Grill Like a PRO – and Avoid Food Illnesses
Source : https://ohsonline.com/articles/2016/07/04/grill-like-a-pro.aspx?admgarea=news
By ohsonline.com (Jul 03, 2016)
This year, one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning, according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.
Tips from FoodSafety.gov can help Americans grilling out for the Fourth of July holiday avoid food illnesses, certainly unpleasant and sometimes dangerously so. The agency advises that outdoor cooks learn how to grill like a "PRO" – that is, Prepare the food, Read the Temperature, Off the grill – during this holiday and for all of their summer barbecues.
How does the host keep guests safe from foodborne illness? "This year, one in six Americans will get sick from food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness). Food poisoning can affect anyone who eats food contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites, toxins, or other substances. Some groups of people – such as older adults, pregnant women, children younger than five years, and people with weakened immune systems – have a higher risk of getting sick from contaminated food. And if they do get sick, the effects of food poisoning are a lot more serious," according to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, which advises that checking meat's internal temperature with a food thermometer is the best way to ensure protection.
The tips are explained in three easy steps:
P—Place the Thermometer. Make sure your food is ready by checking the internal temperature. Find the thickest part of the meat (usually about 1.5 to 2 inches deep) and insert the thermometer. "If cooking a thinner piece of meat such as chicken breasts or hamburger patties, insert the thermometer from the side and ensure the probe reaches the center of the meat.
R—Read the Temperature. Wait about 10-20 seconds for an accurate temperature reading and use these internal temperature guidelines for meat and poultry: beef, pork, lamb, and veal (steaks, roasts, and chops): 145° F with a three-minute rest time; ground meats: 160° F; whole poultry, poultry breasts, and ground poultry: 165° F
O—Off the Grill. Once the meat and poultry reach their safe minimum internal temperatures, take the food off the grill and place it on a clean platter. Do not put cooked food on the same platter that held raw meat or poultry. Remember to clean your food thermometer probe with hot, soapy water or disposable wipes.
Safety tips for serving food outdoors:
Perishable food should not sit out for more than two hours. In weather above 90° F, food should never sit out for more than one hour.
Serve cold food in small portions and keep the rest in the cooler. After cooking meat and poultry on the grill, keep it hot until served (at 140° F or warmer).
Keep hot food hot by setting it to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where it could overcook.
FSIS wants cooks to share their photos of safe grilling during the Independence Day holiday weekend by uploading them with the hashtag #GrillingLikeaPRO. For information about food poisoning and keeping food safe from bacteria, visit www.foodsafety.gov.
Letter From the Editor: You cannot make this stuff up
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/128408/#.V3m6nE4eaUl
By Dan Flynn (July 3, 2016)
As I’ve said before when writing about Chipotle Mexican Grill, you cannot make this stuff up.
Just as Chipotle was running out its summer rewards programs for its most loyal and frequent customers, the company’s marketing man, Mark Crumpacker, was indicted in the Big Apple for allegedly being a repeat customer of a cocaine delivery service.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office charged three people for allegedly operating the cocaine-trafficking ring, along with 18 “repeat buyers,” including, they claim, Crumpacker.
According to information filed by the district attorney, “Members of the ring allegedly used car services to deliver the drugs to buyers, including to delis, restaurants, bars, apartments, hotels, and the buyers’ workplaces. The defendants delivered to locations across Manhattan, including the Lower East Side, the Upper East Side, Chelsea, the Financial District, and Midtown, as well as areas of Brooklyn and Queens. Many of the sales took place in delis or Duane Reade and CVS pharmacies. Customers generally paid between $200 and $300 per transaction.”
Chipotle put the 52-year-old Crumpacker on leave. He made $4.3 million in 2015. Customers turned away in droves after Chipotle experienced a half-dozen separate outbreaks of various foodborne diseases in the last half of last year. Chipotle stock remains in the dump at less than $400 a share, compared with its high of $750 before the many outbreaks.
While Crumpacker had failed to do anything about getting Chipotle customers back, he may have been gaining experience in one very successful repeat customer program.
Let’s move on.
As an old politician once told me, “There is only so much oxygen in the room.” It was his way of explaining why any body politic can only handle just so many issues at a time.
For that reason, it is always troubling whenever there is something in the food safety space that is of tangential importance or less. Food labels are one of those tangential issues. The space on any food package is finite. The freedom of commercial speech has usually meant that government must have a good reason to compel the space on the food label that the government dictates.
Then along came this marketing campaign by the organic industry to politically force a label on food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Food safety was once put up as the compelling government interest in doing so — like when this all started back a decade or more. But that dog ceased to hunt a long time ago. Every scientific body of note in the world has concluded that genetically modified food is just as safe as other food.
Four of the most populous Western states put GMO labeling on their ballots, and voters in all four voted it down. A couple dozen other states heard bills and voted it down in their legislatures. Then tiny Vermont passed a law that is now technically in effect as of July 1, but which is going to be essentially unenforced for the next six months, supposedly.
Coca-Cola has reportedly pulled its products from Vermont grocery shelves out of an abundance of caution. Other, mostly smaller food manufacturers, have also pulled out of Vermont.
There are only about major 88 grocery stores in Vermont, which will likely mean that other products will be dropping out of the state. But that has not gotten much attention until the Coke announcement this weekend.
The U.S. District Court for Vermont let the state GMO labeling law stand, and the appeal by the Grocery Manufacturers Association has yet to change anything.
All of this brings us up to the moment. Either Congress acts to assert its jurisdiction or cedes the issue to the states. Last Wednesday, the Senate voted 68-29 in a test of support for a compromise cooked up by U.S. Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), respectively the Senate Agriculture Committee’s chairman and ranking member. This coming Wednesday the Senate votes for real, and this one ain’t going to be over until the proverbial fat lady sings.
Organic industry groups and their allies are making a last stand against the Senate compromise bill. They favor “state sovereignty” when it comes to GMO labeling, plus a lot of civil and criminal penalties.
