Canada Invests in Anti-Microbial Feed Additives for Food Safety
Source : http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/37382/canada-invests-in-antimicrobial-feed-additives-for-food-safety/
By thepoultrysite.com (Aug 01, 2016)
CANADA - Canada's government is providing an investment of $3.4 million to help a company called AbCelex Technologies develop a new line of anti-microbial feed additives to help control disease outbreaks in poultry flocks.
The company is developing a line of innovative non-antibiotic, non-hormonal additives that are specifically targeted at Campylobacter and Salmonella, two of the most common food-borne bacteria that infect poultry. The new anti-microbials – called "nanobodies" – will result in healthier poultry and improve food safety.
The investment was announced by Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, who said: "Our Government is committed to positioning Canada as a global leader for innovation – one that creates well-paying jobs, drives growth across all industries and improves the lives of all Canadians.
"Today’s announcement is a prime example of that priority in action: these innovations will reduce the use of antibiotics and result in safer food, a healthier population and a more productive agricultural economy."
This project will be conducted in collaboration with the International Vaccine Centre at the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Toronto and the Colorado Quality Research Inc.
Senator Schumer: FDA Needs to Fix Recall Process
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/senator-schumer-fda-needs-to-fix-recall-process/
By Linda Larsen (Aug 01, 2016)
Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is calling on the federal government to improve the FDA’s ability to recall contaminated foods. He uses the recall of millions of pounds of General Mills flour for potential E. coli contamination as an example.
The E. coli O121 and O26 outbreak linked to that flour began in December 2015, but the flour itself was not recalled until May 2016. Meanwhile, more American consumers got sick.
The Senator called for major changes, to make sure the FDA is doing everything it can to prevent future foodborne illness. The Senator is responding to a recently released report by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which suggested that the FDA is taking far too long to initiate food recalls, putting consumers at risk.
Schumer said, “delays in getting bad food off store shelves is just a recipe for disaster. That’s why the FDA must come to the table with a healthy, new plan, detailing how they will revamp an execute a reformed food recall process. One that gets potentially contaminated food off the shelves before Americans risk getting sick, not after. We expect our everyday food purchases from the local supermarket to be safe to eat, but following a recent Inspector General’s report, it appears many Americans are getting a sour deal and sour stomachs. The food recall process too slow and unduly exposes countless Americans to food that can make them sick – or even kill them. In some cases, the FDA waits months before issuing recalls on potentially contaminated food products. That’s why I’m urging the FDA to conduct a top-to-bottom review of their contaminated food recall process with an eye towards speeding things up.”
Since May 31, 2016, there have been 57 products recalled for potential Listeria and Salmonella contamination, including recalls for cheese, frozen vegetables, cereal, sunflower seeds, rice, and ice cream. While the Food Safety Modernization Act gives the FDA authority to issue mandatory recalls, food companies must first be given the opportunity to recall their products voluntarily. Since FSMA passed in 2011, the FDA has only issued two mandatory recalls.
The Inspector General’s report looked at extreme instances of food recalls over the last few years. That report suggested that the FDA “does not have an efficient and effective food recall initiation process that helps ensure the safety of the Nation’s food supply.” Inspectors audited 30 voluntary recalls between October 2012 and May 2015 and found that the FDA often worked to encourage companies to issue voluntary recalls months before issuing a mandatory recall, despite identifying potentially dangerous contamination in the product.
Schumer uses as an example the nSpired nut butter recall and Salmonella outbreak in 2014. The FDA inspected that company’s facility in February 2014 and found Salmonella in nSpired’s nut butter on March 7, 2014. On March 24, 2014, FDA learned that two people were sickened after consuming that company’s nut butter. The company issued a voluntary recall of their products five months later, in August. By that time, at least 14 people in 11 states were sick with the outbreak strain of Salmonella.
The Inspector General’s report concluded that the FDA does not have adequate policies and procedures in place to protect consumers from buying contaminated products. The FDA should update policies and procedures by establishing set timeframes for recalls. Schumer urged the FDA to take action and conduct a full review of its recall process to help keep consumers safe from contaminated food.
Keep food safe during hot summer days
Source : http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/keep_food_safe_during_hot_summer_days
By Laurie Messing, Michigan State University Extension (July 28, 2016)
With these high Michigan temperatures, take extra precaution to keep your food at a safe temperature.
It certainly has been a hot and humid stretch of weather for Michigan this summer. As you continue to enjoy all the great activities our state has to offer during summer time, remember to keep your food safety habits up to speed with these extreme high temperatures. Warmer temperatures provide the perfect environment for bacteria to rapidly multiply if perishable food is not properly handled. This bacterial growth can lead to foodborne illness.
Michigan State University Extension recommends always using these four principles for safe food handling (pdf)—Clean, Separate, Cook and Chill. Each principle has important tips to keep in mind to help ensure food is safe to eat. During summer temperatures, pay extra attention to the Chill principle so your fun summer food events can be safe, even when the temperatures soar past 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
Chill—Keep cold foods cold
Summer’s warmer temperatures can make it difficult to keep cold foods cold. Take special caution to:
•Ensure that food is refrigerated quickly in a refrigerator with the temperature below 40 degrees F.
•Have refrigerator thermometers in all your coolers, your camper refrigerators and all refrigerators in your home.
•Use coolers or ice chests filled with ice when traveling or taking food away from home for food events, or the grocery store.
