Alaska public health investigates Salmonella cluster in Bethel
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/alaska-public-health-investigates-salmonella-cluster-in-bethel/#.V5cX504eaUl
By News Desk (July 25, 2016)
A team from Alaska’s Division of Public Health traveled to the town of Bethel last week to investigate a cluster of Salmonella illnesses reported there.
Louisa Castrodale, a state epidemiologist, told KYUK Public Media the cluster of sick people confirmed with Salmonella infections amount to an unexplained situation that raises public health concerns.
Alaska Salmonella case count graphic
Source: Alaska Department of Health and Social Services
“It’s not even the end of July and we had gotten about six cases of confirmed salmonella from the Bethel-YK area. That’s a large number of cases for a short amount of time in a smaller location, so we were really concerned there was a common source for these infections,” Castrodale told KYUK reporter Charles Enoch
“(We) could have either a contaminated food product, so a food product that had salmonella in it, or (people) could have contact with a person that had salmonella.”
Three people from the state’s health department arrived Wednesday in the town of about 6,300 people in the south central area of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. They stayed through Friday. Alaska has had a total annual count of confirmed Salmonella cases of between 55 and 83 from 2011-2014, according to government statistics.
Officials are encouraging anyone on the Bethel area who has had Salmonella infections symptoms recently to see a doctor.
Symptoms include diarrhea, stomach ache, vomiting, fever, headache and dehydration, especially in infants and older people. Symptoms can start showing between six to 72 hours after exposure to salmonella bacteria, and the illness usually lasts four to seven days.
Liberals, conservatives agree on threat of foodborne pathogens
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/liberals-conservatives-agree-on-threat-of-foodborne-pathogens/#.V5cYDk4eaUl
By Coral Beach (July 25, 2016)
As Americans prepare for the second week of pre-empted prime time programming tonight with the beginning of the Democratic National Convention today in Philadelphia, there’s one thing that liberals and conservatives agree about — food safety.
“Foodborne illness from bacteria ranked first among both liberals and conservatives (with) 55 percent and 58 percent, respectively,” ranking it as their top food safety concern according to the 2016 Food and Health Survey.
One statistic that was not reported along party lines was the survey respondents’ overall confidence in the food supply. A full 66% of survey respondents said they are at least somewhat confident, up from 61% in 2015.
Also, a majority of the survey respondents, 53 percent, believe that modern agriculture produces safe foods.
“We are seeing a growing national food dialogue, and Americans are hungry for more information about nutrition and the food system,” said Kimberly Reed, in a news release about the survey. Reed is president of the International Food Information Council Foundation.
Conducted for the Washington D.C.-based foundation, the 11th annual survey included 1,003 Americans ages 18 to 80. The survey was executed by Greenwald & Associates, using ResearchNow’s consumer panel, from March 17-24. The results were published last week.
Some of the survey questions generated results showing differences among respondents who identified themselves as liberal or conservative:
Liberals more frequently cited pesticides as a top food safety issue, 38 percent compared with 24 percent of conservatives.
•Conservatives cited carcinogens or cancer-causing chemicals in food twice as often as liberals, 40 percent vs. 20 percent.
•Somewhat liberal respondents were twice as likely as somewhat conservative respondents to cite food additives and ingredients as a top food safety concern, 12 percent vs. 6 percent.
•More than half of liberals, 51 percent, reported reading an article examining the food system in the past year, while less than a third, 31 percent, of conservatives did.
•Liberals more than conservatives cited the government as a top source of trusted information on the safety of food and ingredients, 58 percent vs. 46 percent.
Many of the survey results were not reported in terms of liberal or conservative views, but rather as combined numbers for both groups. Among those combined results were responses regarding foodborne illnesses.
With foodborne illnesses as the top food safety concern at 57 percent overall, the second and third concerns overall were chemicals at 50 percent and pesticides at 48 percent. That’s a change from 2015 when the question was asked slightly differently. The 2015 survey showed 36 percent said chemicals in food was their No. 1 food safety concern; foodborne illness from bacteria came in second at 34 percent, with pesticides in third place at 9 percent.