Under the Senate compromise that will be on the floor this coming week, there would be a national, mandatory label for food products that contain genetically modified ingredients, although manufacturers would have options about how they present the information.
It is said that this compromise proposal would cover 24,000 more products than the Vermont law. States would be taken out of the labeling business. Sen. Roberts says the new disclosure system would protect biotech products from “being denigrated by opponents.”
Some say that was the goal of GMO labeling all along.
Favorable votes by the Senate this week won’t bring this long saga to an end, but it will be pretty close. The House of Representatives turned a bipartisan vote last year to put the states out of GMO labeling. If the Senate compromise gets to them, the House will likely pass it.
Then we will feel the oxygen again filling the room. I felt that once before and it felt good. It was the day when we did not have to write about horse slaughter anymore.
The truth of the ‘five-second rule’ and food safety
Source : http://www.newsminer.com/features/our_town/cooperative_extension/the-truth-of-the-five-second-rule-and-food-safety/article_23280cf4-3e9c-11e6-bb5c-a3855c28c554.html
By Roxie Rodgers Dinstel, Cooperative Extension (June 30, 2016)
FAIRBANKS — I heard it in my own kitchen, “it is fine ’cause of the five-second rule.” My sons were talking about that much-quoted saying that means when dropped food is on the floor less than five seconds, it won’t be a problem in the food safety arena. Their assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.
Food safety should be of utmost concern for all of us. Unfortunately, the incidence of food safety outbreaks are far more common than we believe. Last year, 800 people became sick from tainted cucumbers from Mexico and over 50 from salmonella at Chipotle restaurants. We have become accustomed to periodic recalls due to contamination and reports of improperly handled food in restaurants.
However, the truth is that we are far more likely to be contaminated in our own kitchens. Food service establishments have rules and procedures to guard against food contamination. At home, these structures are rarely in place.
It is true scientific research has been conducted to see if food dropped on the floor five seconds or less is safe from contamination. At the University of Illinois, researchers swabbed the floors in the dorm, the cafeteria and the lab to see if microorganisms were present, and, surprisingly, there were few in evidence. So, in the best scientific manner, they tried again with the same results — very few microorganisms. They figured out that since the floors were dry, there were few opportunities for microbiological growth since these all need moisture to grow.
Along with the research, they surveyed people to ask if they knew about the five-second rule and if they followed it. Fifty-six percent of men and 70 percent of women knew of the rule. Not surprisingly, those who were surveyed were more likely to invoke the rule when they dropped a cookie or candy, but not when the dropped food was broccoli or cauliflower.
Those famous researchers on Discovery Channel’s “MythBusters” also studied the rule. They found that the time was almost of no consequence. Whether it was in on the floor for five seconds or five minutes didn’t matter as much as the fact that it touched a contaminated surface.
So let’s use a little reason to talk about this subject. Microorganisms need moisture to survive and thrive. In addition, moist surfaces will absorb microorganisms easier since the surface is slightly sticky. Dry surfaces, either the food or the floor, will have less opportunity to transfer the germs. If the food is moist and/or sticky and it hits the floor, there is a good chance of contamination. So those dry cookies and candy are less likely to pick up contamination from the floor than a steak.
If you do drop something and it is possible, simply wash the surface to dislodge any surface contamination. Bacteria is everywhere and over 10 types, including salmonella and E. coli, cause some type of intestinal upset.
When it comes to the five-second rule, there are three important things to think about.
A clean-looking floor isn’t necessarily clean. Most of the bacteria that we are concerned about are so small that they are invisible to the eye. Bacteria is also so prevalent in the environment that nearly all surfaces have some amount of harmful bacteria waiting for the opportunity to grow.
Fast may not be quick enough. Bacteria can attach to your food as soon as it touches, particularly if the surface is moist or sticky.
When in doubt, throw it out. Some microorganisms are harmless, but some will cause you to have gastrointestinal upset, diarrhea and flu-like symptoms. Those same bacteria may sit in your system for as long as two weeks before they make themselves known. By then it is hard to know where you actually picked up the germs that made you sick.
The truth is that over 76 million Americans get a foodborne illness every year. Most feel bad for a day or two, but 300,000 of these are hospitalized with 5,000 deaths. Play it safe and never believe the five-second rule.
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E. coli Outbreak Shows Dough for Play Isn’t Kid Friendly
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/e-coli-outbreak-shows-dough-for-play-isnt-kid-friendly/
By Carla Gillespie (June 30, 2016)
Crayons and placemat games are familiar “kid friendly” activities restaurants provide to help young diners pass the time while waiting for dinner. Some also provide little ones with a ball of pizza dough to play with, a practice they may rethink in the wake of an E. coli outbreak linked to flour.
The 20-state outbreak linked to General Mills flours sickened 38 people between December 21, 2015, and May 3, 2016. Three of the case patients, who range in age from 1 to 95, reported eating or playing with raw dough at restaurants before they became ill. (Nine others reported tasting raw dough or batter prepared at home.)
The outbreak illustrates that raw eggs are not the only ingredient in dough that poses danger. E. coli can cause serious illness and death. Children under five are among those at greatest risk of infection and at heightened risk of developing the life-threatening complication hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Food for thought for those in charge of kid friendly restaurant games.
E. coli symptoms usually develop within two to five days of exposure but can appear within 24 hours or take as long as 10 days to develop. They include stomach cramps and diarrhea, that is sometimes bloody. Sometimes these symptoms, which last about a week, are accompanied by a low-grade fever. Anyone who ate the recalled flour and developed theses symptoms should see a doctor.
The outbreak has triggered a recall for 10 million pounds of flour sold under three brand names: Gold Medal, Wondra and Signature. Consumers should check recall information carefully.
As of the last update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the case count by state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Arizona (2), California (1), Colorado (4), Iowa (1), Illinois (4), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (4), Minnesota (3), Missouri (1), Montana (1), New York (1), Oklahoma (2), Pennsylvania (2), Texas (2), Virginia (2), Washington (2) and Wisconsin (1).