•Keep the coolers closed as much as possible and out of direct sunlight.
•Pack beverages in a separate cooler from the food since the beverage cooler is usually opened more frequently and the temperature can be higher than 40 degrees F.
•Remember, if the temperature is above 90 degrees F then food can only safely be out of refrigerator temperatures for one hour. When the temperatures soar, the 2-hour rule becomes a one-hour rule due to greater chance of bacteria contaminating food.
Enjoy the fun and sun but follow the simple steps above to keep your favorite summer foods safe.
This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu. To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu/newsletters. To contact an expert in your area, visit http://expert.msue.msu.edu, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).
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Floods spark fears over food safety
Source : http://www.shanghaidaily.com/nation/Floods-spark-fears-over-food-safety/shdaily.shtml
By Xinhua (July 28, 2016)
SEVERE flooding across large parts of the country has raised fresh concerns about food safety. Since the rainy season began in June, millions of domestic animals have been washed away in flooding, authorities said.
In Anhui Province, one of the worst-hit areas, about 80,000 pigs and more than 12 million chickens and ducks were dragged away by floodwaters.
In Hubei Province, more than 80,000 pigs and over 3.6 million chickens and ducks died, while in Jiangxi Province, about 5.2 million chickens and ducks were lost.
Many are worried that the meat might find its way to markets around the country.
China’s food safety credentials took a hit when high-profile food scandals shook consumer confidence, particularly in 2008 when melamine-tainted baby formula caused at least six infant deaths and made a further 300,000 ill.
In recent years, public anger has mounted over reports that illicit pork has found its way to Chinese dinner tables. Illegal vendors reportedly salvage dead animals from rivers or lakes, before processing and selling the meat. Last year, police in southern China’s Guangdong Province dealt with a case in which suspects sold more than 3,500kg of tainted pork each day, according to the provincial public security bureau.
“There are floods everywhere, and I’m worried that I might accidently eat meat from drowned pigs or chickens,” said Mao Xiaoli, a resident in Xinjian County, Jiangxi.
Some regions have properly handled the dead animals. In Xiushui County, Jiangxi, farmers buried pigs killed in recent floods.
“As required, the pigs were buried at least 2 meters deep. We used three giant excavators to dig the holes,” said Zheng Guangcai, head of local veterinary services.
Others appeared more casual about carcass disposal. In Anqing city, Anhui, the head of a local farming cooperative said that about 2,000 drowned ducks were simply “thrown away.”
“There are too many and it is impossible to handle them all properly,” he said.
In Xuancheng City, Anhui, floods killed or washed away more than five million chickens and ducks. “About 60,000 ducks in our village were washed away this year, and we still have not found them,” said Hu Yiqun, a village leader in Xuancheng’s Huaining County.
Last week, Anhui government issued a notice demanding supervisors prevent such meat from reaching the dinner table. An Anhui government official said that illegal meat processing is difficult to spot because “there are too many places to check in a vast area.”
“Some illegal processors just salvage the dead animals from the water and sell them direct to consumers,” he said. “Some use the meat to make products like sausages.”
Zhu Liangqiang, head of Anhui Animal Disease Control and Prevention, said strict supervision of transportation, processing and sourcing of animals can prevent illegal meat from entering the market.
“Only with tight supervision can we guarantee food safety,” he said.
Hawaii Hep A outbreak nears 100; source a mystery
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/hawaii-hep-a-outbreak-nears-100-source-a-mystery/#.V6GMzk4eaUl
By Coral Beach (July 27, 2016)
Extra staff is working overtime in Hawaii to find the cause of a Hepatitis A outbreak that has grown six-fold since July 1, but state officials admit they are stumped.
Despite not having any hard leads on the source of the outbreak, State Epidemiologist Sarah Park said Tuesday that federal officials assisting with the investigation have praised the Hawaii public health efforts.
“The CDC said ‘your epidemiology is spot on, it’s only one outbreak,’ ” Park said, explaining that all of the samples Hawaii has sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for DNA sequencing have showed the same strain of Hepatitis 1A.
“Unfortunately it’s a unique strain that isn’t in their database. They can’t find a match for it from any previous outbreaks. … We haven’t been able to develop a hypothesis so we can’t do a case control study.”
Without a case control study, Park said it is virtually impossible to determine the cause of the outbreak. The only common denominator so far is that the outbreak appears to be limited to the island of Oahu.
Three employees of restaurants on the island have been identified as outbreak victims, which raises the possibility they could have exposed customers. However, Park said, the employee illnesses should not be interpreted by the general public as a sign that any of the three restaurants is the root source of the outbreak.
As of Tuesday, 93 people have been confirmed with the outbreak strain. A third of the patients, 29, have required hospitalization since June 12 when the first person fell ill. The most recent person became sick July 21, indicating the outbreak is definitely ongoing.
Park said the usual 30- to 70-day incubation period for the infection complicates investigation efforts because patients usually don’t have complete memories of everything they ate and drank back that far. But she is hopeful that one recently confirmed case will help narrow the investigation.
All of the 93 confirmed victims were on Oahu during their exposure period. Four of them now live on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai, and Maui. One of those four is considered an “outlier” case, Park said.
“We have one person with a very narrow possible exposure window, and that should help. It’s more likely we can narrow down what and where they ate,” Park said.
