an important threat to public health, especially among those most susceptible to this disease.
Listeria is often isolated in cattle, sheep, and fowl, and is also found in dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.
What are the Symptoms of Listeria Infection?
It is thought that ingestion of as few as 1,000 cells of Listeria bacteria can result in illness. After ingestion of food contaminated with Listeria, incubation periods (from time of exposure to onset of illness) are in the range of one to eight weeks, averaging about 31 days. Five days to three weeks after ingestion, Listeria has access to all body areas and may involve the central nervous system, heart, eyes, or other locations.

A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation (decreased consciousness) or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke. Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; about one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy. The incidence of listeriosis in the newborn is 8.6 cases per 100,000 live births. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) from listeriosis is 80%.
How to Diagnosis and Treat a Listeria Infection?
If you have symptoms of listeriosis, a health care provider can have a blood or spinal fluid test done to detect the infection. During pregnancy, a blood test is the most reliable way to find out if your symptoms are due to listeriosis. If you are in a high-risk group, have eaten the contaminated product, and within 2 months become ill with fever or signs of serious illness, you should contact your health care provider and inform him or her about this exposure. ??There are several antibiotics with which Listeria may be treated. When infection occurs during pregnancy, antibiotics given promptly to the pregnant woman can often prevent infection of the fetus. Babies with listeriosis receive the same antibiotics as adults, although a combination of antibiotics is often used until physicians are certain of the diagnosis.
How to Prevent a Listeria Infection?
General recommendations include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation's leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients. Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation. Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.
A person with listeriosis usually has fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. If infection spreads to the nervous system, symptoms such as headache, stiff neck, loss of balance, confusion, obtundation (decreased consciousness) or convulsions can occur. With brain involvement, listeriosis may mimic a stroke. Infected pregnant women will ordinarily experience only a mild, flu-like illness; however, infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, infection of the newborn or even stillbirth. Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis; about one-third of listeriosis cases happen during pregnancy. The incidence of listeriosis in the newborn is 8.6 cases per 100,000 live births. The perinatal and neonatal mortality rate (stillbirths and early infant deaths) from listeriosis is 80%.
How to Diagnosis and Treat a Listeria Infection?
General recommendations include: thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources; keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked and ready-to-eat foods; avoid unpasteurized (raw) milk or foods made from unpasteurized milk; wash hands, knives, and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods; wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating; and consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.
Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include: do not eat hot dogs, luncheon or deli meats, unless they are reheated until steaming hot, and wash hands after handling those products; do not eat soft cheeses (such as feta, Brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or Mexican-style cheese), unless they have labels that clearly state they are made from pasteurized milk; and do not eat meat spreads or smoked seafood from the refrigerated or deli section of the store (canned or shelf-stable products may be eaten).
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Listeria outbreaks. The Listeria lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Listeria and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $600 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Listeria lawyers have litigated Listeria cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, cheese, celery and milk.

Fish, chicken and dairy — mostly raw milk — top outbreak list
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/05/fish-chicken-and-dairy-mostly-raw-milk-top-outbreak-list/#.V0JbNU7yWUl
By News Desk (May 17, 2016)
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta is out with its annual report on foodborne disease outbreaks, showing 864 outbreaks involving 13,246 people, 712 hospitalizations and 21 deaths in 2014.
CDC also reported the outbreaks led to 21 recalls of food products in 2014.
Among the report’s other findings:
Single food categories associated with the most outbreak illnesses:
•Seeded vegetables, such as cucumbers or tomatoes — 428 illnesses;
•Chicken — 354 illnesses; and
•Dairy — 267 illnesses.
Single food categories associated with the most outbreaks:
•Fish — 43 outbreaks;
• Chicken — 23 outbreaks; and
•Dairy — 19 outbreaks, with 15 linked to unpasteurized, dairy products including raw milk.
There were 25 multi-state outbreaks, with specific types of foods determined in 16 outbreaks:
•Ground beef — five outbreaks;
•Fruits — five outbreaks;
•Seeded vegetables — three outbreaks; and
•Row crops, such as lettuce and cabbage — three outbreaks.