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises consumers not to eat or play with raw dough made with flour that is intended to be cooked or baked, that dough is cooked to proper temperature to kill pathogens and that hands, work surfaces and utensils are properly cleaned after contact with raw dough containing flour.
FDA Requests Data About Safety of Hand Sanitizers
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/fda-requests-data-about-safety-of-hand-sanitizers/
ByLinda Larsen (une 30, 2016)
The FDA issued a proposed rule yesterday requesting additional scientific data to support the safety and effectiveness of ingredients used in hand sanitizers that are marketed over the counter. The agency wants to make sure that regular use of these products doesn’t present unknown safety and efficacy concerns. This does not mean the FDA thinks these products are unsafe or ineffective.
Antiseptic rubs are products used when soap and water are not available. They are left on and not rinsed off with water.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research said in a statement, “today, consumers are using antiseptic rubs more frequently at home, work, school, and in other public settings where the risk of infection is relatively low. These products provide a convenient alternative when hand washing with plain soap and water is unavailable, but it’s our responsibility to determine whether these products are safe and effective so consumers can be confident when using them on themselves and their families multiple times a day. To do that, we must fill the gaps in scientific data on certain active ingredients.”
The CDC says that washing hands with plain soap and running water is one of the most important ways consumers can avoid getting sick. This action also prevents spreading infections to others. If soap and water aren’t available, the CDC recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol.
Based on new scientific information and input of outside scientific and medical experts on an independent advisory committee, the agency wants more data to demonstrate that the active ingredients used in these sanitizers are safe and effective to reduce bacteria. The three ingredients the FDA is interested in are alcohol (ethanol or ethyl alcohol), isopropyl alcohol, and benzalkonium chloride.
A doctor at Rush University Medical Center was interviewed about hand sanitizers. Dr. Gordon Trenholme, director of the Section of Infectious Diseases at the hospital, says that hand sanitizers are useful in the hospital. He added that hand sanitizers are more convenience, so they make it more likely that people will clean their hands.
If a hand sanitizer contains triclosan, also called triclocarban, it could be unnecessarily risky. Triclosan does contribute to antibiotic resistance, it can weaken the immune system, and it may disrupt hormones. A 2011 study by the Epidemic Intelligence Service at the CDC found that health care employees who used hand sanitizers over soap and water were almost six times more at risk for norovirus infections. Alcohol poisoning is another concern about these sanitizers, especially for teenagers and young children.
The rule requires manufacturers who want to continue selling these products under the OTC Drug Review to give the FDA more data on these ingredients, including data to evaluate absorption.
The FDA began reviewing topical antiseptics in the 1970s. Many things have changed since then, including the frequency of use of these products, new technology that can detect low levels of antiseptics in the body, and FDA’s safety standards. The FDA is especially interested in getting more data on the long-term safety of daily, repeated exposure to these ingredients, especially by pregnant women and children.
Emerging science suggests that for some antiseptic active ingredients, systemic exposure is higher than previously thought, and more information is needed about the effects of repeated daily human exposure.
The proposed rule will be available for public comment for 180 days. Companies will have one year to submit new data and information concurrently.
One look at the enemy and you’ll get serious about food safety
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/06/one-look-at-the-enemy-and-youll-get-serious-about-food-safety/#.V3m73U4eaUl
By Cookson Beecher (June 30, 2016)
What could be more frightening than an unseen enemy — one so stealthy and powerful that it can send you to the hospital or even kill you?
And what if that enemy is so small that you can’t see it, don’t even know that it’s there. Maybe right there on some food you’re about to eat or even on your hands?
And what if someone showed you what “the enemy” looked like by enlarging its image. And from there, showed you an enlarged photo of some of the bacteria on food or on common objects such as faucet handles, door knobs, or counter tops? Would seeing them make you want to be extremely careful about protecting yourself and others from the enemy? Would this work better than a scientist telling you their names and warning of the harm they can do.
Turns out that the first option has legs, according to a handwashing study done by a Henry Ford Health System team in a Detroit hospital. The study revealed that health-care workers in the hospital increased their hand washing by at least 11 percent — in one unit by nearly 50 percent — after seeing images showing bacterial growth on items like unused gloves, doorknobs, a nurse station mouse, health-care workers’ hands, a mobile phone and an ultrasound machine.
That’s especially good news because according to U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health-care providers, in general, practice hand hygiene (proper hand washing) less than half as much as they should. That’s important because proper handwashing helps reduce the spread of infections, which, in the case of food safety, would include infections from foodborne pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Campylobacter.
The CDC estimates that there are more than 700,000 healthcare-associated infections in U.S. acute-car hospitals every year.
In the Detroit hospital study, the team members found that showing hospital staff members images of millions of bacteria found on common surfaces was a good way to improve handwashing rates by triggering a feeling of disgust on the part of those who saw the images.
As part of the study, the team developed a book of images containing bacterial cultures of different types of bacteria and different levels of contamination.
Ashley Gregory, an infection prevention specialist who co-led the project, said that hospital staff wanted to wash their hands after looking at the book and picturing similar contamination on their own skin. In addition, the images also helped motivate them to clean various items such as mobile work stations and computer mouse devices in their workspaces.
Looking ahead, Gregory said she is hoping that other institutions will improve handwashing compliance by using this approach.
The study in the Detroit hospital was inspired by a 2014 study of handwashing in 14 Indian villages. In that study, the researchers randomly assigned 14 small villages with populations between 700 and 2,000 to either receive an emotion-driven approach to handwashing or no intervention at all.
An article in The Advisory Board, asks the question “How can you make people wash their hands?” “Gross them out,” was the answer. When the study began, handwashing rates were very low — between 1 and 2 percent — in both the intervention and control groups.