Public awareness of common foodborne illnesses is high, though it dropped in comparison to previous years.
Nine out of 10 respondents this year said they have heard of Salmonella as a problem in food, and seven in 10 have heard of E. coli O157 as a problem. In 2014’s survey 95 percent of respondents said they knew about Salmonella as a food safety problem.
The survey also showed that people have more faith in the safety of food if it comes from sources close to home.
“More than 70 percent of consumers trust the safety of food produced in their region of the country, while just 24 percent trust the safety of food from another country. Consumers were also more likely — 55 percent vs. 49 percent — to trust the safety of food from a local restaurant than the safety of food from a national chain restaurant,” according to the survey.
Consumers are also taking responsibility for their share of food safety, with 83 percent reporting washing their hands with soap and water and 74 percent reporting washing cutting boards with soap and water.
Four out of 10 respondents said they would be more likely to use a food thermometer if the recipes and cookbooks they used listed proper cooking temperatures in the directions.
Food safety: Chicken shop sealed over poor hygiene
Source : http://tribune.com.pk/story/1148055/food-safety-chicken-shop-sealed-poor-hygiene/
By Our Correspondent (July 24, 2016)
The Punjab Food Authority (PFA) continued their operation against adulterated and substandard food items on Saturday.
PFA Allama Iqbal Town officials, acting under supervision of Operations Director Ayesha Mumtaz, sealed Abid Chicken Sale Centre in Township area over poor cleanliness. A PFA official said the vendor had also failed to produce documentary proof of purchase. He said chicken meat storage facility on the premises was unhygienic. He said around 512 kilograms of meat was seized from the shop and sent to the Pakistan Agriculture and Meet Company for disposal.
A PFA team sealed Lahori Naan Shop on Wahdat Road over the vendors’ failure to get medical examination of all workers. Another team sealed a production unit of Butt Sweets over poor hygiene and the failure to produce evidence of purchase of raw materials.
In Shalimar Town, a PFA team closed down Al-Janat Sweets and Bakers on Bhogewal Road over unhygienic conditions. The management had failed to produce medical certificates of workers. Asghar Muraba Farosh was sealed for storing food products in barrels used for storage of industrial chemicals. The team also found stagnant water and fungus deposits.
Jani Pan Shop at Sher Shah Road was sealed for poor hygiene. The PFA Samanabad Town sealed Baymisal Dahi Bhallay and the Nishtar Town team sealed Saleem Store.
PFA teams imposed fines on Fazal Milk Shop, Chaska Hotel, Tanvir Milk Shop and Al-khan Tonight Restaurant and Marriage Hall over poor cleanliness.
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How to prevent Hepatitis A Lawsuits – Vaccines, Handwashing and Gloves
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/how-to-prevent-hepatitis-a-lawsuits-vaccines-handwashing-and-gloves/#.V5cYSE4eaUl
By Bill Marler (July 24, 2016)
Hepatitis A is totally and completely preventable.
Each year, approximately 30,000 to 50,000 cases of hepatitis A occur in the United States. And, yes, that includes Hawaii where a mystery 74 person hepatitis A outbreak is occurring. Two of those 74 individuals that separately work at a Taco Bell and a Baskin-Robbins have compounded to risk and fear of a continuing and spreading problem on Oahu when they worked when unknowingly contagious.
Although outbreaks continue to occur in the United States, no one should ever get infected if preventive measures are taken. For example, food handlers must always wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, and certainly before preparing food. Food handlers should always wear gloves when handling or preparing ready-to-eat foods, although gloves are not a substitute for good hand washing. Ill food-handlers should be excluded from work. In addition, in 2006, the ACIP recommended routine hepatitis A vaccination for all children ages 12-23 months, that hepatitis A vaccination be integrated into the routine childhood vaccination schedule, and that people not vaccinated by two years of age be vaccinated subsequently.