The three restaurants that have each had one employee sickened in the outbreak, and the dates those employees may have exposed restaurant customers, are:
•Baskin-Robbins on Oahu at the Waikele Center with possible exposure dates of June 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 30, and July 1 and 3;
•Sushi Shiono on Hawaii at the Waikoloa Beach Resort — Queen’s MarketPlace, 69-201 Waikoloa Beach Drive, with possible exposure dates of July 5-8, 11-15, and 18-21; and
•Taco Bell on Oahu in Waipio, 94-790 Ukee St., with possible exposure dates of June 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, and July 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 11.
Park said all three restaurants have “green” ratings in terms of health inspections, which is the best rating under the state’s green, yellow, red rating system.
Anatomy of the investigation
Between 20 and 30 employees of Hawaii’s Department of Health are working directly on the outbreak investigation, though not all of them are on it full time every day, Park said.
She has pulled in staff from various divisions to help. Some employees are covering duties for coworkers who are assigned to the outbreak in addition to handling their own workloads.
“We’ve got people working overtime on this,” Park said. The investigators are interviewing patients and then interviewing them again.
“We’re really grateful to them (the victims) and their help, especially after the fourth or fifth time we call them back to ask more questions.”
In addition to patients’ memories, public health staff is pouring over lists of debit card and credit card transactions the outbreak victims have provided. Store loyalty cards are also providing important details about what foods people ate and where they bought them.
“The stores have been very helpful providing the data from the cards, but we are having to enter a lot of it by hand (into our system) so we can analyze it,” Park said. “We are also using tools like mapping programs that we have learned from other outbreaks can be helpful in developing a hypothesis.”
An attorney representing two of the outbreak patients who required hospitalization met with the two people this past weekend.
“They have offered continued assistance to the health department to locate the source of this potentially deadly virus,” said Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler. (Marler Clark underwrites Food Safety News)
“I encourage all the victims to reach out to the Health Department to provide, debit card and credit card statements, check registers, cell phone records, club card numbers, social media account information, and any other material that would provide data on where they were and what they ate or drank in the weeks before they became ill.
“With this many people ill, there has to be a common link, it is just not apparent yet. I would also encourage the Health Department to reach out to the medical school to interview people and the computer science department to help crunch the data gathered from the victims.”
Advice for the general public
As the outbreak continues state and federal health officials are encouraging certain people to talk to their doctors about getting a “post-exposure prophylaxis” shot if they have not been vaccinated for Hepatitis A and are considered a “contact.”
A contact is defined as someone who:
•lives with an infected person;
•has had sexual contact with an infected person;
•has shared drugs or drug paraphernalia with an infected person;
•has shared food, beverages or eating utensils with an infected person; or
•consumed ready-to-eat foods prepared by an infected person.
The post-exposure, single injection of Hepatitis A vaccine or immune globulin — depending on the age of the person — must be given within two weeks of exposure according to Park and the CDC.
Dr. Sarah Schillie, medical officer at the CDC’s Division of Viral Hepatitis, said Tuesday the post-exposure vaccination and immune globulin are known to be extremely effective at preventing the infection from developing, if people receive them soon enough after exposure.
Most children have received Hepatitis A vaccinations as part of the standard battery of immunizations since 2006, Schillie said. Some adults also receive the vaccination before international travel. The vaccination before exposure involves two injections, that must be given six months apart.
In general, Schillie said adults are not routinely recommended to receive the Hepatitis A two-shot vaccination unless they are in certain high risk groups, such as those traveling to certain countries and men who have male sexual partners.
However, there is no general rule against adults receiving the two-shot vaccination, Hawaii’s Park said. Both Park and Schillie said people should talk with their doctors to find out whether they should receive the Hepatitis A vaccine regimen.
Park said initial reports that there might not be large enough supplies of the post-exposure injections are turning out to be unfounded. The state has asked pharmacies to continue ordering and stocking the vaccine and immune globulin.
A list of pharmacies that are offering the shots is available on the state health department website.
“What I really want people to understand is that the vaccination and the (post-exposure shots) are both very, very effective and very, very safe, Schillie said Tuesday.
Despite the effectiveness of the preventive, two-shot vaccination, both Schiller and Park said neither federal nor state public health officials suggest foodservice workers such as restaurant employees should be required to have the vaccination.
Both cited the high turnover rate of restaurant employees as a stumbling block.
“If a college student is working a summer job at a restaurant, they are done with the job and back at school and may never work in foodservice again,” Schillie said. “And since you have to wait six months between the two shots, it just doesn’t make since to require it.”
Hawaii state law does require that foodservice workers who have not been vaccinated and who are “contacts” of an infected person must be tested and receive a negative result before returning to work after exposure.
“Once an infected food handler has been identified, (Department of Health) staff coordinate directly with the owners and managers of the affected food service establishments to ensure their employees are tested before resuming their work,” according to the Hawaii health department website..
Knowing when exposure occurred isn’t always easy to determine, however. In addition to an incubation period of up to 70 days before symptoms begin, Hepatitis A can be spread during the two weeks before symptoms begin and for a week after a person falls ill.
Symptoms of Hepatitis A infection include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, abdominal discomfort, dark urine, diarrhea, and yellow skin and eyes.
New surface coatings for food facilities hold promise for food safety
Source : http://www.european-coatings.com/Raw-materials-technologies/Technologies/New-surface-coatings-for-food-facilities-hold-promise-for-food-safety
By european-coatings.com (July 26, 2016)
One of the keys to preventing food-borne illness and food waste is making sure that the surfaces at production facilities remain free of contamination between scheduled cleanings.