Study author Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said that although handwashing with soap could prevent at least one-third of the 800,000 deaths of children under five annually from diarrhea — which is often triggered by a virus or bacteria — handwashing with soap could prevent at least one-third of these deaths. Not surprisingly, surveys reveal that handwashing is infrequent in countries such as India that don’t have running water in many areas.
Curtis said that handwashing campaigns usually try to inform people with health messages about germs and diseases, but “so far these haven’t had much success when it comes to changing handwashing behavior on a large scale.”
That’s why researchers from the United Kingdom and St. John’s Research Institute, along with the Bangalore communications firm, Centre of Gravity, came up with a “Super Mum” campaign, which included “emotional drivers” such as the feeling of disgust at the bacteria that can be on a person’s hands. The campaign also factored in other emotional drivers such as a mother’s desire for a happy, thriving child and the yearning on the part of mothers to fit in with what they believe others in the community are doing.
The intervention group had access to an online global toolkit that targeted these emotional drivers. In addition, the group had the benefit of attending community and school-based events that included skits and animated films, along with public pledging ceremonies asking women to promise that they and their children would wash their hands at key times.
An analysis of the study, which was published in The Lancet Global Health, showed these results:
•After 6 weeks, hand-washing compliance in the intervention group was 19 percent, compared with 4 percent in the control group, which received no interventions;
•After 6 months, compliance in the intervention group had risen to 37 percent, compared to 6 percent in the control group; and
•One year later, after the control group had received a shortened campaign, hand-washing in both groups was 29 percent.
Co-author of the study Katie Greenland said the campaign was effective because “it engages people at a strong emotional level, not just an intellectual level.”
What about the impact on food safety?
Could it be that showing people pictures of potentially deadly bacteria such as E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria on their hands, on produce, on surfaces and equipment in processing centers, and on kitchen equipment in restaurants could boost workers’ resolve to wash their hands and keep those surfaces clean? Could it also have a positive effect on farmers, farworkers, processing facility managers and owners, and restaurant owners?
Co-lead of of the Detroit hospital study Ashley Gregory told Food Safety News she thinks that could be the case.
“We do think people respond more to actually seeing the bacteria versus being told the name of the pathogens and warned about their harmful effects,” she said.
She cited examples such as “putting a face with the monster,” which she said has proven to be a strong emotional trigger in other health campaigns.
“If people still were only told about the harms of smoking versus being shown a blackened lung or a person who has to use a voice box, the amount of disgust associated with smoking probably wouldn’t be as strong.”
She also said that the Detroit hospital study is particularly relevant to food safety since hand hygiene is “a vital component in the safe delivery” of foods that we eat.
She cited Staphylococcus aureus, a known skin organism that can wreak havoc on a person’s digestive system, and Shigella and Salmonella, which can cause not only digestive distress but also septicemia as well, as examples.
“Without proper hand hygiene, these organisms are easily transmitted to the foods we consume, and not every end consumer is diligent about washing their food and not all food will be cooked to the degree in which these bacteria can be destroyed,” she said.
“Hand hygiene is crucial in keeping ourselves, our family and community healthy. Most illnesses can be prevented by performing the simple task of washing your hands, and with today’s advancement in the availability of transportable methods (alcohol gels and wipes), there is no reason not to.”
As for why some bacteria are so powerful, she said that they not only thrive but can reproduce rapidly under conditions the human body provides.
“Unlike a lot of things harmful to the human body, bacteria are microscopic and therefore even large amounts of them can remain unseen to the human eye,” she said. “It only takes a small number of these bacteria to get into our body by any means — for example placing them on a peach you’re about to eat because you shook hands with someone who just defecated and didn’t wash their hands. And once they’re in your body, their only objective in life is to make your body their new home.”
University of Arizona microbiologist Charles Gerba, also known as “Dr. Germ,” put it this way: “We’re their food supply,” he said. “They’re trying to find a good source of food. And it takes only 30 minutes for them to reproduce.”
And once they start reproducing, as is the case when food isn’t kept at temperatures lower than 41 degrees F or higher than 140 degrees F, they move fast.
Jim Mann, executive director of Handwashing for Life Institute said when people see how fast E. coli multiplies, “it scares the bejezus out of them.”
“You start with one creepy little cell, and it doesn’t take long before the entire screen is filled with them,” he said. “It’s very effective. You can see people squirm. My wife can’t watch it.”
He believes that visuals such as this would be a good tool in food-safety training — all the way up the ladder from the farmworkers in the fields to the people serving food in restaurants and homes.
He also said that putting visual images of bacteria in portapotties out in farm fields and at work stations in restaurants might be a good idea because they would produce a reaction.
“I can see the value of this,” he said. “Absolutely.”
Food-safety guru, Trevor Suslow, University of California-Davis, also believes that visual images can be very effective in food-safety training.
“I am a visual learner and a visual teacher, and I make every effort to use memorable images in all my trainings to create ‘messages that stick,’” he said.
He also said that visualizing good and poor behavior within real-world and relatable situations is especially important when written language is a barrier, which is often the case with farmworkers and workers in agricultural processing facilities.
A ‘real-life’ test case
Food safety is a big deal at the Helping Hands Food Bank in Sedro-Woolley, WA. Under a nationwide program dubbed Grocery Rescue — and others like it — stores donate perishable foods that are close-dated, slightly ripe, or perhaps to plentiful to food banks. This is good food that would otherwise be sent to a landfill.
The key that opens the door to these donations is food safety. The retailers and the food banks enter into contracts that require consistent, nationally recognized food-safety practices to be followed.
That means that the volunteers at the food bank who pick up the groceries and bring them to the food bank have to follow strict food-safety practices, which includes covering items that need to stay chilled with a thermal blanket during transport. Once at the food bank, those foods are immediately put into the cooler.
That’s important because many foods, among them lettuce and spinach, need to be kept at temperatures below 41 degrees F. to prevent any bacteria, including E. coli, that might be on them from reproducing, which most bacteria do very rapidly. Should that happen, anyone who eats the contaminated food runs the risk of becoming very ill.