Estimates of the annual costs (direct and indirect) of hepatitis A in the United States have ranged from $300 million to $488.8 million in 1997 dollars. Nationwide, adults who become ill miss an average of 27 work-days per illness, and 11-to-22 percent of those infected are hospitalized. Fulminant hepatitis A (Acute Liver Failure) is a rare but devastating complication of HAV infection. As many as 50% of individuals with acute liver failure may die or require emergency liver transplantation. Elderly patients and patients with chronic liver disease are at higher risk for fulminant hepatitis A.
And, vaccines, gloves and handwashing does prevent litigation as well:
•Alta Restaurant Hepatitis A Exposure Class Action lawsuit – New York (2013)
•Carl’s Jr. Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – Washington (2000)
•Chi-Chi’s Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – Pennsylvania (2003)
•Chipotle Grill Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – California (2008)
•D’Angelo’s Deli Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – Massachusetts (2001)
•Friendly’s Hepatitis A Exposure Lawsuit – Massachusetts (2004)
•Houlihan’s Hepatitis A Exposure Lawsuit – Illinois (2007)
•Maple Lawn Dairy Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuit – New York (2004)
•McDonald’s Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – Illinois (2009)
•McDonald’s Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuit – Washington (1998)
•New Hawaii Sea Restaurant Hepatitis A Outbreak (2013)
•Olive Garden Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuit – North Carolina (2011)
•Quizno’s Hepatitis A Exposure Lawsuit – Massachusetts (2004)
•Red Robin Restaurant Hepatitis A Exposure Class Action lawsuit – Missouri (2014)
•Soleil Produce Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – California (2005)
•Subway Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – Washington (1999)
•Taco Bell Hepatitis A Outbreak Lawsuits – Florida (2000)
• Townsend Farms Organic Frozen Berries Hepatitis A Outbreak – Multistate (2013)
Hepatitis A: Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Hepatitis A outbreaks. The Hepatitis A lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Hepatitis A 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 Hepatitis A lawyers have litigated Hepatitis A cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of sources, such as green onions, lettuce and restaurant food. The law firm has brought Hepatitis A lawsuits against such companies as Costco, Subway, McDonald’s, Red Robin, Chipotle, Quiznos and Carl’s Jr. We proudly represented the family of Donald Rockwell, who died after consuming hepatitis A tainted food and Richard Miller, wo required a liver transplant after eating food at a Chi-Chi’s restaurant.
If you or a family member became ill with a Hepatitis A infection after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Hepatitis A attorneys for a free case evaluation.
A History of Hamburger E. coli Outbreaks 1993 to the Present
Source : http://www.foodpoisonjournal.com/foodborne-illness-outbreaks/a-history-of-hamburger-e-coli-outbreaks-1993-to-the-present/#.V5cYd04eaUl
By Bill Marler (July 23, 2016)
The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services (DPHS) is investigating an outbreak of Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli) associated with ground beef. Since June, 12 people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli after eating ground beef. Investigations are underway to determine the source of the ground beef.
In 2002, I wrote an Op-ed for the Denver Post entitled: “Put me out of business. Please.”
For this trial lawyer, E. coli has been a successful practice – and a heart-breaking one. I’m tired of visiting with horribly sick kids who did not have to be sick in the first place. I’m outraged with a food industry that allows E. coli and other poisons to reach consumers, and a federal regulatory system that does nothing about it….
… And, with a little luck, it will force one damn trial lawyer to find another line of work.
From the Jack in the Box E. coli outbreak of 1993 until the 2002 ConAgra E. coli outbreak, at least 95% of Marler Clark revenue was E. coli cases linked to hamburger. Today, it is nearly zero. That is success. To the beef industry – thank you for meeting the challenge. The millions spent on interventions, and the countless hours of food safety professionals, made the difference.
That all being said, there is still much the industry can do. Shiga-toxin producing E. coli will always be an issue. Listeria and antibiotic resistant Salmonella and Campylobacter, and other bad bugs we do not even know about, lurk around the corner. The industry cannot let up. Even with the success there still have been isolated tragedies like Stephanie Smith and Abby Fenstermaker who remind you the battle will likely always have to be fought.