Most common locations
Restaurants accounted for 485 outbreaks, or 65 percent, of outbreaks reporting a single location of preparation. Specifically, 394 restaurants with sit-down dining, were the most commonly reported locations of food preparation.
According to the CDC report, foodborne diseases caused by known pathogens are estimated to result in about 9.4 million illnesses each year in the United States. Not all that many of the illnesses occur in the setting of a recognized outbreak. However, data collected during outbreak investigations provide insights into the pathogens and foods that cause illness.
Public health officials, regulatory agencies and the food industry use data to create control strategies along the farm-to-table continuum that target specific pathogens and foods.
As defined by CDC, an outbreak of foodborne disease is the occurrence of two or more cases of a similar illness resulting from ingestion of a common food. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories voluntarily submit reports of outbreaks investigated by their agencies using a Web-based reporting platform, the National Outbreak Reporting System (NORS)
NORS also collects reports of enteric disease outbreaks caused by other transmission modes, including water, animal contact, person-to-person contact, environmental contamination and unknown modes of transmission.
More about the multi-state outbreaks
Of  the 864 outbreaks in 2014, only 25, or 3 percent, were multi-state outbreaks. The multi-state outbreaks resulted in 778 illnesses, or 6 percent, of all outbreak illnesses. Of multi-state victims, 194 of them, or 28 percent, required hospitalization. Multi-state outbreaks caused 11 deaths, which was 52 percent of all foodborne illness outbreak deaths.
Outbreaks involved a median of five states with a range of  2–29. Eleven outbreaks were caused by Salmonella. The serotypes of Salmonella identified were Baildon, Braenderup, Enteritidis, Javiana, Minnesota, Newport, Paratyphi B variant L(+) tartrate(+), Saintpaul, Stanley, Typhimurium, and multiple serotypes for one outbreak each. Ten multistate outbreaks were caused by Shiga toxin-producing E. coli. The E. coli serogroups identified were O157 for six outbreaks, and O103, O111, O121 and O145 each with one outbreak. Three outbreaks were caused by Listeria and one by norovirus.
The foods implicated in Salmonella outbreaks were almond and peanut butter, cantaloupe (suspected), cashews (suspected), chia seed powder, cucumber, grapes (suspected), ground beef (suspected), mango (suspected), mini cucumbers (suspected), mini peppers (suspected), and mung bean sprouts.
For E. coli, implicated foods included ground beef in four outbreaks with one confirmed and three suspected.  Serogroups O157 and O145 were identified in three and one of those outbreaks, respectively. Other E. coli implicated foods were cabbage with serogroup O111, clover sprouts  with O121, leaf lettuce with O157, pre-packaged salad with O157, spinach (suspected) with O157, and an undetermined food from a Mexican- style chain restaurant with O103.
Foods implicated in the Listeria multistate outbreaks were apples, stone fruit and mung bean sprouts with one outbreak each. Raw oysters were implicated in the norovirus outbreak.

One Food Safety Agency – Heresy?
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/one-food-safety-agency-heresy/
By Kathy Hardee, Esq. (May 17, 2016)
One Food Safety Agency – Heresy?
If not for simply the fun of the debate, many have mused for years why there shouldn’t be one consolidated federal food agency. Despite the arguable benefits of such a mythical agency, the reality of what now exists makes the possibility of what might seem impossibly insurmountable. Using the adage, “if we knew then what we know now,” the food system in this country might look wholly different. But like most institutions, each piece was developed at a different time and because of a different need. And that evolution was occurring in a world where food was not an international commodity, processed, packed, transported and resealed 24 hours a day. Still, it was a fun debate—what if we were starting from scratch?
Instead, today we work with a patchwork of at least 15 federal food safety agencies administering at least 30 federal laws and regulations. These operate in addition to similar agencies, laws and regulations in each of the 50 states. In any given year, over 1500 food facilities can expect inspections from both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as they are dual jurisdiction establishments. Companies with facilities in multiple states, or whose products are shipped and sold in multiple states, must multiply their compliance considerations that much more. A preference for simplification seems obvious. Combining institutions and expertise, while giving up turf, seems anything but.