When several volunteers and the operations manager at Helping Hands were shown an enlarged picture of some E. coli bacteria on spinach, the reaction was immediate and dramatic. “Repulsion” would be one way to describe it.
“Gross,” several of them said in unison as they backed away from the picture. “Now I’m not going to be able to eat lunch,” one of them said.
Operations Manager Rebecca Schlaht said that a picture like that triggers a “natural gag reflex.”
“If you can touch the nerve that produces that kind of physical reaction, you’ve got a wonderful tool,” she said. “It’s an excellent way of showing people why it’s so important to follow good food-safety practices.”
Click here for CDC’s advice on how to wash your hands properly.
Listeria in caramel apples changes apple safety focus
Source : http://barfblog.com/2016/06/listeria-in-caramel-apples-changes-apple-safety-focus/
By Doug Powell (June 30, 2016)
Chuck Robinson of Produce Retailer writes the Listeria outbreak connected to caramel apples in late 2014 and early 2015 gave the produce industry a slap to remind it to remain vigilant about food safety.
Discussion of the outbreak dominated the first day of the seventh annual Center for Produce Safety Research Symposium on June 28-29.
That outbreak was traced to one apple supplier, Bidart Bros., Bakersfield, Calif. Only commercially produced, prepackaged whole caramel apples were involved.
There were 35 people from 12 states reported infected, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seven of them died before the case was closed, three of them linked to listeriosis.
Since the outbreak, the apple industry has changed focus from E. coli and compliance with Food Safety Modernization Act regulations to address listeria’s threat to the industry, said Ines Hanrahan, project manager for the Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, Wenatchee.
In general, more attention to details is required to maintain sanitation, she said, including getting rid of standing water and daily cleaning zones that come into contact with food. Brushes need to be cleaned more frequently and dunk tanks must be cleaned and the water changed more often.
The stronger focus requires bigger cleaning crews and more time allotted to cleaning, she said. Training and rewards for improvement also are demanded.
“It’s about the people cleaning the brushes every day understanding why they are cleaning the brushes,” Hanrahan said.
The advent of whole genome sequencing, which provides more detailed and precise data for identifying outbreaks than the current standard technique, will mean more outbreaks will be detected, warned Martin Wiedmann, a food safety professor for Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. The produce industry must be prepared.
As the caramel apple-linked outbreak shows, the industry should realize what is happening in the field is of secondary importance, he said.
“I think we need to focus on our processing and packing facilities,” Wiedmann said.
There were many reasons at the outset of the investigation to not expect apples to be the outbreak source, said Kathleen Glass, associate director of the Food Research Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Reasons include the fact that the apples were sanitized and then dipped in hot caramel, which would seem likely to kill listeria. Also, the fruit is acidic, which would discourage listeria growth.
“You put all these factor together, and you don’t think apples are going to be a likely source of Listeria monocytogenes,” Glass said.”
However, the stems and calyxes of the fruit can harbor listeria, and pushing wooden stick through the calyx into the core also pushed listeria there.
“I’m really kind of surprised we hadn’t seen this sort of problem before,” Glass said.
Pat Kennelly, chief of the food safety section of the food and drug branch of California Department of Public Health, said problems were widespread at the Bidart Bros. packing facility. His staff’s investigation began well after the facility had closed operations for the season on Oct. 31.
“Given the level of contamination we found a month after operations had ceased, I can’t imagine what we would have found if we had tested when it was in operation,” Kennelly said.
Consumer Reports Decodes Labels on Meat Packages
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/consumer-reports-decodes-labels-on-meat-packages/
By Linda Larsen (June 30, 2016)
Consumer Reports is helping consumers decode the labels on their meat packages. Information on the label can tell you if the meat is organic, if the animal was raised without synthetic hormones or antibiotics, if it was grass fed, and more. Here are some label terms and what they mean.
“Grass fed” means that meat must come from an animal that has never been fed grain and can graze in a pasture during the grazing season. The animal can be fed antibiotics and hormones. “Partial grass-fed” as a label term is meaningless, since all cattle eat grass or hay when they are young. Grain is given to some of these animals so they get bigger before slaughter. The American Grassfed Association and Animal Welfare Approved Grassfed labels have stricter standards than the USDA.
Humanely raised” does not have an official definition and is not verified by any organization, including the USDA. Meat that comes from animals that are humanely raised must have an Animal Welfare Approved seal, a GAP 1-5+ label, or the Certified Humane seal. The USDA Organic seal has some welfare standards, those standards aren’t as high as those regulated by the other organizations.
“No Growth Hormones/No Added Hormones/No Hormones or Steroids Added” is truthful up to a point. The USDA does not allow hormones or steroids in poultry or pork, but cattle can be raised with hormones. This claim also does not mean the animal was not given antibiotics, or that hogs were not fed ractopamine, a growth-promoting drug that is not a hormone or an antibiotic.
“No Nitrates/No Nitrates or Nitrites Added” means that the meat may not have been cured with synthetic nitrates or nitrites, but it probably was cured using concentrated nitrates taken from celery or onions. Nitrates and nitrites have been classified by the World Health Organization as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” There are no restrictions for natural nitrates or nitrites by the USDA. If you see this designation on the label, check the ingredient list for celery juice or onion powder. These ingredients have nitrates and nitrites and carry the same risk as artificial nitrates and nitrites.
“Organic” is a meaningful term. “Natural” is not. Most people think the “natural” label means no artificial ingredients or colors are present, and no artificial growth hormones were used. That is not true. On meat labels, the USDA organic seal means the animal was given organic feed, with no antibiotics or growth hormones. Chickens, though, can be given antibiotics while they are still in the egg or on the day they hatch. “Natural” meat and poultry can be raised with antibiotics, although no artificial ingredients are added to the meat as it is processed.