A history of E. coli Litigation:
•AFG / Supervalu E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Minnesota (2000)
•Bauer Meat E. coli Litigation – Georgia (1998)
•BJ’s Wholesale Club E. coli Litigation – New York and New Jersey (2002)
•Camp Bournedale-South Shore Meats E. coli Outbreak Litigation – Rhode Island, Massachusetts (2009)
•Cargill E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Minnesota, Tennessee (2007)
•Carneco / Sam’s Club E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Wisconsin & Minnesota (2004)
•ConAgra Ground Beef E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Nationwide (2002)
•Cuyahoga County E. coli outbreak – Ohio (2009)
•Emmpak E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Wisconsin (2002)
•Excel E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – Georgia (2001)
•Fairbank Farms E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Nationwide (2009)
•Flanders Provision Co. E. coli Outbreak Litigation – Colorado, Nationwide (2005)
•Forest Ranch Fire Department Fundraiser E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – California (2008)
•Fresno Meat Market E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – California (2007)
•Interstate Meat E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Oregon, Washington & Idaho (2007)
•Jack in the Box E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Western States (1993)
•JBS Swift E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Nationwide (2009)
•Karl Ehmer Meats E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – New Jersey (2000)
•National Steak and Poultry E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak Lawsuits – Nationwide (2009)
•Nebraska Beef E. coli Outbreak – Nationwide (2008)
•Nebraska Beef E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Minnesota (2006)
•PM Beef Holdings, Lunds & Byerly’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Minnesota (2007)
•Rochester Meat Company E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Wisconsin, California (2008)
•Rocky Mountain Natural Meats Bison E. coli Outbreak Lawsuit – Colorado, New York (2010)
•S & S Foods – Goshen Boy Scout Camp E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Virginia (2008)
•Stop & Shop E. coli Case – New Hampshire (2007)
•Topps and Price Chopper E. coli Case – New York (2005)
•Topps Meats E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Nationwide (2007)
•Tyson Fresh Meats E. coli Lawsuit – Ohio (2011)
•United Food Group E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Western States (2007)
•Valley Meats E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania (2009)
•Wendy’s E. coli Outbreak Lawsuits – Oregon (2000)
Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of E. coli outbreaks and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). The E. coli lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of E. coli and other foodborne illness infections 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 E. coli lawyers have litigated E. coli and HUS cases stemming from outbreaks traced to ground beef, raw milk, lettuce, spinach, sprouts, and other food products. The law firm has brought E. coli lawsuits against such companies as Jack in the Box, Dole, ConAgra, Cargill, and Jimmy John’s. We have proudly represented such victims as Brianne Kiner, Stephanie Smith and Linda Rivera.
If you or a family member became ill with an E. coli infection or HUS after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark E. coli attorneys for a free case evaluation.
Officials suspect ground beef in ongoing E. coli outbreak
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/officials-suspect-ground-beef-in-ongoing-e-coli-outbreak/#.V5cYo04eaUl
By Coral Beach (July 22, 2016)
Since June 12 a dozen people have contracted E. coli O157:H7 infections after eating ground beef in New Hampshire. State and federal officials have not identified the specific source.
All 12 people have been infected with the same strain of E. coli, according to a notice Friday from the state’s bureau of infectious disease control. All reported eating ground beef in the days before becoming ill “at a number of different locations,” according to the notice.
Ground beef is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is assisting the state’s Department of Health and Human Services and Division of Public Health Services.
“Ground beef is a known source of E. coli and it is important for people to avoid eating under-cooked ground beef whether at home or at a restaurant,” said acting director of public health services Marcella Bobinsky in the Friday notice.
“Young children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to severe illness with this infection.”
Health officials said in the notice that people are not at risk as long as they strictly follow food safety best practices when handling and cooking ground beef.
“Ground beef should be cooked to a temperature of at least 160°F or 70¢ªC. It is best to use a thermometer, since color is not a very reliable indicator of ‘doneness.’ People should also prevent cross contamination in food preparation areas by thoroughly washing hands, counters, cutting boards, and utensils after they touch raw meat,” according to the bureau of infectious disease control.
E. coli O157:H7 is bacteria that causes severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually is not very high. Most people get better within a week.