Yet maybe a glimmer of a place to start has begun to appear. While defined differently, at the heart of each of these federal and state food agencies is the same four-letter goal—safe. At the urging of the food industry, consumers, healthcare providers and other industrial countries, Congress came together in 2010 and passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). If one reads the Act itself it contains many broadly stated goals, void of detail or practicality. It also contains what were even then obviously impossible deadlines for FDA compliance. But the concepts were good: proactive efforts; integrated systems; more responsive; comprehensive; science-based; and international in scope.
For all the criticism it suffered, FDA took its task to heart. It studied, published drafts, listened to stakeholders, completely re-vamped, listened and tried again. FDA was careful to avoid the toes of USDA. Yet the most important lesson FDA may have learned and which it addressed in its work was that it could not re-vamp the safety of the food industry under its jurisdiction, as FSMA requires, without help. FDA has neither the manpower nor the funding to even begin to train food facilities, much less inspectors, as to how to comply with what has taken years to develop and is still developing. To assist with the training, FDA has created partnerships, alliances and agreements such as the following list, which it includes in its Strategy for FSMA Training. Note how often, without ceding their jurisdictions, that FDA, USDA and states have agreed to work together to accomplish a common goal of training on good food safety practices.
Produce Safety Alliance (PSA): This Alliance was created by FDA and USDA, in cooperation with Cornell University, to develop a standardized training and education program to increase produce safety knowledge and prepare the produce industry and associated groups for FSMA implementation.
Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance (FSPCA): This Alliance was created by a grant from FDA to the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health, to develop a standardized training and education program that will help industry comply with the Preventive Controls rules for human and animal food for animals under FSMA.
Sprout Safety Alliance (SSA): This Alliance was created by FDA, in cooperation with the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Institute for Food Safety and Health, to develop a standardized training and education program and help sprout producers identify and implement best practices in the safe production of sprouts and prepare for FSMA implementation.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA): Part of USDA, NIFA is partnering with FDA to provide grants to fund food safety training, education, extension, outreach and technical assistance to owners and operators of farms; small food processors; and small fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.
National Coordination Center (NCC): This center, funded by FDA, will lead the coordination of training delivery, outreach, education and technical assistance to reach small and medium-size farms, beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers, small processors and small fruit and vegetable merchant wholesalers.
Regional Centers (RCs): These regional centers will work with the NCC to increase the understanding and adoption of established food safety standards, guidance and protocols. They will identify region and audience-specific training, education, outreach and technical assistance needs and deliver training to food producers covered by the FSMA Section 209 mandate, in addition to ensuring the availability of informed trainers.
International Food Protection Training Institute (IFPTI): Established in 2009, IFPTI is a public-private partnership that addresses public health needs and collaborates with industry, federal, state and international governments, and other organizations. IFPTI, which builds training and certification systems for food safety professionals, has been awarded the contract to establish the NCC described above.
Cooperative Extension and Land-Grant Universities: More than 100 land-grant colleges and universities have extension programs through which they bring science-based information to agricultural producers and small business owners, among others. Members of the Cooperative Extension System will have key roles in the delivery of FSMA training.
Cooperative Agreement Partners: The recipients of FDA funding support curricula training and delivery to local food producers, including sustainable and organic farms, and tribes.
National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA): This association of state officials is in partnership with the FDA to collaboratively plan implementation of the produce safety rule under FSMA. NASDA will help facilitate industry training and will also play a role in the delivery of training to state regulators.
Additional Organizations: These state stakeholder organizations will also have roles in facilitating regulatory and industry training:
• Association of Food and Drug Officials, whose members include state and local officials involved in critical food safety issues
• Association of Public Health Laboratories, which works to strengthen laboratories serving public health
• Association of American Feed Control Officials, whose members include state, local and federal officials involved in the safety of animal feed
• Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, which represents public health agencies and professionals
Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN): This partnership between FDA and the University of Maryland strives to increase global knowledge of effective food safety practices.
FSMA Collaborative Training Forum: Co-chaired by FDA and USDA, this forum will facilitate communication and coordination between the groups involved in FSMA training and gives the groups an opportunity to share information about their programs and address common concerns. In addition to the two agencies, represented groups will include the Alliances, the NCC, JIFSAN, NASDA and the organizations that have received cooperative agreements with FDA. Other stakeholder groups may also be included.