“Raised Without Antibiotics/No Antibiotics Administered” label can’t be verified. The producer can submit an affidavit to the USDA testifying that no antibiotics were given to the animals, but the farms are not inspected by the government. And this label doesn’t mean that other drugs aren’t used.
The claim “no growth promoting antibiotics” is misleading. Drug companies have changed labels on antibiotics to indicate they are not for growth promotion at the request of the USDA, but these drugs can still be used to “ensure animal health” or to prevent disease in poor conditions. Giving animals sub-therapeutic doses of antibiotics is continuing as usual, giving antibiotic resistant bacteria just as much of a chance to develop.
FDA Issues Details of General Mills E. coli Outbreak Investigation
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/fda-issues-details-of-general-mills-e-coli-outbreak-investigation/
By Linda Larsen (June 29, 2016)
The FDA has issued details of their investigation into the E. coli O121 outbreak linked to recalled General Mills flour. Flour is not an ingredient most people connect with food poisoning, but it is a raw agricultural product and can be contamianted with pathogenic bacteria.
One of the problems with recalls of flour is that many people do not keep this product in its original packaging. Most decant the flour into another container and discard the wrapping. But three people who were sickened in this outbreak kept the flour in its packaging, and helped the government track down the culprit in this outbreak.
Multiple signals from the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network started coming in. The CDC identified a string of illnesses that started in December 2015 as an outbreak of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli O121. This is a fairly rare outbreak, since most E. coli outbreaks are caused by E. coli O157 bacteria.
Investigators first thought that produce or another food was the source of the outbreak. But in April, after the people who were sickened had been interviewed, investigators found that all of those patients had been baking at home. Many of them said they used Gold Medal flour, and had eaten raw cookie dough made with that flour. Unfortunately, reports from some patients couldn’t be confirmed because they no longer had the paper bags the flour was packed in.
But three people still had the original packaging. Two of the labels revealed that the Gold Medal flour was packaged at a facility in Kansas City, Missouri on consecutive days. The third was made at the same plant within a week.
The FDA team also learned that restaurants supplied balls of raw dough for kids to play with while they waited for their food. Children who had played with that dough at different restaurants in separate states were part of the outbreak. That flour was also supplied by the same General Mills facility.
FDA and CDC investigators briefed General Mills about the information, and four days later the firm voluntarily recalled 10,000,000 pounds of the flour produced over a three week period in November and December of 2015.
Laboratory analysis confirmed the presence of E. coli O121 in a flour sample from a home of a patient. On June 10, 2016, FDA’s whole genome sequencing analysis confirmed that the bacteria was closely related genetically to the bacteria that had made people sick.
The outbreak has not been updated by the CDC since June 1, 2016. Stay tuned and we will keep you informed about this outbreak, recalls, and more information.
Raw milk dairy linked to Listeria cases must submit to USDA inspection
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/06/listeria-linked-raw-milk-dairy-resists-usda-inspection/#.V3m9hE4eaUl
By Dan Flynn (June 29, 2016)
After three hours of testimony Tuesday, a federal judge ruled Amos Miller and Miller’s Organic Farm, located at 648 Millcreek School Road in Bird-in-Hand, PA, must submit to inspection by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The order was handed down from the bench by Judge Edward G. Smith in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania in Allentown.
Miller’s Organic Farm, according to a March 18 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is linked to listeriosis illnesses of individuals in California and Florida, one of whom died after being hospitalized for a Listeria monocytogenes infection.
“The FDA and CDC then investigated those incidents. In interviews with family members, the investigators learned that both individuals drank raw milk before getting sick, and that the Florida individual’s family purchased raw milk from Miller’s Organic Farm,” USDA says in its complaint about the inspection issue.
The FDA collected Listeria bacteria from the two infected individuals and, in November 2015, obtained samples of raw chocolate milk from Miller’s Organic Farm. The samples were purchased at a raw milk conference in California. Those raw milk samples contained Listeria bacteria matching that collected from the victims, according to the CDC.
The USDA is asking the court for an order to allow it’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to review and assess Miller’s Organic Farm’s compliance with the Meat Act and the Poultry Act.
About 20 raw milk advocates were present for the oral arguments and to give Miller, serving as his own attorney, support.
Miller filed a 10-page, pre-hearing brief, responding to the government’s complaint. He attached 45 pages of statements and articles attesting to the safety of raw milk in general.
His own declaration is included in the brief. He reports the FDA executed a warrant issued by a federal judge in 2011 and conducted an inspection of Miller’s Organic Farm. “Nothing came of that inspection,” he said.
“I heard nothing from the federal government until this year,” Miller says in his statement. He says he was surprised to hear about the Florida and California Listeria cases because there had been no complaints from his 2,000 members served by the “private membership association” affiliated with his dairy.
Miller says he and his members “believe in individual freedom and self-regulation.”
“We don’t need big brother looking over our shoulder to do what is right,” he contends. “We can handle that on our own.”
The government reports that FSIS personnel unsuccessfully sought access to Miller’s Organic Farm, including its facilities and business records, from March 22 through May this year. Each time, Miller said without a warrant or court order, he’d continue to deny their access. He did not honor a subpoena issued by the FSIS Administrator.]
Federal Court orders California soy company to cease production due to food safety violations
Source : http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm508879.htm
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California entered a consent decree of permanent injunction on Friday, June 24, 2016, between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. requiring the business to immediately cease manufacturing and distributing food until it comes into compliance with federal food safety laws.
The company, owned by Peng Xiang “Martin” Lin and Yuexiao “Opal” Lin, and doing business as Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce International Enterprises out of Sacramento, California, distributes soy products, including tofu and soy drink.
Legal action was sought after the FDA documented repeated violations of federal food safety laws. As alleged in the complaint, during a 2015 inspection, FDA investigators observed several food safety violations including: inadequate hand washing, improperly cleaned equipment, and failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination of food and food contact surfaces. These violations were repeat observations from previous inspections by the FDA, which received assistance from the California Department of Public Health. The FDA also identified several environmental samples taken from the company’s facility that tested positive for Salmonella.