However, some infections are severe or even life-threatening. Very young children and the elderly are more likely to develop a potentially life-threatening complication known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). Antibiotics should not be used to treat this infection because they may increase the risk of HUS.
New Hampshire officials are asking anyone who had developed E. coli infection symptoms after eating ground beef to contact the Bureau of Infectious Disease Control at 603-271-4496.
Food safety tips for after a prolonged power outage
Source : http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/4079841-food-safety-tips-after-prolonged-power-outage
By News Tribune (July 22, 2016)
By the time you read this, if you’ve been without power on Thursday morning and weren’t able to connect your refrigerator or freezer to a generator, the perishable food inside likely has spoiled.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that a refrigerator will keep food at a safe temperature for only about four hours without power. A full freezer will hold the temperature for about 48 hours after the power goes off (24 hours if it is half full).
The No. 1 safety tip from the USDA for deciding what to keep and what to toss is never taste food to determine its safety — when in doubt, throw it out.
Here are some more tips from the USDA:
Discard the following if your refrigerator has been without power for more than 4 hours:
•raw, cooked, or leftover meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and egg substitutes
•casseroles, soups, stews, and pizza
•mixed salads (i.e., chicken, tuna, macaroni, potato)
•gravy and stuffing;
•milk, cream, yogurt, sour cream, and soft cheeses
•cut fruits and vegetables (fresh);
•fruit and vegetable juices (opened)
•creamy-based salad dressing
•batters and doughs (i.e., pancake batter, cookie dough)
•custard, chiffon, or cheese pies
•garlic stored in oil.
•Discard opened mayonnaise, tartar sauce and horseradish if they were held above 50°F for more than 8 hours.
•Discard any foods that may have become contaminated by juices dripping from raw meat, poultry, or fish.
•In general, if any food has an unusual odor, color, or texture, throw it out.
The following foods may be safe after a power outage:
•High-acid foods such as mustard, ketchup, relishes, pickles, non-creamy salad dressings, jams and jellies generally will be safe to eat — though they may spoil sooner.
•whole fruits and vegetables (fresh)
•fruit and vegetable juices (unopened)
•baked goods such as fruit pies, bread, rolls, muffins, and cakes (except those with cream cheese frosting or cream fillings)
•hard and processed cheeses;
•butter and margarine
•fresh herbs and spices
The following foods may be safe after a power outage:
•Frozen foods that have partly thawed, but still contain ice crystals.
•Foods that have remained at refrigerator temperatures — 40°F or below. They may be safely refrozen, but their quality may suffer.
•Foods that were frozen — but don't require freezing, such as bread and baked goods.
REMOVING ODORS FROM REFRIGERATORS AND FREEZERS
•Dispose of any spoiled or questionable food.
•Remove shelves, crispers, and ice trays. Wash them thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Rinse with a sanitizing solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of drinking water.
•Wash the interior of the refrigerator and freezer, including the door and gaskets, with hot water and baking soda. Rinse with a sanitizing solution.
•Leave the door open for about 15 minutes.
•Repeat if needed.
If odor remains, try any or all of the following:
•Wipe the inside of the unit with equal parts vinegar and water to destroy mildew.
•Leave the door open and allow to air out for several days.
•Stuff the refrigerator and freezer with rolled newspapers. Keep the door closed for several days. Remove the newspaper and clean with vinegar and water.
•Sprinkle fresh coffee grounds or baking soda loosely in a large, shallow container in the bottom of the unit.
•Use a commercial product available at hardware and houseware stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Find more information at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.
Food Safety and Security Is Not Just about Preventing Pathogens
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/food-safety-and-security-is-not-just-about-preventing-pathogens/
By Robert A. Norton, Ph.D., and Stephanie Ostrowski, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM (July 19, 2016)
A recent recall was initiated by ConAgra of P.F. Chang’s Home Menu Brand Signature Spicy Chicken and Mongolian Style Beef, due to the possible presence of metal fragments in the accompanying sauce. The products were produced on June 13, 2016 and June 22, 2016, and the problem was discovered on July 1, “…when an establishment employee observed metal fragments while dispensing sugar from a supplier for sauce formulation during processing”, after which the recall occurred. “The metal fragments range in size between 2 and 9 millimeters (mm) in diameter, and are curled, malleable and shiny. The metal fragments may be embedded in the sauce contained within the frozen entrée products.” Fortunately to date, no adverse reactions or injuries have been reported.