Thus, for the sake of “training” the industry on the new FSMA safety standards, FDA, USDA and the states have repeatedly partnered with one another, and with others, to work toward a common goal. No one is ceding or surrendering, but they are working with one another more and more.
In January 2015, the Safe Food Act of 2015 was introduced into Congress, which would establish one food safety agency, the Food Safety Administration. President Barack Obama has proposed combining USDA, FDA and possibly absorbing another dozen or so agencies all under the Department of Health and Human Services. Included as part of Obama’s 2016 budget, this one-agency proposal has gotten very little mention. And the proposed congressional legislation sits in committee. With far more bizarre warfare playing out on all corners of the political stage in 2016, it is not likely that a debate over the consolidation of a few federal agencies will even make the play list this year.
But give credit. A seed is planted. Partnerships are working. This heresy, this heated debate among the industry may not end up being a rhetorical argument. It actually may be slowly developing with all of us staying out of its way.
Kathy Hardee, Esq., is co-chair of the Food & Agriculture Industry Group at Polsinelli, PC, which is composed of a team of attorneys from every legal practice area and who each have a focused background in the food industry.

UPDATED: Officials confirm outbreak linked to Taylor Farms
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/05/officials-confirm-salmonella-outbreak-linked-to-taylor-farms/#.V0JejU7yWUl
By Coral Beach (May 17, 2016)
UPDATED CONTENT: A spokeswoman with the FDA responded to Food Safety News after this story was posted. Information on the distribution of the implicated salad and the FDA’s involvement in the outbreak investigation has been added below.
One produce company is falling on its sword and another has become mum on the topic of an undisclosed Salmonella outbreak, meanwhile government officials are defending the decision to not inform the general public.
Seven people — six in Minnesota and one in Virginia — have been confirmed as all having Salmonella Enteritidis infections that have the same DNA fingerprint, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency did not post information on the multi-state outbreak or otherwise notify the public about it.
“In early May, Minnesota health officials notified CDC about an investigation into Salmonella infections in their state. CDC is monitoring PulseNet for any additional illness with the same DNA pattern nationally,” CDC officials said Monday in an email response to questions from Food Safety News.
“It has been several weeks since the last illness occurred. If additional cases of illness are identified, CDC will work with states to obtain information about foods consumed before becoming ill.”
The April-May outbreak was traced to a packaged organic salad product distributed nationwide to Sam’s Club retail locations by Taylor Farms of Salinas, CA, said a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). All six Minnesota victims reported eating Taylor Farms Organic Kale Medley Power Greens Mix before becoming ill.
Neither the MDH nor the Minnesota Department of Agriculture posted outbreak information or otherwise notified the general public about the outbreak or their investigation of it.
“The illnesses began between April 3 and April 26. One person was hospitalized, and all are recovering,” MDH Information officer Doug Schultz said Monday in response to questions from Food Safety News.
A CDC spokeswoman referred questions about illness onset for the Virginia victim and that person’s possible consumption of the implicated salad to state authorities, but Virginia state offices were already closed for the day.
Schultz confirmed much of what Pacific Coast Fruit Co. posted in a May 6 notice on its website. The produce company intended the notice to inform its customers and employees that it had not handled any of the implicated salad, which Sam’s Club quietly pulled from shelves across the country.
“Sam’s Club was an extremely cooperative and proactive partner in the investigation; they pulled the implicated product from their store shelves nationwide on May 4 and directly notified all customers who had purchased the product in Minnesota since March 1,” the MDH spokesman said.
“In summary, the vehicle for this outbreak was identified with a small number of cases and extremely quickly, and every person who purchased the implicated product was notified that the product might be contaminated with Salmonella. Because Sam’s Club had the ability to directly notify all customers who had purchased the product, a press release was not necessary to reach those who had been exposed,” Schultz said.
Minnesota health officials notified the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the outbreak and investigation in early May. The federal agency joined the investigation at that time, Schultz said.
UPDATED CONTENT: What we still don’t know
A spokeswoman with the FDA responded to Food Safety News after this story was posted. She confirmed the agency’s ongoing involvement in the outbreak investigation. She said FDA joined the investigation after receiving notification from Minnesota officials May 6.