So researchers are investigating special new coatings that are more resistant to bacteria and other microbes than the food contact surfaces that are used now.
Available commercially within a few years
"Manufacturers already work diligently to keep their facilities clean, but we are creating materials that are even less likely to harbor bad bugs,” says Julie Goddard, an associate professor in the department of food science at Cornell University. "We have designed new polymer coatings that can be applied to food processing surfaces that resist microbial adhesion and can actually inactivate any microbes that do adhere, preventing them from growing and potentially contaminating our food supply.”
The coatings are still being researched but may be available commercially within a few years, she says.
Designing durable coatings isn’t an easy task
Designing effective and durable coatings isn’t an easy task. "It’s a hard life for the equipment used in food production facilities because the coatings have to hold up to acidic and caustic cleaners, temperature extremes and abrasions from scrubbings. It’s a huge challenge to find coatings that will work under these extreme conditions,” Goddard says. One new coating works on resisting bacteria in several different ways, she says. "It has been shown to inactivate 99.999% of Listeria monocytogenes, a microbe that is a significant threat to food safety.”
Reducing the massive amount of food waste
In addition to being important to food safety, coatings like this can help reduce the massive amount of food that is wasted due to spoilage microbes, she says. There are other areas of the food processing plant that might benefit from this type of coating including door knobs, HVAC vents and drains, which can harbor microorganisms that can make our food spoil faster or potentially make people ill, Goddard says. Another application for these coatings may be to use them on handling and harvest equipment for fruits and vegetables, she says.
School lunch supplier expands recall as precaution over Listeria
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/school-lunch-supplier-expands-recall-as-precaution-over-listeria/#.V6GNdk4eaUl
By News Desk (July 27, 2016)
Let’s Do Lunch, the Gardena, CA, school lunch supplier doing business as Integrated Food Service (IFS), has expanded its July 19 recall, this time providing lists of all recalled products, the identities of all IFS distributors, and the names of all the schools involved.
The reason for the expanded recall remains the same: The products have “the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.” There are not yet any reports of illnesses associated with the recall. The recalls of products from schools comes as most are on summer vacation.
IFS opted for the recall after environmental testing was conducted as part of the initial investigation. No positive findings in any food products or on food contact surfaces were recorded.
IFS initiated a thorough cleaning and disinfection process, followed by extensive testing, and also has engaged outside food safety experts to review the company’s processes and policies.
The company is working closely with FDA officials and has voluntarily expanded the recall to include products produced between May 18 and June 16. The products were distributed to foodservice distributors in eight states. None of the recalled products are sold at any retail locations.
The schools and foodservice distributors were located in the following states: California, Michigan, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington. On the IFS website, customers will find a list of school districts that received the products being recalled. The list will be updated daily as further information becomes available.
The company is communicating the details of the recall and is notifying customers and distributors to hold any product that may be in frozen storage until arrangements can be made to return or destroy the product. IFS will work closely with schools and school foodservice distributors until the company can assure that no recalled product remains in their locations.
Any school district that believes it may have product still in frozen storage that is affected by this recall should contact the IFS recall coordinator at 800-560-9999 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Pacific time, Monday through Friday, or at email@example.com for return or disposal instructions.
IFS is a third-generation, family-owned company. It said it initiated the voluntary recall because of its commitment to take every precaution against foodborne illnesses.
Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections especially in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Others typically suffer only short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
Listeria is unusual for its long incubation period, meaning the time from exposure to symptoms. The average period is 30 days, but incubations can take twice that long.
E. coli outbreak spreads as investigators trace ground beef
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/e-coli-outbreak-spreads-as-investigators-trace-ground-beef/#.V6GNok4eaUl
By Coral Beach (July 26, 2016)
UPDATE: Late Tuesday night the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service posted a recall notice for about 8,000 pounds of raw beef products from PT Farm LLC in North Haverhill, NH, in connection with the E. coli outbreak.
People in New Hampshire are continuing to become ill with E. coli infections after eating ground beef, with the most recent case just last week, but state and federal officials are closing in on the source.
In some ways, the 14 outbreak victims don’t seem to have much in common, according to investigators. They are spread across the state and consumed ground beef in a variety of locations before becoming infected, said Beth Daly, chief of the New Hampshire Bureau of Infectious Disease Control.
“Some of them did eat it at restaurants, though, so it’s not just a situation of people not cooking ground beef long enough at home,” Daly said. “It’s important for people to remember when they go to restaurants to order beef to be cook throughly.”
The first confirmed E. coli infection in the outbreak began in mid-June, Daly said. Most of the cases were in late June and early July, but another person got sick last week and has been confirmed as part of the outbreak.
At the point state investigators discovered the common denominator of ground beef among outbreak victims, they notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which regulates meats. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) inspectors have been working to trace the source of the implicated ground beef.
A spokeswoman with FSIS said this afternoon that the agency is narrowing down the possible sources and will likely announce a recall when additional details are available.
Anyone who has eaten ground beef in New Hampshire and developed symptoms of E. coli infection is asked to contact a doctor.