This case illustrates well several elements, essential for ensuring the safety and welfare of the consumer public. First, the surveillance and recall program worked! The company is to be commended for the robustness of the program and the rapidness by which the company was able to accomplish the recall. Secondly, the case illustrates the importance of comprehensive food safety and defense programs. Pathogens are not the only thing to be prevented or eliminated from the food supply. Hazards can take many forms: in this case, a physical hazard.
It is important to remember that hazards in any form can be introduced, either accidentally or intentionally. In this case, there is no evidence that the physical contamination was anything other than accidental. ConAgra has no doubt carefully examined the whole of their equipment and its overall production process. Equipment does wear out, and friction can cause metal fragments to be sheared or ground off, contaminating product as it moves through the plant. Companies experiencing such events need to quickly examine the situation to determine if the contamination was accidental or intentional. Cases have emerged in the past where disgruntled employees or other individuals seeking to harm the company image intentionally contaminated food products with metal filings or broken glass. Companies are wise to consider the possibility of disgruntled employees and should build their food safety and defense programs accordingly. Companies should also foster a working environment where all employees are prized partners in diligence. In this case, it was a well-trained and observant employee who did his or her job well, thereby preventing a potential tragedy. Well done!
Robert A. Norton, Ph.D., is a professor at Auburn University and chair of the Food Defense Working Group in the Auburn University Food System Institute (AUFSI). A long-time consultant to federal and state law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense and industry, he specializes in intelligence analysis, weapons of mass destruction defense and national security. For more information on the topic or for more detailed discussions about specific security related needs, he can be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 334.844.7562.
Stephanie Ostrowski, DVM, MPVM, DACVPM, is an associate professor of Public Health at the Auburn University College of Veterinary Medicine, where she teaches courses in food safety and public health. She joined Auburn University after a career as an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Ostrowski is a member of AUFSI, specializing in food animal production medicine, food safety and food security from “farm to fork.” She can be reached through the Food Defense Working Group at Auburn University.
GMO Labels: Win, Lose or Draw?
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/enewsletter/gmo-labels-win-lose-or-draw/
By Kathy Hardee, Esq.(July 19, 2016)
A large number of Americans claim to want genetically modified organism (GMO) labeling on the food they buy. In the face of Congress’ years-long inability to put together any type of GMO legislation, states began taking matters into their own hands. Newly passed state referendums imposing a variety of GMO labeling requirements began to create a patchwork of legislation that would make it extremely difficult for manufacturers to distribute food products in multiple states without running into legislative inconsistencies. Such inconsistencies could inflate costs for labeling and distribution. The Grocery Manufacturers Association, together with others, pushed Congress to finally put some type of GMO labeling laws together that would apply consistent rules across the board by preempting all state laws on the subject. The result is legislation, now in the final stages of approval, which will likely make no one happy.
On July 7, 2016, the Senate voted 63–30 to approve what it calls a compromise bill. The bill is expected to gain easy House approval and be signed into law by the president. Proponents of GMO labeling, primarily the natural and organic industry, and some consumer groups, claim that the Senate bill is no compromise but instead was masterminded by the GMO industry itself. And while GMO information is required to be provided to consumers, the means by which this is to occur under the bill is more than a bit amusing. Unlike the exhaustive labeling requirements of the menu labeling laws and nutrition labeling on packages, GMO labeling will be difficult if not impossible to find or decipher.
As a preliminary question, what exactly is a GMO product? The bill provides some parameters. For example, GMO products that contain added genetically engineered elements are clearly covered. But the bill leaves out products that have had genes removed during the manufacturing process. Many foods begin with a GMO food, and during the manufacturing process, the modified portion is removed. Is this GMO food now non-GMO? The answer will be up to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The fact that USDA is the one making the call has raised objections by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. But as it has been from the beginning, what constitutes a genetically modified food is a much-disputed question and is not wholly clarified by the new law.