“FDA is currently aiding in this investigation by conducting a trace back investigation and additional follow-up activities as appropriate,” said Siobhan DeLancey, team lead for strategic communications in FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine.
“At this time, we do not have evidence that the product ill people report buying was distributed to any customers other than Sam’s Club, nor has FDA identified any positive samples in the product. FDA will continue to work with CDC and state partners as the investigation is ongoing.”
The FDA spokeswoman did not specifically address questions about why the agency did not issue a public warning or post an outbreak investigation notice.
The chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms said a recall was not necessary.
“The FDA is not requiring any action from Taylor Farms and we are not issuing any formal recalls. We will continue to work with the MDH and MDA (Minnesota Department of Agriculture) regarding this issue,” according to a statement Taylor Farms sent to trading partners on May 6 and provided to Food Safety News on May 15.
Bruce Taylor, chairman and CEO of Taylor Farms, did not respond Monday to requests for additional information about the chronology of events related to the outbreak and investigation.
Taylor did not reference Sam’s Club or provide information on distribution of the implicated organic kale salad product. Sam’s Club officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Minnesota’s health department spokesman said he could neither confirm nor deny reports that the implicated organic salad from Taylor Farms was exclusively distributed to Sam’s Club locations. “This would be a question better posed to FDA and/or Taylor Farms. All of the Minnesota cases were exposed to product purchased at Sam’s Club locations,” Schultz said.
Putting the cat back in the bagcat-out-of-the-bag
Chances are the general public never would have known about the Salmonella outbreak and investigation had a Portland, OR, produce company not been trying to keep its trading partners and employees informed.
Portland-based Pacific Coast Fruit Co. posted a notice about the outbreak and investigation on its website May 6, after being informed about the situation by Pro*Act — a national network of local fresh produce distributors.
Monday, officials with Pacific Coast Fruit Co. apologized for posting the notice, which included details about Sam’s Club pulling the Taylor Farms products from shelves and used the word “recall” in relation to the situation.
“This was an unfortunate misstatement regarding a clearly indicated Alert being misread as a Recall. This misstatement was an oversight on Pacific Coast Fruit’s part and we have reached out to our fellow industry partner, Taylor Farms, and apologized for the oversight,” Pacific Coast Fruit vice president of manufacturing Dave Rothwell said in a written statement provided to Food Safety News and later posted on the company’s website.
“Our apology was graciously acknowledged and accepted by Taylor Farm’s leadership showing the strength of a long time partnership/relationship we have. Again, we apologize for the misdirection of events and consider and see the value and accuracy of content in the Food Safety News publications to the public.”

Food Safety Economics: The Cost of a Sick Customer
Source : http://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/food-safety-economics-the-cost-of-a-sick-customer
By Dina Gerdeman (May 16, 2016)
When restaurants source from local growers, it can be more difficult to assess product safety—just another wrinkle in high-stakes efforts to keep our food from harming us. Just ask Chipotle. John A. Quelch discusses a recent case study on food testing.
Chipotle Mexican Grill’s ongoing struggle to win customers back months after a contaminated food crisis highlights the challenges companies face with keeping food safe.
Chipotle has seen its shares tumble and recently reported its first-ever quarterly loss after the incident, which began in October when more than 50 people in 11 states were sickened by an initial E. coli outbreak.
“Do those smaller local organic growers have the experience, resources, and commitment to test their products for various food safety risks?”
The chain restaurant, which uses the tagline “Food with Integrity,” has prided itself on avoiding artificial ingredients, opting instead to use a relatively short supply chain of local growers for many of its ingredients.
That strategy just might have been part of its problem, says John A. Quelch, the Charles Edward Wilson Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School and Professor in Health Policy and Management at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Even though Chipotle’s supply chain is shorter, with fewer intermediaries between supplier and restaurant, the use of local suppliers means that the chain can be complex and fragmented, perhaps harder to control for safety. Instead of having three or four sources for a particular ingredient, for example, it might have 30 or 40.