The symptoms of E. coli infections vary for each person but often include severe stomach cramps, diarrhea that is often bloody, and vomiting. If there is fever, it usually less than 101¢ªF, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people recover within five to seven days. Some infections, however, are severe or even life-threatening, especially in young children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone National Tour
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/news/usdae28099s-food-safety-discovery-zone-national-tour/
By Staff (July 26, 2016)
In an effort to help educate Michigan residents about how to prevent foodborne illness, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety Discovery Zone is planning a day of education at Michigan State University (MSU) next month.
USDA’s Discovery Zone is described as a 40-foot multimedia demonstration kitchen on wheels meant for all ages. It will include hands-on demonstrations to show consumers how to prevent foodborne illness with the use of proper food handling techniques. The agency will be joined by food and nutrition experts from MSU Extension. Their focus will be on the four primary food handling steps--clean, separate, cook and chill.
•Date: August 2, 2016
•Time: 9 am to 5 pm
•The event is open to the public
“Protecting families’ food from foodborne illness and ensuring that they know how to protect themselves remains a top priority for the USDA and MSU Extension,” says Dawn Contreras, director of MSU Extension health and nutrition programming. “We hope people will take advantage of this event to learn about how they can avoid foodborne illness in their homes.”
The MSU event will be the final Michigan stop during the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone’s national tour.
Anyone who wishes to request USDA’s Discovery Zone to visit their institution or facility can fill out this form on FSIS.USDA.gov.
Consumer Reports Details Ways You Can Get E. coli From Flour
Source : https://foodpoisoningbulletin.com/2016/consumer-reports-details-ways-you-can-get-e-coli-from-flour/
By Linda Larsen (July 26, 2016)
Consumer Reports wrote an interesting article about five surprising ways you could get an E. coli infection from flour. With the news that General Mills has expanded their recall of flour associated with a multistate E. coli outbreak, and that the outbreak has grown, this information is valuable.
Consumers have been told for years that it is not safe to eat raw cookie dough or raw cake batter. But did you know that the risk factor in those products isn’t just the raw eggs? Raw flour is an agricultural product that should be cooked before you eat it. It can be contaminated with pathogenic bacteria just like raw meats or raw fruits or vegetables.
But did you know that modeling clay and play dough, ornaments made with flour, and paper mâché are also risky? There are many recipes in old cookbooks for making those products with flour specifically for children to play with. Don’t make those products for your kids. If you do choose to make them, supervise the kids so they don’t put their fingers in their mouths after handling these products (good luck!) and wash hands and work surfaces thoroughly with soap and water afterward.
There are quite a few recipes floating around for truffles made with raw flour, and cookie dough brownies that have a layer of raw cookie dough on top of the cooked brownie. Don’t use those recipes. If the recipe containing flour isn’t cooked, don’t make it.
The fourth possible risk is just using flour. Anyone who has ever baked or cooked with flour knows it can easily fly around the kitchen. Thousands of E. coli bacteria can fit on one tiny particle of flour. And it only take 10 bacteria to make you seriously ill. Dredging meats in flour, sifting flour, and even beating a batter can spread contaminated flour around your kitchen. Make sure that you wash counters, cutting boards, plates, and utensils after you have used flour in your kitchen.
And here’s a risk you probably haven’t thought of: the container you use to store flour. Every time you add flour to that container, it should be thoroughly washed with soap and water. You never know if the batch of flour that was in that container was contaminated.
While there are risk associated with any food, these problems with flour are fairly new to most people. Flour seems like such a dry, benign product. But it can be contaminated just like any other raw agricultural product. So be careful, follow cleaning instructions, wash your hands well while cooking, and be safe.
Safely Feeding America
Source : http://www.foodsafetymagazine.com/magazine-archive1/junejuly2016/safely-feeding-america/
By Mitzi D. Baum, M.Sc.
One day in 1969, retired businessman John van Hengel met a desperate mother rummaging through grocery store garbage bins to find food for her children. Van Hengel met the woman while he was volunteering at his local soup kitchen. She told van Hengel there should be a place where, instead of being thrown out, discarded food could be stored for people to pick up—similar to the way banks store money for future use. That mother’s wisdom gave birth to a new industry that feeds the hungry.
After that encounter, van Hengel established St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix, AZ, as the first food bank in the United States. In its initial year, St. Mary’s distributed 275,000 pounds of food to people in need. Word of the food bank’s success quickly spread, and by 1977, food banks had been established in 18 cities across the country. As the number of food banks continued to increase, van Hengel saw the need for a network organization to help them grow and coordinate. In 1979, he and other partners founded a national organization for food banks called Second Harvest. The network changed its name in 2008 to Feeding America.
Today, Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization—a powerful and efficient network of 200 food banks across the country. As food insecurity rates hold steady at the highest levels ever, the Feeding America network of food banks has risen to meet the need. The network feeds 46 million people at risk of hunger, including 12 million children and 7 million seniors annually.
Feeding America and its partners not only lead in hunger-relief efforts, but they also lead the hunger-relief community in providing safe food. The rapidly changing product mix from shelf-stable to perishable foods flowing into food banks compels the network to develop increasingly sophisticated food safety practices so that such products reach the consumer safely. Accordingly, Feeding America is working hard to help its member food banks continuously improve their food safety acumen (see “Food Safety in the Feeding America Network,” p. 64). This important work reflects our commitment to establish, maintain and sustain robust standards that carefully steward our donors’ resources to provide safe food to the people we serve.