“Salmonella in a food facility is a public health risk and is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness,” said Melinda K. Plaisier, the FDA’s associate commissioner for regulatory affairs. “When a company continues to violate federal food regulations, the FDA must take necessary action to protect public health.”
Salmonella is a pathogenic organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy individuals may suffer short-term symptoms such as severe diarrhea, bloody diarrhea, fever, chills, abdominal discomfort, and occasionally vomiting.
As a result of this court action, Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. is prohibited from directly or indirectly receiving, preparing, processing, manufacturing, labeling, packing and/or distributing any articles of food. If the company intends to resume operations, it must, among other things, retain an independent expert to develop a pathogen control program, conduct microbial and pathogen testing of the company’s facility, and provide employee training on sanitary food handling techniques. If the FDA determines that the company may resume operations, the consent decree requires the company to conduct periodic, independent audits to ensure ongoing compliance.
No illnesses have been reported in connection with Wa Heng Dou-Fu & Soy Sauce Corp. Consumers are encouraged to contact the FDA to report problems with FDA-regulated products.
The U.S. Department of Justice brought the action on behalf of the FDA. The FDA also worked with the California Department of Public Health on the case..
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation’s food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products..
USDA offers tips on food safety
Source : http://www.mvtelegraph.com/news_stream/usda-offers-tips-on-food-safety/article_b649ad6e-3c7e-11e6-adbb-434c0b8d2034.html
By US Department of Agriculture (June 27, 2016)
No matter where you find yourself on the Fourth of July, you will probably see lots of food, beverages and grass-stained sneakers. Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue in the great outdoors, traveling to see family or friends, or spending time at home, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is urging everyone to take extra food safety precautions when planning their menu.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1 in 6 Americans (that’s 48 million people) suffer from foodborne illness each year, resulting in roughly 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
“Because foodborne bacteria thrive and multiply more quickly in warmer temperatures, foodborne illness can spike during summer,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “This is likely because people are spending more time outside – away from the sink and equipment in the kitchen that help consumers keep food safe.”
The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40 °F and 140 °F in which foodborne bacteria can grow rapidly to dangerous levels that can cause illness. Leaving perishables out too long in the Danger Zone is one of the most common mistakes people make, especially during warmer months.
Keep Food Out of the Danger Zone
The USDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline, staffed by USDA food safety experts, routinely gets calls from consumers with questions about the perishable foods left out too long. Below are their recommendations on how to steer clear of the Danger Zone this Fourth of July:
•Without refrigeration or a heat source, perishables should not be left out more than two hours if the temperature is at or below 90 ?F, and only one hour if the temperature is at or above 90 ?F. Since the weather will likely be very hot on July 4th, food should be returned to the cooler within an hour. If you are not sure how long food has been sitting out, throw it out immediately.
•Always keep cold food COLD, at or below 40 °F, in coolers or in containers with a cold source such as ice or frozen gel packs. Keep hot food HOT, at or above 140 °F, on the grill or in insulated containers, heated chafing dishes, warming trays and/or slow cookers. If food needs to be reheated, reheat it to 165 °F.
•Pack an appliance thermometer in your cooler to ensure food stays at or below 40 °F. Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers for fast chilling and easier use.
•Packing drinks in a separate cooler is strongly recommended, so the food cooler isn’t opened frequently. Keep the cooler in the shade, and try to cover it with a blanket or tarp to keep it cool. Replenish the ice if it melts.
•Use the food thermometer to check the internal temperature of meat, poultry and seafood. Use our Is It Done Yet? guide to learn where to place the thermometer in each item. You absolutely cannot tell whether the meat is safely cooked by just looking.
•If you plan to marinate meat and/or poultry for several hours or overnight prior to the event, make sure to marinate them in the refrigerator – not on the counter. If you plan to reuse the marinade from raw meat or poultry, make sure to boil it first to destroy any harmful bacteria.
•To ensure safety, leftovers must be put in shallow containers for quick cooling and refrigerated to 40 ?F or below within two hours.
If you have food storage questions, download our FoodKeeper application. This app offers guidance on the safe storage or more than 400 food and beverage items. It’ll give you a peace of mind knowing you served your dish safely.
As always, FSIS would like everyone to remember the four easy food safety steps of Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill and have a food safe Fourth of July!
If you have questions about the Danger Zone, or any other food safety topics, call the USDA Meat & Poultry Hotline at 1-888MPHotline or chat live with a food safety specialist at AskKaren.gov. These services are available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday, in English and Spanish.
New Research Reduces Salmonella in Meat by 90%
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/new-research-reduces-salmonella-in-meat-by-90/
By Linda Larsen (June 27, 2016)
New research conducted at the University of Nevada, Reno in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources has reduced Salmonella bacteria in meat products by 90%. Assistant Professor Amilton de Mello is using bacteriophages, which are natural predators of the microorganisms.
Professor de Mello said, “we were able to reduce Salmonella by as much as 90% in ground poultry, ground pork, and ground beef. We’re excited to be able to show such good results. Food safety is an important part of our work and Salmonella is one of the most prevalent bacteria in the nation’s food supply.”
Salmonella food poisoning sickens one million Americans every year, hospitalizes 19,000 and kills almost 400. It is one of the most common causes of food poisoning worldwide.
The research treated meat products that were inoculated with four types of Salmonella by applying Myoviridae bacteriophages during mixing. these viruses only harm bacterial cells and do not hurt people, animals, or plants. The viruses require bacteria to replicate.
de Mello continued, “on the final ground meat products, there was a 10-fold decrease of Salmonella. The results are very encouraging and we’re hoping this can be adopted by the meat industry to increase food safety.” The research was presented to the American Meat Science Association’s conference in San Angelo, Texas last week.