“Do those smaller local organic growers have the experience, resources, and commitment to test their products for various food safety risks?” Quelch asks. “In an effort to differentiate by being more locally sourced and thereby fresher, as perceived by consumers, Chipotle was perhaps putting its brand at greater reputational risk.”
Quelch, who teaches a course to Harvard business and public health students called Consumers, Corporations and Public Health, says food safety is more challenging than ever for three reasons:
•The globalization of the food business: Food products and ingredients travel across borders to a much greater degree today, making it tough to keep close watch over them. In 2015, Dr. Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, highlighted the problem. “A local food safety problem can rapidly become an international emergency,” she wrote in a statement. “Investigation of an outbreak of foodborne disease is vastly more complicated when a single plate or package of food contains ingredients from multiple countries.”
•Prevalence of food-related claims: Food safety claims, which are often ambiguous and even unreliable in some cases, attract more attention from an increasingly health-conscious consumer. This has prompted a greater demand for food testing in order to verify the authenticity of the claims.
•Increasing consumer consciousness about food safety and healthfulness: Consumers have high expectations about the safety of their food, so a great deal of public interest is focused on the issue. Whenever a significant food safety problem arises, publicity quickly follows.
“Twenty years ago, norovirus outbreaks, for example, would not have resulted in the same level of publicity that they receive today,” Quelch says. “Some people say that the food supply may actually be safer today than 20 years ago, but heightened consumer awareness and expectations make this appear not to be the case.”
Global food safety standards are lacking
Unsafe food, such as fruits and vegetables contaminated with feces, clearly creates a huge public health risk, with the potential transfer of harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, or chemicals to consumers.
In 2010, 582 million cases of 22 different foodborne diseases resulted in 351,000 deaths worldwide, with salmonella, E.coli, and norovirus resulting in the greatest number of fatalities, according to a September 2015 case Quelch co-wrote with HBS research associate Margaret L. Rodriguez, Mérieux NutriSciences: Marketing Food Safety Testing.
Food safety problems can be quite costly. An E. coli outbreak in Germany in 2011 caused $1.3 billion in losses to the global agricultural industry.
Yet, a worldwide standard for food safety is lacking.
“Different countries and regions have different food safety standards,” Quelch says. “We’re accustomed to taking food safety for granted. When you peel back the onion, you find a tremendous amount of nuance affecting the reliability and specifics of food safety testing around the world.”
“If Chipotle suffers a sustained period of flat revenues or declining revenues, that sends a message to everybody in the food industry…”
China, for example, has seen its share of well-publicized cases of food contamination. In 2008, melamine was found in milk products that killed six infants and made 300,000 sick. Keeping a good handle on food safety there may be challenging because China has a highly fragmented agriculture system, Quelch says.
For instance, one Chinese milk brand may be taking its supply from hundreds of individual farmers—a potentially risky situation because, if one of the farmers introduces a contaminated product, it can affect the entire supply for that brand.
China implemented stricter food safety laws in April 2015, but the country may not have enough qualified enforcement staff. And inspectors don’t always enforce regulations as thoroughly as they should, critics complain.
“In fairness, it takes a long time to build up a culture of integrity for any inspection service,” Quelch says.
Plus in China, some suspect that foreign brands are at times unfairly targeted, accused of food safety violations that may be fabricated or exaggerated by those hoping to impede the market progress of successful foreign firms.
In the United States, government officials have attempted to shift food-safety efforts to prevention with the passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2011. One result: Produce is now subject to preventative controls, including more raw material and environmental testing, and, in some cases, less finished-product testing.
Outsourcing food safety testing
A growing number of food manufacturers, grocery stores, and restaurants are choosing to outsource some or all of their food testing—and in many cases, they are saving time and money in the process.
The market for food safety testing by third-party labs in the US in 2015 was about $1.5 billion, compared to the estimated $8.5 billion value of food safety tests conducted by companies in-house. Mérieux NutriSciences is one of the largest providers of food safety testing for food companies, with a network of 80 laboratories located in 20 countries and annual revenues of more than $450 million. The majority of its recent revenue growth in the US has come from companies that previously did their own testing but that have decided to outsource.