Taking a Giant Step Forward
Feeding America is fortunate to have an enduring relationship with Cargill. Over the years, Cargill has been generous in its support for both Feeding America’s national office and our member food banks across the country. In 2012, our partnership with Cargill took a significant step forward when Feeding America started thinking more critically about the future of food safety. With the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) moving forward, Feeding America saw the need for the network to be well prepared for the final FSMA rules. We asked Cargill to help this effort through funding for staffing, educational summits and third-party food safety audits. Cargill understood the importance and urgency of our proposed food safety strategy and got the program off the ground with a 2-year grant.
Third-party food safety audits were new to the network and participation was voluntary. Although progress was slow at first, early adopters of the auditing program soon recognized and communicated the benefits of participation. These benefits include: 1) better depth of understanding of their food banking operations; 2) increased efficiencies in their operations through written Standard Operating Procedures; 3) improved staff training; 4) improved management of pest control operator relationships; and 5) higher operational standards and results. After the first year of training audits, a handful of early adopters started scored audits, which they passed with high scores. Notwithstanding this incremental success, it was clear we needed to do more to encourage the rest of the food banks to engage in the program. As the initial grant period ended, Feeding America approached Cargill with another idea. We wanted to focus on providing resources to achieve a holistic shift in food bank food safety culture. Our vision went beyond auditing and deeper than the food bank level. We wanted to provide educational opportunities and resources to our 60,000 agency partners (soup kitchens, shelters and pantries)—the end of the supply chain. Cargill endorsed the concept with a generous 3-year grant to support the enhanced food safety initiatives we envisioned. Once Cargill said yes, we quickly got busy.
Building the Foundation
We developed a multifaceted approach to reinforce the food safety programs that already existed in the network. Our challenge was to provide the same opportunities and information to each food bank while avoiding a cookie-cutter approach that ignored each food bank’s unique situation, knowledge base and resources. We overcame this challenge with five specific action items.
1. Provide dollars to support improvements. Initially, we created a considerable amount of conversation to get food banks to participate in the third-party auditing program—seizing every opportunity to discuss it. There was a lot of trepidation within the network about our chosen vendor’s distribution center standard and how it would impact operations. Many of the food banks wondered if the application of a food manufacturing standard even made sense. Thus, we faced a great deal of pushback, and understandably so. Who wants another audit? In an effort to respond to this anxiety, we sought to incentivize participation by providing grants. We developed a request for proposals so the network could access grant dollars specifically for food safety improvements. The key eligibility requirement was that the food bank applicant had to be actively participating in the program by having completed a training audit within the last 12 months. The grant dollars would be utilized to correct any issues identified in the food bank’s third-party audit report. The grants quickly became very competitive and created a buzz about the food safety program within the network. Activity in the program soared. It became so well socialized that within 1½ years, we achieved over a 90 percent voluntary participation rate in the network.
2. Free education and training for the network. We decided that we needed to create a forum or summit to deliver specific information regarding our vendors’ distribution center standard. We developed our Food Safety Summit (FSS) to bring network staff together to learn the critical elements of the new standard. The FSS was initially for those food banks that self-identified as needing additional education and training in food safety, but it became a training opportunity for all network food banks. The FSS takes place at a food bank that passed a scored audit and is a 2-day, intensive drill-down of the new distribution center standards by a qualified instructor from the audit vendor. The FSS also includes a complete warehouse walk-around to illustrate examples of how the new standards should be implemented. These summits were a success and greatly advanced our education and training plan. As we had hoped, the FSS provided a safe environment for people to learn and ask questions among peers, thereby creating an atmosphere that encourages team building, networking and sharing of best practices. Funds from the Cargill grant allowed Feeding America to provide training for more than 250 individuals from all 200 food banks. Now the fundamental issue—lack of understanding of the expectations of the new distribution center standard—no longer existed.
3. More free education and training. With the success we achieved with the FSSs, we wanted to continue building on the education-and-training component. We needed data from the network to determine where we should focus our limited resources and what type of training was necessary. After consulting with Walmart’s vice president of food safety, Frank Yiannas, we decided to undertake a food safety risk assessment. We enlisted our consultants, Deloitte & Touche, to help with this evaluation. The team decided to conduct the assessment during food banking’s busiest month of the year, December, when the food banks would be already stressed and any weaknesses in the system would become immediately apparent. We completed the risk assessment, and results identified high-risk areas of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) and food defense. Once we exposed these high-risk areas, we then started working on reducing them.
The first thing Feeding America did was to offer free certification classes for HACCP, Seafood HACCP and Food Defense to food bank network staff. The training strengthened the network’s already growing food safety knowledge, allowed the individual food banks to have staff with the depth of knowledge necessary to manage all types of foods and helped fill the gaps identified. We also provided food safety webinars that focus on these and other relevant network topics and provide additional opportunities to discuss common food safety challenges that exist at food distribution centers. These outreach efforts provided the network with a greater understanding of the many aspects that are key for moving food safely through their facilities.
4. Education for the end of the supply chain. As we expanded the network’s food safety knowledge, we knew we had to provide substantive education for the 60,000 agency partners. To do so, we needed to develop a comprehensive food safety curriculum. Accordingly, in October 2012, Feeding America began a partnership with the National Restaurant Association to create a customized curriculum for the hunger-relief community. Two years later, in August of 2014, we introduced the ServSafe® Food Handler Guide for Food Banking to the network (see “ServSafe® Food Handler Guide for Food Banking”). The book is 46 pages, filled with images that are relatable to the intended audience (food bank staff, partner agency staff and volunteers), offers opportunities to “apply your knowledge” in each chapter and includes a final quiz and a certificate of completion. The network’s desire for the book was so great that we distributed more than 10,000 copies within 10 months. The book is currently in its second printing.