Currently, there is one Salmonella outbreak in the US. One is linked to Ajuua’s Mexican restaurant in Odessa Texas, which may have sickened 22 people. Two people are hospitalized in that outbreak. Last year, a Salmonella outbreak linked to roast pork in Washington state sickened at least 192 people.
FDA warnings: Juice, seafood HACCP problems, drug residues
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/06/fda-warning-letters-9/#.V3nBx04eaUl
By News Desk (June 27, 2016)
A juice processor in Washington state, seafood companies in New York and Hawaii, and a cattle operation in Texas recently received warnings from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of various food safety problems.
FDA told Valley Processing Inc. of Sunnyside, WA, in a June 2 warning letter that inspectors had found “serious violations” of the juice Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations during inspections from Dec. 7, 2015, through Jan. 29 of this year.
FDAWarningcolor_406x250As a result, FDA stated, the company’s apple and pear juice, juice concentrate and essence products “are adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed, or held under insanitary conditions whereby they may have been rendered injurious to health.”
Analysis of apple juice concentrate samples revealed inorganic arsenic levels at 88.1 nanograms per gram (ng/g) or parts per billion (ppb) in single-strength or ready-to-be consumed apple juice, according to the warning letter.
FDA’s action level for inorganic arsenic in single-strength apple juice is 10 ppb, so the level found in the sample tested may render the food injurious to health, FDA stated.
“Inorganic arsenic is a toxic substance and prolonged exposure to high levels of inorganic arsenic is associated with cancer, skin lesions, developmental effects, cardiovascular disease, neurotoxicity, and diabetes in humans,” the warning said.
A written response from the company on Feb. 16 indicated that the product contaminated with inorganic arsenic was on hold at the facility and would be voluntarily disposed, according to FDA.
Additional problems pointed out in the warning letter concerned the food hazard of patulin, a mycotoxin found on rotten, moldy and damaged apples.
“Even a small percentage of rotten, moldy and damaged apples may contain high enough levels of patulin to result in the finished product exceeding FDA’s 50 ppb action level,” the warning letter said. “We are particularly concerned given that your firm only monitors the top visible layer of incoming apple bins, which is not an adequate sorting method.”
While the agency acknowledged that Valley Processing does not physically sort every apple, it stated that the firm’s current operational procedure is not adequate to control for patulin.
“Your response states you purchase cull apples, which may contain decay, worm holes and internal breakdown, and states cull apples are acceptable to process. Any apples which are rotten, moldy, bruised or damaged should be trimmed or culled from production,” FDA stated in the warning letter.
The company identified metal debris as a food hazard, but it was not identified in its revised HACCP plan nor are critical control points listed to control metal, the agency added. While company plans were to install and calibrate metal detectors at each packaging location, FDA found that response inadequate.
“A food hazard that is reasonably likely to occur is one for which a prudent processor would establish controls because there is a reasonable possibility that, in the absence of those controls, the food hazard will occur. Your response does not identify what, if any, control measures are currently in place, absent a functioning metal detector, to prevent, eliminate or reduce the metal hazard,” the warning letter stated.
Finally, FDA noted that Valley Processing holds apples outside prior to processing, without atmospheric or temperature controls, in open wooden bins for two months or longer before processing.
“Your written response indicates that it is an acceptable industry practice to store apples intended for juice processing in the outside environment. We do not agree with your assessment and find your written response inadequate. Storage in this condition will increase the probability of patulin production as well as the level of patulin in the finished product,” the warning letter stated.
Adriatic Seafood Inc.
On June 16, FDA sent a warning letter to Adriatic Seafood Inc. of Staten Island, NY, stating the company’s seafood importing facility had been inspected from April 22 through May 12, 2016.
That inspection revealed “serious violations” of the seafood HACCP regulations, according to the letter, specifically that the company did not implement an affirmative step for its fresh anchovies and fresh sardines as required by federal regulations.
If these problems are not promptly corrected, FDA noted, the agency can refuse entry to the U.S. for these imported fish or fishery products, including placing them on “detention without physical examination” status and seize the products and/or otherwise stop the firm from further violation of the law.
Suisan Co. Ltd.
Seafood HACCP issues were also identified after FDA inspected the seafood processing facility of Suisan Co. Ltd. in Hilo, HI, on March 22 and 24. According to a June 14, 2016, warning letter, the company’s revised HACCP plan for its tuna intended for raw consumption was inadequate to control for “the significant hazards of histamine formation and pathogens.”
FDA recommended that the company hold raw products at a cooler temperature of 40 degrees F or below and also factor in the time the products spend during transit, in refrigerated storage, and in refrigerated and unrefrigerated processing. Alternatively, if the products are stored under ice, the product must be “completely and continuously surrounded by ice throughout the storage time.”
MGM Cattle Co. Ltd.
On May 27 FDA sent a warning letter to MGM Cattle Co. Ltd. of Loch Gowna, County Cavan, Ireland, regarding its cattle operation in Kingsbury, TX, which was inspected on Feb. 4, 5, 9 and 11.
According to the warning letter, the company sold a heifer on or about Nov. 17, 2015, for slaughter as food. Analysis of tissue samples collected from the animal showed 0.632 parts per million (ppm) of flunixin residue in the liver tissue, FDA stated, while the agency’s tolerance is 0.125 ppm for residues of flunixin in the liver of cattle. Flunixin is a non-streroidal, anti-inflammatory drug that also reduces fever and pain.
FDA also noted in the letter that the company did not maintain complete treatment records for its animals, including route of administration for each drug and the individual providing the treatment.
The agency found a written response from the company dated March 1 to be inadequate. It included a revised treatment record differentiating between intramuscular and intravenous administration, according to the warning letter.
“However, your firm also uses drugs which require subcutaneous and oral routes of administration. Your failure to recognize this as part of your response further brings into question the adequacy of the retraining that was provided to your cowboys on using the correct route of administration,” FDA stated.
Recipients of these warning letters have 15 working days from receipt to outline specific steps they have taken to come into compliance with the law.
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