In-house testing has its drawbacks. Regulations are increasing and evolving, requiring more expertise than many food companies can muster. The sensitive nature of testing and upgrades in the tests required also mean companies need to make an investment in sophisticated equipment, which involves high fixed costs.
Plus, food companies recognize that using one of the three or four leading global food safety firms gives their testing a certain level of external validity that they may not enjoy by doing their own testing, although big companies such as Nestle remain strongly committed to in-house monitoring.
In the case study, Gallus (name disguised)—a large American poultry manufacturer that sold processed chicken parts to both retailers and fast food restaurants—was debating whether to outsource food safety tests to Mérieux NutriSciences at a cost of $1 million for 12 months of testing.
As it turned out, the economics were a wash: Gallus would save money compared to the cost of operating its own in-house lab, while Mérieux NutriSciences would still make a profit. Gallus officials, who knew that using a third-party testing vendor would likely provide a certain level of comfort to the large retailers it supplied, ended up accepting the outsourcing deal.
“If they have an opportunity to outsource at equivalent or lower cost to a world-class independent food safety (company), that’s going to be a win-win,” Quelch says. “”They’ll save money and have more credibility with their tests.”
Chipotle’s tarnished image
It can take a long time for a company to bounce back from the financial and reputational hit that comes with a food safety crisis.
In Chipotle’s case, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in February that the E. coli outbreaks appeared to be over, yet federal officials said they were unable to pinpoint the root cause of the contamination problem. When a company like Chipotle has a complex supply chain, it can be a needle-in-a-haystack search to find a precise cause, Quelch says.
“The CDC often finds it difficult to pin down the exact source because once a contaminant comes into contact with other ingredients as part of the production process, it’s no longer separate unto itself,” Quelch says. “That’s another reason you have to be ultra-careful and get your food safety testing capability in line with the risk associated with your supply chain because, obviously, if there is an outbreak and you can’t identify the source of the problem, the damage just lingers.”
Chipotle’s uphill battle to recover has likely sent a collective shudder through the food industry.
“If Chipotle suffers a sustained period of flat revenues or declining revenues, that sends a message to everybody in the food industry that the consumer is paying attention and is effectively punishing brands that do not deliver 100 percent food safety,” Quelch says. “The consumer is voting at the cash register.”
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Growers eye FDA’s Produce Safety Rule from ground level
Source : http://tvcast.naver.com/v/890562/list/76971
By Cathy Siegner (May 16, 2016)
The fresh produce industry is watching closely as enforceable requirements in the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule gradually come into play at ground level. The rule is one of seven the agency has drafted to implement facets of the sweeping 2011 Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
Published in the Federal Register on Nov. 27, 2015, the final version of the Produce Safety Rule “establishes, for the first time, science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption,” according to the Food and Drug Administration. It covers both domestic and imported produce.
Most produce growers, packers, processors or sellers will be subject to the rule, with staggered compliance deadlines ranging from two to four years, depending on the size of the operation.
However, there are exemptions — and qualified exemptions — from the rule, such as farms having an average of less than $25,000 in annual produce sales during the previous three years.
Also eligible for exemption from the rule is any produce which:
•is grown for personal or on-farm consumption;
•is not a “raw agricultural commodity;”
•will receive a “kill step” to adequately reduce microorganisms of public health concern; or
•is a “rarely consumed raw” commodity, currently defined as asparagus, black beans, great northern beans, kidney beans, lima beans, navy beans, pinto beans, garden beets roots and tops, sugar beets, cashews, sour cherries, chickpeas, cocoa beans, coffee beans, collards, sweet corn, cranberries, dates, dill seeds and weed, eggplants, figs, horseradish, hazelnuts, lentils, okra, peanuts, pecans, peppermint, potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, sweet potatoes and water chestnuts.
For U.S. produce operations covered by the Produce Safety Rule, it sets out several key requirements for the general areas of:
•Agricultural water quality and testing;
•Biological soil amendments, specifically raw manure and stabilized compost;
•Sprouts, which the rule notes are “especially vulnerable to dangerous microbes;”
•Domesticated and wild animals;
•Worker training, health and hygiene; and
•Equipment, tools and buildings.