5. Focus on TCS foods. The network’s capacity to access retail stores across the country increased exponentially in a few short years and quickly became one of the largest food streams. As a result, we needed to develop food safety guidelines for temperature controlled for safety (TCS) foods and other perishables. To meet this challenge, Feeding America released the Retail Food Safety Guidelines in March 2014 for the network to provide appropriate guidance for handling TCS foods and produce. This comprehensive guide, in conjunction with the ServSafe® Food Handler Guide for Food Banking, provides basic food safety concepts and instruction about safe handling practices and how to implement and execute them.
As Feeding America continues to reinforce the foundation of food safety across its food bank network, the search for new food streams remains ongoing (see “Getting Involved”). The food bank network has been focused on food waste reduction for over 35 years—keeping safe, nutritious foods out of the landfill and getting it onto the table. Recently, “food waste reduction” has become a buzz phrase—a part of the food industry vernacular. Like Feeding America, food manufacturers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are working toward reducing food waste. With all of these stakeholders focused on the same issue, communication and cooperation are imperative. The following success stories highlight the positive impact collective action has on food recovery and food waste reduction.
In 2012, Feeding America began working with the USDA-Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) to discuss food donation opportunities that were available but unattainable under USDA regulations. Our initial discussions focused on how food banks could accept bulk protein donations and distribute such product to hungry people. Opportunities for bulk protein donations were available, but most agency partners cannot store or distribute large, frozen bulk proteins. Additionally, most do not have the appropriate facilities to break down the product into smaller, consumer-size packages. Food banks have the facilities to accomplish this task; however, most do not have a USDA inspector on-site. After continued conversations and information sharing, FSIS determined that food banks could repack bulk proteins by utilizing a retailer exemption. The exemption was predicated on the food banks only distributing repackaged product directly to the end consumer through one of three channels: through a food bank-owned/operated pantry; an on-site meal provider/soup kitchen; and/or a mobile pantry food distribution. The retailer exemption has allowed the food bank network to exponentially increase protein donations, reducing food waste and landfill.
Building on the initial progress achieved with FSIS, we continued the dialogue with a focus on food items that are considered economically altered/misbranded (e.g., meat patties that were labeled as 3.4 ounces but were actually 3.2 ounces). This type of product was available for donation because it did not meet the donor’s commercial specifications. The process to facilitate this type of donation can be lengthy, and donors do not want product sitting in their facilities for up to 90 days while they wait for USDA approval to change the product label. Feeding America provided requested information to FSIS and, in turn, it developed Directive 7020.1, which was enacted on January 26, 2016.
This directive addresses economically altered/misbranded meats by stipulating that: 1) this type of product can be donated “as is” without applying for temporary label approval and without a “Not for Sale” statement on each package; 2) a temporary label approval and “Not for Sale” package statements are needed if product ingredients include allergens (any of the Big 8); and 3) meat processed in the U.S. and packed in foreign-language packaging for export can be donated. This directive has allowed the food bank network to access thousands of pounds of protein that were destined for landfill due to labeling issues.
Opportunities to redirect food from landfills to reduce food waste are abundantly available. Consider recalled foods. Feeding America looked at the rise in food recalls over the past 3 years and the circumstances for the recalls. The data showed that recalls were often due to labeling issues. With this information, an opportunity to divert recalled product from landfill that a manufacturer still had in its possession could be achievable. These recalled products are wholesome but do not meet labeling requirements for distribution; they did not have any potential biological contamination issues. These recalled products could feed food-insecure people.
To better understand the potential for this type of food recovery, Feeding America conducted a research study, “Acquisition of Recalled Foods Due to Labeling Issues to Alleviate Food Insecurity in the United States.” Our research found that a diverse group of respondents (n = 72) from academia, regulatory, food manufacturing, food retail outlets, food industry advocacy groups and industry consultants all agreed that food products recalled due to labeling/misbranding issues could be relabeled to reflect the actual contents of the product and be distributed. The study validated the concept.
Feeding America has had multiple opportunities to pilot this concept with both dry and temperature-sensitive product. In each case, Feeding America created a protocol—approved by the donor and regulators—to meet the needs for distribution, specific directions were communicated to recipient food banks and the protocol executed. In total, Feeding America food banks have diverted over 100 truckloads of wholesome, nutritious recalled product from landfill. The network has the capability to manage this type of product, and it is becoming a solution for donors.
On March 22, 2016, Starbucks announced its new FoodShare program with Feeding America as its partner. All of Starbucks’ 7,600 corporately owned and operated locations will donate their leftover, unsold ready-to-eat meals to Feeding America’s member food banks. The FoodShare program is the result of Starbucks’ vision to reduce food waste, have a philanthropic impact nationally and locally, and combat food insecurity. Working closely together, Starbucks and Feeding America identified a specific protocol to safely pick up, deliver and distribute the products without breaking the cold chain. A pilot program commenced in the fall of 2015. We identified the Critical Control Points and analyzed the process to determine any potential gaps that could threaten the safety of the donations. Discerning potential risk for both parties in the development, implementation and execution of the process was imperative. The process relied on open communication between the two organizations. If either party had any level of discomfort with the protocol, it was discussed and appropriate solutions were developed and implemented. By testing and tweaking the protocol with a laser focus on food safety, each organization’s commitment to food safety was evident, and this, ultimately, contributed to the partnership announcement. FoodShare is expected to be to scale within 5 years.