The second-most disputed question is whether there actually are any adverse health effects from GMO foods. They can clearly be more environmentally friendly than conventional agriculture. Regardless of your opinion of the risks or benefits of GMOs, we have entered a phase in the food industry where we promote a consumer’s right to know the details of what they’re eating and to choose for themselves. But looking back again at the Senate’s compromise bill, it’s unlikely that the consumer will learn much, absent extraordinary effort.
If a food is deemed to have GMO ingredients, the food manufacturer must “alert” consumers using one of three types of labels:
1. A written statement on the package
2. A link to a website or a phone number to call to ask about the food product
3. A quick response code that can be scanned by a smartphone to look up information about the food product
And to add irony upon irony, there are no penalties or fines imposed for noncompliance.
Opponents to the bill argue that only clear statements on the label really advise a consumer whether the contents of a product contain GMOs. But proponents argue that given the widespread disagreement of what constitutes a GMO, such details could not all be included on a label and referral to a website can provide more information. Given the significant disagreement on the threshold scientific issues, it is no wonder that what appears will become the first federal GMO bill is nothing more than the pretense of an effort.
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.
USDA to open facility-based food safety data
Source : https://gcn.com/articles/2016/07/19/food-safety-data.aspx
By Amanda Ziadeh (July 19, 2016)
The Department of Agriculture will soon post food safety datasets from slaughter and processing facilities online, including testing results for bacteria causing foodborne illnesses.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will begin sharing data collected by food safety inspectors on Data.gov. The agency’s nearly 7,500 inspectors cover 6,000 meat, poultry and processed egg facilities nationwide, and increasing transparency could help consumers make better buying decisions, motivate individual establishments to improve performance and lead to industrywide improvements in food safety, the agency said.
The new datasets will be published on a quarterly basis starting 90 days after the publication a Federal Register Notice on the Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan. FSIS will begin by sharing information on the processes used at each facility and creating facility codes to easily sort data by where it was collected.
The agency will factor in data availability and impact on public health when determining which datasets to release, and it will produce user guides for context to be included with each dataset. The specific framework for releasing this data is in the FSIS Establishment-Specific Data Release Plan.
USDA said it has been committed to using its inspector-collected data to identify and prevent food safety concerns for the past seven years, allowing FSIS to implement food safety changes. According to the agency, modernizing food safety inspections led to a 12 percent drop in foodborne illnesses in FSIS-regulated products from 2009 to 2015.
FDA warning letters: Drug residues in dairy cows
By News Desk (July 18, 2016)
Two dairy operations were recently sent warning letters by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and both referred to unacceptably high drug residues in the tissues of slaughtered cows.
In a June 30 warning letter, FDA’s Denver District Office told Morwai Dairy LLC of Fort Lupton, CO, that violations of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act were found during a four-day investigation of the operation in April.
Specifically, the agency stated that a dairy cow sold for slaughter as food on or about Jan. 20 was later found to have 2.04 parts per million (ppm) of defuroylceftiofur, an antibiotic, in the kidney tissue and 0.673 ppm of flunixin, an anti-inflammatory drug, in the liver tissue.
However, FDA has established a tolerance in cattle of 0.4 ppm for residues of desfuroylceftiofur in kidney tissue and 0.125 ppm for flunixin in liver tissue, the letter pointed out. The presence of these drugs at those levels causes the food to be adulterated, FDA added.
The warning letter also mentioned that the Morwai Dairy had failed to maintain written treatment records for a specific cow and that a signed affidavit had indicated that fresh pen treatment logs were being discarded after a certain period.
“Food from animals held under such conditions is adulterated …” under the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the agency noted.
FDA’s Detroit Office sent a warning letter dated June 28 to Robin Martin of Snover, MI, regarding violations inspectors had identified while visiting his dairy operation on April 26, 28 and May 4.