FDA estimates that the yearly benefits over the first 10 years after publication of the rule to be approximately 365,351 illnesses averted per year, valued at $977 million annually.
According to produce industry experts, plenty of questions remain about exactly how and when produce businesses must comply with the new produce rule.
“The biggest issue is compliance and guidance to industry from FDA,” said Jim Gorny, vice president of food safety and technology for the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) in Newark, DE. “From guidance to the compliance level, we really need the boots on the ground. Is this in compliance or is this out of compliance for an industry-specific level?”
Gorny is familiar with FDA operations from his stint with the agency as its senior advisor for produce safety from 2009-2013. Before working at FDA, he was executive director of the Postharvest Center at the University of California-Davis for two years.
PMA, which represents 2,400 members from all points along the produce supply chain in about 45 countries, has presented 15 training sessions around the country to date to help growers, Gorny said.
He said there are “a million questions out there” about various aspects of the rule and how it should be implemented at the farm level, particularly relating to water testing, paperwork requirements and other aspects.
“The problem with the Produce Safety Rule is you start getting into how many (water) samples you have to take and how do you get the samples. It’s like peeling back an onion, and it can only be addressed with specific questions,” Gorny said.
Training curricula are still being developed, he noted, adding that there probably won’t be anything specific available until September. And even when there is, he said there’s no one single applicable approach when it comes to explaining how complying with the rule will actually work.
Gorny called implementing the Produce Safety Rule “a heavy lift” for FDA because of the international outreach required to about 140 other countries that export food products to the U.S. That means translating all seven FSMA rules and supporting materials into numerous foreign languages and phasing in all the steps of implementation.
“It’s a four-stage process,” Gorny said. “There’s awareness of the rule, understanding what the rule actually says, implementing the rule in a facility or farm, and certification (making sure people are actually following the rules appropriately). It’s a multi-stage process. Right now, we’re at the awareness stage.”
Despite the two-year window the larger producers have for compliance, Gorny noted that the time for them to start adopting the rule’s water quality provisions is now.
“The rule is quite specific. You take samples while the crop is in the ground and as close to harvest as possible. Think about it with cherries or apples, which are only harvested once a year, and you’re only going to have a small window to take samples,” he said.
The costs and logistics involved with the rule’s water testing requirements also present major issues for some produce growers.
Water quality resources for produce growers, packers, processors and sellers are available from Research and Extension faculty at the University of California-Davis and also from the University of Arizona, as well as from other states and from produce industry consultants.
A notable aspect of the Produce Safety Rule is highlighted for PMA members on the organization’s website:
“This on-farm produce safety regulation is significant in that FDA will now put in place an enforceable implementing regulation which explicitly articulates on-farm standards of conduct for the safe growing, harvesting, packing and holding of fresh produce.”
Because of budget and staff limitations, FDA will need to contract out some of its inspection role under the Produce Safety Rule. Gorny said the agency is currently working on developing cooperative agreements with state departments of agriculture and health to get that done.
“They do want to prioritize inspection activities based on risk. They want to use market access audits that are already being used out there by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service to verify that people are following good agricultural practices,” Gorny said. “If people use good auditors, and the audit was robust, it can drive people to good resources where they’re most needed instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

 

 



 

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[2015] Current Issues

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Sanitation and Hygiene Meat Handling Practices in Small and Medium Enterprise butcheries in Kenya - Case Study of Nairobi and Isiolo Counties
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Combined Effect Of Disinfectant And Phage On The Survivality Of S. Typhimurium And Its Biofilm Phenotype
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Quality analysis of milk and milk products collected from Jalandhar, Punjab, India
Shalini Singh, Vinay Chandel, Pranav Soni

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Functional and Nutraceutical Bread prepared by using Aqueous Garlic Extract
H.A.R. Suleria, N. Khalid, S. Sultan, A. Raza, A. Muhammad and M. Abbas


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Microbiological Assessment of Street Foods of Gangtok And Nainital, Popular Hill Resorts of India
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Assessment of the Microbial Quality of Locally Produced Meat (Beef and Pork) in Bolgatanga Municipal of Ghana
Innocent Allan Anachinaba, Frederick Adzitey and Gabriel Ayum Teye


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