Moving Forward in Step with Our Donors and Partners
When I began working at Feeding America in 1996, the collaborative efforts described above seemed impossible—scenarios that we dared to dream. Feeding America was a grass-roots network of food banks doing their best to feed those in need. The food banks did not handle fresh produce in those days because they simply did not have the capacity. Food banking was, essentially, distribution of dented cans. The Feeding America national office was small, with only 39 employees, but we were mighty.
Since then, the Feeding America network has accomplished an extensive amount of work in a short time. Now we focus on continuous improvement and seek to build on our foundation. The advancements in food safety training, education and established programs are made possible by the success achieved in our partnerships and the generosity of our donors and partners. We will continue to work with our colleagues in the food industry to learn and grow, and utilize industry best practices to inform our operations and ultimately feed hungry families. As a network, we are committed to ensuring the safety of the food and grocery products distributed by our 200 member food banks and 60,000 agency partners. We will continue safely Feeding America.
Raw eggs safe for pregnant women in UK, say food safety experts
Source : https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/26/raw-eggs-safe-for-pregnant-women-in-uk-say-food-safety-experts
By theguardian.com (July 26, 2016)
Food Standards Agency to reconsider its advice as risk from salmonella has dropped significantly in last 15 years
Raw eggs are safe for pregnant women to eat, a safety committee has recommended.
A report from the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food states there is “very low” risk of salmonella from UK eggs produced under the Lion code.
It is now recommending that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) considers amending its advice on eating eggs for those “vulnerable” to infection.
The report says: “It was the strong view of the working group that there has been a major reduction in the microbiological risk from salmonella in UK hen shell eggs since the 2001 ACMSF report.
“This is especially the case for those eggs produced under the Lion code quality assurance scheme.
“In practical terms, the group considered that the ‘very low’ risk level means that UK eggs produced under the Lion code, or under demonstrably equivalent comprehensive schemes, can be served raw or lightly cooked to all groups in society, including those that are more vulnerable to infection, in domestic and non-domestic settings, including care homes and hospitals.”
The committee adds that the recommendation is not intended to include “severely immunocompromised individuals”, but does include “vulnerable groups in general including pregnant women, the young and the elderly”.
Historically the FSA’s advice has always been that “eating raw eggs, eggs with runny yolks or any food that is uncooked or only lightly cooked and contains raw eggs may cause food poisoning”.
But it has now launched an eight-week consultation based on the outcome of the report.
A statement from the FSA said: “Following committee approval and a UK-wide consultation of the report, the FSA has agreed to examine its advice taking into account the committee’s conclusions and recommendations.”
UV light oven has potential to decontaminate produce at home
Source : http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2016/07/researcher-working-on-uv-oven-for-home-use-on-produce/#.V6GOt04eaUl
By News Desk (July 24, 2016)
Haiqiang Chen, Ph.D., of the University of Delaware is busy developing a device using ultraviolet (UV) light to kill foodborne pathogens on fresh produce in consumers’ homes and elsewhere.
His UV light oven, which is about the size of a microwave oven, will combine UV light with stirred-up water to reduce Salmonella and other bacteria and viruses that can contaminate fresh produce.
“At home, when the fresh produce reaches you, it might not be completely free of foodborne pathogens,” Chen said in a news release.
“Typically, consumers don’t wash fresh produce if it has been pre-washed, and those who do generally just wash it a couple of times with tap water. There’s been nothing that’s really effective that you can use at home to ensure clean produce, so the idea was to develop something that can be used in the home.”
Chen, who is a professor of food science in UD’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, has developed the technology and is currently working with the university’s Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships to patent and commercialize it.
He said the UV oven will be easy to use and could also have applications in restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and commercial kitchens. The oven will have a simple control panel to allow users to adjust treatment time and will offer a fixed UV intensity.
“The decontamination comes through two sources, UV and water. The UV will kill pathogenic bacteria and viruses but the bad thing about UV is that it doesn’t penetrate through solids, although it can penetrate through clear water,” Chen said. “The water will wash off the pathogens from a food surface and whenever they get into the water, they will be killed almost immediately.”
Chen compared the device’s efficacy to that of washing produce with plain tap water. He applied both under two simulated Salmonella pathogen contamination scenarios: spot-inoculation, in which he contaminated a piece of produce in a particular spot, and dip-inoculation, involving contaminating the entire piece of produce.
After using samples of lettuce, spinach, tomato, blueberry and strawberry in the two scenarios, Chen found that the UV light oven decontaminated the fresh produce much more effectively than washing it with plain tap water. The oven could kill 99.7 percent of the Salmonella on the dip-inoculated lettuce, while the tap water washing could only kill 59.3 percent, he noted.
“For spot inoculation, the UV is a lot better. It showed a lot of reduction. It can kill 99.999 percent of Salmonella spot-inoculated on tomatoes – it’s basically gone,” Chen added.
The professor said that the UV oven method will not heat fresh produce and will not have a negative effect on its sensory properties.
“The produce will be cold. You put it in and take it out, and nothing about the taste changes,” Chen said.
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