A culled dairy cow sold for slaughter as food on or about July 28, 2015, was found to have desfuroylceftiofur (a marker residue for ceftiofur) at 5.48 ppm in the kidney tissue, the letter stated, although the FDA tolerance level for residues of that drug in cattle kidney tissue is 0.4 ppm.
Further, the agency stated that the dairy failed to maintain treatment records and that expired animal drugs were found on-site. Food from animals held under such conditions is considered adulterated under federal regulations, FDA noted.
A written response from the dairy dated May 23 detailed several operational changes that were being implemented in response to the agency’s observations from the inspection. However, FDA found the response inadequate “due to the lack of documentation illustrating the inclusion of indications for use, dosage given, and route of administration into your record keeping practices.”
Recipients of FDA warning letters have 15 working days from receipt to respond with details of the procedures they have taken, or will take, to correct the current violations and prevent them from recurring.
Justice helps FDA shut down noodle and sprout distribution
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/doj-helps-fda-shut-down-noodle-and-sprout-distribution/#.V5cZvE4eaUl
By News Desk (July 18, 2016)
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors began recording the failure to properly maintain the Kwong Tung Foods facility at 1840 East 38th Street in Minneapolis in 2010.
Pipes were observed draining directly onto the floor. During 2011, 2012, and 2014 inspections, FDA observed dripping into food preparation areas and/or a food production room.
Those problems dating back to 2009, which were explained in Form FDA 483 observation reports after inspections and in warning letters, went unaddressed by Kwong Tung Foods.
But last week, a problem that dragged on for almost eight years came to end in 48 hours when the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota entered a consent decree of permanent injunction against Kwong Tung Foods Inc.
The consent decree is being enforced against Kwong Tung Foods doing business as Canton Foods; the firm’s president and owner, Vieta C. Wang; and vice president, Juney H. Wang, to prevent the distribution of adulterated noodles and sprouts.
Department of Justice attorneys filed a complaint on July 14, in the U.S. District Court for Minnesota at FDA’s request. The complaint alleged that Kwong Tung Foods violated the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act by causing noodles and sprouts to be adulterated in that they have been prepared, packed and/or held under insanitary conditions whereby the food may have become contaminated with filth or have been rendered injurious to health.
According to the complaint, the insanitary conditions included failure to exclude pests and rodents from the facility, failure to maintain equipment and failure to ensure adequate employee sanitation.
“Kwong Tung Foods was repeatedly warned about the insanitary conditions at its Minneapolis food facility,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to work aggressively to protect consumers from adulterated food and enforce our nation’s food safety laws.”
In conjunction with the filing of the complaint, the defendants agreed to be bound by a permanent injunction. As part of the settlement, the defendants represented that they have ceased receiving, preparing, processing, packing, holding, or distributing any type of food at or from any location. Under the permanent injunction, if the defendants seek to resume such activity, they must take specific steps to improve the firm’s manufacturing practices, and then receive written approval from FDA.
According to the complaint, in October 2015, FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility, located at 1840 E. 38th Street in Minneapolis, and observed numerous insanitary practices, including the defendants’ failure to take necessary precautions to protect against contamination and maintain buildings in good repair.
Specifically, according to the complaint, FDA observed evidence of live and dead pests and rodents in production rooms, a black mold-like substance and debris on production equipment, inadequate employee sanitation practices, and potential cross-contamination with major allergens. In addition, FDA observed condensate dripping onto finished bean sprouts, according to the complaint.
FDA inspected Kwong Tung Foods’ facility twice in 2014. As alleged in the complaint, FDA also observed failures to exclude pests from the facility and to adequately maintain equipment and employee sanitation practices.
Under federal law, food processors are required to comply with current good manufacturing practices provided by FDA regulation. The complaint alleged that the defendants violated the law by causing food to become adulterated while it was held for sale after shipment of one or more of its components in interstate commerce.
The government is represented by Trial Attorney Alistair Reader of the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch and Assistant U.S. Attorney Bahram Samie of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota. They were assisted by Associate Chief Counsel for Enforcement Jennifer Kang of the Food and Drug Division, Office of General Counsel, Department of Health and Human Services.
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